Litchfield-French papers (1862-1918, bulk 1862-1899)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Shannon Wait
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Litchfield-French papers
Creator: French, Almira Litchfield, b. 1875
Inclusive dates: 1862-1918
Bulk dates: 1862-1899
Extent: 1 linear foot
The Litchfield-French papers contain correspondence and documents related to the Civil War service of Allyne C. Litchfield and the Spanish-American War participation of his Litchfield's son-in-law, Roy A. French.
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

1997, 2004. M-3350; M-4365.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

Litchfield-French Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The items are arranged into six series:
  • I. Correspondence
  • II. Poetry and Writings
  • III. Photographs and Ephemera
  • IV. Military and Legal Documents
  • V. Receipts and Accounts
  • VI. Printed Materials


Allyne Cushing Litchfield was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, on July 15, 1835, the youngest of four children. His parents were Anna Cushing (b. 1809) and shipwright Nichols Litchfield (1805-1879). By 1860, Allyne was working as a lumberman in Georgetown, Michigan, and had married Susan Carver (b. 1835). He entered the military as captain of the 5th Michigan Cavalry on August 14, 1862, and served as lieutenant colonel in the 7th Michigan Cavalry from November 14, 1862, to January 31, 1865. He fought at Gettysburg and was taken prisoner in the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid at Athens Station on March 1, 1864. For over nine months, he was held in various Confederate prisons, including Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, and "Camp Sorghum" in Columbia, South Carolina, but was eventually exchanged in late December. Upon his return, he was brevetted brigadier general. After the war, Litchfield worked briefly as a postal clerk, and in 1871, he was appointed United States Consul General in Calcutta. He died in 1911 of pneumonia.

Allyne and Susan Litchfield had at least three children: Lawrence (b. c. 1862), Lucius (b. c. 1866), and Almira (b. 1875). On April 17, 1901, Almira married Roy Aaron French (1874-1911), son of Lorenzo French and Eutoka Hinman, in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. French had served in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war with Company K, 1st U.S. Volunteer Engineers. After his return from the war, he worked as a mechanical engineer until his death at age 35 from septic endocarditis originating from an infection he contracted during his service in Puerto Rico.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Litchfield-French papers consist of 414 items ranging in date from February 15, 1862, to 1918, though the bulk of the collection lies between 1862 and 1899. The collection includes 335 letters, 60 documents, and several clippings, photographs, and receipts. Approximately 280 of the letters cover the period of Allyne Litchfield's Civil War service, including letters from Litchfield to his wife, letters among and between the Litchfield and Carver families (especially Lysander Carver and Susan Carver), and other correspondence pertaining to Allyne Litchfield. Roy French either wrote or received around 65 of the letters, primarily during the 1890s.

Between early 1863 and Litchfield's capture in March 1864, he wrote near-daily letters to his wife, describing movements, battles, and camp-life, and expressing his love for her. On May 9, 1863, he described the exhaustion of cavalry forces, led by George Stoneman, to whom the 7th Michigan sent reinforcements: "you can imagine perhaps the condition of men and horses after being saddled and ridding [sic] for 7 days. One can see the bare bones on the backs of some of them." His letters of July 6 and 7, 1863, are almost entirely devoted to his experiences at Gettysburg, and contain his accounts of his horse falling on him after it was shot in battle, and his regiment's extremely heavy losses. At times, Litchfield's correspondence also reveals his managerial side, as in a letter from Michigan Governor Austin Blair, recounting an anonymous complaint about "Col. Man" (almost certainly Col. William D. Mann) and requesting Litchfield's perspective on the matter (June 18, 1863). Also of interest is a letter of December 19, 1863, in which Litchfield detailed having dinner with 24-year old George Armstrong Custer and expressed his admiration for him.

After his capture, Litchfield wrote infrequently; however, ,in his letter of March 16, 1864, he described his conditions: "I have been kept in an 8x12 feet cell… 4 negro soldiers with us." More prevalent are letters to Susan Litchfield from family members, expressing support for her and suggesting solace in religion. The few letters to his wife, Litchfield generally communicated an optimistic attitude and gratitude for his good health, as in his letter of November 4, 1865, from prison in Columbia, South Carolina: "I have shelter, still retain my old overcoat and have plenty of blankets, which I am sorry to say is not the case with most of the officers."

Very little correspondence exists between 1865 and 1893. In the latter year, Roy A. French began writing a series of letters to his relatives, which became more frequent when he joined the military. In 1898, he commenced writing to his future wife, Almira "Myra" French (daughter of Allyne and Susan French). He described "monotonous" camp life at Camp Townsend in Peekskill, New York (July 15, 1898), his voyage to Puerto Rico on the Chester , during which he was very seasick, and his observations of Ponce, Puerto Rico, including the people, their modes of transportation, and the wild fruits that he saw (July 15, 1898).

On September 25, 1898, he wrote from "Camp Starvation" ("that is what the regulars call this camp because we are fed so poorly"). He reported prolonged health problems, from which he would die in 1911.

