George W. and William F. Gragg collection (1853-1864, bulk 1862-1864)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray, July 2019
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: George W. and William F. Gragg collection
Creator: Gragg, Lizzie (Mary E. Cole), 1837-1918
Inclusive dates: 1853-1864
Bulk dates: 1862-1864
Extent: 13 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of 12 letters and one manuscript map pertaining to George W. Gragg of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry and the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, and his father William Gragg, a career surgeon's steward in the U.S. Navy. The bulk of the papers date between 1862 and 1864, respecting in part George Gragg's service in and around Suffolk, Virginia, in early 1863. The manuscript map depicts fortifications around Suffolk at the time of the April-May 1863 siege.
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

2019. M-7132.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copyright

Copyright status is unknown

Preferred Citation

George W. and William F. Gragg Collection, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Biography

William F. Gragg was born on November 26, 1810, in Boston, and married Maria Cloutman (1813-1902) on March 28, 1830. They had four children, including George William Gragg (1832-1903), William F. Gragg, Jr. (1834-1920), Mary (1841-1917), and Maria Eugenia "Geny" (1852-1941). William F. Gragg was surgeon's steward from at least the 1850s until his death in December 1864. He was a patriotic man as evidenced by letters to his children from the 1850s and early 1860s.

George W. Gragg was born on December 9, 1832, and became a farmer at Billerica, Massachusetts. He married Mary E. "Lizzie" Cole (1837-1918). He served a nine-month stint in the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 1862-1863, and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy on August 1, 1864. He received a position as surgeon's steward, like his father, aboard the USS Circassian . He was mustered out on January 4, 1865. George W. Gragg died on February 4, 1903, at Waltham, Massachusetts.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 12 letters and one manuscript map pertaining to George W. Gragg of Company K, 6th Massachusetts Infantry, and the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, and his father William Gragg, a career surgeon's steward in the U.S. Navy. The bulk of the papers date between 1862 and 1864, respecting in part George Gragg's service in and around Suffolk, Virginia, in early 1863. The manuscript map depicts fortifications around Suffolk at the time of the April-May 1863 siege.

The letters are comprised of five from William F. Gragg to his son George and daughter-in-law Lizzie, 1853-1863; four letters and one note from George W. Gragg to Lizzie Cole before and after their marriage; George Gragg's discharge certificate (June 8, 1863); and a manuscript map of Suffolk, Virginia, and its environs (ca. May 1863). Gragg purchased the map from a fellow soldier in the 6th Massachusetts Infantry, John H. Keith (Company C), for 37 cents. One additional, incomplete letter, dated February 1, 1863, from Suffolk, Virginia, appears to be from George W. Gragg to his mother Maria, in which he relates a detailed description of the Battle of Deserted House, near Suffolk, Virginia.

Please see the box and folder listing below for details about each item in the collection.

Subject Terms

Subjects:
  • Father and child.
  • Suffolk (Va.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Suffolk (Va.)--Manuscript maps.
  • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 6th (1861-1864) Company K.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States. Navy--Stewards.
Contributors:
  • Gragg, George W., 1832-1903.
  • Gragg, William F., 1810-1864.
Genre Terms:
  • Certificates.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Manuscript maps.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   104, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection  
William F. and George W. Gragg Collection,  1853-1864 [series]
 
  1853 May 9 . W[illia]m F. Gragg ALS to son George W. Gragg and daughter, U.S. Ship Portsmouth , San Juan del Sud. (4 pages)
Writing en route to San Francisco, via Nicaragua. In good health, but homesick; longs to return to the woods. Thanks George for sending a description of their new home; is sure that he will be satisfied with it when he returns. Asks for more details about the house itself. "I hope you will all have a happy and Glorious 4th of July dont let us be forgotten on that day, when you hear the Bells ringing and the roar of cannon remember that your old father and brother are now serving there country for the sole purpose of binding the ties of liberty more firmly, and to make your independence more secure, three cheers for our Glorious Union, and as the lamented Webster said Liberty and Union, now and forever, May the sun when it shall set on that Glorious and great day, May it show the picture of happiness on each of your countenances, should health be spared us. Remarks on the sailing ship and the Pacific Ocean. Billy sends his love. Be careful not to let Geny eat fruit. Tell Mary not to sleep late or pout, and to learn her accordion lessons well.
 
  1854 December 24 . George W. Gragg ALS to Lizzie Cole, Bedford, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
Two excerpts from writings on love, by Sir Walter Scott, and L. E. L.
 
  1857 June 21 . W[illia]m F. Gragg ALS to son and daughter. Bedford, [Massachusetts]. (4 pages)
William's next letter will be from aboard a ship; the officers report for duty July the first. William has not sailed yet as one of the officers is detained for a court martial. Hopes recipient and wife will take good care of themselves. Direct letters to Wm. F. Gragg Surgeon Steward, U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi, Shanghai China. Direct letters to Billy, William F. Gragg, Jr., U.S. Ship Cumberland , West Coast of Africa care of Naval Institute Navy Yard Brooklyn.
 
