Civil War Collections

Adams Family. Papers, 1836-1976, n.d.
Number: MS-010.
Description: Austin and Mary Newbury Adams lived in Dubuque, Iowa. Their home became an avant-garde salon for intellectuals of the period (1860s through 1880s). Two of Mary Adams' brothers served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Captain Samuel S. Newbury joined the regular Union Army shortly after the start of the war and was killed in August 1864 at the battle of Globe Tavern (Weldon Railroad). Egbert Starr Newbury served as a private in the 44th Iowa Infantry Regiment from June to September 1864. The Adams Family Papers include correspondence to family members from Samuel S. Newbury and Egbert Starr Newbury discussing army life, as well as accounts of Samuel Newbury's death. Correspondence of Mary Adams and others during this period include their views on the war.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Barker, Celestia Lee. Papers, 1860-1987, n.d.
Number: MS-246.
Description: Celestia Lee Barker (1846-1913) and William Beeson Barker (1842-1924) were married in 1866. During the Civil War, William Barker served in Company H, 4th Regiment, Iowa Infantry from July 1861 until July 1862 when he was discharged due to illness. He reenlisted and served from August 1862 to July 1865 in Company H, 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry. The Barker papers include typed transcripts of William Barker and Celestia Lee’s Civil War correspondence, 1863-1865. His regiment participated in campaigns in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, including the Battles of Port Gibson, Big Black River Bridge, and Milliken’s Bend and the siege of Vicksburg. The collection also contains Celestia Lee’s journal (original and typed transcript), 1863-1904; the Civil War entries include some mention of war news in addition to details of her daily life.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Bussey, Cyrus. Civil War Reminiscences, ca. 1864.
Number: MS-606.
Description: Cyrus Bussey (1833-1915) was appointed Aide-de-State by Governor Samuel Kirkwood in 1861 and was charged with commanding the militia in southeastern Iowa. He joined the Union Army as Colonel of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry in September 1861. He was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers in January 1864 and was breveted Major General from March 1865. Following the war, Bussey was a successful businessman and served as Assistant Secretary of the Interior during President Benjamin Harrison’s administration, 1889-1893. Bussey’s Civil War Reminiscences detail his exploits as an officer with the Iowa Cavalry as well as providing a history of the 3rd Iowa Cavalry. Bussey served in campaigns in Missouri and Arkansas, including the Battle of Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge) and the Siege of Vicksburg. The original reminiscences, as well as a typed transcript, are available for research use.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Chambers, John W. Civil War Diary, 1863.
Number: MS-159.
Description: John W. Chambers (1840-1863) was born in Guyandotte, Ohio, and later moved to Burlington, Iowa. He served as a private in Company E, 15th Regiment, Iowa Infantry from 1862 to 1863. He died of typhoid fever in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, on 21 September 1863. The collection consists of Chambers' diary for January-September 1863. The diary contains brief entries detailing his experiences in camp, on marches, at battle, and in the hospital. The 15th Iowa Infantry was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee, and later moved down to Louisiana and Mississippi. They took part in the siege of Vicksburg and also worked on the digging of a canal to connect Lake Providence, Louisiana, and the Mississippi River.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Chandler, George W. Papers, 1851-1971, n.d.
Number: MS-095.
Description: George W. Chandler was a master potter and inventor who ran the Moingona Pottery works in Moingona, Iowa, with Sylvester H. Deering from 1875 to 1877. He also worked as a potter in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. In 1863, Chandler was appointed Enrolling Officer for the towns of Felix and Braceville in Grundy County, Illinois. His brother Elbert N. Chandler served as a musician in the 1st Michigan Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War. The collection includes correspondence from relatives and acquaintances during the Civil War, including a letter from Elbert N. Chandler while he was at Camp Brodhead, Frederick City, Maryland, and a letter from an acquaintance, Charles Pratt, who was a private in the 36th Illinois Infantry Regiment.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Chapman, Charles W. Civil War Diary, 1862-1869.
Number: MS-591.
Description: Charles W. Chapman was a farmer from Grandview, Iowa. He served as a private in Company F of the 19th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. [N.B.: The regiment number written on Chapman's diary is the 15th Infantry, however it appears that he was actually in the 19th Infantry.] The collection consists of Chapman's diary, 1862-1863; this leather-bound volume also contains accounts and notes, 1862-1869, n.d. His regiment took part in the Battle of Prairie Grove and the Siege of Vicksburg. The original diary is fragile, and access is restricted. A photocopy is available for research use.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Civil War Diaries Digital Collection, 1861-1904.
