Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Hugh and George Roden Papers, 1861-1898

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Hugh and George Roden papers
Creator: Roden family
Inclusive dates: 1861-1898
Bulk dates: 1861-1864
Extent: 68 items
Abstract:
George and Hugh Roden, sons of English immigrants, enlisted in the 2nd and 7th New Jersey Infantry regiments respectively during the Civil War. This collection contains 62 letters from Hugh and five letters from George, which offer an excellent look at the ordinary soldier's view of politics, the army, and its commanders.
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:

1963, 1979, 1983, 1993. M-1275; M-1853; M-2082; M-2948.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Hugh and George Roden Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Roden, Hugh P.

Rank : Drummer

Regiment : 7th New Jersey Infantry Regiment. Co. K (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 September 4-1864 October 7

Roden, George, Jr., b. 1841

Rank : 1st Sergeant

Regiment : 2nd New Jersey Infantry Regiment. Co. K (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 May 30-1864 June 21

George Roden, Sr. (b. 1800) and his wife were natives of England; George voted in a U.S. election for the first time in 1862. Their children included George, Jr. (b. 1841), Hugh P., Agnes, Rachel, and Elizabeth. Twenty-one-year-old George Roden enlisted as 1st Sergeant in Company K, 2nd New Jersey Infantry, one of the regiments in Kearny's 1st Jersey Brigade. Stationed in northern Virginia throughout its very active service, the 2nd New Jersey was involved in several key engagements during the first year of the war, including the small, but psychologically important Union defeat at Blackburn's Ford in June, 1861, and as a reserve regiment at 1st Bull Run. From then until the end of the war, the regiment saw frequent combat, serving in most of great campaigns and battles of the Army of the Potomac. George Roden was a veteran of the Peninsular Campaign, 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, but at the end of his three years' commitment, he declined to reenlist and returned home to Newark, N.J. in June, 1864.

Early in September, 1861, George's brother Hugh followed him into the service in northern Virginia, enlisting as the Drummer for Company K, 7th New Jersey Infantry, one of the regiments forming the 2nd Jersey Brigade. Hugh Roden's introduction to military life was less bloody than his brother's, with no general engagements until the spring of 1862, when the 7th was assigned to III Corps under Joseph Hooker and joined in the Peninsular Campaign. The regiment played a significant role at the Siege of Yorktown and the Battle of Williamsburg -- after which Roden assisted in removing the dead from the field -- and they saw particularly fierce action at Fair Oaks and in the Seven Days' Battles, losing nearly half of their effectives, most at Malvern Hill. They continued under the gun through 2nd Bull Run, Chantilly and Centreville, regrouping in September before following McClellan into the Blue Ridge.

Like many soldiers in the Army of the Potomac, Roden was initially a strong supporter of McClellan, but after becoming frustrated with the carnage and lack of success in the Peninsula, his opinion of the general turned sour, to the point that he cheered McClellan's dismissal in November. By Fredericksburg, where the regiment were again engaged with heavy loss, the optimism and high patriotism that had characterized his letters earlier in the war ceased, and he began counting the months until his (and George's) enlistment ended. After the mud bemired wintered at Falmouth, the Regiment acquitted themselves well at Chancellorsville, where they took seven Confederate battle flags, but even that performance was dampened by the heavy Union loss and the lack of recognition back home. The 7th fought at Gettysburg, and were among the regiments bottled up at Manassas Gap in the fruitless effort to cut off the retreat of the Army of Northern Virginia. Roden was also present at the Petersburg Campaign during the summer of 1864. Like his brother, Hugh Roden declined to reenlist when his three year commitment ended in September, 1864, and he was mustered out at Trenton after a considerable delay. Both his regiment and the 2nd remained active up to the end of the war and were present at Lee's surrender at Appomattox.


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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • United States. Army. New Jersey Infantry Regiment, 7th (1861-1865)
    • United States. Army. New Jersey Infantry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1865)
    • Peninsular Campaign, 1862.
    • Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Contributors:
    • Roden, George, Jr., b. 1841.
    • Roden, Hugh P.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   12, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Hugh and George Roden papers,  1861 July 19-1864 September 23,  1898 June 16 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Stryker, William S. Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War (Trenton, 1876)

