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War in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

U.S. Civil War Collection, 1862-1898

The U.S. Civil War Collection is composed primarily of materials generated and collected by James H. Lewis, a soldier in the 24th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment, otherwise known as the Iowa Temperance Regiment. The collection includes lyrics to several songs composed by Lewis and other Union soldiers, a pencil drawing depicting the transportation of cotton in the American South, a manuscript copy of General William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Order no. 54 announcing the surrender of General Lee, a letter from Secretary of War Edwin McMasters Stanton, several military and civilian newspapers including one produced by Lewis' own regiment and some bearing inscriptions and correspondence from Lewis, and multiple reproductions of the April 15, 1865 issue of the New York Herald reporting the assassination of President Lincoln.

Benjamin F. Cook Letters


The Benjamin F. Cook Letters were written and sent by Cook to his wife Julia from various locations throughout the Northeast and South as Cook served with the 12th Massachusetts Volunteers in the Civil War. The letters date from his time before the Civil War while serving in the state militia, and run through the end of the war. Handwritten in pencil or ink, Cook's letters vary in length from a single scrap of paper to several pages. The correspondence is fairly regular throughout the war years, though there are long periods of time when letters were not sent, either due to a planned leave of absence or unknown circumstances.

Cook details the trials of a soldier's daily life in the Civil War, including limited resources such as clothing and food. He describes political situations within his company, as well as relationships between the soldiers, including incidents of disobedience and punishment, fighting and petty arguments, and theft. He frequently requests his wife to send him needed supplies, including new clothes, paper, and shoes. The letters show the misery and monotony of life at the front, including complaints about the weather, trouble sleeping, illness, late pay, and idly sitting waiting for something to happen. He reports to his wife on troop movements, skirmishes with Rebels, battle strategy, and troop plans. He continuously expresses a longing for home and family, asking for more letters from his wife, and trying to participate in home life by giving advice on the raising of children and spending of money. The end of the war is a frequent subject of speculation in the letters, and Cook vacillates between expressing confidence and fear, good spirits and depression, eagerness to fight the enemy and the overwhelming desire to run away.

Letters of note include a description of the Battle of Antietam (Box-Folder 1.4, Item 9), comments on Negro regiments (Box-Folder 1.3, Item 3), an encounter with a conscientious objector (Box-Folder 1.5, Item 26), and letters written from the battlefield (Box-Folder 1.6, Items 16-18).

U. S. Civil War Books

Below are some of the more significant holdings in SCARC related to the Civil War. Try a keyword search for civil war, confeder*, or secession and limit to 1860-1866.

Wyld, James,. Wyld's Military Map of the United States, the Northern States, and the Southern Confederate States: With the Forts, Harbours, Arsenals, and Military Positions. London, 1861.

Moore, Frank,. The Rebellion Record., 1861.

Brownlow, William Gannaway,. Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession : With a Narrative of Personal Adventures among the Rebels. Philadelphia : Cincinnati: G.W. Childs ; Applegate &, 1862.

Confederate States of America. War Department. Southern History of the War. Official Reports of Battles,. New York, Habana: C.B. Richardson; W.P. Harvey, 1863.

McClellan, George Brinton,. Report on the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac: To Which Is Added an Account of the Campaign in Western Virginia, with Plans of Battle-fields. New York: Sheldon, &, 1864.

Stuart, Addison A. Iowa Colonels and Regiments : Being a History of Iowa Regiments in the War of the Rebellion ; and Containing a Description of the Battles in Which They Have Fought. Des Moines: Mills &, 1865.

Patterson, Robert,. A Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah, in 1861. 4th ed. Philadelphia: J. Campbell, 1865.

Guernsey, Alfred H. Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War. Chicago: McDonnell, 1866.

McClellan, George Brinton,. McClellan's Own Story : The War for the Union, the Soldiers Who Fought It, the Civilians Who Directed It, and His Relations to It and to Them. New York: C.L. Webster &, 1887.

Fletcher, Randol B. Hidden History of Civil War Oregon. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.

Patterson, Robert,. A Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah, in 1861. 4th ed. Philadelphia: J. Campbell, 1865.

Sheridan, Philip Henry,. Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan. New York: Charles L. Webster and, 1888.

Brownlow, William Gannaway,. Sketches of the Rise, Progress, and Decline of Secession : With a Narrative of Personal Adventures among the Rebels. Philadelphia : Cincinnati: G.W. Childs ; Applegate &, 1862.

Mullan, John,. Report of the Secretary of War : Communicating, in Compliance with a Resolution of the Senate, Communications from Major Steen and Lieutenant Mullan, Relative to the Movement of Troops Overland to the Northern Portion of the Department of the Pacific. Washington]: [George W. Bowman, Printer], 1861.

Sheelah. Within Fort Sumter : Or, A View of Major Anderson's Garrison Family for One Hundred and Ten Days. New York: N. Tibbals, 1861.

Patterson, Robert,. A Narrative of the Campaign in the Valley of the Shenandoah, in 1861. 4th ed. Philadelphia: J. Campbell, 1865.

McClellan, George Brinton,. Report on the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac: To Which Is Added an Account of the Campaign in Western Virginia, with Plans of Battle-fields. New York: Sheldon, &, 1864.

Confederate States of America. War Department. Southern History of the War. Official Reports of Battles,. New York, Habana: C.B. Richardson; W.P. Harvey, 1863.

Barnard, J. G. The C.S.A. and the Battle of Bull Run. (A Letter to an English Friend.). New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1862.

Cook, Joel,. The Siege of Richmond: A Narrative of the Military Operations of Major-General George B. McClellan during ... May and June, 1862. Philadelphia: G.W. Childs, 1862.

Jay, William,. An Inquiry into the Character and Tendency of the American Colonization, and American Anti-Slavery Societies. 3rd ed. New York : Boston: Published by Leavitt, Lord & ; Crocker & Brewster, 1835.

Steward, Austin,. Twenty-two Years a Slave, and Forty Years a Freeman : Embracing a Correspondence of Several Years, While President of Wilberforce Colony, London, Canada West. Rochester, N.Y.: W. Alling, 1857.

Adams, Nehemiah,. A South-side View of Slavery. 4th ed. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1860.

Magic Lantern Slide Collection, circa 1900-1935

The Magic Lantern Slide Collection consists of several sets of magic lantern slides as well as one set of glass-mounted 2x2 slides that were probably used for home entertainment or educational purposes. The collection includes a set of 10 items from the American Civil War Series includes artists' depictions of General McClellan and Fort Sumter.