Description: Contains online versions of the Civil War era diaries of: Celestia Lee Barker (MS-246), Charles W. Chapman (MS-591), Cyruss Bussey (MS-606), James Robertson (MS-646), John W. Chambers (MS-159), and L. Stone Hall (MS-587).
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Erwin, A. T. Papers, 1907-1973, n.d.
Number: RS 09/16/16.
Description: A. T. Erwin was a professor of horticulture at Iowa State College (University) from 1902 to 1956. His wife, Mary Turner Erwin, was the granddaughter of Asa Turner, a Congregational minister who was a leader in the Underground Railroad activities in Denmark, Iowa. The collection contains two documents written by Gen. John Tillson, which Mrs. Turner found in her family's home in Denmark, Iowa. These narratives, "Dr. Nelson in 1836" and "Anti-Slavery Riots 1837," relate events in the anti-slavery movement in Quincy, Illinois. The first tells the story of the flight of a clergyman, Dr. David Nelson, from Marion County, Missouri, to Quincy following an altercation stemming from advocacy of the colonization scheme for freed slaves. The second narrative recounts the 1837 conflict between abolitionists and pro-slavery groups in the town of Quincy; these anti-slavery riots are also sometimes called the "Nelson Riots."
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Gable, Asenath Hampton. Papers, 1901, 1907.
Number: MS-112.
Description: Asenath Hampton Gable (1840-1907) spent her childhood in Ohio before moving to Iowa in 1855. She married Solomon Levi Gable in 1856, and they settled in Crawford County, Iowa. The papers contain Asenath Gable's "Biographical Sketches of the Hampton and Gable Families" which she wrote for her children in 1901. In these reminiscences, she recounts her time living with her aunt and uncle in Ohio in the early 1850s, including her uncle William Doan's anti-slavery sentiments and assistance to run-away slaves. She also recounts the family's avid reading of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her account of the Civil War years discusses the contrast between the Gables' quiet farm life and the war news they read in the newspaper, as well as her fear that her husband might be drafted and sent to fight. A portion of the reminiscences, including the Civil War years, was published in Pure Nostalgia, ed. Carl Hamilton (Ames, Ia.: Iowa State University Press, 1979), ISU call no. CT234 P87.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Hall, L. Stone. Civil War Diary and Transcript, 1864-1865.
Number: MS-587.
Description: L. Stone Hall was a farmer from Washington County, Iowa. He was a corporal in Company C, 19th Infantry Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. The collection contains Hall's diary (original and transcription), December 1864 to January 1865. During this time, the 19th Iowa Infantry took part in numerous skirmishes in the vicinity of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The collection also contains a narrative of Hall’s February 1864 escape from a rebel prison in Shreveport, La., extracted from J. Irvine Dungan’s History of the Nineteenth Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry (Davenport, Ia.: Luse & Griggs, 1865). The original materials are fragile, and access is restricted. Photocopies are available for research use.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Hostetter, John L. Civil War Diary, 1864-1865.
Number: MS-662.
Description: Dr. John L. Hostetter served as a surgeon during the Civil War with the 34th Regiment, Illinois Infantry. The collection consists of a typed transcript of Hostetter's diary for November 1864 to May 1865. The 34th Illinois Infantry took part in General Sherman's march to the sea and the siege of Savannah, Campaign of the Carolinas and the battle of Bentonville.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


McCall Family. Papers, 1845-1928, n.d.
Number: MS-001.
Description: T. C. McCall (1827-1892) was a land agent in Des Moines and Nevada, Iowa. During the Civil War, he served as quartermaster of the 32nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1864, prior to being promoted to Assistant Quartermaster of Volunteers, a capacity in which he served 1864-1865. The collection includes T. C. McCall's Civil War diary, correspondence with his family and others, and an account book. Quartermaster records in the collection include provision returns, remarks on property accounts, inventory and inspection reports, and transportation orders. Additional Civil War correspondence includes a 24 June 1861 letter to Rev. Samuel A. Jones discussing the Wheeling Convention and war sentiments in Virginia.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Neel, George Samuel. Civil War Diary and Related Papers (Richard Groves, collector), 1864-1931.
Number: MS-637.
Description: George Samuel Neel (1842-1931) served as a private in Company A of the 70th Regiment, Ohio Infantry from 1864 to 1865. This collection contains photocopies of material that Neel’s great-grandson, Richard Grove, collected and duplicated from various sources. Included are copies of both Neel’s and his widow’s applications for pensions, death certificates, and newspaper clippings, as well as a copy of Neel’s war diary and his Civil War-era correspondence. Neel took part in the Atlanta Campaign (1864) and the Campaign of the Carolinas (1865).
