Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James K. Hale Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, Novebmer 2009

Summary Information
Title: James K. Hale papers
Creator: Hale, George
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 28 items
This collection consists of letters written by James K. Hale sent to his brother George Hale while serving in the 106th New York Volunteers during the Civil War. The letters document the movements and viewpoints of a soldier in this regiment.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1994. M-3087.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

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

Preferred Citation:

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


This collection is organized chronologically with one undated item filed at the end


Hale, George

Rank : Corpl.

Regiment : 106th New York Infantry Regiment. Co. A (1862-1865)

Hale, James K

Rank : Corpl.

Regiment : 106th New York Infantry Regiment. Co. A (1862-1865)

George Hale was a member of the 106th New York Infantry, Company A. He entered as a private and left a corporal. The 106th New York Volunteers was organized at Odgensburg, New York, in August 1862, and was involved in numerous battles including Battle of Winchester, Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Siege of Peterburg, and Battle of Cedar Creek, among others. Hale took a musket ball to the ankle during a skirmish near Bull Run in October 1863, which resulted in a four month stay in the Central Park Hospital in New York City.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of 28 letters written by James K. Hale, which he sent to his brother George Hale while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. The letters cover the entire existence of the 106th New York Volunteers and document the movements and viewpoints of a soldier in this regiment. Little personal information was offered outside of discussions of health and comments that he had received letters from Rosina.

In the letters, Hale openly discussed his superior officers, his interactions with other regiments, daily troop movements and battles, army life, and life in a field hospital. In a letter from October 1862, he mentioned that "Mulligan’s regiment are a hard lot of men." In December 1862, he described secondhand reports of a skirmish at Winchester, resulting in 7 prisoners and 12 Union deaths. In a particularly interesting letter from February 2, 1863, Hale expressed a bleak outlook for the outcome of the war, based on the Union's failures in the major battles thus far. Another item from August 1863 contains a vivid description of skirmishing at Manassas in late July 1863.

Hale wrote letters from November 22, 1863, and after from the Central Park Hospital in New York City, after he was shot with a musket ball in the ankle. He remained, however, in good spirits and health: "It is nothing but a flesh wound." While letters from this period record typical life in an army hospital, Hale noted some interesting details. For instance, in a December 28, 1863, letter, he described surgeons "putting on an artificial jaw on a man which is a great thing if they can make it work." He returned to his regiment in late March 1864. In his letter of June 19, 1863, Hale briefly commented on the siege of Petersburg happening in the background and ruminated on the merits of McClellan versus those of Grant. He praised the new Union leadership:

"…the men have great confidence in both Grant and Mead[.] They both keep close along in the front. I do not think Gen Butler has shown himself to be the greatest Gen. that ever was[.] I think he will do better for military Gov than he will for Gen. We have had three Brigade commanders wounded in our Brigade and our corps commander was killed[.] there has been a great many officers killed and wounded which is done by the sharpshooters in trees and other places" (June 19, 1864).

Hale wrote about other Union generals and discussed the merits and drawbacks of their battle strategies. In later letters, he described the progress of the 106th New York toward Richmond and looked forward to the end of the war. The last dated letter of May 21 [1865], briefly describes the reactions of soldiers to Lincoln’s assassination. "Even a greater portion of the South consider it an act beneath the dignity of any true man..."

Subject Terms

    • Central Park Hospital.
    • Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.
    • Manassas (Va.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Petersburg (Va.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Petersburg (Va.)--History--Siege, 1864-1865.
    • Soldiers--New York (State)--Correspondence.
    • Surgery--History.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 106th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Casualties.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life.
    • Hale, James K.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   92, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    James K. Hale papers [series]
    Folder   18  
     August 12, 1862-April 16, 1863
    Folder   19  
     May 27, 1863-March 27, 1864
    Folder   20  
     April 17, 1864-May 21, 1865, and  undated