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Civil War Collection

Civil War Collection

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Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the NHPRC (National Historical Publications and Records Commission).

Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 161 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-741-1516
Title:Civil War Collection
Quantity:13.5 linear feet (14 boxes, 1 oversized folder)
Abstract:The Civil War Collection was assembled from multiple sources and is a collection of private papers and, to a limited extent, official records relating to the Civil War.
Identification:MM 1

Series List

SERIES I. Union RecordsSERIES II. Confederate Records
SERIES III. Naval RecordsSERIES IV. Salem Clubs and Committees
SERIES V. Collected MaterialsSERIES VI. Photographs

Scope and Content Note

The Civil War Collection was assembled from multiple sources and is a collection of private papers and, to a limited extent, official records relating to the Civil War. It is arranged in six series. Series I. Union Records is divided into two subseries. Subseries A. Military and Official Documents contain enlistment rolls for Massachusetts, commissions, discharges, ration cards, passes and leaves of absence for soldiers, pension papers, documents issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the United States government, and a list of disloyal citizens of Alexandria, Virginia. Subseries B. Rolls of Enlisted Men consist of two roll books for men from Massachusetts, a list of men enrolled from Topsfield, Massachusetts, and a list of soldiers compiled after the war.

Series II. Confederate Records include documents regarding secession, documents and forms of the Confederate States of America; commissions, passes, medical records, regimental reports and rolls, requisition orders, and treasurer notes.

Series III. Naval Records is divided into two subseries. Subseries A. Ships' Papers is comprised of ships' official records from watch stations; instructions to pursers; order and letter books; and the personal notebook of Henry Test aboard U.S.S. Catskill. Subseries B. Correspondence and Personal Papers includes correspondence sent home from sailors; official correspondence between officers and the Navy Department; the diary of an unknown sailor aboard the U.S.S. Midnight; and testimonies regarding the rank restoration of Captain George Henry Preble following his dismissal from the Navy, after a Confederate ship, the CSS Florida, reached safe harbor in Mobile, Alabama during an 1862 blockade.

Series IV. Salem Clubs and Committees includes correspondence and financial records of the Army and Navy Union; Union Drill Club by-laws, list of members, meeting minutes, financial records, and circulars; correspondence and meeting minutes of the public safety committee; vouchers for money received by the Salem Citizens' Relief Committee; a list of subscribers to the National Five Cent Fund; lists of subscribers and financial records of the Salem Recruiting Committee; and documents relating to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Committee.

Series V. Collected Materials is divided into five subseries. Subseries A. Captured Confederate Documents is comprised of documents collected by Union soldiers, some of which were sent directly to Dr. Henry Wheatland, Secretary of the Essex Institute. The papers collected by William Lewis Welch include several North Carolina legal documents dating back to 1780; a portion of a plantation journal; papers related to the purchase of slaves; correspondence between soldiers and their families; and letters written by "the Secession Ladies". Subseries B. Correspondence includes the letters of Union soldiers and their families; these are mostly written by Essex County, Massachusetts families. Subseries C. Maps and Newspaper Clippings include maps collected from the New York Herald, Harper's Weekly, and the New York Semi-Weekly Tribune. A few articles and pictorial scenes printed in the same newspapers are also included in this subseries. A single hand-drawn map of Port Hudson during the 48 day siege of United States forces in 1863 can be found in this series. Subseries D. Ephemera and Currency is comprised of railroad tickets, shipping labels, a songbook, mitten patterns, commemorative ribbons, and a broadside advertising a 4th of July celebration at Fort Warren. There is also a folder of 12 bills of currency ranging from three cents to one-hundred dollars. The bills are from Pennsylvania and various Confederate States. Subseries E. Union Items include land grants to Massachusetts soldiers, a copy of the New Testament and a medal given to a Massachusetts Lieutenant, and a handwritten history of participation in the war by Captain Charles Manning of Salem.

Series VI. Photographs includes War Views, an album of Matthew Brady and Timothy H. Sullivan prints. A second album contains cabinet card portraits of officers and some foreign dignitaries, while two other volumes contain cartes de visite of officers. There are two cartes de visite of Frances Clalin Clayton, dressed in both a dress and her Union uniform. The loose photographs in this series are organized by subject matter and location. The series also includes photographic images of other visual materials representing scenes from the Civil War and leaves from the Photographic History of the Civil War.

