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Manuscripts of the American Civil War

What follows is a list of miscellaneous manuscripts and manuscript collections relating to the American Civil War, from the holdings in the Department of Special Collections, University Libraries of Notre Dame. Among the manuscript types included here are memoirs, verse, and commonplace books.

  • "MINUTE BOOK OF THE CITY COMMITTEE OF SUPERINTENDENCE OF THE NATIONAL UNION PARTY OF PHILADELPHIA". 1862-1864. 1 vol., 26 cm., 240 manuscript pages plus blanks, with 3 newspaper clippings and 3 printed circulars tipped in; 1 piece of printed ephemera. A manuscript minute book recording proceedings at the first and subsequent 63 meetings (25 August 1862 to 5 January 1864) of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia National Union (i.e., Republican) Party. The committee aggressively supported the national Republican agenda of union and emancipation. Membership consisted of President William H. Kern (the city sheriff), five officers, and one representative from each of Philadelphia's 25 wards. Activities included the collection and distribution of significant amounts of money; the planning of public events and printing of party propaganda; campaign management; and the persecution of Southern sympathizers of every stripe. Among the committee's favored politicians were Mayor Alexander Henry and Governor Andrew Curtin. The minutes include a 7-page list of "assessments" levied against political candidates and city employees, and a 20-page report naming individuals "said to be opposed to the present National Administration." MSN/CW 9010-1-B to MSN/CW 9010-2.

  • KATE D. BISHOP COMMONPLACE BOOK. c1860-65. 1 vol., 22 cm., 64 leaves, with 120 pages of manuscript entries, mostly in Bishop's hand, and 5 drawings in ink or gouache. A commonplace book of poems, songs, and some prose, signed and dated "Kate D. Bishop. Nov. 6th 1860." on fol. 2r. Nothing definitive is known of the owner, in whose hand the majority of the entries seem to have been written. Poets and lyricists drawn upon most frequently include Tennyson, Lowell, E. C. Cornwell, and G. C. Waldo; the English and German Romantics also appear, and there is a single poem of Whitman. The sensibility informing the selections—and the drawings—is decidedly elegiac; themes of yearning, loss, and bereavement are commonplace. There are also a number of entries topically related to the war; these include an unattributed poem on the death of a Civil War soldier ("Missing"), and the humorist Orpheus C. Kerr's parody of Poe's "The Raven," entitled "Baltimore." There is also a section of six closely written pages (fols. 57v to 60r) titled by Bishop "Extracts from Carlyle's French Revolution as being applicable to this our revolution of 1861." Through parenthetical insertions in Carlyle's copied text, Bishop draws parallels between the invasion of France in August-September 1792 and the events of April 1861 (Sumter, the Baltimore riots, the arrival of the 7th New York in Washington, and so on). Bishop's Union sympathies are never in doubt, suggesting that the book has a Northern provenance. While individual entries are not dated, it seems likely the the book was begun on the inscribed date and that much of its contents date from the early years of the war. MSN/CW 9002-1-B.

  • ELLEN E. COOLEY DEVOTIONAL ALBUM. 1861-64. 1 vol. partly printed, entitled Sacred Album (printed by J. C. Riker, New York, with 6 lithographic illustrations); 20 cm., 64 leaves, with 115 pages of manuscript entries and 4 manuscript enclosures in Cooley's hand. When this album was being kept, its owner, Ellen Emily Cooley (b. 1839), resided at the Rome, Georgia home of her widowed mother Elizabeth (whose personal and real estate were valued at $47,000 in the 1860 Federal census). The album is filled with entries in Cooley's hand, in poetry and prose; virtually all are quotations, mostly from the Bible and from devotional and inspirational literature. There are no overt references to the war. Some few entries are signed; the relatively small number bearing dates range from 15 February 1861 to 13 July 1864. After the war Cooley married George Hillyer (1835-1927), a Confederate veteran and future mayor of Atlanta. MSN/CW 9000-1 to MSN/CW 9000-2-B.

