Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James R. Woodworth Papers, 1862-1864

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, April 2011

Summary Information
Title: James R. Woodworth papers
Creator: Hotchkiss, Lawrence E.
Inclusive dates: 1862-1864
Extent: 151 items (0.5 linear feet)
Abstract:
The James R. Woodworth papers contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). Woodworth provides detailed reflections on life as a soldier and on his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated by Lawrence E. Hotchkiss, 1962. M-1217.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Provenance:

These papers were collected by James R. Woodworth's great-grand-nephew Lawrence E. Hotchkiss and donated to the Clements Library.

Preferred Citation:

James R. Woodworth Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection is organized into two series:

  • Series I: Correspondence
  • Series II: Diaries

Each series is ordered chronologically.


Biography

James R. Woodworth (1838-1864) was born in Ovid, New York, to Nancy Dickerson and Alanson Woodworth. On July 25, 1860, he married Phebe Burroughs. By the outbreak of the Civil War he had established a farm in Seneca Falls, New York. He enlisted as a private in Company E of the 44th New York Infantry (the Ellsworth Avengers), and served in the Army of the Potomac from September 1862 until his death in May 1864. In that time, Woodworth and his regiment saw action at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He contracted a fever in October 1863 and was hospitalized in Washington D.C. and New York City military hospitals until December of that year. He rejoined his regiment, and died at Laurel Hill on May 8, 1864, a casualty of the Battle of the Wilderness.


Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Albany (N.Y.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Alexandria (Va.)--Description and travel.
    • Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896.
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Chancellorsville Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
    • Confederate States of America. Army of Northern Virginia.
    • Dysentery.
    • Everett, Edward, 1794-1865.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
    • Geary, John White, 1819-1873.
    • Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Va., 1864.
    • Kimball, R. G. (Rodney Glentworth), 1835-1900.
    • Knights of the Golden Circle.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Longstreet, James, 1821-1904.
    • Maryland--Description and travel.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Mount Vernon (Va. : Estate)
    • Rappahannock River (Va.)
    • Smallpox.
    • Snickers Gap (Va.)
    • Soldiers--Religious life.
    • Stuart, Jeb, 1833-1864.
    • Thanksgiving Day.
    • Typhus fever.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 44th (1861-1864)
    • United States. Army of the Potomac.
    • United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
    • Vincent, Strong, 1837-1863.
    • Virginia--Description and travel.
    • Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
    Contributors:
    • Bourne, Wm. Oland (William Oland), 1819-1901.
    • Sanderson, James, Jr.
    • Willers, D., Jr.
    • Woodworth, Frank.
    • Woodworth, James R., 1838-1864.
    • Woodworth, Phebe Burroughs.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Poems.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
     
    Correspondence [series]
    Box   1  
     September 14, 1862-March 31, 1863
    Box   2  
     April 1, 1863-March 27, 1864, and  undated
     
    Diaries [series]
    Volume   1  
     October 14, 1862-November 26, 1862
    Volume   2  
     November 27, 1862-March 31, 1863
    Volume   3  
     March 22, 1863-July 28, 1863
    Volume   4  
     November 16, 1863-April 2, 1864
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library Graphics Division holds a piece of Sheet music entitled Songs of the Ellsworth Avengers

    Bibliography

    Hunter, Christopher. "A Civil War Private: James Woodworth of the Forty-Forth New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the Family He Left Behind." Diss. University at Albany, State University of New York. 2000. Print.

