Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Albert Wilder Papers, 1862-1864

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Albert Wilder papers
Creator: Wilder family
Inclusive dates: 1862-1864
Extent: 34 items
Abstract:
The Albert Wilder papers primarily consist of Wilder's letters home to his sister, Sarah, and brother-in-law, William, while he served in the Civil War. Wilder enlisted in the 39th Massachusetts Infantry in 1862 at the age of 21 and died after being wounded near Spotsylvania, Pennsylvania, 1864.
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:

1983. M-2038.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

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


Arrangement

The collection is in chronological order.


Biography

Wilder, Albert, ca. 1841-1864

Rank : Private

Regiment : 39th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Co. G (1862-1864)

Service : 1862 September-1864 June

Albert Wilder, a shoemaker from Hingham, Mass., was born in about 1841, and at the age of 21, enlisted in the 39th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, raised near Boston. For the first year and half of its service, the regiment was assigned to duty in near Poolesville, Md. and in the defenses of Washington, D.C., and saw virtually no action. While troubled by the seeming inactivity and uselessness of their assignment, Wilder spent some of his free time visiting hospitals, and after seeing the results of the carnage of war, decided that he had been as close to battle as he would ever like to be.

The quietude did not last for the 39th Massachusetts. Wilder entered into battle for the first time during the Mine Run campaign in November, 1863, and after a bleak winter of renewed inactivity, he found his regiment called into duty during the spring campaigns, beginning with the Battle of the Wilderness. Wilder was wounded near Spotsylvania, and died in a hospital in Washington, D.C., June 1, 1864.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Albert Wilder Civil War letters are written almost entirely to his sister, Sarah, and her husband, William, whose last name may have been Flaisdell. One letter, written from the hospital following his wounding, is addressed to his mother, and the final letter in the collection, written a week before his death, is badly tattered, showing how much it was fondled, read and reread, as a relic from the late Albert. Because his regiment saw so little military action for so long, the war news which Albert encloses in his letters is almost entirely second hand; he had little to report first-hand. There are no letters at all for three months after Mine Run, suggesting that the collection may be incomplete.

A constant theme of the early letters is advice to friends back home as to whether or not they should come to the war. He advises his married brother-in-law to stay at home, because there are enough single men to fight the war. He discusses the shoe trade back home in Massachusetts, and politics in the home state, with some information on camp life and the common soldiers' perspective on the leaders of the war. His letters to William are more substantive on the whole; those to Sarah are little more than one-liners in answer to her letters.

Two letters in the collection were written by James R. French to his parents. Men from the French family were in the 39th Massachusetts, but James was not among them. His letters are semi-literate, but illustrate well the quality of life found in the lower (rural?) class: he writes that morale in the regiment is low "sens we found out we ar fitine for nigers" and admonishes his parents to keep the money he sends to them: "I dont want that wife of mine if I must carle her wife to have a sent of it."

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
    • Military camps.
    • United States. Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 39th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc..
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • Women.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   23, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Albert Wilder papers,  1862 September 10-1864 June 7 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Partial Subject Index:

    • African Americans.
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893.
    • Camps (Military).
    • Charity.
    • Civilians--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Civilians--Confederate States of America--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Deserters, Military.
    • Draft.
    • Food.
    • Foraging.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Hypochondria.
    • Jewelry.
    • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
    • Love.
    • Marches--Virginia.
    • Military discharge.
    • Morale.
    • Packages from home.
    • Picket duty.
    • Prostitutes.
    • Raids (Military Science)
    • Shoemakers.
    • Slavery--Maryland--Emancipation.
    • Soldiers--Recreation.
    • Tents.
    • Thanksgiving Day.
    • United States. Army--Officers.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc..
    • United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.)
    • United States. Congress--Election--1862.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • War.
    • Women.