Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for James R. Woodworth Papers, 1862-1864
Finding aid created by Philip Heslip, April 2011
Title: James R. Woodworth papers Creator: Hotchkiss, Lawrence E. Inclusive dates: 1862-1864 Extent: 151 items (0.5 linear feet) Abstract:
The James R. Woodworth papers contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). Woodworth provides detailed reflections on life as a soldier and on his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
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 Lawrence E. Hotchkiss, 1962. M-1217.
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.
These papers were collected by James R. Woodworth's great-grand-nephew Lawrence E. Hotchkiss and donated to the Clements Library.
James R. Woodworth Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is organized into two series:
Series I: Correspondence
Series II: Diaries
Each series is ordered chronologically.
James R. Woodworth (1838-1864) was born in Ovid, New York, to Nancy Dickerson and Alanson Woodworth. On July 25, 1860, he married Phebe Burroughs. By the outbreak of the Civil War he had established a farm in Seneca Falls, New York. He enlisted as a private in Company E of the 44th New York Infantry (the Ellsworth Avengers), and served in the Army of the Potomac from September 1862 until his death in May 1864. In that time, Woodworth and his regiment saw action at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He contracted a fever in October 1863 and was hospitalized in Washington D.C. and New York City military hospitals until December of that year. He rejoined his regiment, and died at Laurel Hill on May 8, 1864, a casualty of the Battle of the Wilderness.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The James R. Woodworth papers (151 items) contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). The collection consists of 143 letters, four diaries, one poem, and a bundle of 37 envelopes. In both the letters and the diaries, Woodworth provided detailed reflections on life as a soldier, his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and the horrors of war.
The Correspondence series (143 items) consists of 122 letters from James Woodworth to his wife Phebe, five from Phebe to James, three from friends and relatives to James, one from a friend to Phebe, and 12 fragments written by James and Phebe.
Woodworth's letters to Phebe contain descriptions of his war experiences. Topics include foraging, gambling, homesickness, lice, prostitutes, singing, sickness (fever, dysentery, smallpox, typhus fever, scarlatina), food (alcohol, beans, beef, bread, coffee, and hardtack), and opinions on religious matters. Woodworth was well educated and a skillful writer who often provided emotional and perceptive observations on life in his regiment and the aftermath of battles. Woodworth also frequently discussed his wife's struggles on the home front, raising their young son and running their farm in Seneca Falls, New York. This series also contains a printed poem by William Oland Bourne entitled "In Memoriam, Gettysburg, July 1-4, 1863."
The Diaries series (4 volumes, 426 pages) contains Woodworth's wartime diaries covering the period from his arrival in Virginia in October, 1862, to a few weeks before his death in 1864. Though the entries are often brief, they provide complementary information for the letters and often fill in gaps concerning travel and troop life. Of particular note are Woodworth's reflections on the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
The third diary contains two additional items, stored in a pocket in the back of the volume. One item is a small volume entitled "The Soldier on Guard," which explains the responsibilities of a Union soldier on guard duty (64 pages). The other is a 3-page printed item entitled "Rules for Dr. Gleason's Patients," which contains advice for healthy living.
United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 44th (1861-1864)
United States. Army of the Potomac.
United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
Vincent, Strong, 1837-1863.
Virginia--Description and travel.
Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
Bourne, Wm. Oland (William Oland), 1819-1901.
Sanderson, James, Jr.
Willers, D., Jr.
Woodworth, James R., 1838-1864.
Woodworth, Phebe Burroughs.
Container / Location
September 14, 1862-March 31, 1863
April 1, 1863-March 27, 1864, and undated
October 14, 1862-November 26, 1862
November 27, 1862-March 31, 1863
March 22, 1863-July 28, 1863
November 16, 1863-April 2, 1864
Additional Descriptive Data
The Clements Library Graphics Division holds a piece of Sheet music entitled Songs of the Ellsworth Avengers
Hunter, Christopher. "A Civil War Private: James Woodworth of the Forty-Forth New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the Family He Left Behind." Diss. University at Albany, State University of New York. 2000. Print.