Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Jacob van Zwaluwenburg Memoir, Undated
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Manuscript Division Staff
Title: Jacob van Zwaluwenburg memoir Creator: van Zwaluwenburg, Jacob, b. 1843 Inclusive dates: Undated Extent: 69 pages Abstract:
Jacob van Zwaluwenburg's memoir contains a discussion of his experiences during the Civil War along with an account of his childhood in the Netherlands and America.
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
Donated, 1978. M-1824.
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown.
Jacob van Zwaluwenburg Memoir, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
van Zwaluwenburg, Jacob, b. 1843
Rank : Private
Regiment : United States. Army--Infantry Regiment, 16th
Service : 1861 May-1865
Born on January 16, 1843, in Elburg, Netherlands, Jacob van Zwaluwenburg emigrated to America with his family in 1850 to avoid the military conscription of his elder brother. Shortly after settling in western Michigan, his father contracted typhoid and died, and the family was split and spread out over the state, with Jacob being shuttled from one elder sibling to another.
Ironically, in a fit of patriotic fervor, Jacob enlisted in the 16th U.S. Infantry at the start of the Civil War, and saw considerable action in the western theatre, including the Battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, and Stones Rivers, as well as the Chattanooga Campaign.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Jacob van Zwaluwenburg's autobiography contains discussion of his experiences during the Civil War along with an account of his childhood in the Netherlands and America. He discusses his family, schooling, and religious upbringing in the Hervormde Kerk (Reformed Church in the Netherlands). He describes the ocean voyage and Erie Canal journey which brought the family to Michigan.
Van Zwaluwenburg describes his wartime experiences in the 16th U.S. Infantry, from his humorous efforts to volunteer through the end of his enlistment. He provides particularly detailed descriptions of the battles of Shiloh and Stones River and the fighting around Chattanooga. His account centers on the experiences of a private and strays little into the fields of politics and the evaluation of generals. Although there are a few geographical and chronological errors, the account provides an interesting view of the common soldier in the regular army.
The journal is in both manuscript and typescript; however, the two are not entirely the same. The typescript copy, 36 pages long, follows the manuscript copy, 33 pages long, with only minor differences until page 18 of the manuscript and page 22 of the typescript. From this point the copies differ greatly, although they cover roughly the same events. The manuscript is incomplete, lacking an ending.
African American cooks.
Buell, Don Carlos, 1818-1898.
Camouflage (Military science)
Chattanooga, Battle of, Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863.
Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862.
Franklin, Battle of, Franklin, Tenn., 1864.
Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
Nashville, Battle of, Nashville, Tenn., 1864.
Perryville, Battle of, Perryville, Ky., 1862.
Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891.
Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862.
Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869.
United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment etc.--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Casualties--Statistics.
Container / Location
Box 99, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Jacob van Zwaluwenburg memoir, undated [series]
[Note: Following is a list of topics discussed in the typescript copy. The details and page numbers vary in the manuscript copy.]
Memories of childhood in the Netherlands
Experiences in the Reformed Church in the Netherlands
Arrival in New York (Castle Garden)
Westward trip to Michigan
Settlement of Holland, Mich.
School days in Holland
Experiences in the Reformed Church of America
1860 Election Beginnings of the war
He joins the 16th U.S. Infantry Enlists at too early an age
Description of Sibley tents and other equipmentFood preparation
Vices: drinking and gambling March on Nashville, Tenn.
March to Pittsburg Landing to reinforce Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)
Battle of Shiloh
Aftermath of Shiloh Capture of Corinth, Miss. Use of foliage as camouflage
Gen. Don Carlos Buell refuses to allow runaway slave to become regiment cook Battle of Perryville
Reasons for Gen. Buell's removal Battle of Stones River Soldier shot through head while talking to author; survives
Incompetence of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's nephew, "Capt. Stanton"
Blames Gen. Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) for war deaths last two years of the war
Fighting around Chattanooga
Fraternizing with enemy troops
Death of Gerret Van Zwaluwenburg (d. 1864) from wound suffered at Battle of Cold Harbor
Gen. William T. Sherman (1820-1891) and refugees from Atlanta