Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Litchfield-French Papers, 1862-1918

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, March 2010

Summary Information
Title: Litchfield-French papers
Creator: French, Almira Litchfield, b. 1875
Inclusive dates: 1862-1918
Bulk dates: 1862-1899
Extent: 1 linear foot
Abstract:
The Litchfield-French papers contain correspondence and documents related to the Civil War service of Allyne C. Litchfield and the Spanish-American War participation of his Litchfield's son-in-law, Roy A. French.

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:

1997, 2004. M-3350; M-4365.

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:

Litchfield-French papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The items are arranged into six series:

  • I. Correspondence
  • II. Poetry and Writings
  • III. Photographs and Ephemera
  • IV. Military and Legal Documents
  • V. Receipts and Accounts
  • VI. Printed Materials

Biography

Allyne Cushing Litchfield was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, on July 15, 1835, the youngest of four children. His parents were Anna Cushing (b. 1809) and shipwright Nichols Litchfield (1805-1879). By 1860, Allyne was working as a lumberman in Georgetown, Michigan, and had married Susan Carver (b. 1835). He entered the military as captain of the 5th Michigan Cavalry on August 14, 1862, and served as lieutenant colonel in the 7th Michigan Cavalry from November 14, 1862, to January 31, 1865. He fought at Gettysburg and was taken prisoner in the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid at Athens Station on March 1, 1864. For over nine months, he was held in various Confederate prisons, including Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, and "Camp Sorghum" in Columbia, South Carolina, but was eventually exchanged in late December. Upon his return, he was brevetted brigadier general. After the war, Litchfield worked briefly as a postal clerk, and in 1871, he was appointed United States Consul General in Calcutta. He died in 1911 of pneumonia.

Allyne and Susan Litchfield had at least three children: Lawrence (b. c. 1862), Lucius (b. c. 1866), and Almira (b. 1875). On April 17, 1901, Almira married Roy Aaron French (1874-1911), son of Lorenzo French and Eutoka Hinman, in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. French had served in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war with Company K, 1st U.S. Volunteer Engineers. After his return from the war, he worked as a mechanical engineer until his death at age 35 from septic endocarditis originating from an infection he contracted during his service in Puerto Rico.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Litchfield-French papers consist of 414 items ranging in date from February 15, 1862, to 1918, though the bulk of the collection lies between 1862 and 1899. The collection includes 335 letters, 60 documents, and several clippings, photographs, and receipts. Approximately 280 of the letters cover the period of Allyne Litchfield's Civil War service, including letters from Litchfield to his wife, letters among and between the Litchfield and Carver families (especially Lysander Carver and Susan Carver), and other correspondence pertaining to Allyne Litchfield. Roy French either wrote or received around 65 of the letters, primarily during the 1890s.

Between early 1863 and Litchfield's capture in March 1864, he wrote near-daily letters to his wife, describing movements, battles, and camp-life, and expressing his love for her. On May 9, 1863, he described the exhaustion of cavalry forces, led by George Stoneman, to whom the 7th Michigan sent reinforcements: "you can imagine perhaps the condition of men and horses after being saddled and ridding [sic] for 7 days. One can see the bare bones on the backs of some of them." His letters of July 6 and 7, 1863, are almost entirely devoted to his experiences at Gettysburg, and contain his accounts of his horse falling on him after it was shot in battle, and his regiment's extremely heavy losses. At times, Litchfield's correspondence also reveals his managerial side, as in a letter from Michigan Governor Austin Blair, recounting an anonymous complaint about "Col. Man" (almost certainly Col. William D. Mann) and requesting Litchfield's perspective on the matter (June 18, 1863). Also of interest is a letter of December 19, 1863, in which Litchfield detailed having dinner with 24-year old George Armstrong Custer and expressed his admiration for him.

After his capture, Litchfield wrote infrequently; however, ,in his letter of March 16, 1864, he described his conditions: "I have been kept in an 8x12 feet cell… 4 negro soldiers with us." More prevalent are letters to Susan Litchfield from family members, expressing support for her and suggesting solace in religion. The few letters to his wife, Litchfield generally communicated an optimistic attitude and gratitude for his good health, as in his letter of November 4, 1865, from prison in Columbia, South Carolina: "I have shelter, still retain my old overcoat and have plenty of blankets, which I am sorry to say is not the case with most of the officers."

Very little correspondence exists between 1865 and 1893. In the latter year, Roy A. French began writing a series of letters to his relatives, which became more frequent when he joined the military. In 1898, he commenced writing to his future wife, Almira "Myra" French (daughter of Allyne and Susan French). He described "monotonous" camp life at Camp Townsend in Peekskill, New York (July 15, 1898), his voyage to Puerto Rico on the Chester , during which he was very seasick, and his observations of Ponce, Puerto Rico, including the people, their modes of transportation, and the wild fruits that he saw (July 15, 1898).

