This collection is made up of correspondence between Captain Charles Hervey Townsend and members of his family, who lived in New Haven, Connecticut, in the mid-19th century. The letters concern Townsend's career as a merchant ship captain, the Civil War, and family news. Also included are receipts, newspaper clippings, and a lock of hair.
The Correspondence series contains letters between Charles Hervey Townsend and members of his family. He wrote approximately 80 letters to his mother from 1849-1859 and received letters from family members throughout the 1850s. Townsend reported on his health and on travels to and from the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe on various merchant vessels, and his family often shared news from Connecticut. Townsend also wrote and received some letters about his finances. From 1860-1865, his correspondence with his mother and brothers largely concerns the Civil War and its influence in Connecticut and London. Members of the Townsend family mentioned the expectation of war as early as November 1860 and commented on military developments throughout the conflict. Their war-era letters are often composed on patriotic stationery. Charles's sister Eliza, who lived in England, wrote about the impact of the war in Europe, and his brother-in-law William mentioned the war's negative effects on trade. In his letters to his family, Charles Townsend discussed the progress of the war, perceived pro-Confederate sentiments in Great Britain, and California's increasing importance to the United States. He continued to receive business correspondence during the war. After the war, the Townsend family corresponded about family news, travel, and Charles's career.
The Financial Records series is made up of 19 bills, receipts, accounts, and other financial records pertaining to Charles Townsend. Many of the transactions took place in Le Havre, France, and related to ship repairs and purchases such as clothing and wine.
The Newspaper Clippings series has undated articles about a Connecticut Civil War soldier wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the possible relocation of the Connecticut state capital, and a letter that General James C. Rice wrote to his mother prior to the Battle of the Wilderness.
The Realia series is comprised of a lock of Eliza Mulford Townsend's hair.