Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Pierson Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, May 1992

Summary Information
Title: John Pierson papers
Creator: Pierson family
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 113 items
Abstract:
John Pierson, from Pontiac, Michigan, accepted a commission in the 10th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. His letters home record the experiences of an observant officer during his two years of duty in the Union occupation army in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and later, as he is stationed at Fort Harrison the north bank of the James River in Virginia.
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:

1974.M-1687.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

John Pierson Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Pierson, John, 1813-1899

Rank : Captain; Lt. Colonel (1864)

Regiment : 10th Michigan Infantry Regiment. Co. H (1862-1865)United States. Army--Infantry Regiment (Colored), 109th (1864-1866)

Service : 1861 October 1-1864 December 30

John Pierson was born in Schoharie Co., N.Y., on February 13th, 1813, and moved to Michigan in 1834, to Flora, Ill. (1866), Atchison, Kans. (1876), and finally to Dayton, Ohio (1896). On May 4th, 1836, Pierson married Joanna Burlingham, with whom he had one daughter, Emma Juliet (b. 19 August, 1839). After Joanna Pierson's death at Pontiac, Mich., on April 10th, 1864, Pierson eventually remarried on January 9th, 1866, to Margaret A. Sharb. John and Margaret Pierson had three children, Charles (b. January 6th, 1867), Belle (b. December 28th, 1869), and Margaret (b. May 3rd, 1872).

For several years prior to the Civil War, Pierson had lived in Pontiac, Mich., working in the lumber manufacturing and mercantile business. On February 6th, 1862, he accepted a commission as Captain of Co. H, 10th Michigan Infantry. The 10th Michigan traveled down the Ohio River and overland to near the strategically important city of Corinth in northeastern Mississippi, where they were assigned as part of the occupying force, performing guard duty. The 10th were a typical line regiment in the Army of the Cumberland, seeing action during the Siege of Corinth, performing occupation duty in northern Alabama (where Pierson supervised the Winslow plantation near Tuscumbia), before being assigned to garrison the besieged city of Nashville in the late summer, 1862. The regiment saw action at Stones' River and in a number of small skirmishes, and were often posted in vulnerable positions, guarding supply lines, doing picket and guard duty, etc.

For most of 1863, the 10th Michigan were assigned to duty around Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tenn. In September, they took part in the Battle of Chickamauga, suffering some casualties, and were called into the Chattanooga Campaign at the end of the year, playing a major role in the charge on Missionary Ridge and the battles that followed, as they routed Confederate forces in Tennessee and neighboring Georgia.

Pierson remained with the regiment during the early stages of the Atlanta Campaign, and may have left to attend to family matters following the death of his wife in April. On July 12th, 1864, Pierson resigned his commission in the 10th Michigan to accept the Lieutenant Colonelcy of the 109th U.S. Colored Infantry, though he remained only until December 30th of that year, when he resigned for "personal reasons." The 109th had been stationed near Dutch Gap Canal, outside of Richmond.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Capt. (later Lt.Col.) John Pierson's letters record the experiences of an observant officer during his two years of duty in the Union occupation army in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and later, as he is stationed at Fort Harrison the north bank of the James River in Virginia. There are nine letters written while Pierson was in the 109th U.S. Colored Infantry and two after his military service had expired, otherwise the remainder of the collection consists of letters from Pierson to his wife, Joanna, and daughter, Emma, written while a Captain in the 10th Michigan Infantry.

Cynical, yet patriotic, Pierson writes superb descriptions of Southern towns and cities, and provides detailed information on the military engagements at Corinth, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Dalton, Ga. (February 28th, 1864), and elsewhere. Pierson's letters also contain excellent commentary on army hospital facilities and personnel during the periods after battles when they are flooded with casualties.

