Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Heman H. Gillett Papers, 1861-1870
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, October 2009
Title: Heman H. Gillett papers Creator: Gillett, Heman H., 1823-1907 Inclusive dates: 1861-1870 Bulk dates: 1862-1865 Extent: 0.5 linear feet Abstract:
This collection consists of 186 letters and documents concerning Heman H. Gillett's participation in the Civil War as a surgeon for the 8th Vermont Volunteers.
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
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Heman H. Gillett Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is arranged chronologically with undated and fragment items at the end. Oversized documents are housed separately.
Heman Henry Gillett was born on May 22, 1823, to Henry Gillett and Hannah Wallace, in Thetford, Vermont. He had at least three sisters: Rosette S., Louisa M., and Catherine, and one brother with the initials S.H. In 1847, Gillett graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and moved to Corinth, Vermont, where he practiced medicine and represented Corinth in the state legislature until the outbreak of the Civil War. Gillett was commissioned as assistant surgeon with the 8th Vermont Volunteers in December 1861. Upon assignment, he left immediately to attend to sick solders in the winter camp in Brattleboro, Vermont, and was soon sent to Louisiana to help with the wounded at Raceland. In June 1862, Gillett was promoted to head surgeon of his regiment and ran the brigade hospital during the siege of Port Hudson. He served until the end of the war and mustered out on June 28, 1865. After the war, Gillett returned to his Thetford family farm. He represented the town at the Vermont Constitutional convention in 1870, served on the United States examining board for pensions in 1886, and was a trustee for the Thetford Academy in 1887. He died in Thetford in May of 1907.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Heman H. Gillett papers consist of 186 letters and documents concerning Gillett's participation as a surgeon in the Civil War. The items are primarily incoming general and regimental orders, circulars, and administrative letters addressed to Gillett. Throughout the collection are records, receipts, invoices, and copies of returns; these track medical expenditures, resources, and finances, as well as the maladies of the troops. For example, a document dated December 31, 1862, records the types of illnesses and numbers of persons affected for that month and lists the names of dead for his regiment that month. A June 14, 1863, report logs the sick and wounded for that week. Other documents list the supplies needed for the hospital or brigade. Gillett signed off on the prices and invoices for medicines, hospital stores, bedding, etc. and submitted them to various suppliers and departments. The reports show that Gillett was stationed in Louisiana (Algiers, New Iberia, and New Orleans) in 1863 and 1864. In 1864, he requested supplies from James A. Holmes at the General Hospital at Brashear, Louisiana, which was the primary receiving depot for sick Union soldiers in the area. In 1865, Gillett was stationed at Summit Point, Virginia (January-April 1865), Munson Hill, Virginia (June 1865), and back at Camp Babcock in Summit Point, Virginia, by June 1865.
Throughout the collection are general and personal orders and circulars, including many letters from the Surgeon General's office in Washington. Some reports are assessments of the conditions of the facilities of Gillett's division (December 1864), while others are accounts of how coordinating hospitals are accommodating the wounded. One long circular from September 1864 lays out new policies for how the regiment will account for the sick, including updates of required types of personnel and their new paperwork responsibilities. This circular also details the accoutrements and personnel for each medical wagon. The provisions are very carefully measured out and regulated.
The collection's sole personal letter is from Heman’s brother, S.H. Gillett, but even this letter focuses mainly on medical issues, while touching on .H. Gillett's political opinions (August 5, [1865?]).
Fourteen undated items and fragments document the need for or use of supplies for medical units during the war. One undated item is a list of fallen soldiers. The three post-war documents are all testimonials for solders that were wounded in battle who were petitioning for pensions. The collection's oversized items include 15 reports of sick and wounded and inventories and invoices for medical supplies.
In general, this collection provides much evidence for the management, supplying, and policies of Union hospitals in the South during the Civil War. The Gillett papers demonstrate the high level of administration and infrastructure used by Union medical troops, which, in policy if not practice, relied on organization, accountability, and reports.
Algiers (New Orleans, La.)
Military hospitals--United States--History--19th century.