Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William G. Henderson Papers, 1862-1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, November 2009

Summary Information
Title: William G. Henderson papers
Creator: Henderson, Gordon W.
Inclusive dates: 1862-1863
Extent: 10 items
Abstract:
The William G. Henderson papers consist of letters from a young soldier in the Civil War to his family in Connecticut. Henderson described camp and hospital life, and discussed his views on the war and incompetent Union leadership.

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:

2007. M-4582.3.

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:

William G. Henderson papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection is organized chronologically.


Biography

Henderson, William Gordon

Rank : Private

Regiment : 19th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, Co. F

Service : 1862-1863 May 4

William Gordon Henderson (c.1840-1863) was the son of Candice and Gordon W. Henderson of Litchfield, Connecticut. He enlisted in the 19th Connecticut Infantry, Co. F, in the autumn of 1862. The 19th Connecticut Infantry was stationed at Fort Worth, Virginia, and never engaged in battle. Henderson served with this regiment for only few months before becoming sick. He spent his final few months in a hospital near Alexandria, Virginia, and died on May 4, 1863. After Henderson's death, the 19th Connecticut Infantry was re-outfitted as the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery. Some sources misleadingly list Henderson as a member of this regiment.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The William G. Henderson papers consist of letters from a young soldier in the Civil War to his family in Connecticut. Henderson described camp and hospital life, and discussed his views on the war and the incompetent Union leadership. On January 20, 1863, Henderson wrote:

"But it is rather vexing to men that left their business and came here in order to end the war to be kept month after month scouring brass, washing white gloves, carrying knapsacks, and the like. We are doing fancy soldiering, that is all while the Rebs don't stop to see whether a man's gloves are perfectly white or not if he can only fight."

In his letter of Jan. 22, 1863, Henderson stated that he was not fighting for racial equality, but did believe that the cause of the war was right. He constantly voiced his disapproval of Union general's management of the war. By February 22, Henderson had landed in the Fort Worth military hospital with ear aches and ear discharge. He remained in the hospital for the remainder of the next three months, and in his last letters stated that he was getting better. The collection's final item is an unattributed poem commemorating Henderson's death (May 4, 1863).

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Alexandria (Va.)--History, Military--19th century.
    • Death--Poetry.
    • Military camps--Virginia.
    • Soldiers--Connecticut--Correspondence.
    • Soldiers--United States--Attitudes.
    • United States. Army. Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 19th (1862-1863)
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    Contributors:
    • Henderson, William Gordon, ca. 1838-1863.
    • Merrill, H.C.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Poems.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   86, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    William G. Henderson papers [series]:
    Folder   17  
      November 30, 1862, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   17  
      January 20, 1863, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   17  
      January 22, 1863, William G. Henderson to cousin, Rettie Henderson
    Folder   17  
      February 4, 1863, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   17  
      February 22, 1863, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   18  
      March 6, 1863, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   18  
      March 8, 1863, William G. Henderson to cousin, Rettie Henderson
    Folder   18  
      March 27, 1863, William G. Henderson to parents, Gordon W. Henderson and wife
    Folder   18  
      April 30, 1863, H.C. Merrill to Gordon W. Henderson, concerning the recent illness of William G. Henderson
    Folder   18  
      [May 4, 1863], "Line in Memory of William Henderson," to Gordon W. Henderson
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The George Henry Bates papers, held in the Schoff Civil War Collection, document another member of the 19th Connecticut Infantry Regiment.

    Bibliography

    Vaill, Dudley Landon. The County Regiment: a Sketch of the Second Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Originally the Nineteenth Volunteer Infantry, In the Civil War. [Winsted? Conn.] Litchfield County University Club, 1908.

    Vaill, Theodore Frelinghuysen. History of the Second Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery: Originally the Nineteenth Connecticut Vols. Winsted, Conn. Winsted printing company, 1868.