  1862 December 8 . W[illia]m F. Gragg ALS to daughter Lizzy and the little ones. U.S.S. Housatonic off Charleston. (1 page)
Has been unwell and lost 42 pounds, but feels he is improving. Has heard twice from George; please take care of the little ones for George. "We expect soon to have a fight here, got I hope will crown us with victory." Bless her, George, and the little ones. Encloses a "rebel butterfly" [not present].
 
  1863 February 1 . [George W. Gragg?] ALS to mother [Maria Gragg?]. Suffolk, V[irgini]a. (8 pages, incomplete)
Providing a detailed description of the Battle of Deserted House, near Suffolk, Virginia.
 
  1863 February 24 . W[illia]m F. Gragg ALS to daughter [Lizzy Gragg]. U.S.S. Housatonic , Port Royal, [South Carolina]. (1 page)
Sorry to hear that her mother's health is poor. Happy to hear that George is "well, alive, and kicking, and that he came out of battle safe" . . . "and May he soon return to you full of honor for having done his part to save our beloved country from ruin." Had a hard fight at Charleston. Sending letters to the Herald under the pseudonym "X."
 
  1863 . John H. Keith, owner, [Manuscript Map of the Camps and Fortifications around Suffolk, Va.], 1863. "Bought by G. W. Gragg of [Keith] May 13, 1863 for 37 cts."     Located in Map Division. 
Showing buildings, railroads, encampments, and forts Rosecrans, Corcoran, Peck, Jericho, Halleck, Dix, Union, McClellan, and Nansemond.
 
  Undated . George W. Gragg ANS. s.l. (1 page)
"The love letter was written by G. W. Gragg at Carsville Va. the 16th of May 1863. it was all the paper I could get. was taken to Camp the next day and by him 'the Chaplain' sent to my Wife at Billerica Mass." [love letter not present].
 
  1863 May 21 . W[illia]m Gragg ALS to [George Gragg]. U.S.S. Housatonic , off Charleston, S[outh] C[arolina]. ( 2 pages)
Happy that George survived, is well, has begun to grow fat again, and presumably is returning home. "you I know will feel proud to know that you have done your humble part to save our beloved country, I feel thankful to know that all the male members of my househould have done so, [ ] the people cannot call us cowards." Has not heard from Billy. If Mary is home, please tell her to remain there. If she needs money for a machine, I will help pay for it. "My girls shall not live in any bodys kitchen, not while I have a shot left in the locker."
 
  1863 June 8 . Rob[er]t P. McKibbin Partially Printed DS to George W. Gragg. Boston, [Massachusetts].
Discharge certificate for George W. Gragg, a private in Company K of the 6th Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry. Age 30, 5'5" tall, light complexion, blue eyes, auburn hair, and a farmer by occupation.
 
  1864 August 03-4 . George [W. Gragg] ALS to [Lizzie Gragg and children]. U.S.S. Circassian .
Aboard the ship; father went ashore and left George in charge. Gave him money to purchase papers and books. Frank came aboard last night. Slept in the dispensary. Cargo aboard is valued at half a million dollars--hundreds of barrels of "new potatoes." Bunks with Frank in the store room.
 
  1864 October 19 . George [W. Gragg] ALS to [Lizzie Gragg and children]. U.S.S. Circassian , Brooklyn Navy Yard. (2 pages)
Is again aboard the Circassian . Remarks about a blunder made by the doctor "about a valise that we were to bring on for him." Visiting with Aunt Catherine and Aunt Ann Cole. Family news. Emma gave him a copy of The Life of Kossuth to read. Ship loaded with beef, ice, potatoes, onions, and turnips. Expects to sail the day after tomorrow. Sending a picture of Tom Thumb and his wife; one of the officers saw him the other day. [picture not present].
 
  1864 October 21 . George [W. Gragg] ALS to [Lizzie Gragg and children]. U.S.S. Circassian [off New York]. (1 page)
Went ashore last night to purchase papers and books. Stopped at the Revere house. Has been busy packing stores. Concerned about the safety of sending money. "Tell Willie that one of the men is going to make him a Ship."

Additional Descriptive Data

Alternate Locations

[Manuscript Map of the Camps and Fortifications around Suffolk, Va.], 1863, is located in the Map Division.

Related Materials

The Clements Library holds another manuscript map of the fortifications of Suffolk, Virginia, May 1863, apparently by the same cartographer: "Birds eye view of the camps and fortifications around Suffolk, Va. / drawn by Henry Oswald and presented to Wm. Price as a token of friendship", May 12, 1863.

Bibliography

"Gragg, George W." Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

"Gragg, George W." New England Historic Genealogical Society; Boston, Massachusetts; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911.