William H. Shaw papers 1861-1865
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Though few in number, Henry Shaw's surviving Civil War letters provide some marvelous descriptions of New Orleans and its residents, and the operations in southern Louisiana in 1862-1863. Two letters discuss the family problem of brother Stephen, a Southern-sympathizing physician living in Louisiana: Shaw's treatment of the difficulty is a classic portrait of brother vs. brother struggle. Also noteworthy are a good account of the siege and battle at Port Hudson, and a poignant letter describing the artillery assault on Fort Morgan, written to his little nieces, Maggie and Sarah Royall. One letter from New Orleans includes a magnificent, half-page engraving of Canal Street, New Orleans.

Informal and jocular in style, Shaw's letters occasionally veer into introspection, providing a small taste of reflection on his experience as a soldier, without dwelling overly long. Throughout, his spelling is phonetic, providing a good record of mid-nineteenth century Michigan dialect.

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