Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Louis L. Lewis Papers, 1863-1888

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Bethany Anderson, December 2008

Summary Information
Title: Louis L. Lewis papers
Creator: Lewis, Louis L., b. c. 1841
Inclusive dates: 1863-1888
Extent: 53 items
The Louis L. Lewis papers consist of 55 items, 45 of which Lewis wrote between 1863 and 1865 to his fiancée, Mary E. Burt, during his enlistment in the 130th New York infantry, later renamed the 1st Regiment of Dragoons. Also included are a few miscellaneous family papers.
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:

2008. M-4705.2; M-4705.3; M-4705.4; M-4705.5.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Louis L. Lewis Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically.


Louis LaGrande Lewis (b. c. 1841) was one of six children to Benjamin F. Lewis and Catharine Brooking Lewis. He was mustered into company G of the 130th New York Infantry in August of 1862. The regiment was assembled by William S. Fullerton at Portage, New York. It became the 19th Regiment of Calvary and was renamed a second time as the 1st Regiment of Dragoons on September 10, 1863. Lewis' father, Benjamin, also fought in the Civil War, and was enlisted in the 8th New York Calvary.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Louis L. Lewis papers provide a brief account of life in the 1st Regiment of Dragoons during the Civil War. Consisting of 55 items, 45 of these letters were written to his love interest, Mary E. Burt. Lewis writes primarily from different sites in Virginia, except when he is hospitalized for injuries in Philadelphia. Letters to Mary were mailed to addresses in Mendon, New York, and Fishers Station, New York.

Lewis devotes a great deal of time to describing the regiment's activities. He mentions their marches, life at camp, their battle engagements, and attitudes toward the "rebels." Originally a corporal in the army, Lewis was promoted to quartermaster general. His descriptions of battle are quite informative. In one letter he recounts, "I am writing this letter in the Rifle Pit on the Bank of the Nancemon River Our Regiment had a skirmish with the Rebs yesterday, and we lost three men…from what we can see and learn ther is about 50,000 of them…" (April 18, 1863). In another he writes, "This is written on the battle Field and in the Cannons roar…" (April 15, 1863).

Although he relates a great deal about army life to Mary, this is not the chief purpose of his correspondence. These are, above all, courtship letters. He writes about missing her and about his regrets of enlisting. In a letter written December 4, 1863, he finally confesses his love for her, and then discusses wedding plans.

One letter dated November 6, 1863, has a colorful letterhead depicting the Battle of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, on February 16, 1862. The rest of the collection consists of miscellaneous items, mostly notes by an unknown individual about the Lewis family history.

Subject Terms

    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 130th (1862-1863)
    • United States. Army. New York Dragoons, 1st (1863-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life.
    • Fort Donelson, Battle of, Tenn., 1862.
    • Draft--United States.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   89, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Louis L. Lewis papers,  15 March 1863-26 March 1888 [series]
    Folder   1  
     15 March 1863-9 May 1863 (7 items)
    Folder   2  
     20 May 1863-29 September 1863 (7 items)
    Folder   3  
     2 November 1863-24 May 1864 (7 items)
    Folder   4  
     May-July 1864?-20 July 1864 (6 items)
    Folder   5  
     1 August 1864-5 September 1864 (5 items)
    Folder   6  
     5 October 1864-29 January 1865 (7 items)
    Folder   7  
     10 February-13 August 1865 (7 items)
    Folder   8  
     187[ ]-26 March 1888,  undated, and miscellany (9 items)
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Partial Name Index:

    • Burnside, Ambrose, 1824-1881.
    • Burt, Mary E., b.c. 1844.
    • Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Lewis, Benjamin Franklin, ca. 1820-1865.
    • Lewis, Catharine Brooking, ca. 1817-1859.
    • Lewis, Louis LaGrande, b.c. 1841.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Longstreet, James, 1821-1904.
    • Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888.
    • Silsby, Cady.
    • Silsby, Phoebe Mariah Burt, b. c. 1818.

    Partial Geographical Index:

    • Bealton, Virginia
    • Blackwater, Virginia
    • Bloomfield, New York
    • Buffalo, New York
    • Burkeville, Virginia
    • Carrsville, Virginia
    • Chicago, Illinois
    • Culpeper, Virginia
    • Elk Run, Virginia
    • Fishers, New York
    • Fort Donelson, Tennessee
    • Fort Mitchell, Virginia
    • Fort Monroe, Virginia
    • Fredericksburg, Virginia
    • Lima, New York
    • Lovettsville, Virginia
    • Manassas, Virginia
    • Mendon, New York
    • Monroe County, New York
    • Nansemond, River, Virginia
    • Norfolk, Virginia
    • Petersburg, Virginia
    • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Rappahannock River, Virginia
    • Rectortown, Virginia
    • Richmond, Virginia
    • Rochester, New York
    • Seneca Falls, New York
    • Shenandoah, Virginia
    • Snickers Gap, Virginia
    • Suffolk, Virginia
    • Washington, D.C.
    Related Materials

    Michigan in the Civil War: Walter H. Jackson papers, Bentley Historical Library, The University of Michigan.

    George D. Benedict Letters, 1863-1864, Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


    Bowen, James Riley. Regimental History of the first New York Dragoons. Battle Creek: Published by the author, 1900.

    Lewis, Charles E. War Sketches. London: Simmons & Botten, 1897.