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

Summary Information
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
Acquisition Information:

1989. M-2460.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Heman H. Gillett papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically with undated and fragment items at the end. Oversized documents are housed separately.


Biography

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.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Algiers (New Orleans, La.)
    • Military hospitals--United States--History--19th century.
    • Morgan City (La.)
    • New Iberia (La.)
    • New Orleans (La.)
    • Surgery--History.
    • Surgery, Military--United States--History--19th century--Sources.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Equipment and supplies.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospital--Sources.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care--Sources.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Registers.
    • United States. Army. Vermont Infantry Regiment, 8th (1862-1865)
    Contributors:
    • Gillett, S. H.
    Genre Terms:
    • Inventories.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Orders (military records)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   95, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Correspondence and Documents [series]:   

    An itemized list of oversize manuscripts may be found in the "Additional Descriptive Data" below.

    Folder   1  
      1862 July 14-1863 October 12
    Folder   2  
      1863 December 27-1864 June 1
    Folder   3  
      1864 June 10-1864 August 19
    Folder   4  
     1864 September 8-1864 October 15
    Folder   5  
     1864 November 28-1864 December 31
    Folder   6  
     1865 January 1-1865 January 21
    Folder   7  
     1865 January 21-1865 February 9
    Folder   8  
      1865 February 11-1865 February 28
    Folder   9  
      1865 March 1-1865 March 16
    Folder   10  
     1865 March 21-1865 April 4
    Folder   11  
     1865 April 5-1865 May 14
    Folder   12  
      1865 May 17-1865 June 28
    Folder   13  
    [before 1865 June 28]
    Folder   14  
     1865 June 28-1870 October 1870
    Folder   15  
     Undated and fragments
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Inventory of oversized items:

    • Oversized Folder 1

      • Certificate recognizing the appointment of Heman H. Gillett as assistant surgeon of the Eighth Regiment of Infantry of the Volunteer Militia of Vermont, December 14, 1861
      • Report of sick and wounded for the 8th Regiment, Vermont Volunteers for quarter ending September 30, 1863
      • Return form for medical and hospital property for time period ending December 31, 1863
      • Return booklet for medical and hospital property, [1860s]
      • Return booklet for medical and hospital property [March 15, 1864]
      • Invoice of medicines, instruments, hospital stores bedding etc., April 7, 1864
      • Invoice of medicines, instruments, hospital stores bedding etc., April 1864
    • Oversized Folder 2

      • Return booklet for medical and hospital property for year ending December 31, 1864
      • Return form for medical and hospital property for term of 18 months ending December 31, 1864
      • Report of sick and wounded, 8th Vermont Volunteers, December 1864
      • Monthly report of sick and wounded, 8th Vermont Volunteers, February 1865
      • Report of sick and wounded, 8th Vermont Volunteers, April 1865
      • Monthly report of sick and wounded, 8th Vermont Volunteers, [May 1865]
      • Return booklet for medical and hospital property, June 28, 1865
      • List of killed and wounded, including wound locations, [1860s]
    • Oversized Folder 3

      • Thirteen blank return booklets for medical and hospital property, [1860s]
    Related Materials

    The following item is a Broadside with information on Vermont's 8th Regiment of Volunteers:

    The Clements Library owns a selection of manuscript collections pertaining to medicine, hospitals and surgery during the Civil War. Some examples include:

    Bibliography

    Carpenter, George N. History of the Eighth Regiment Vermont Volunteers: 1861-1865. Boston: Press of Deland & Barta, 1886.