9 Replies Latest reply on Mar 4, 2021 3:05 PM by Jason Atkinson Branched to a new discussion.

    Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War

    Lois Leveen Newbie

      Are there records of outgoing Union military correspondence to civilian recipients?  Specifically, I am looking for two items: (1) a letter sent by Lieutenant Colonel John McEntee, dated April 6, 1865 to William Woodbury (an official with the American Missionary Association, who was in Norfolk, VA when he received the letter); and (2) an earlier piece of correspondence sent to Woodbury, which McEntee described as follows: "The application made from Gen Sharpe and endorsed by Lt. Col. Manning by order of Maj Gen Ord was forwarded to you not long since by Gen. Gordon."  In the case of #2, I don't know who would technically be considered the "sender" or if there would be documentation of each officer's involvement in making the application.  I have not found these items in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, which I presume is because they were sent to a civilian recipient. Thanks for any help!

        • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
          Elliot Schneider Ranger

          Lois,

           

          Found this in the Freedman's papers: https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/101812/Lee_KT_D_2019.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

           

          Education and the Virginia Bureau (1865-1866)

           

          Shortly after the Freedmen’s Bureau was established, Col. Orlando Brown assumed the role of Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner for Virginia in June 1865. When he established the educational division, he initially appointed as his Superintendent of Schools, Reverend William H. Woodbury, a civilian acquaintance, and AMA supported teacher at the “government school” in Norfolk (Butt 1908, 32). Woodbury, encouraged by Brown, tapped his AMA network as well as other freedmen’s aid societies to recruit teachers and other professionals to support the building of schools in Virginia (Brown to Woodbury July 3, 1865). Because Woodbury was a civilian, Brown hoped he would be supported through AMA funding. Woodbury would stay in the position for about a year before being replaced by Rev. Ralza Manly, a former Union Army chaplain.

           

          Have you tried looking at documents and correspondent for that time period. Here is a list of the companies and its leaders. Looks like I would start searching for any documents pertaining to the 80th Infantry Regiment, NY State Vol.

          https://fas.org/irp/agency/army/short.pdf

           

           

          Title:

           

           

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          • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
            Jason Atkinson Ranger

            Dear Ms. Leveen,

             

            Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

             

            The National Archives has a great many correspondence series from the Civil War era Army.  There is not one series with all letters to civilians. Without more specific information about which organizations within the Army the correspondents were associated with and the context in which the letters were created, it would be difficult to locate the records. If the letters were sent by Lieutenant Colonel John McEntee in his capacity as an officer of the 80th New York Regiment, there may be copies in record series the Regimental and Company Books of Civil War Volunteer Union Organizations, 1861 - 1867 in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94) that includes the Regimental Letter Book among the Regimental and Company Books of the 80th New York Infantry Regiment. These records have not been digitized and are not online. For more information, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov.

             

            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

             

            We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

             

            2 people found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                Lois Leveen Newbie

                Some follow-up questions to your very helpful reply. Please let me know if I need to break these up into separate queries, or if you prefer to do so yourself, please do.

                 

                1.  You directed me to where I might find correspondence records related to Lieutenant Colonel John McEntee in his capacity of officer of the 80th New York Regiment.

                Would I consult those records or other records to find correspondence to/from the following individuals, particularly for the period from August 1864 through April 1865?  At least some of them might have been serving in the Bureau of Military Intelligence.

                • Gen George Sharpe
                • Lt. Col. Manning (I am guessing this reference is to Frederick Manning, although the source I have gives no first name)
                • Maj Gen Ord
                • Gen. Gordon (again, no first name is given, but he would have been serving in Virginia and in close contact with the others on this list)

                 

                2. I have a newspaper article referring to a particular civilian in Richmond (who had been a loyal Unionist) being given use of "a government ambulance" by federal forces, likely through the office of the Provost Marshal, sometime in spring and/or summer 1865, i.e. as the city was under Union control.  Were might I find correspondence/orders regarding a request/arrangement for such a use of government resources?

                 

                3.  This same civilian appeared in New York in autumn 1865, with "letters of recommendation from Generals [Alfred] Terry, [Edward] Ord and S H Roberts." My guess is that those letters were written at some point in spring, summer, or early autumn 1865.  Where might I find correspondence related to these figures for that period, particularly correspondence requesting or granting a "letter of recommendation"?

