Battle family papers, 1765-1955.

Creator: Battle family.
Collection number: 3223
View finding aid.

Abstract: Prominent members of the Battle family of North Carolina included William Horn Battle (1802-1879) of Louisburg, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, lawyer, legislator, judge of the North Carolina superior and supreme courts, and trustee and professor of law at the University of North Carolina; his son, Kemp Plummer Battle (1831-1919) of Chapel Hill and Raleigh, lawyer, president of the Chatham Railroad, who was active in state affairs during the Civil War, served as state treasurer and as University of North Carolina president, 1876-1891, and professor of history, 1891-1907; and Kemp Plummer Battle’s son, William James Battle (1870-1955), University of North Carolina and Harvard student, professor of classics, dean, and acting president, 1893-1917, and professor of classics, 1920-1955, at the University of Texas, and professor of classics, 1917-1920, at the University of Cincinnati. Papers give detailed coverage of the life of William Horn Battle and his family and many aspects of North Carolina history, including life on the Confederate homefront and social conditions during Reconstruction. There are also materials relating to the Episcopal Church, in which the Battles were active lay members, and some slave bills of sale and Chatham County Railroad items. Papers of Kemp Plummer Battle relate to his interest in the early history of North Carolina and of the University of North Carolina. Papers of William James Battle document family and personal affairs. They are especially rich in Battle family history, but do not include many items relating to his professional career. Volumes are chiefly student notes and personal accounts kept by William James Battle, 1885-1909. The addition of April 2005 contains correspondence and other papers of Battle family members, mostly Kemp Plummer Battle (1831-1919), but also his wife and children. Professional papers of Kemp Plummer Battle include his notes from the secret sessions of the North Carolina convention of 1861, notes and drafts of articles and speeches by Kemp Plummer Battle, clippings of articles by or about Kemp Plummer Battle, and a few other items. Many letters are from Cornelia Phillips Spencer (1825-1908), whose brother Charles Phillips married Kemp Plummer Battle’s aunt, Laura Caroline Battle.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Letters contain references to the drowning of a young slave (1847); fear of a slave insurrection in Raleigh (1847); the annual hiring of slaves (1855, 1856, 1863); illnesses among slaves (1855-1856); a young slave’s attempt to poison her slaveholders (1861); reparation requested for the death of a slave hired out to the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad (1864); an account of the trial and conviction of slaves who robbed a smokehouse (1864); a request that Kemp Plummer Battle serve as a nominal master of a slave sent to Raleigh to seek carpentry work (1865); the mistreatment of an African American by a group of whites in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1866); criticism of the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction (1867); comments on the racial climate in Chapel Hill (1868); a congressional investigation into the Ku Klux Klan (1871); and an invitation of “colored citizens” to Kemp Plummer Battle to deliver an address on the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (1876). The collection also contains two slave bills of sale (1832, 1856).