Other experiences of interest in the Pierson papers are letters describing his management of a Mississippi plantation after its owner murdered a man in H Company; a tour of the Hermitage guided by Andrew Jackson Donelson, and the Confederate burning of a mail train near Chattanooga. Also noteworthy are two letters from Pierson's daughter, Emma, while visiting her father in Nashville in May, 1863. Emma was aghast that so many churches had been turned into hospitals.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 10th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Colored Infantry Regiment, 109th (1864-1866) Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • Alabama--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Tennessee--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Stones River, Battle of, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1862-1863.
    • Plantations--Alabama.
    • Slaves--Alabama.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
    Contributors:
    • Pierson, John, 1813-1899.
    • Pierson, Emma.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Boxes   1-2, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    John Pierson papers,  1862 January 9-1865 January 17 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Bibliography

    Hewes, Fletcher Willis. History of the Formation, Movements, Camps, Scouts and Battles of the Tenth Regiment, Michigan Volunteer Infantry. (Detroit, 1864)

    Partial Subject Index
    African American soldiers.
    • 1863 September 13
    African Americans.
    • 1864 November 23
    Alabama--Description and travel.
    • 1863 September 8
    Ammunition--Accidents.
    • 1863 October 1
    Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • 1864 May 7
    • 1864 May 11
    • 1864 May 21
    • 1864 May 23
    Bridgeport (Ala.)
    • 1863 September 23
    Camps (Military)--Alabama.
    • 1862 June 29
    • 1863 September 13
    Camps (Military)--Virginia.
    • 1864 November 4
    Cemeteries.
    • 1863 May 4
    Chattanooga (Tenn.), Skirmish near, 1863.
    • 1863 October 8
    Chattanooga Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 November 22
    • 1863 December 20
    Chickamauga, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 September 24
    Christmas.
    • 1864 December 25
    Civilians--Alabama--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1862 July 29
    • 1862 August 8
    • 1863 September 3
    • 1862 August 15
    • 1862 August 25
    Civilians--Tennessee--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1863 February 1
    • 1863 August 16
    • 1863 August 24
    • 1864 May 1
    Cobb, W. R. W.
    • 1863 September 8
    Confederate States of America. Army.
    • 1863 March 15
    Copperhead (Nickname)--Michigan.
    • 1863 March 10
    • 1863 March 22
    • 1863 March 26
    Corinth (Miss.)
    • 1862 June 21
    Corinth Campaign, 1862.
    • 1862 June 5
    • 1862 June 10
    Courage.
    • 1862 September 13
    Courtland (Ala.), Skirmish at, 1862.
    • 1862 July 29
    Cowardice.
    • 1863 March 15
    • 1863 March 26
    Dalton (Ga.), Skirmish at, 1864.
    • 1864 February 28
    Draft.
    • 1863 March 15
    Dutch Gap Canal (Va.)
    • 1864 December 5
    Duty.
    • 1862 September 13
    Enemy--Relations.
    • 1865 January 1
    Explosions.
    • 1863 October 1
    Explosives, Military--Accidents.
    • 1863 October 1
    Fathers and daughters.
    • 1862 November 19
    • 1863 February 5
    Finance, Personal.
    • 1863 July 15
    Food.
    • 1863 September 15
    Foraging--Tennessee.
    • 1862 August 11
    • 1862 October 9
    Fort Harrison (Va.)
    • 1864 December 5
    Fort Henry (Tenn.)
    • 1862April 27-28
    Funeral rites and ceremonies.
    • 1863 November 19
    Guard duty.
    • 1862 December 18
    Guerrillas--Tennessee.
    • 1862 October 9
    Hatcher's Run, Battle of, 1864.
    • 1864 October 30
    Hermitage, The (Hermitage, Tenn.)
    • 1862 November 15
    Husband and wife.
    • 1863 February 5
    • 1863 February 21
    Jackson, Andrew, Jr.
    • 1862 November 15
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875.
    • 1862 October 9
    Lavergne (Tenn.), Skirmish near, 1862.
    • 1862 October 9
    Marches--Alabama.
    • 1862 July 26