                 

                As you can see, I am now trying to fill my dance card with every source I need to consult, particularly those that are not yet digitized, so that I make the best use of my time in the National Archives, once researchers are able to do onsite research again.

                 

                Thanks so much for all your diligent assistance. I really would not know how to find any of this otherwise.

                 

                Best regards,

                Lois

                  • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                    Jason Atkinson Ranger

                    Dear Ms. Leveen,

                     

                    Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!

                     

                    The basic challenge behind your research question is that there are hundreds of Army correspondence series from this time period, most do not have name indexes, and none have a complete listing of every piece of correspondence.  We suggest that you directly contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov.  The RDT1 staff are the most knowledgeable about these records and can provide you with as much assistance as is possible. As mentioned in our previous response, due to the current public health crises, their response will be delayed and they will not be able to physically check the records for you at this time. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

                     

                    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                     

                    1 person found this helpful
                      • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                        Lois Leveen Newbie

                        I'm unsure how to determine which Record Series and Record Groups I will need to pore over in the hopes of finding correspondence to/from Sharpe, Gordon, Ord, Manning, Terry, and Roberts in the spring and summer of 1865.  So my question was really "any suggestions of where to look (broadly)  for these officers, besides your already very helpful identification of the Regimental and Company Books of the 80th New York Infantry Regiment in the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1762 - 1917 (Record Group 94)."  Apologies for not being clearer; I truly appreciate the help to date!

                          • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                            Jason Atkinson Ranger

                            Dear Ms. Leveen,

                             

                            Thank you for posting your 2nd follow-up request on History Hub!

                             

                            We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 78 series in various record groups for   the 1860s relating to letters, the War Department, and civilians. There are no name indexes that will allow us to look up which series might have these letters based solely on the names of the officers. Please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov for any further questions and guidance about these records.

                             

                            Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

                             

                            We hope this is helpful.

                             

                            2 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                      LOC Manuscript Division Tracker

                      Hi Lois -

                      I searched for the items mentioned in your original query in the American Missionary Association Archives from the Amistad Research Center, which is available digitally via subscription from Gale in the database Slavery and Anti-Slavery but I did not locate either item.  While there are many items written by Woodbury to the AMA, I didn't see any incoming letters to him in the archives.

                      All the best and feel free to contact us if we can be of further assistance.

                      Patrick
                      Manuscript Division
                      Library of Congress

                      1 person found this helpful
                        • Re: Seeking Union Army correspondence with civilians during Civil War
                          Lois Leveen Newbie

                          Hi Patrick,

                          I have been to the Amistad Research Center in person -- my last trip prior to the pandemic! -- and been through their AMA holdings.  You are correct:  the INCOMING correspondence TO Woodbury was not preserved as part of the AMA records. Thus, my original query was about tracking OUTGOING or INTERNAL MILITARY correspondence (or other relevant records) involving the correspondents Woodbury mentions, and other correspondents relevant to the story I am piecing together.

                           

                          To recap, I am trying to understand which specific records groups at the National Archives (or elsewhere, but I think it's National Archives; it is NOT in the Official Records of the War of Rebellion) will have the following:

                           

                          1. Correspondence to/from the following individuals, particularly for the period from August 1864 through April 1865?  At least some of them might have been serving in the Bureau of Military Intelligence.

                          • Gen George Sharpe
                          • Lt. Col. Manning (I am guessing this reference is to Frederick Manning, although the source I have gives no first name)
                          • Maj Gen Ord
                          • Gen. Gordon (again, no first name is given, but he would have been serving in Virginia and in close contact with the others on this list)

                           

                          2. I have a newspaper article referring to a particular civilian in Richmond (who had been a loyal Unionist) being given use of "a government ambulance" by federal forces, likely through the office of the Provost Marshal, sometime in spring and/or summer 1865, i.e. as the city was under Union control.  Were might I find correspondence/orders regarding a request/arrangement for such a use of government resources?

                           

                          3.  This same civilian appeared in New York in autumn 1865, with "letters of recommendation from Generals [Alfred] Terry, [Edward] Ord and S H Roberts." My guess is that those letters were written at some point in spring, summer, or early autumn 1865.  Where might I find correspondence related to these figures for that period, particularly correspondence requesting or granting a "letter of recommendation"?

                           

                          Hopefully the specificity of my list will help Jason or someone else familiar with the military records groups to point the way. I really do appreciate the expertise, without which I would be sorely lost.

                           

                          Best regards,

                          Lois