Title: James Randolph Simpson papers Creator: Simpson, James Randolph, b. 1841 Inclusive dates: 1862-1864 Extent: 12 items Abstract:
The James Randolph Simpson papers contain incoming letters to Simpson from several of his friends who served in the Civil War. The soldiers discussed in detail various aspects of camp life, their movements with the army, and skirmishes.
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
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
James Randolph Simpson Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
James Randolph Simpson was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1841. He enlisted in company C of the 125th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment on August 7, 1862, and suffered a severe wound at the Battle of Antietam just one month later. After his honorable discharge in April 1863, Simpson returned to Huntingdon and became a teacher and, later, a successful lawyer. Among Simpson's public posts were prothonotary of Huntingdon County (1866-1870) and president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association.
The James Randolph Simpson papers contain 12 incoming letters to Simpson from several of his friends who served in the Civil War. The soldiers discussed in detail various aspects of camp life, their movements with the army, and skirmishes.
Throughout the war, Simpson's friends were stationed primarily in Virginia. Early letters, written just as the war began, reveal the boredom often felt by soldiers in camp. Isaiah D. Maize noted that he enjoyed receiving letters because "everything is so very dull in camp now," and complained at length about the Virginia weather (January 10, 1862). Another soldier, William H. Dieffenbach, voiced a similar complaint about the terrain: "I have often heard people talk of the sacred soil of Virginia but I guess we are not there yet, for I can hardly think that any man 'or any other man' would have the audacity to call this soil sacred" (January 23, 1862). Despite their boredom, Simpson's correspondents remained optimistic about their prospects for success against the Confederacy; Maize believed "The backbone of Rebellion is broken[.] 18,000 prisoners in 10 days is a big thing very nearly two Divisions of their army" (February 18, 1862). As the war progressed, the soldiers more frequently mentioned troop movements and potential engagements with the enemy. Jack Willoughby of the 5th Pennsylvania Reserves, for example, related his experiences during a skirmish with General Lee's army (October 18, 1863).
One undated item includes a large, green-shaded letterhead displaying a knight atop a rock labeled "Pennsylvania," brandishing a sword. In the sky above him is a large United States flag, a constellation spelling the word "UNION," and the Pennsylvania coat of arms.