Clarke Historical Library
Central Michigan University

Finding aid for
O. M. [Orlando Metcalfe] Poe Papers

Finding aid created by
M. Matyn

Summary Information
Title: O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe) Poe Papers,
Creator: Poe, O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe), 1832-1895.
Inclusive dates: 1853, 1878, and undated
Extent: .5 cubic feet (in 1 box, 1 Oversized folder)
Papers document his military schooling and Civil War engineering work mostly with correspondence, military orders, reports, maps, and sketches.

Call number: MSS.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
250 East Preston Street
Mount Pleasant, MI 48859
Phone: 989-774-3352
Fax: 989-774-2160

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

no Acc#, MS# Pp-74

Access Restrictions:

O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe) Poe Papers are open for research.



Preferred Citation:

O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe) Poe Papers, Folder #, Box #, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University


Arrangement is by size, alphabetical by format, and then chronological.



O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe) Poe was born on March 7, 1832 in Navarre, Ohio. He attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating with high marks in 1856 as a Topographical Engineer with the rank of Brevet Second Lieutenant.

While serving in garrison, on surveying expeditions in West Virginia, and on the frontier, Poe was promoted to Second Lieutenant on October 7, 1856 and to First Lieutenant on July 1, 1860. He then served on General McClellan’s staff, 1860-1861, in organizing the defenses of Washington D.C. Poe was commissioned as Colonel of the Second Michigan Infantry from September 16, 1861 to February 16, 1863. Beginning in August 19, 1862, Poe commanded Berry’s Brigade. On November 29, 1862, Poe was appointed as Brigadier General of the U.S. Volunteers. He led his regiment at Williamsburg and Fair Oaks, and commanded the Third Brigade First Division Third Army Corps at Second Bull Run (August-September 1862). Poe led the First Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps of the Potomac at Fredericksburg (November 15-December 15, 1862 and February 11-April 11, 1863), and was leading the same brigade in the Army of the Ohio (March 19-April 11, 1863), when his appointment as Brigadier General expired.

On March 3, 1863, Poe transferred to Engineers, with the rank of Captain. He was promoted to the rank of Major on March 7, 1867, to Lieutenant Colonel on June 30, 1882, and as Colonel on July 23, 1888. He served as Chief Engineer of the Army of the Ohio. In December 1863 Poe was named Assistant Engineer of the Military Division of the Mississippi. In April 1864 he was named General William T. Sherman’s Chief Engineer.

For gallant service in the siege of Knoxville, Tennessee, Poe was name as a Brevet Major on July 6, 1864. He was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General on March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service in “the campaign terminating with the surrender of the insurgent army under General J. E. Johnston.” [This refers to Poe’s and his unit’s participation in the destruction of Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, and Sherman’s March to the Sea.]

Poe also served as Colonel and Aide de Camp to Gen. William T. Sherman from January 1, 1873 to February 8, 1884.

Continuing in the Regular Army, Poe served as an outstanding engineer on numerous projects on the Great Lakes, including the St. Mary’s Falls Canal, the St. Clair Flats Canal, the Detroit River at Lime Kiln Crossing, the harbors at Cheboygan, Thunder Bay, Saginaw River, the improvement of the mouth of Black River and Rouge River, the Harbor of Refuge at Sand Beach, the improvement of the Clinton River, and the ship canal connecting the waters of the Great Lakes between Chicago, Duluth and Buffalo, which began in 1892. This last work was nearly completed when Poe died on October 2, 1895 at Detroit. One of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is named in Poe’s honor. (This information is from the collection.)

Collection Scope and Content Note

Poe’s papers document his military schooling and Civil War work. Correspondence, orders, reports, muster rolls, and maps document both his engineering work and that of the engineers and mechanics he commanded. Correspondence and reports from November and December 1864 and early 1865 detail the work of Poe’s engineers in the destruction of Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia, which they razed and destroyed on General William T. Sherman’s orders. Poe invented a battering ram on a chain attached to a large sawhorse with which the army destroyed brick buildings. Poe’s engineers were also responsible for the wholesale destruction of local railroads and buildings, which were used by Confederates to fight Union forces. His men also built fortifications. There are numerous correspondence (reports) and morning reports from the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, and muster rolls of the Engineer Battalion Twenty-third Army Corps. The collection has a set of item-level index cards. Also, part of the Correspondence, March-December 1863, has been microfilmed (See Micro Accession # 429).