  • JOHN JOHNSTON MEMOIR. c1900-01. 16 leaves, unattached, with 17 pages of manuscript in Johnston's hand. John Johnston (1842-1928) was born near Denmark in Madison County, Tennessee. He studied for the Presbyterian ministry at Centre College in Kentucky before enlisting in the Confederate army, ultimately spending time with three Tennessee regiments. From 1900 to 1905 Johnston composed a memoir of his wartime experiences, assisted by diaries he had kept during his years of service. This manuscript is a draft of one segment of that memoir; it recalls events of 22 to 28 December 1863, when Johnston was in West Tennessee temporarily attached to the staff of the 14th Tennessee Cavalry. Essentially, the narrative was written as a reminiscence of Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom Johnston had the opportunity to observe during this time. The narrative includes accounts of several skirmishes with the Federals, at Estenaula, Somerville, and Colliersville. The entire memoir was edited and published after Johnston's death, in 1954; see William T. Alderson, ed., "The Civil War Reminiscences of John Johnston, 1861-1865", Tennessee Historical Quarterly, XIII, no 1 (March 1954), 65-82; no 2 (June 1954), 156-178; no 3 (September 1954), 244-276; no 4 (December 1954), 329-354. Acquisition funded by Robert and Beverly O'Grady, 2004. MSN/CW 9001-1 to MSN/CW 9001-16.

  • "A STRAY LEAF FROM OAK HILL." 1864. 1 vol., 19 cm., 19 leaves, with 32 pages of manuscript in a single hand. A narrative written by a young woman living near Pikesville in Baltimore County, Maryland, describing civilian encounters with Confederate troops under Maj. Harry Gilmor, 2nd Maryland Cavalry, in July 1864. Gilmor's troopers and other cavalry under Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson had been sent into eastern Maryland to disrupt communications around Baltimore and otherwise expedite Jubal Early's advance on Washington. The author, herself a Southern sympathizer, conveys the intense excitement felt by many in the community at the prospect of seeing "Rebels with their armor on" after three years of war. The events described in the narrative run from 10 July 1864, when "Gilmor's gallant boys" are reported in the area, to 14 July, when word comes of their withdrawal. Ultimately, the author is able to report two close encounters with Gilmor and his command, including one at her home, Oak Hill. The manuscript is dated 28 July 1864; the author may or may not be the Isabella George Wilson whose name is inscribed inside the front cover. Acquisition funded by Robert and Beverly O'Grady, 2006. MSN/CW 9003-1-B.

  • STARS AND STRIPES LOGBOOK. 1862-1864. 1 vol. partly printed, 40 cm., 124 leaves, with 234 pages of manuscript entries in a single hand. A logbook recording an extended commercial voyage of the ship Stars and Stripes, whose principal owner was Daniel Walker Lord (1800-1880) of Kennebunkport, Maine. Stars and Stripes (Robert Cleaves, master) left Kennebunkport on 3 November 1862 and cleared Boston harbor the following February, bound for San Francisco. Arriving in July 1863, she discharged cargo and made for Port Alberni in British Columbia, where she took on a load of lumber for Coquimbo in Chile, reached the following December. She then sailed north to Peru, arriving at the guano-rich Chincha Islands shortly after their occupation by Spain, in April 1864. Soon thereafter Stars and Stripes was sold to British interests. The log contains entries for most days from 28 October 1862 to 26 June 1864. In addition to the usual indications of position, weather, and alteration of sail, entries routinely treat such matters as ship maintenance and repair, the loading and unloading of cargo, and actions of the crew (including several acts of gross insubordination). Entries may be in the hand of the first officer, Nathaniel Falkes. MSN/CW 9004-1-B.

  • HELEN SABINE COMMONPLACE BOOK. Ca. 1861-1865. 1 volume partly printed, entitled Memorys Leaves (published by Moss and Brother, Philadelphia, n.d.); 20 cm., 54 leaves, with 39 pages of manuscript entries and many engravings and newspaper clippings tipped in. One enclosure. A commonplace book kept by Helen S. Sabine (b. ca. 1846), of Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine. The content consists primarily of poems and poetic excerpts copied into the book in Sabine's hand; among the writers most frequently encountered are E. B. Browning, Longfellow, Tennyson, Bryant, and Walter Scott. The volume is copiously illustrated with hand-colored engravings, both native to the album and tipped in. There are also a great many poems excised from newspapers and other printed sources. Datable items range from 1861 to at least 1865. There is some war-related content. MSN/CW 9005-1-B.

