Hugh and George Roden papers  1861-1898 (bulk 1861-1864)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Roden brothers collection represents only a portion of a much larger body of material. There are five letters written by George Roden, Jr., all between June 17th and August 19th, 1861, and one letter written to him by a fellow veteran in 1898. The remainder of the collection consists of letters from Hugh Roden, who was described by the original cataloguer of this collection as "a charmingly precocious drummer boy."

Like those of many of his fellow soldiers, Hugh Roden's letters contain frequent references to food, both that issued by the commissary and that sent from home. His best letters, though, offer an excellent look at the ordinary soldier's view of politics, the army, and its commanders. Probably younger than his 21 year old brother, Hugh's early letters are strongly optimistic and reflect a confidence in his leaders. He is occasionally introspective, giving thought to the toll exacted on its participants and the families of soldiers on both sides, and can muster a little humor at times. A Lincoln supporter, Roden is nevertheless incensed at the Emancipation Proclamation, which he predicts will turn the army against the President, and further predicts that passage of the Proclamation will result in racial equality, in theory and fact.

The best series of letters are Hugh's six letters from the Peninsular Campaign, in which he describes the positions before Yorktown, the battlefield at Fair Oaks, removing bodies from the field after Williamsburg, and the aftermath of the battle of Seven Days' Battles. His diary-like account of Chancellorsville is also worthwhile. Unfortunately lacking from the collection are the brothers' letters from Fredericksburg, Mine Run, and the battles between the Wilderness and Cold Harbor.

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