Subject Terms

    • Poe, O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe), 1832-1895.
    • United States Military Academy.
    • United States. Army. Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Regiment, 1st (1861-1865)
    • United States. Army. Engineers Battalion, 23rd.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction and pillage.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Cartography.
    • Atlanta (Ga.)
    • Savannah (Ga.)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    O. M. (Orlando Metcalfe) Poe Papers [series]:
    Box   1 F   1
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), 1856-1858
    Box   1 F   2
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), 1859-1860
    Box   1 F   3
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), 1861
    Box   1 F   4
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), 1862
    Box   1 F   5
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), January-June 1863
    Box   1 F   6
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), July-December 1863
    Box   1 F   7
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), November-December 1864
    Box   1 F   8
    Correspondence (including Circulars and Reports to Poe), January-April 1865
    Box   1 F   9
    Correspondence, Attachments, and Notes, 1867-1868, undated
    Box   1 F   10
    Daily Blade (North Carolina) Newspaper Clipping about the April 15, 1861 surrender of Fort Sumter, [circa April 15, 1861]
    Box   1 F   11
    Military Orders (includes Special and Engineering Orders), 1861-1864
    Box   1 F   12
    Reports (by Poe), 1860, 1863, undated
    Box   1 F   13
    U.S. Military Academy, Class Standing Reports (of Poe), 1853-1856
    Box   1 F   14
    U.S. Military Academy, Court of Inquiry Trial Papers, 1855
    Box   1 F   15
    Maps and Miscellaneous, includes: Itinerary of Route from Knoxville, Tennessee, and London, Kentucky, with Remarks and Map Sketches, September 28-October 1, 1863; Sketch (Pencil) of Eastern Suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, 1863; Sketch (ink) of Clarksburg, St. George, and Huttonsville, West Virginia, 1861; Note about a Map, October 1863; List of Maps (to be requested?), undated; Topographical Signs Notecard, undated; U.S. Ordnance Schematic, undated; Unidentified (Pencil) Sketch, undated; Map Sketch (ink) of Millerstown and Upton (state?), undated, 1861-1863, undated
    F   1  
    Oversized Folder, includes: Morning Reports, First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, includes: company; regiment; number of officers, men, and teams; whence furnished (date); remarks; signed by Maj. John B. Yates (acidic, brittle), November 13, 1864-January 21, 1865, undated; Map Sketch (ink) of Livermore and Hartf (state?), undated; Muster Roll, Engineer Battalion Twenty-third Army Corps, includes: names and ranks of men; when, where, and by whom and for what time period joined; when, where, and by whom mustered; date and by which paymaster last paid; remarks; signed by Capt. Oliver S. McClure (very acidic and in pieces), June 30-August 31, 1863; Yellowstone National Park Map, Surveyed by F. V. Hayden (printed map), 1871; Lower Geyser Basin, Fine Hole River, Wyoming, surveyed by F. V. Hayden, (very acidic, in several pieces, printed map), 1871; Suez Canal, Farringdon Road, London, Chromo Lith., by W. Dickes, (in pieces and ripping, printed map), November 1869; Panama Railroad, surveyed in 1849, U.S. N. (printed map), March 19, 1866; War in Asia/ Map of Afghanistan, Surveys by British and Russian Officers up to 1875, printed by the U.S. Army (in two pieces, printed map), November 1878; Mountain Region of North Carolina and Tennessee, by H. Linden Kohl and Chas. G. Krebs, Lith., (printed map), 1863; Morgantown to Petersburg, Kentucky (Sketch, ink), undated; Lloyd’s Official Map of the State of Kentucky, by J. T. Lloyd (in pieces, brittle, very large printed map), 1863, 1863-1866, 1869, 1871, 1878