Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry H. Willard Papers

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, February 1997

Summary Information
Title: Henry H. Willard papers
Creator: Willard family
Inclusive dates: 1862-1863
Extent: 11 items
The letters of Henry H. Willard provide a brief glimpse of his duties and experiences as a private in Company E of the 4th Indiana Cavalry during the Civil War.
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:

1997. M-3338.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Henry H. Willard Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Willard, Henry H.

Rank : Private

Regiment : 4th Indiana Cavalry Regiment, Co. E (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 22-1865 June

As a private in Co. E, 4th Indiana Cavalry during the Civil War, Henry H. Willard performed some of the most unglamorous cavalry duty imaginable in the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. Mustering into the service late in August, 1862, a time of critical need in the Union army, the 4th Cavalry were immediately divided into two battalions and rushed to the front. Four companies were sent under the command of Maj. John A. Platter to Henderson, Ky., and the remaining companies, including Willard and Co. E, were ordered to Louisville, and from there, into the interior.

Shortly after arriving in Kentucky, the necessities of war further divided Willard's detachment, as the elusive raiders of John Morgan threatened to invade Ohio. While Willard remained in Kentucky, a portion of his battalion was ordered back into Indiana to guard the river crossings, and thereafter shadowed Morgan through northern Kentucky. Once reunited in October, the battalion continued in pursuit of Morgan, wending southward to Gallatin, Tenn., and taking part in several minor engagements. On January 6, 1863, Willard's battalion settled down for the winter in Murfreesboro, and for some time, Willard was detached to serve in the Assistant Adjutant General's office at the headquarters of the 14th Army Corps. Although he contracted an "inward fever" and lost 35 pounds, he apparently never considered seeking a discharge, and continued at his post.

On June 24, with the entire regiment once again reunited, the 4th Indiana Cavalry left Murfreesboro to take part in the Tullahoma Campaign. Although uncertain, it appears that despite his Captain's efforts to bring him back into the ranks, Willard may have continued to work for at headquarters of the 14th Corps. The regiment later went on to take part in the Chickamauga, Franklin and Nashville, and Atlanta Campaigns, remaining in Tennessee and Alabama through the conclusion of the war, up to and including the final campaign of the war against Mobile. Willard was discharged from the service in June, 1865, shortly before his regiment was mustered out.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The surviving Civil War letters of Henry H. Willard provide a brief glimpse of his duties and experiences in the 4th Indiana Cavalry during the Civil War. All eleven letters are addressed to his mother, and it is possible that Willard may not have been as candid with her as he might have been with another correspondent, for they are generally lacking in the "local color" of many military correspondences.

A highly literate man, Willard's letters are interesting and enjoyable. Occasionally including gossipy comments about affairs at home, they reveal comparatively little about Willard's responsibilities in the military, either as a soldier or as a functionary in the headquarters of the 14th Corps. The letters written from Kentucky during the last two months of 1862 do provide a sense of a Union cavalryman's initiation into war, including foraging for supplies, dealing with civilians, and seeing the south for the first time. A letter written in the aftermath of Stone's River (1863 January 11) includes some powerful description of the devastation of Tennessee and the grisly sights of the battlefield.

The collection includes two particularly fine letters. In the first, Willard argued that while he was prepared to employ African-Americans as laborers on fortifications, he was concerned about fitting them out for combat. The exercise, he argued, was dangerous because the south could arm ten Black men to every one at the north, and Willard was personally repelled by the thought that he might be taken prisoner and guarded by a Black man (1863 March 9). A second interesting letter, includes a good description of the progress of the Tullahoma Campaign (1863 July 6).

Subject Terms

    • Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Battlefield.
    • Murfreesboro (Tenn.)--Description and travel.
    • Murfreesboro, Battle of, 1862-1863.
    • Nashville (Tenn.)--Description and travel.
    • Tennessee--Description and travel.
    • Tullahoma Campaign, 1863.
    • United States. Army--Indiana Cavalry Regiment, 4th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   68, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Henry H. Willard papers,  1862 August 29-1863 July 6 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Civilians--Tennessee--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 1862 November 29
    • 1862 November 9
    Hoovers Gap (Tenn.), Skirmish at, 1863.
    • 1863 July 6
    Morgan, John Hunt, 1825-1864.
    • 1862 August 29
    Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Battlefield.
    • 1863 January 11
    Murfreesboro (Tenn.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 March 25
    Murfreesboro, Battle of, 1862-1863.
    • 1863 January 11
    Nashville (Tenn.)--Description and travel.
    • 1863 January 11
    Spies--Confederate States of America.
    • 1862 August 29
    Tennessee--Description and travel.
    • 1863 July 6
    Tullahoma Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 July 6
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African American.
    • 1863 March 9
    United States. Army--Officers--Alcohol use.
    • 1863 April 17
    Van Dorn, Earl, 1820-1863.
    • 1863 March 9