Historical Sketch

The American Civil War, the War between the States or simply the Civil War was a war fought between 1861 and 1865. In December of 1860, after the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, South Carolina elected to withdraw from the United States of America. This was shortly followed by the secession of six other states, with four more to follow to create the Confederate States of America. The war lasted four years. General Robert E. Lee agreed to the terms of surrender at the Appomattox Court House in April of 1865. The remaining Confederate Troops were defeated or surrendered by the end of May 1865. Jefferson Davis was captured in Georgia on May 10, 1865. The Civil War left over 600,000 soldiers dead and destroyed much of the South's infrastructure.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889
Lakeman, John R.
Lee, Francis Henry, 1836-1913
McClellan, Ellen Marcy, 1838-1907
Oliver, William H.
Perkins, Aaron, 1792-1881
Preble, George Henry, 1816-1885
Short, Joseph
Whipple, George M, 1842-1893
Williams, Charles F. (Charles Frederic) Jr, 1842-1862
Catskill (Ship)
Confederate States of America--Army--North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 8th
Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper
Harper & Brothers
Hartford (Ship)
Lehigh (U.S.S.)
Massachusetts--Militia--Beverly Light Infantry Company
Midnight (Bark)
Monitor (Ironclad)
New York Herald Company
Orange and Alexandria Railroad Company
Public Safety Committee (Salem, Mass.)
Roanoke Association
S. S. Philadelphia (Steamer)
Salem Relief Committee (Salem, Mass.)
Salem Union League (Salem, Mass.)
Union Drill Club of Salem
United States Army
United States Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 23rd (1861-1865)
United States Navy
United States. War Dept. Subsistence Dept
Wabash (Steam Frigate)
Confederate States of America
Military administration
Military supplies
Slavery--Southern States--1860-1870
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns & battles--Virginia
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Naval operations--Union--Virginia--Hampton Roads
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women
Camp Stanton (Boxford, Mass.)
New Bern (N.C.)
Richmond (Va.)
Salem (Mass.)
Topsfield (Mass.)
Account books
Carte de visite photographs
Money--Confederate States of America


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Request for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Civil War Collection, MM 1, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


This material was acquired from various sources. The correspondence of George Whipple and the Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis mitten patterns were given to the Essex Institute on June 30, 1884. The unused duty roster (volume 4) was presented by Lawrence W. Jenkins in 1914. The volume entitled "Roll of Salem Men in the service, 1861-1862" was donated to the Essex Institute by Harry E. Webber on August 2, 1927. The photograph albums and some photographs were donated by Harriet M. Merrill on February 10, 1954 in honor of her aunt Martha Ann Merrill. Other photographs were part of the Frank Lee collection. The notebook of Naval Cases was a gift from the Middleton Historical Society in 1959 (acc. 14,804). The Company Descriptive Book was acquired from Sykes & Flanders on December 8, 1977. The majority of the naval records were acquired through purchase (acc. 14, 566). Additional correspondence was also acquired through purchase (acc. 16,143). The naval diary written aboard the U.S.S. Midnight (acc. 17,829) was a gift of Hallet S. Fraser on August 28, 1968. The booklet of Old War Songs and the pass for Edward Balch were gifts of Eleanor Broadhead on September 12, 1980. The Naval Records were originally arranged as MM 18.

Processing Information

Collection inventory prepared by Halley Grogan, January 2013. Processed and cataloged by Jennifer Hornsby, July 2013.

Related Material

Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Records, 1775-1908, MM 6

Salem Light Infantry Records, 1805-1894, MM 12

Salem Light Infantry Veteran Association Records, 1855-1917, MM 13

Salem Relief Committee Records, 1877-1943, MSS 179

United States Naval Records, 1790-1877, MSS 391

Union Drill Club (Salem, Mass) Records, 1861, MM 37

1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery Association Records, 1863-1920, MM 40

23rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Association Records, 1775-1908, MM 39

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