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Rayness, Gerard and Velma. Papers, 1861-1979, n.d.
Number: MS-059.
Description: Gerard (1898-1946) and Velma (1896-1977) Rayness were both students of Charles Atherton Cumming and taught at his art school in Des Moines, Iowa. Sylvan Stanley Hunting (d.1894), a relative of Velma Rayness, was the chaplain for the 27th Michigan Infantry. He later became the first full-time minister (1880-1886) of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines. Included in the Rayness Papers are handwritten copies of letters from Hunting to his wife, 1861, 1863-1865. The letters discuss his views on the war, his travels, and military life. His regiment took part in the Knoxville Campaign, the capture of Petersburg, and the Battle of Fort Stedman. The collection also includes excerpts from the diary of Private Hiram Howe, 10th Missouri Infantry, and a memoir by W. P. Macy which includes accounts of two incidents in which his father Henry Macy assisted fugitive slaves passing through Carthage, Indiana, on their way to Canada.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Robertson, James. Civil War Diaries, 1860-1894, n.d.
Number: MS-646.
Description: James Robertson was a private in Company C, 8th Iowa Infantry, from Clifton, Louisa County, Iowa. The collection includes Robertson's diaries and account book from 1861-1862. They include an account of the Battle of Shiloh, where Robertson was captured, and his subsequent experiences, as well as entries on camp life and hospital conditions.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Sisson, Robert and Mary Ann. Civil War Letters, 1861-1864, n.d.
Number: MS-663.
Description: Robert and Mary Ann Sisson were natives of England who immigrated to the United States and settled in Stephenson County, Illinois. Their nephew (and later son-in-law) Alfred Foreman served in the 15th Illinois Infantry. Another nephew, Philip West, served in the 92nd Illinois Infantry during the Civil War. The collection contains photocopies and partial transcripts of correspondence written to the Sissons by relatives serving in the Civil War, including Alfred Foreman and Philip West. The letters primarily detail daily life in camp and on marches, and include references to the Meridian Campaign and the Middle Tennessee (or Tullahoma) Campaign.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Tilden Family. Papers, 1837-1996, n.d.
Number: MS-247.
Description: George G. Tilden (1842-1892) was born in Rochester, Vermont. He joined the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery as a sergeant in 1862. He received promotions to 2nd lieutenant (1862) and 1st lieutenant (1863) and was commissioned as captain in 1864. At the time of his discharge in June 1865 he held the brevet rank of major for gallant and meritorious service during the assault before Petersburg, Va. Following the war, he went into the mercantile business in Rochester and, later, in Ames, Iowa. The Tilden Family papers contains Civil War letters, 1862-1865, from George G. Tilden (original and typed transcripts) to his future wife Lydia Cooper and his brother Fred C. Tilden, who also served in the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery. The 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery had duty in the defense of Washington, D.C., 1862-1864, before joining the army in the field in May 1864; they took part in the Battles of Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and others. Correspondence of other family members, including Lydia Cooper's father Barna Cooper, during this period includes discussions of politics, slavery, and war news. This correspondence has been published in the book Tilden Family Letters: Civil War Period 1861-1865, Letters about coming to Ames, Iowa 1867-1869, with Letters of Related Emerson, Cooper and Briggs Families 1839-1924 compiled by Farwell T. Brown (Ames, Ia.: Farwell T. Brown, 1989), ISU Library call no. CS71 T55x 1989.
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.


Van Zandt Family. Papers, 1838-1990, n.d.
Number: MS-213
Description: The Van Zandt (or Vanzant) family started out in North Carolina prior to moving to Kentucky and then Tennessee. In 1848, brothers Henry Vanzant and William Vanzant moved to Iowa. Other members of the family settled in Northern Arkansas and Webster County, Missouri. During the Civil War, William Vanzant served as a sergeant in the 1st Independent Battery, Iowa Light Artillery. William Vanzant died of an unspecified disease in Benton Barracks Hospital in St. Louis on February 12, 1864. The Van Zandt Family Papers contains William Vanzant's correspondence and diaries. The collection also includes letters from other family members and friends, both in the North and the South, discussing their experiences during the war. The 1st Iowa Light Artillery participated in the Battles of Pea Ridge, Chickasaw Bayou, and Arkansas Post, as well as the Vicksburg campaign. The letters also discuss camp life and work on Grant's Canal (January - March 1863).
Status: Processed.
Finding Aid: Online.