Jump directly to Index of Letters
Introduction to the Shriver Family Correspondence
By George Rugg
The Shriver correspondence is a small group of mostly war-related notes and letters, written from 1860 to 1865 by the brothers Andrew Keiser Shriver (four items) and Thomas Herbert Shriver (three items). The authors were two of the thirteen children of William and Mary Owings Shriver of Union Mills, Carroll County, Maryland. The Union Mills Shrivers were a locally prominent family, whose "homestead" on the Westminster-Gettysburg road served as a base for various entrepreneurial and political activities. At the time of the Civil War ownership of the homestead properties was divided between William Shriver (1796-1879), who managed the milling operations, and his brother Andrew. The children of William and Mary Shriver were raised as Roman Catholics, under the tutelage of their mother.
During the war William Shriver sympathized with the South, though he held no slaves, and resided in a county where a significant majority, including his brother Andrew, favored the Union. Four of William Shriver's sons actively served the Confederacy. Among these were Andrew Keiser Shriver (1836-1897), known as Kei, and Thomas Herbert Shriver (1846-1916), the youngest of the Shriver sons, called Herbert or Herb. Kei Shiver seems to have spent most of the war in the army's Medical Department, as a purchasing agent. A letter of Robert E. Lee dated 21 September 1862 describes him as having recently reported to the Army of Northern Virginia in this capacity; from 1863 to 1865 he appears to have been stationed in Richmond, in the Medical Purveyors Office. After the capital's evacuation Shriver may have enlisted as a combatant in the 1st Maryland Cavalry, though information on this point is not conclusive.
Herbert Shriver's war is more thoroughly chronicled. On the night of 29-30 June 1863 the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, moving north to join Lee in Pennsylvania, stopped at Union Mills (which lay about 17 miles southeast of Gettysburg); Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart and his staff breakfasted at the home of William Shriver. Seventeen-year-old Herbert Shriver was recruited by Stuart to guide the Confederates, along back roads, to Hanover, Pennsylvania. Shriver remained with the army through the Gettysburg campaign and into early August, until his release was effected through the intervention of Kei Shriver, who appealed directly to Stuart. Records show Herbert Shriver on the muster rolls as a private in Company K (2nd), 1st Virginia Cavalry (a company of Marylanders). They also show him to have been attached to Stuart's headquarters, as a guide. Following this episode Kei Shriver managed to secure Herbert an appointment to the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, largely through the influence of his cousin Jacob Sherman Shriver ("Uncle Jacob" in the letters), a West Point graduate. On 1 September 1863 Herbert entered the Institute as a private in Cadet Co. C; he fought with the Corps of Cadets at the battle of New Market the following May. After the burning of the Institute by Federal troops (12 June 1864) the cadets were furloughed; they resumed their academic studies in December, at the school's temporary headquarters in Richmond. Shriver left Richmond after the city's occupation (3 April 1865), apparently to join up with the 1st Maryland Cavalry (which included men from his old Company K, 1st Virginia Cavalry). The regiment did not surrender at Appomattox but disbanded at Lynchburg the next day (10 April), with the notion of regrouping in Augusta County, in the Shenandoah Valley, on 25 April to contemplate further action. The men who made this rendezvous were ultimately discharged on 29 April, at Cloverdale, Virginia; Herbert Shriver was paroled on 15 May, at Staunton.
The earliest letters in the group, written by Kei Shriver to his brother Albert (26 April 1860) and to an unidentified sister (10 April 1863), are of limited relevance to the rest of the items, all of which pertain to (or were authored by) Herbert Shriver. Kei Shriver's third letter, written on 11 August 1863, describes for his mother his successful effort to gain Herbert's release from the army. Family accounts of the Confederate cavalry's stop in Union Mills (of which there are several) agree that Herbert joined Stuart enthusiastically, and with his parents' approval (some accounts suggest that assurances were made to the parents that Herbert's service would not outlast the campaign). But when Kei Shriver learned of his youngest brother's situation (he writes), he took immediate steps to reverse it. He left Richmond, rode in search of the army, spoke with Stuart and with Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee (both of whom, he says, held Herbert in high regard), and brought the young man away.
On the same day that Kei Shriver wrote to his mother Herbert also wrote, from Richmond, relating his experiences in the army (a transcription of this letter is held in the Gettysburg Military Park Library; it is reprinted in Lovelace, The Shrivers: Under Two Flags, pp. 31-2). By his own account Herbert saw action on the third day at Gettysburg:
From Carlisle we went to Gettysburg where they were fighting, we were ordered to the extreme left about 4 or 5 miles from Littlestown where we had, some of them said the hardest Cavarlly fight they ever heard of. The sharpshooters were ordered to dismount (all who carry carbines are cawled sharpshooters), I being one of the number we charges the Yankee sharpshooters and drove them about a mile and a half and very near had a battery when their cavalry charged us and our cavalry not coming up in time the sharpshooters had to fall back, not however, till killed 45 Yanks in one little spot where they had to cross a fence and right together, then our cavalry charged their cavalry and drove them off the field. In that fight one of the fellows that was at our house first was wounded and captured another killed dead whilst charging next to me. (Lovelace, p. 31).
