Josephine Wakely papers  1862-1868
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Josephine Wakely papers contain 22 letters written to Wakely between 1862 and 1871. Six Union soldiers wrote seventeen of the letters during their Civil War service; they were likely Wakely's neighbors in Whiteford, Michigan.

Adam H. Crist, a corporal in the 15th Michigan Infantry, composed 10 of the letters in 1862 and 1863. In them, he described the aftermath of the Second Battle of Corinth (October 18, 1862), attacks by guerillas in Grand Junction, Tennessee (December 13, 1862), and taking horses from Southerners (December 27, 1863). Throughout his correspondence, Crist exhibited a dislike for military life, repeatedly stating that he did not blame anyone for getting out of the Army in any way he could. In several letters, Crist mentioned African Americans. On May 21, 1863, he observed that many in his regiment had taken roles as officers in "Negro regiments," while in another letter, he commented on the plight of soldiers: "they say we took the Negroes place & they took ours & it looks so to me for we are in bondage now while they are free." (July 16, 1863). In the same letter, he also discussed the superiority of western troops and wrote, "I never want to go unless Grant goes with us for I don’t want to fight under them Eastern generals."

Thomas Wakeley [sic] of the 8th Michigan Cavalry and George H. Rogers and Edward Keller of the 18th Michigan Infantry each wrote one letter to Josephine Wakely. In his letter of May 29, 1864, Thomas Wakeley described an assignment to tie a man to a tree as punishment. Rogers gave an account of washing clothes at Cumberland Hospital and expressed his appreciation for freckled Southern girls (February 15, 1863). From his location, Keller recounted seeing many steamboats burning aboard a gunboat on the Cumberland River (May 14, 1863).

Morris Cummings of the 24th Michigan Infantry and Thomas G. Spriggs of the 18th Michigan Infantry each contributed two letters. Cummings wrote from Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois, and mentioned attending Abraham Lincoln's funeral (May 26, 1865), while Spriggs wrote from Huntsville, Alabama, concerning news and an upcoming prisoner-of-war exchange (February 19, 1865). Five letters postdate 1865. They primarily provide news about family members and mutual acquaintances, though one letter recounts a religious conversion experienced by its author (June 1, 1866).

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