    Partial Subject Index
    Adultery.
    • 1863 March 28
    African Americans--Social conditions.
    • 1863 February 16
    Balloons.
    • 1861 September 30
    • 1861 October 1
    Blackburn's Ford (Va.), Battle of, 1861.
    • 1861 July 19
    Bull Run Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 August 11-17
    • 1862 August 26
    Bull Run, 1st Battle of, Va., 1861.
    • 1861 July 24
    Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862.
    • ca. 1862 September 1
    Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • 1862 December 5
    • 1863 February 1
    Camps (Military)--Confederate States of America.
    • 1863 November
    Camps (Military)--Virginia.
    • 1863 February 16
    Chain Bridge (Washington, D.C.), Skirmish near, 1861.
    • 1861 October 1-12
    Chancellorsville, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 April 27-May 5
    Copperhead (Nickname)
    • 1862 July 10
    Dead.
    • 1862 May 24
    • 1862 July 10
    Dentistry.
    • 1862 January 1
    Deserters, Military.
    • 1863 December 13
    Draft.
    • 1862 September
    • 1863 March 28
    Elections--Maryland--1861.
    • 1861 November 11
    Emancipation Proclamation.
    • 1863 February 16
    Executions and executioners.
    • 1863 December 13
    Fair Oaks (Va.) Battlefield.
    • 1862 June 17
    Fairfax Court House (Va.), Skirmish at, 1861.
    • 1861 July 19
    Food.
    • 1861 July 26
    • 1861 December 7
    • 1861 December 20
    Funeral rites and ceremonies.
    • 1862 January 31
    • 1863 August
    Germantown (Va.)
    • 1861 July 19
    Gettysburg Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 July 23
    Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885.
    • 1863 July 23
    Great Britain--Foreign relations--United States.
    • 1862 November 12
    Home guards.
    • 1862 July 10
    Homesickness.
    • 1861 June 17
    Hooker, Joseph 1814-1879.
    • 1862 July 10
    • 1862 August 26
    • 1862 September
    • 1862 November 12
    • 1863 February 1
    Jackson, Stonewall, 1824-1863.
    • 1863 May 24
    Laundry.
    • 1863 November
    Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865.
    • 1861 October 13
    • 1861 October 28
    • 1862 February 1
    • 1863 April 16
    Lincoln, Mary Todd, 1818-1882.
    • 1863 April 16
    Malvern Hill, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 July 10
    Manassas Gap (Va.)
    • 1863 July 23
    Marches--District of Columbia.
    • 1861 November 11
    McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • 1862 January 31
    • 1862 February 16
    • 1862 April 22
    • 1862 July 10
    • 1862 October 27
    • 1863 February 1
    Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872.
    • 1862 July 10
    Morale.
    • 1862 August 26
    • 1862 September 21
    Orange Court House (Va.), Skirmish near, 1863.
    • 1863 November 5
    Patterson, Francis 1827-1862.
    • 1862 November 12
    • 1862 December 5
    Peninsular Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 March 9
    • 1862 April 22
    • 1862 April 28
    • 1862 May 5
    • 1862 May 24
    • 1862 June 17
    Petersburg (Va.)--History--Siege, 1864.
    • 1864 June 28
    Prayer meetings.
    • 1862 April 22
    Seven Days' Battles, 1862.
    • 1862 July 10
    Sharpshooters.
    • 1862 April 28
    Sickles, Daniel Edgar, 1819-1914.
    • 1862 November 12
    • 1863 August 9
    Slaves--Maryland.
    • 1861 November 11
    Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of.
    • 1862 May 5
    • 1862 May 24
    Soldiers' wives.
    • 1863 March 28
    Soldiers--Confederate States of America.
    • 1862 July 18
    Soldiers--Religious life.
    • 1861 October 30
    • 1862 February 16
    Strategy.
    • 1863 September 27
    Thanksgiving Day (August, 1863)
    • 1863 August
    United States--Foreign relations--Great Britain.
    • 1862 November 12
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Blockades.
    • 1862 February 14
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction.
    • 1862 July 18
    • 1862 August 26
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
    • 1863 February 16
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
    • 1898
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • 1861 June 17
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Veterans.
    • 1898
    United States. Army--Chaplains.
    • 1861 June 17
    • 1861 October 30
    • 1862 February 5
    United States. Army--Corps, 11th.
    • 1863 September 27
    United States. Army--Drummers.
    • 1862 April 28
    United States. Army--Nine month's troops.
    • 1863 May 17
    • 1863 Fall
    United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • 1863 May 24
    United States. Army--Reenlistment.
    • ca.1863 February
    Virginia.
    • 1861 July 26
    Virginia Theological Seminary.
    • 1861 August 19
    War wounds.
    • 1863 July 30
    War--Psychological aspects.
    • 1863 May 24
    Warships, Scuttling of.
    • 1862 March 9
    Williamsburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 May 5
    • 1862 May 24
    Yorktown (Va.)--History--Siege, 1862.
    • 1862 April 22
    • 1862 April 28
    Zouaves.
    • 1861 October 1