Federal soldiers’ letters, 1861-1865; 1890.

Creator: Federal soldiers’ letters.
Collection number: 3185
View finding aid.

Abstract: Chiefly Civil War letters from Federal soldiers throughout the South, in camps, hospitals, and prisons, to family and friends in the North. This collection is made up of unrelated single items or small groups of items, some of which are cataloged separately.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: One letter (Unit 48, 25 March 1870) written by Edward Pennington Pearson, Jr. to his mother in Pennsylvania. Pearson provides a brief description of Raleigh, North Carolina, during Reconstruction from the point of view of a Union soldier and comments on the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

A letter from 16 April 1865 (Unit 49)¬†from I. (Shoger?) in Raleigh, N.C., to his wife reporting his experiences in North Carolina around the time of Lee’s surrender. He wrote that the announcement of the surrender was “redd by Genl Sherman in front of the Court House” in Smithfield, and that the soldiers then “threw up thair hats and chreed [sic] with all thair might. they got a negro on a blanket and threw him ten feet.” Johnston’s departure from Raleigh and the surrender of that city by “the mayor and counsil” are also mentioned.

Also includes a letter (Unit 55, 16 February 1862) from Whittier, a U.S. Army soldier at Hilton Head, South Carolina, to his mother, Mrs. Polly Whittier, describing the Union camp at Hilton Head. The writer discusses local blacks and states his belief that the Union should employ them in some productive way (it is unclear whether the writer means as soldiers or as laborers). He also comments that local blacks would starve to death without aid from the soldiers and states that he had been informed by several former slaves that their masters had not beaten them as he had been told at home.

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available online. Click here to link to the finding aid for this collection and to access the digital items.