    Marches--Mississippi.
    • 1862 July 26
    Marches--Tennessee.
    • 1862 September 12
    • 1863 August 24
    • 1862 September 13?
    Missionary Ridge, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 December 20
    Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864.
    • 1863 July 15
    Murder.
    • 1862 August 8
    Murfreesboro (Tenn.)
    • 1863 July 23
    • 1863 July 26
    Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Battlefield.
    • 1863 April 1
    • 1863 July 29
    Murfreesboro (Tenn.), Skirmish near, 1863.
    • 1863 April 12
    • 1863 April 13
    • 1863 April 15
    Murfreesboro, Battle of, 1862-1863.
    • 1862 December 28
    • 1863 January 2
    • 1863 January 4-5
    • 1863 January 9
    • 1863 January 10
    • 1863 January 21
    Mutiny.
    • 1862 August 22
    Nashville (Tenn.)
    • 1862 September 30
    • 1862 October 9
    • 1862 November 12
    • 1863 February 1
    • 1863 May 4
    • 1864 April 26
    Nashville (Tenn.), Skirmish at, 1862.
    • 1862 November 15
    Plantation overseers.
    • 1862 August 8
    • 1862 August 11
    • 1862 August 15
    Plantations--Alabama.
    • 1862 August 8
    • 1862 August 11
    • 1862 August 15
    • 1862 August 22
    Plantations--Tennessee.
    • 1864 July 29
    Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    • 1864 November 20
    • 1864 November 23
    Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America.
    • 1864 May 21
    Racism.
    • 1864 October 30
    • 1864 November 4
    Raids (Military Science)
    • 1863 October 8
    Railroads--Destruction--Georgia.
    • 1864 January 30
    Resaca, Battle of, 1864.
    • 1864 May 19
    Resignation.
    • 1862 September 13
    • 1864 December 2
    Ringgold (Ga.) Battlefield.
    • 1863 December 20
    Ringgold (Ga.), Skirmish near, 1864.
    • 1864 January 30
    Rocky Face Ridge, Battle of, 1864.
    • 1864 May 11
    Rome (Ga.)
    • 1864 May 21
    Rosecrans, William Starke, 1819-1898.
    • 1862 December 28
    • 1863 January 4-5
    • 1863 January 9
    Sabotage.
    • 1862 August 25
    Shelbyville (Tenn.)
    • 1864 May 1
    Slavery.
    • 1862 August 15
    • 1863 February 1
    • 1863 March 15
    Slaves--Alabama.
    • 1862 August 8
    • 1862 August 11
    • 1862 August 15
    • 1862 August 22
    • 1862 September 1
    • 1862 September 13
    Slaves--Dwellings.
    • 1862 July 29
    • 1862 August 11
    Socks.
    • 1862 November 19
    Soldiers' bodies, Disposition of.
    • 1863 January 30
    Tennessee--Description and travel.
    • 1862 September 13
    Thompson's Station, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 March 15
    Tuscumbia (Ala.), Skirmish at, 1862.
    • 1862 August 4
    • 1862 September 12
    Union sympathizers--Alabama.
    • 1863 September 13
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • 1862 July 29
    • 1862 August 4
    • 1862 August 22
    • 1863 March 10
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Artillery operations.
    • 1863 January 9
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Causes.
    • 1862 August 15
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • 1862 August 22
    • 1863 February 5
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • 1862 June 5
    • 1863 January 10
    • 1863 September 28
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • 1862 June 5
    • 1863 January 10
    • 1863 September 24
    • 1863 September 28
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
    • 1863 March 15
    • 1863 September 13
    • 1864 October 30
    • 1864 November 4
    • 1864 November 23
    • 1864 December 5
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Railroads.
    • 1863 April 12
    • 1863 April1 13
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
    • 1862 December 18
    United States. Army--African American troops--Officers.
    • 1863 September 3
    • 1864 January 19
    United States. Army--Supplies and stores.
    • 1863 October 11
    • 1863 October 14
    United States. Army--Surgeons.
    • 1863 September 28
    White slaves.
    • 1862 August 8
    Wounded soldiers.
    • 1863 January 10
    • 1863 December 20
    Wounded soldiers--Confederate States of America.
    • 1863 January 10
    • 1863 April 12