He goes on to speak of cavalry engagements at Funkstown and Shepherdstown, on the retreat south. As Kei reiterates in his own letter of 11 August, Herbert was ambivalent about leaving the army:
. . .we then retreated to Fredericksburg where I left them to come here [i.e., to Richmond]. I would much rather have stayed but Kie thought it was so much better for me to come and go to school and said he thought you would sooner have me to do so that I guess I will have a pretty hard time of it. (Lovelace, p. 32).
For the rest of the war, Kei Shriver appears to have acted as a kind of guardian to Herbert, with an eye to keeping him out of the army. In a letter written while on furlough from the Institute, in the summer or early fall of 1864, Herbert tells his parents that:
Ki has not determined wether he will let me go in the army I would not wait for him to deside but he has been so very kind to me since I have been here that I dont feal like doing any thing before he says. . .he is more like a father than a Brother
In the same letter or letter fragment, for the first sheet is lacking Shriver expresses his enthusiasm for efforts to establish a "Maryland Line" within the Confederate army. Most Marylanders who fought for the Confederacy did so in regiments of the seceded states, especially Virginia a source of considerable dissatisfaction. The "Marshall Kane" of the letter is George P. Kane, a former Baltimore police marshall then arguing the Maryland cause with the Confederate government and military, to little ultimate effect.
On 2 April 1865 Kei Shriver wrote a note to the authorities at VMI, giving his brother leave "to do as he thinks proper as to remaining with the Corps or not". The evacuation of Richmond seems to have influenced Kei to accede to Herbert's wish to re-enlist. The events of the next two weeks cannot be precisely reconstructed. Possibly, Kei accompanied Herbert when the latter joined up with the 1st Maryland Cavalry. In any case, the two were together when Herbert paused to write his mother from Staunton, Virginia on 16 April. The brothers' presence in Augusta County where the men of the dispersed 1st Maryland Cavalry were instructed to rendezvous on 25 April lends credence to the idea that they were planning to rejoin the regiment. Or they may have had plans of their own perhaps to proceed to North Carolina to continue the fight with Joseph Johnston. The "Mark" and "lum" mentioned in the letter are Mark Owings Shriver (1842-1924) and Christopher Columbus Shriver (1840-1921), brothers of Kei and Herbert who likewise worked for the Confederate cause. Mark Shriver had served in Company K of the 1st Maryland Cavalry since 1864, so his presence in the Valley makes sense. Lum Shriver had served with Kei in the Medical Purveyors Office at Richmond; his presence is more difficult to explain. Herbert also mentions Rev. Joseph Bixio (1819-1889), the Jesuit pastor of five Virginia parishes, including Staunton. Bixio had served the Confederate army as a chaplain and also appears to have engaged in espionage, most notably by impersonating Northern army chaplains.
Following the war A. K. Shriver was a member of the firm of Thomas J. Myer & Co. of Baltimore, an oyster and fruit canning business. T. Herbert Shriver was a businessman, banker, and Democratic state legislator; he represented Carroll County in the Maryland House and Senate, and later became Deputy Collector of the Port of Baltimore.
Bibliographic note: The most comprehensive source on the Shriver family's involvement in the Civil War is David Shriver Lovelace, The Shrivers: Under Two Flags, Westminster MD, 2003. A number of first-hand family accounts of the events of 29-30 June 1863 at Union Mills are gathered in Frederic Shriver Klein, ed., Just South of Gettysburg: Carroll County, Maryland in the Civil War, [Westminster MD], 1963. Also included in the volume is a memoir by Herbert Shriver's son, William H. Shriver, entitled "My Father Led General J.E.B. Stuart to Gettysburg" (pp. 200-204). The Shriver homestead at Union Mills is now a museum, operated by the Union Mills Homestead Foundation. The Homestead's Web site includes a finding aid to the Shriver Family Papers at the Maryland Historical Society (MS. 750-750.1, 2085-2085.8); see http://www.unionmills.org/findersaid/contents.htm. Personal papers of the William Shriver family do not appear to be a focus of the collection. See also the online version of Samuel S. Shriver, History of the Shriver Family and Their Connections 1684-1888, Baltimore, 1888, at http://www.unionmills.org/green_book/title.htm. For Fr. Bixio, see "Joseph Bixio, Furtive Founder of the University of San Francisco," California History 78, no. 1 (Spring 1999), 14-25.
Index of Letters
|MSN/CW 5030-01||Letter||April 26, 1860||Park Hotel, New York City||Andrew Keiser Shriver|
|MSN/CW 5030-02||Letter||April 10, 1863||Petersburg, Virginia||Andrew Keiser Shriver|
|MSN/CW 5030-03||Letter||August 11, 1863||[Virginia]||Andrew Keiser Shriver|
|MSN/CW 5030-04||Letter||September 12, 1863||V. M. I., Lexington, Virginia||Thomas Herbert Shriver|
|MSN-CW 5030-05||Letter||[June - September, 1864]||[Virginia]||Thomas Herbert Shriver|
|MSN-CW 5030-06||Note||April 2, 1865||Richmond, Virginia||Andrew Keiser Shriver|
|MSN/CW 5030-07||Letter||April 16, 1865||Staunton, Virginia||Thomas Herbert Shriver|