This collection is made up of 12 letters that Cyrus W. Newton wrote to his sister, Alice Cool, while serving in the 85th New York Infantry Regiment, Company K, during the Civil War. Some of Newton's letters contain messages for his mother and his brother John.
Newton frequently responded to family news and occasionally discussed his plans for the future; after the Cool family relocated to Ionia County, Michigan, he mentioned the possibility of purchasing a nearby farm after the war. He described aspects of his military service in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina, particularly with regard to camp life. At one camp, he shared a tent with a married man and that man's wife; at another, he and other soldiers had to sleep outside while awaiting the arrival of their tents. Newton reported on his interactions with Confederate deserters, skirmishes, and forays into enemy territory and listed some of his souvenirs, including Confederate banknotes and relics from the Seven Pines battlefield. Throughout his correspondence, Newton expressed his support for the Union cause; he wrote several of his letters on patriotic stationery.