Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry H. Seys Papers, 1851-1864

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, September 1997

Summary Information
Title: Henry H. Seys papers
Creator: Seys, Harriet H. Foote, d. 1876
Inclusive dates: 1851-1864
Extent: 94 items (0.25 linear feet)
Abstract:
This collection of letters by Civil War surgeon and medical inspector Henry H. Seys to his wife, Harriet, provide animated accounts of conversations in camp, fatiguing marches, and day-to-day military activities - particularly during the Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga Campaigns

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:

1976. M-1730.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Henry H. Seyes papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Seys, Henry H., 1830-1904

Rank : Asst. Surgeon; Surgeon; Medical Inspector

Regiment : 3rd Ohio Infantry Regiment (1861); 15th Ohio Infantry Regiment (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 May 2-1864 August 1

A white West Indian with an aristocratic pedigree, John Seys disgraced his family by becoming a Methodist minister. Undaunted, he followed his calling into a succession of missionary posts while he and his wife worked to raise a large family. Their first four children died in infancy, but Henry, their fifth, survived after being born in America, where his father was laboring as a missionary to the Mohawk Indians. From 1835 to 1845, John Seys served as a missionary in Africa -- accompanied by Henry for three of these years -- and in 1850, he accepted the directorship of the Maryland Colonization Society, returning to Liberia for a short time in 1862.

Although he later signed letters "Seys Jr.," Henry Seys appears never to have gone by the name of his father, nor did he entirely follow in his father's footsteps. In 1853, Henry graduated from medical school in Baltimore, and moved to Springfield, Ohio, to set up practice. Thus Henry Seys was a doctor with eight years' experience when he answered the call to serve in the Civil War, leaving his wife and children under the care of her parents in Massachusetts. Although he is officially listed on the roll of the 3rd Ohio Infantry through July, 1862, and of the 15th Ohio Infantry from then to the end of his service, he actually spent only a fraction of his time with those regiments. Most of his service was spent in staff appointments of various sorts.

Although self-confident, Seys nevertheless harbored deep anxieties about the possibility of failure. Yet despite his fears, he rose steadily through the ranks, from Assistant Surgeon at the beginning of the war to Senior Surgeon in October, 1862, and in March, 1863, to Medical Inspector in the Army of the Cumberland, a post he owed to the support of General William S. Rosecrans. When Rosecrans was relieved of his post later that fall, however, Seys became a casualty of the general reorganization.

Seys and his wife returned to Springfield after the war, following an abortive attempt in 1864 to start a practice in Oil City, Pa. He died on June 17, 1904.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Henry Seys' letters are the product of a well educated man: sprinkled with Latin and French phrases, and quotations from poetry, they are written in a lively and engaging style. The strength of the collection lies in Seys' animated accounts of conversations in camp, fatiguing marches, and of day-to-day life during the heat of the critical Tennessee campaigns of 1863. Something of an artist, he left one map of the Tullahoma Campaign, but unfortunately, his pencil sketches of army life and personnel -- done for the benefit of his children -- have been lost.

Seys' surviving letters cluster around the Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga Campaigns. While not a combatant, per se , he records the eerie sensation of living with the possibility, if not probability, of imminent death. As a member of Rosecrans' staff, he became intimate with the general, and his letters provide some penetrating personal glimpses into that man's character and his subordinates' feelings about him. In a different vein, Seys' devotion to his horse, "Dr.," gives a sense of the affection that some soldiers developed for their animal friends during the stress of war. Finally, as might be expected, the collection includes information on medical aspects of the war. Seys treated not only soldiers, but his family (by mail); one letter recommends chloroform to aid his mother-in-law's asthma.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Bowling Green (Ky.)--Description and travel.
    • Chattanooga, Battle of, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863.
    • Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
    • Horses.
    • Inflation (Finance)
    • Marches--Tennessee.
    • Medicine--Practice--Ohio.
    • Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864.
    • Patriotism.
    • Perryville, Battle of, Perryville, Ky., 1862.
    • Rosecrans, William Starke, 1819-1898.
    • Starvation.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States. Army--Surgeons.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   10 Schoff Civil War Soldiers Letters  
    Henry H. Seys papers,  1851 November 24-1864 October 21 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Seys Family genealogy:

