The James R. Woodworth papers (151 items) contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). The collection consists of 143 letters, four diaries, one poem, and a bundle of 37 envelopes. In both the letters and the diaries, Woodworth provided detailed reflections on life as a soldier, his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and the horrors of war.
The Correspondence series (143 items) consists of 122 letters from James Woodworth to his wife Phebe, five from Phebe to James, three from friends and relatives to James, one from a friend to Phebe, and 12 fragments written by James and Phebe.
Woodworth's letters to Phebe contain descriptions of his war experiences. Topics include foraging, gambling, homesickness, lice, prostitutes, singing, sickness (fever, dysentery, smallpox, typhus fever, scarlatina), food (alcohol, beans, beef, bread, coffee, and hardtack), and opinions on religious matters. Woodworth was well educated and a skillful writer who often provided emotional and perceptive observations on life in his regiment and the aftermath of battles. Woodworth also frequently discussed his wife's struggles on the home front, raising their young son and running their farm in Seneca Falls, New York. This series also contains a printed poem by William Oland Bourne entitled "In Memoriam, Gettysburg, July 1-4, 1863."
The Diaries series (4 volumes, 426 pages) contains Woodworth's wartime diaries covering the period from his arrival in Virginia in October, 1862, to a few weeks before his death in 1864. Though the entries are often brief, they provide complementary information for the letters and often fill in gaps concerning travel and troop life. Of particular note are Woodworth's reflections on the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
The third diary contains two additional items, stored in a pocket in the back of the volume. One item is a small volume entitled "The Soldier on Guard," which explains the responsibilities of a Union soldier on guard duty (64 pages). The other is a 3-page printed item entitled "Rules for Dr. Gleason's Patients," which contains advice for healthy living.