On September 25, 1898, he wrote from "Camp Starvation" ("that is what the regulars call this camp because we are fed so poorly"). He reported prolonged health problems, from which he would die in 1911.

The 60 documents and miscellaneous items include newspaper clippings, military and family documents (such as a will, a passport, and a wedding invitation), a wallet, and a metal nameplate. Of particular interest is a manuscript copy of a letter of recommendation for Litchfield by George A. Custer. The copy is dated February 24, 1881. Other items document Litchfield's service in India to some extent.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Blair, Austin, 1818-1894.
    • Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876.
    • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
    • Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Va., 1864.
    • Libby Prison.
    • Poetry.
    • Puerto Rico--History--1898-1952.
    • Richmond (Va.)
    • Spanish-American War, 1898.
    • Stoneman, George, 1822-1894.
    • United States. Army. Michigan Cavalry Regiment, 5th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
    Contributors:
    • Carver, Lysander.
    • French, Roy Aaron, 1875-1911.
    • Litchfield, Allyne Cushing, 1835-1911.
    • Litchfield, Susan Carver, b. 1835.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    • Legal documents.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
     
    Correspondence [series]:
    Box   1 Folder   1
      February 15, 1862-February 5, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   2
      February 09-March 29, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   3
      March 31-April 14, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   4
      April 17-May 2, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   5
     May 4-13, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   6
      May 15-21, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   7
      May 24-June 1, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   8
      June 1-11, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   9
      June 12-17, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   10
      June 17-July 9, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   11
      July 10-20, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   12
      July 21-29, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   13
      July 30-August 9, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   14
      August 10-17, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   15
      August 18-24, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   16
      August 27-September 10, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   17
      September 15-26, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   18
      September 28-October 4, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   19
      October 05-18, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   20
      October 20-30, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   21
      November 01-10, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   22
      November 12-20, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   23
      November 22-December 4, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   24
      December 05-10, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   25
      December 13-22, 1863
    Box   1 Folder   26
      December 22, 1863-January 8, 1864
    Box   1 Folder   27
      January 28-February 4, 1864
    Box   1 Folder   28
      February 5-13, 1864
    Box   1 Folder   29
      February 14-23, 1864
    Box   1 Folder   30
      February 25-March 4, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   1
      March 09-28, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   2
      March 31-April 18, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   3
      May 1-22, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   4
      May 30-June 25, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   5
      June 25-July 8, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   6
      July 11-27, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   7
      July 31-August 8, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   8
      August 13-September 27, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   9
      September 29-October 27, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   10
      October 30-November 27, 1864
    Box   2 Folder   11
    December 2, 1864-[1864]
    Box   2 Folder   12
      January 16-February 5, 1865
    Box   2 Folder   13
      April 27, 1865-August 18, 1882
    Box   2 Folder   14
      July 14-24, 1893
    Box   2 Folder   15
      July 2-15, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   16
      July 16-31, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   17
      August 13-19, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   18
      August 19-September 7, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   19
      September 8-25, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   20
      September 27-October 26, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   21
      October 28-December 1, 1898
    Box   2 Folder   22
      December 4, 1898-January 10, 1899
    Box   2 Folder   23
      September 19, 1900-January 28, 1903
    Box   2 Folder   24
      October 8, 1903-December 1, 1905
    Box   2 Folder   25
      December 29, 1905-November 24, 1918, plus 1  undated item
    Box   2 Folder   26
    7 items
     
    Poetry and Writings [series]:
    Box   3 Folder   1
     1864 and  undated
    Box   3 Folder   2
    "Spiral Springs" article by Roy French,   April 1901
    Box   3 Folder   3
    Photographs and Ephemera (in Burgundy Leather Wallet) [series]:    [Note: two additional photographs are located in the Graphics Division.]
     
    Military and Legal Documents [series]:    [Note: ten additional documents are located in Oversize]
    Box   3 Folder   4
    Allyne C. Litchfield Legal and Military Papers,   February 28, 1865-May 23, 1871
    Box   3 Folder   5
    Allyne C. Litchfield Legal and Military Papers,   May 23, 1871-July 21, 1882
    Box   3 Folder   6
    Roy French Legal and Military Papers,   January 25, 1899-March 21, 1911
    Box   3 Folder   7
    Carver Family Estate Administration Papers,   May 27, 1865-July 19, 1912, plus 2  undated items
    Box   3 Folder   8
    Other Military Papers,   July 15-December 1, 1862
    Box   3 Folder   9
    Receipts and Accounts,  1862-1875 [series]:
     
    Printed Items [series]:
    Box   3 Folder   10
     1863-July 4, 1876, plus 3  undated items
    Box   3 Folder   11
     1901, plus 10  undated items
    Box   3 Folder   12
    Metal Stamping Plate; Soldier's Bible