Joseph S. Reynolds papers, 1860-1865.

Creator: Reynolds, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1839-1911.
Collection number: 5060-z
View finding aid.

Abstract: Joseph S. Reynolds was a Chicago high school graduate who enlisted in the Union Army at age 23 in October 1861. He was an officer of the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and the Yates Sharpshooters, taking part in 17 battles, including Sherman’s March to the Sea. He was mustered out on 16 July 1865. Chiefly letters written by Joseph S. Reynolds to his family in Illinois during his Civil War service. Most letters are addressed to his siblings. They chronicle the movements of the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and the Yates Sharpshooters from the battle of New Madrid, Mo., to camps and battles in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. They provide details about troop movements, military life, Reynolds’s health, and the countryside. On occasion, Reynolds mentioned African Americans in stereotypical ways. In an 1862 letter, he explained why the accounts of troop actions in Chicago newspapers were often wrong. On 10 November 1864, Reynolds wrote about Sherman’s March to the Sea, and, on 26 April 1865, he discussed the meeting of generals William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnson and his belief that Confederate leaders should be punished and not pardoned. Also included are three letters to Reynolds, 1860-1861, two of which are about the difficulty of raising a military company; an ambrotype of Reynolds and photographic copy; and an unused gutta-percha case.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Reynolds, in a letter dated 6 March 1862, describes the abandonment of plantations in New Madrid, MO, and formerly enslaved African Americans left behind. In another instant (dated 26 July 1862), he refers to enslaved ¬†African American men and women working in the fields as “baboons” .