    Partial Subject Index
    April Fool's Day.
    • Letter: April 2, 1863
    Birthdays.
    • Diary: January 9, 1863
    Blankets and Bedding .
    • Letter: January 21, 1863
    Brady, Mathew B., ca. 1823-1896.
    • Letter: March 13, 1864
    Bread.
    • Diary: 1862
    Camp life, Albany, New York.
    • Letter: September 14, 1862
    • Letter: September 21, 1862
    Candles.
    • Letter: September 21, 1862
    Chancellorsville, Battle of, 1863.
    • Diary: May 5, 1863
    • Letter: May 8, 1863
    • Letter: May 10, 1863
    Christmas.
    • Letter: December 25, 1862
    Civilians, Virginia,.
    • Letter: June 7, 1863
    Clothing.
    • Letter: August 30, 1863
    Coffee.
    • Diary: 1862
    • Letter: October 27, 1862
    • Letter: December 1, 1862
    • Diary: February 12, 1863
    • Diary: July 1, 1863
    • Diary: July 29, 1863
    Dickens, Charles.
    • Diary: April 28, 1863
    Dixie (song)
    • Letter: June 1, 1863
    Dogs.
    • Letter: November 13, 1863
    Food.
    • Letter: October 27, 1862
    • Letter: December 17, 1862
    • Letter: November 30, 1862
    • Letter: April 14, 1863
    • Diary: January 4, 1864
    • Diary: January 13, 1864
    Fredericksburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • Letter: December 12, 1862
    • Letter: December 15, 1862
    • Diary: December 16, 1862
    • Letter: December 17, 1862
    Gambling.
    • Letter: January 28, 1863
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863.
    • Diary: July 2, 1863
    • Diary: July 3, 1863
    • Letter: July 4, 1863
    Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885.
    • Letter: March 13, 1864
    Hardtack.
    • Letter: January 31, 1863
    • Letter: February 26, 1863
    Hooker, Joseph 1814-1879.
    • Letter: December 12, 1862
    • Letter: April 5, 1863
    Hospitals, military.
    • Letter: May 10, 1863
    • Letter: October 16, 1863
    • Letter: October 18, 1863
    • Letter: November 17, 1863
    • Letter: November 19, 1863
    • Letter: November 28, 1863
    • Letter: December 6, 1863
    • Letter: December 10, 1863
    Jokes.
    • Diary: October 29, 1862
    • Letter: March 27, 1864
    Kimball, Rodney G., d. 1900.
    • Letter: January 18, 1863
    Lice.
    • Letter: January 31, 1863
    • Letter: February 26, 1863
    Liquor.
    • Letter: February 16, 1863
    Marye's Hill.
    • Letter: December 12, 1862
    Maryland--Description and travel.
    • Diary: October 17, 1862
    McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Letter: November 7, 1862
    • Diary: November 10, 1862
    Mead, George Gordon, 1815-1872.
    • Diary: May 1, 1863
    • Diary: May 19, 1863
    Mount Vernon (Va.: estate)
    • Letter: November 28, 1863
    Nurses.
    • Letter: October 1863
    Photographs and ambrotypes .
    • Letter: September 21, 1862
    • Letter: March 13, 1864
    • Letter: March 27, 1764
    Pillaging, Virginia.
    • Letter: December 17, 1862
    • Letter: September 22, 1863
    Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America.
    • Diary: October 19, 1862
    Prostitutes.
    • Letter: January 29, 1864
    Rappahannock River (Va.)
    • Diary: April 29, 1863
    Slaves, runaway.
    • Diary: 1862
    Smallpox.
    • Diary: February 8, 1864
    Songs, singing, and music.
    • Letter: September 28, 1862
    • Letter: October 12, 1862
    • Letter: June 1, 1863
    • Letter: June 7, 1863
    Stuart, Jeb, 1833-1864 .
    • Letter: March 20, 1864
    Sugar rations.
    • Letter: February 16, 1863
    Thanksgiving.
    • Letter: November 26, 1863
    Theater.
    • Diary: February 17, 1864
    Train (rail road) guard.
    • Diary: January 17, 1864
    • Diary: January 31, 1864
    Union/Confederate Friendly encounter.
    • Letter: May 30, 1863
    • Letter: June 1, 1863
    United States. Army--pay.
    • Letter: January 26, 1863
    • Letter: April 24, 1863
    Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
    • Diary: 1862