    • John Seys
      • Henry H. Seys (1830-1904)
        • (1) m. (Nov. 17, 1853) to Harriet H. Foote (d. Spring, 1876), dau. of Asahel Foote, of Williamstown, Mass.
          • Mary Seys (b. 1854)
          • John Seys (d. before 1897)
        • (2) m. (Sept. 18, 1877) to Elizabeth E. Wickham, Racine, Wisc. She survived him.
      • DeWint (b. 1832)
      • Maria (b. 1835)
      • Anna (b. 1842)
      • Clement (b. 1844)
    Partial Subject Index
    African Americans--Colonization
    • 1852 April 8
    Alabama--Description and travel
    • 1862 April 23
    Ambulances
    • 1863 June 1
    Anniversaries
    • 1863 November 17
    Asthma
    • 1862 November 25
    Botany--Alabama
    • 1862 April 23
    Bowling Green (Ky.)--Description and travel
    • 1862 February 17
    • 1862 February 18
    • 1862 February 20
    Bragg's Invasion of Kentucky, 1862
    • 1862 September 9
    • 1862 September 11
    Buell, Don Carlos, 1818-1898
    • 1862 July 12
    Camps (Military)--Kentucky
    • 1861 December 23
    Camps (Military)--West Virginia
    • 1862 October 27
    Carrington, Henry, 1824-1912
    • 1861 May
    Chattanooga (Tenn.)--Capture, 1863
    • 1863 September 10
    Chattanooga (Tenn.)--Description and travel
    • 1863 September 10
    Chattanooga Campaign, 1863
    • 1863 November 1
    • 1863 November 20
    • 1863 November 22
    • 1863 November 27
    Chattanooga, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 November 1
    • 1863 November 20
    • 1863 November 22
    Cheat Mountain Campaign, 1861
    • 1861 September 14
    Chickamauga Campaign, 1863
    • 1863 August 3
    • 1863 August 31
    • 1863 September 9
    • 1863 September 10
    • 1863 September 13
    • 1863 September 17
    • 1863 September 18
    • 1863 September 21
    • 1863 September 22
    • 1863 September 24
    • 1863 September 26
    Chickamauga, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 September 21
    • 1863 September 22
    • 1863 September 24
    • 1863 September 26
    Christmas
    • 10:89
    Civilians--Tennessee--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 1863 March 11
    • 1863 March 17
    Depression, Mental
    • 1862 October 27
    Enemy--Relations
    • 1863 June 1
    Fall foliage
    • 1862 October 27
    Foraging--Alabama
    • 1862 August 20
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 July 6
    Harper's Weekly
    • 1862 February 3
    Horses
    • 1863 September 17
    • 1863 September 22
    • 1863 September 24
    • 1863 October 2
    • 1863 October 23
    Inflation (Finance)
    • 1862 December 8
    • 1863 March 11
    Ladies' Aid Society
    • 1862 February 3
    Lookout Mountain, Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 November 22
    Maps--Tennessee
    • 1863 June 28
    Marches--Kentucky
    • 1862 February 20
    Marches--Tennessee
    • 1862 February 27
    • 1862 March 6
    Maryland Colonization Society
    • 1852 April 8
    Medicine
    • 1861 December 23
    Medicine--Practice--Ohio
    • 1853 May 2
    • 1853 May 16
    Medicine--Study and teaching
    • 1851 November 24
    Mill Springs, Battle of, 1862
    • 1862 January 25
    Mitchel, Ormsby MacKnight, 1809-1862
    • 1862 July 23
    Morale
    • 1862 January 25
    Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864
    • 1862 December 29
    • 1863 January 15
    Nashville (Tenn.), Skirmish at, 1862
    • 1862 November 7
    • 1862 November 17
    Nashville (Tenn.)--Description and travel
    • 1862 November 7
    Oak Grove (Va.), Battle of, 1863
    • 1863 November 22
    Patriotism
    • 1862 February 3
    • 1862 October 13
    • 1863 October 20
    Perryville (Ky.), Battle of, 1862
    • 1862 October 13
    • 1862 October 16
    Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America
    • 1862 July 12
    Railroads--Destruction
    • 1863 July 6
    Railroads--West Virginia
    • 1861 June 26
    Rosecrans, William Starke, 1819-1898
    • 1863 April 15
    • 1863 June 28 p.m.
    • 1863 October 20
    • 1863 October 23
    • 1863 n.d.
    Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888
    • 1863 n.d.
    Skirmishes--Alabama
    • 1862 May 3
    Skirmishes--Kentucky
    • 1862 October 13
    Skirmishes--Tennessee
    • 1863 March 11
    Slavery
    • 1863 March 17
    Spiritualism
    • 1862 September 11
    Spring
    • 1863 May 15
    Starvation
    • 1863 October 23
    • 1863 October 26
    Steedman, James 1817-1893
    • 1863 March 11
    Strategy
    • 1863 March 11
    Tents
    • 1861 December 23
    Tullahoma Campaign, 1863
    • 1863 June 26
    • 1863 June 28 a.m.
    • 1863 June 28 p.m.
    • 1863 July 5
    • 1863 July 6
    • 1863 August
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans
    • 1863 August 20
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals
    • 1861 June 26
    • 1862 May 12
    • 1862 August 20
    • 1863 April 15
    • 1863 May 15
    • 1863 August 8
    • 1863 October 2
    • 1863 November 27
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care
    • 1862 August 20
    • 1863 March 17
    • 1863 September 13
    United States. Army--Barracks and quarters
    • 1862 November 25
    United States. Army--Chaplains
    • 1862 November 17
    United States. Army--Military life
    • 1861 December 23
    United States. Army--Officers
    • 1862 November 25
    United States. Army--Surgeons
    • passim
    United States. Army--Surgeons--Alcohol use
    • 1862 October 13
    Vallandingham, Clement Laird, 1820-1871
    • 1863 May 28
    War--Psychological aspects
    • 1863 August 20
    Washington, John A., d. 1861
    • 1861 September 14
    Women--Kentucky
    • 1862 October 16
    Women--Tennessee
    • 1863 March 17