Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Edward Hitchcock Wade Papers, 1862-1864

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Edward Hitchcock Wade papers
Creator: Wade, Ellen N.
Inclusive dates: 1862-1864
Extent: 20 items
The Edward Hitchcock Wade papers are made up of letters from Mr. Wade to his sister, Ellen N. Wade (also given as Nancy Ellen Wade) in Northampton, Mass., during his Civil War service in the 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated, 1974. M-1687.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Edward Hitchcock Wade Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is in chronological order.


Wade, Edward Hitchcock

Rank : Private; Corporal; 1st Sergeant

Regiment : 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment. Co. F (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 8-1865 May 31

Edward Hitchcock Wade lived at New Britain, Connecticut, at the time of the war, and presumably had little idea of what his experiences would be when he enlisted in 14th Connecticut Infantry in August, 1862. Assigned to service with the main body of the Army of the Potomac, the 14th Connecticut reported with 1,015 men in August, 1862. Four months later, after the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, Wade reported that only 130 men were legally fit for service. Most of the regimental officers were dead or missing, and a captain filled in pro tem as colonel. After Fredericksburg, as the regiment wintered at Falmouth, Va., morale hit bottom and then continued to sink. Suggestive of his mood was Wade's sarcastic comment on performing picket duty in the rain, " we stood and took it with the satisfaction of knowing that it was all for our Beloved Country! Oh what a blessed privilege we have! I am afraid we do not appreciate it so highly as we should!"

Edward Wade was a prototype of the mid-twentieth century peacenik. Though opposed to copperheadism, his political beliefs could not prevent him from becoming deeply disillusioned and weary of the war. McClellan's infamous caution and the heavy toll on his friends' lives caused Wade to observe cynically that competence was no longer a requirement for an officer's commission. He considered the Union generals to be either stupid or corrupt (or both) and saw the war as a generals' chess board where soldier/pawns were flung carelessly into the enemy's gambits. Nothing can be proved by killing, Wade insisted, and the only feasible settlement is a peaceful one.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection is comprised entirely of letters written by Edward Wade to his sister, Ellen N. Wade (also given as Nancy Ellen Wade), who lived with their father in Northampton, Mass. Their mother had died prior to 1863.

The few extant letters of Edward Wade have an immense amount to say with respect to the war and the morale of those who participated in it. Wade's regiment suffered from a ghastly casualty rate, sustained during some of the most disheartening actions of the war for the Union side, including Antietam and Fredericksburg. His letters provide thoughtful, powerful commentary on the physical and emotional devastation wrought by the war and provide keen insight into the psychology of destruction.

Subject Terms

    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army--Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 14th (1862-1865)
    • Virginia--Description and travel.
    • War--Psychological aspects.
    • Morale.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   9, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Edward Hitchcock Wade papers,  1862 November 15-1864 May 15 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Partial Subject Index:

    • African Americans.
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Dreams.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • Fredericksburg Campaign, 1862.
    • Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885.
    • Manassas (Va.)
    • Marches--Virginia.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Morale.
    • Packages from home.
    • Rumor.
    • Soldiers--Books and reading.
    • Soldiers--Religious life.
    • Spotsylvania, Battle of, 1864.
    • Stafford Court House (Va.)
    • Strategy.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • Virginia--Description and travel.
    • War.
    • War--Psychological aspects.

    Page, Charles D. History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Vol. Infantry (Meriden, Conn.: Horton Printing Co., 1906).