  • "IN MEMORY OF DAVID J. RYAN C. S. A." Nd. 1 manuscript (2 pages). A clear copy of a poem entitled "In Memory of David J. Ryan C. S. A." This is an ode in five stanzas written by the subject's brother, Fr. Abram J. Ryan (1839-1886), a Roman Catholic priest and sometime poet of the Lost Cause. The work was first published in the Nashville Daily Gazette for 16 October 1867. The manuscript (written in a violet aniline ink) appears to date from the 1870s or 80s; the writer is unknown. David Ryan was a member of Co. K, 4th Kentucky Cavalry; he was killed at Monticello, Kentucky, 11 April 1863. MSN/CW 9006-1.

  • HORACE HEATH MANUSCRIPT. 1862. 1 manuscript. A small card bearing an exercise in miniature calligraphy by H. Heath (Horace Heath), featuring the full text of the Lord's Prayer enclosed in a circle one-half inch in diameter. The dedication indicates that the card was executed for Capt. William B. Fowle, Jr., of the 43rd Massachusetts Infantry, on board the steamer Merrimac, 12 November 1862. MSN/CW 9007-1.

  • "E. B." MEMOIR. 1859-1867. 2 vols., 19 cm., 14 and 19 leaves, with 26 and 26 pages of manuscript in the author's hand. Two notebooks of memoirs, written for young relations by an elderly (b. 1789) widow whose name appears only as E. B. The surname may be Bowen or Beatty. Many sections of the narrative bear dates of composition, running from 1859 to 1867. The volumes include accounts of ancestors and relatives in England and Ireland; the author's own emigration from Ireland to New York (1803) and subsequent marriage (1805); and life in America thereafter (principally, it would seem, in New York, Pittsburgh, and Louisville). There is much emphasis on encounters with "persons of note," especially "Mrs. Gen. Hamilton," the widow of Alexander Hamilton. MSN/CW 9008-1 to MSN/CW 9008-2.

  • 20TH PRECINCT (NEW YORK) POLICE LOG. 1864. 1 vol., 39 cm., 134 leaves, with 264 pages of manuscript. A logbook or blotter kept at the 20th Precinct station house, New York Metropolitan Police, with entries running from 9 June to 30 September, 1864. The 20th Precinct was on the West Side of Manhattan, in the area of Hell's Kitchen; much of the district was an Irish slum. Each day's events are chronicled, from officers and men on duty to criminal and civil offenses reported and other police business. MSN/CW 9009-1-B.

  • JOHN MOORE MEMOIR. 1912. 1 manuscript (4 pages). A manuscript compiled "from memory" by former CS private John Moore, comprising a short history and roster of Co. D, 24th Texas Cavalry. The manuscript (or a copy) was sent to the offices of the Brenham (Texas) Daily Banner in March 1912. Acquisition funded by Robert and Beverly O'Grady, 2009. MSN/CW 9011-1.

  • 33RD INDIANA INFANTRY MEMOIR. ca. 1870s-1880s. 1 volume, 16 cm., 60 leaves, with 77 pages of manuscript in a single hand. An unattributed memoir written after the Civil War by a former member of Co. C, 33rd Indiana Infantry, describing the company and regiment's wartime service. Coverage extends from the regiment's mustering in in September 1861 to the veterans' furlough of spring 1864. The text is a narrative of some 10,000 words, written in the first-person plural with little explicit personal reference; it tends to dwell on events of greater military significance (the typhoid epidemic of winter 1861-62; the campaign around the Cumberland Gap in 1862) while passing over periods of lesser moment. Gift of Katherine Goodpasture, 2011. MSN/CW 9012-1.

  • UNION CIRCLE MINUTE BOOK. 1860-1863. 1 volume, 20 cm., 31 leaves, with 50 pages of manuscript. The manuscript minute book of a women's sewing organization, Union Circle, located in Belpre, Washington County, Ohio. Formed to assist the indigent, the group turned to soldier relief after the outbreak of war, making clothing and hospital supplies and collecting foodstuffs. Recipients of the circle's donations included the Federal hospital at Parkersburg and the Cincinnati Sanitary Commission. Content consists primarily of minutes of the group's meetings, with entries running from February 1860 to October 1863. MSN/CW 9013-1.

  • EUPHEMIA O. GILLET COMMONPLACE BOOK. 1860-1869. 1 volume, 20 cm., 68 leaves, with 66 pages of manuscript entries. An 1860 inscription on the front flyleaf identifies the owner of this volume as Euphemia O. Gillet (b. 1844), a student at Ontario Female Seminary, Canandaigua, New York. Content consists primarily of essays and poems, many of which appear to be Gillet's own work. MSN/CW 9014-1.

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