Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for John B. Stickney Papers, 1862-1865
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, August 2010
Title: John B. Stickney papers Creator: Stickney, John B., 1830-1882 Inclusive dates: 1862-1865 Extent: 33 items Abstract:
The John B. Stickney papers consist of letters written by a Union soldier in the 35th Massachusetts Regiment, to his family in Massachusetts. Stickney wrote about the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, and Vicksburg.
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
Donated by Clinton H. Haskell, 1949. M-732 .
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
John B. Stickney Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is organized chronologically with undated items at the end.
John Buffington Stickney (1830-1882) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Jeremiah Chaplin Stickney and Anne Frazier. He studied law at Yale University and graduated in 1856. On August 1, 1862, Stickney left his Worchester, Massachusetts, law practice and enlisted as a 2nd lieutenant in the 35th Massachusetts Infantry. He was soon promoted to 1st lieutenant, captain, and finally adjutant, before leaving the service on June 17, 1863. His regiment saw action at the Battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Snyder’s Bluff, and Vicksburg.
Shortly after the war, Stickney married Carrie F. Rust; they had 6 children. He and his family moved to Florida, where he practiced law and, between 1876 and 1882, served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Stickney died from yellow fever during a trip to Washington, D. C., on November 5, 1882.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The John B. Stickney papers (33 items) consist of letters written by a Union soldier in the 35th Massachusetts Regiment to his family in Massachusetts. Stickney wrote about the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, and Vicksburg. Though the bulk of the letters are addressed to his parents, Stickney also wrote to sister Mattie and to his future wife, Carrie Rust.
In his letters home, Stickney described life as a lieutenant in the Union army, which, in the early days, he enjoyed. He detailed his division’s experiences with travel, food, shelter, and sickness, and reported on their official activities, such as constructing fortifications near Big Black River (July 1, 1863). He also discussed leisure activities; for example, in a letter to his sister, Stickney mentioned playing euchre with his friends (September 28, 1862). In three letters, he mentioned an African American servant named David Silver, who accompanied him during the first months of the war (August 30, 1862; September 28, 1862; December 30, 1862). Though Stickney enjoyed good health throughout his service, his regiment saw action in many battles and he lost many friends. He commented that, "Only Berry and myself remain of all our circle of friends that came out together" (May 31, 1863).
Stickney often discussed news from the front, though he was skeptical of rumors, particularly when they were of Union successes. However, after the battles of Antietam and Vicksburg, he was optimistic that the war was coming to a close.
The following are items of particular interest:
August 30, 1862: He traveled from Boston to Arlington, Massachusetts, and wrote details about the itinerary, food, and sleeping conditions; he passed on rumors from the Battle of Bull Run.
September 28, 1862: Stickney gave an account the Battle of South Mountain and Antietam, and described President Lincoln and Secretary Chase reviewing the troops to help build the army’s morale. He also described ladies of Massachusetts nursing the wounded after the battle. Of the aftermath he wrote, "The Rebel dead and wounded were piled up in heaps…the destruction of the Rebels was awful."
December 16, 1862: Stickney reported on the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
June 7-July 6, 1863: Stickney described the conflict at Vicksburg, including the capture of 27,000 Rebel prisoners on the 4th of July and shared his opinion about the danger of a raid on Washington by Robert E. Lee.
August 3, 1863: Stickney relayed news about the state of the army in Mississippi and mentioned a laudatory letter that General Grant had sent to his corps.
June 9, 1864: Friend Joseph Gottlieb described the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and mentioned troop movements in the region surrounding Richmond.
August 3, 1864: Stickney wrote about a policy for the payment of soldiers that would benefit recruiting efforts for the Union.