The 60 documents and miscellaneous items include newspaper clippings, military and family documents (such as a will, a passport, and a wedding invitation), a wallet, and a metal nameplate. Of particular interest is a manuscript copy of a letter of recommendation for Litchfield by George A. Custer. The copy is dated February 24, 1881. Other items document Litchfield's service in India to some extent.

Subject Terms

  • Blair, Austin, 1818-1894.
  • Custer, George A. (George Armstrong), 1839-1876.
  • Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
  • Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, Va., 1864.
  • Libby Prison.
  • Poetry.
  • Puerto Rico--History--1898-1952.
  • Richmond (Va.)
  • Spanish-American War, 1898.
  • Stoneman, George, 1822-1894.
  • United States. Army. Michigan Cavalry Regiment, 5th (1862-1865)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
  • Carver, Lysander.
  • French, Roy Aaron, 1875-1911.
  • Litchfield, Allyne Cushing, 1835-1911.
  • Litchfield, Susan Carver, b. 1835.
Genre Terms:
  • Correspondence.
  • Legal documents.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]
Box   1 Folder   1
 February 15, 1862-February 5, 1863
Folder   2  
 February 9-March 29, 1863
Folder   3  
 March 31-April 14, 1863
Folder   4  
 April 17-May 2, 1863
Folder   5  
 May 4-13, 1863
Folder   6  
 May 15-21, 1863
Folder   7  
 May 24-June 1, 1863
Folder   8  
 June 1-11, 1863
Folder   9  
 June 12-17, 1863
Folder   10  
 June 17-July 9, 1863
Folder   11  
 July 10-20, 1863
Folder   12  
 July 21-29, 1863
Folder   13  
 July 30-August 9, 1863
Folder   14  
 August 10-17, 1863
Folder   15  
 August 18-24, 1863
Folder   16  
 August 27-September 10, 1863
Folder   17  
 September 15-26, 1863
Folder   18  
 September 28-October 4, 1863
Folder   19  
 October 5-18, 1863
Folder   20  
 October 20-30, 1863
Folder   21  
 November 1-10, 1863
Folder   22  
 November 12-20, 1863
Folder   23  
 November 22-December 4, 1863
Folder   24  
 December 5-10, 1863
Folder   25  
 December 13-22, 1863
Folder   26  
 December 22, 1863-January 8, 1864
Folder   27  
 January 28-February 4, 1864
Folder   28  
 February 5-13, 1864
Folder   29  
 February 14-23, 1864
Folder   30  
 February 25-March 4, 1864
Box   2 Folder   1
 March 9-28, 1864
Folder   2  
 March 31-April 18, 1864
Folder   3  
 May 1-22, 1864
Folder   4  
 May 30-June 25, 1864
Folder   5  
 June 25-July 8, 1864
Folder   6  
 July 11-27, 1864
Folder   7  
 July 31-August 8, 1864
Folder   8  
 August 13-September 27, 1864
Folder   9  
 September 29-October 27, 1864
Folder   10  
 October 30-November 27, 1864
Folder   11  
December 2, 1864-[1864]
Folder   12  
 January 16-February 5, 1865
Folder   13  
 April 27, 1865-August 18, 1882
Folder   14  
 July 14-24, 1893
Folder   15  
 July 2-15, 1898
Folder   16  
 July 16-31, 1898
Folder   17  
 August 13-19, 1898
Folder   18  
 August 19-September 7, 1898
Folder   19  
 September 8-25, 1898
Folder   20  
 September 27-October 26, 1898
Folder   21  
 October 28-December 1, 1898
Folder   22  
 December 4, 1898-January 10, 1899
Folder   23  
 September 19, 1900-January 28, 1903
Folder   24  
 October 8, 1903-December 1, 1905
Folder   25  
 December 29, 1905-November 24, 1918, and  undated
Folder   26  
Poetry and Writings [series]
Box   3 Folder   1
 1864 and  undated
Folder   2  
"Spiral Springs" article by Roy French,  April 1901
Folder   3  
Photographs and Ephemera (in Burgundy Leather Wallet) [series]     two additional photographs are located in the Graphics Division. 
Military and Legal Documents [series]
Folder   4  
Allyne C. Litchfield Legal and Military Papers,  February 28, 1865-May 23, 1871
Folder   5  
Allyne C. Litchfield Legal and Military Papers,  May 23, 1871-July 21, 1882
Folder   6  
Roy French Legal and Military Papers,  January 25, 1899-March 21, 1911
Folder   7  
Carver Family Estate Administration Papers,  May 27, 1865-July 19, 1912, and  undated
Folder   8  
Other Military Papers,  July 15-December 1, 1862
Folder   1: Oversize Manuscripts  
Oversize Military and Legal Documents (5 items)
Folder   2: Oversize Manuscripts  
Oversize Military and Legal Documents (5 items)
Box   3 Folder   9
Receipts and Accounts,  1862-1875 [series]
Printed Items [series]
Folder   10  
 1863-July 4, 1876, and  undated
Folder   11  
 1901 and  undated
Folder   12  
Metal Stamping Plate; Soldier's Bible
Folder   2: Oversize Manuscripts  
Oversize Printed Items (2 items)