Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William R. Vandergrift Papers, 1855-1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, November 1997; rev. Cheney J. Schopieray, February 2009

Summary Information
Title: William R. Vandergrift papers
Creator: Vandergrift, William R.
Inclusive dates: 1855-1857, 1862-1863
Extent: 14 items
The Vandergrift papers contain eight manuscripts related to William R. Vandergrift's building projects around Philadelphia, Pa., 1855-1857, and six Civil War-related items retained by Mr. Vandergrift, 1862-1863.
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:

1980. M-1898.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

William R. Vandergrift Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is organized chronologically.


Vandergrift, Lewis R.

Rank : Private; Corporal (1863 May 1); Sergeant (1863 November 1)

Regiment : 118th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Co. B (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 13-1865 June 1

Sharp, Joseph Hill

Rank : Private

Regiment : 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Co. B (1862-1864)

Service : 1861 August 9-1864 September 4

William R. Vandergrift, a builder and woodworker, in Bristol, Bucks Co., Pa., delayed entering military service during the Civil War long enough to make himself vulnerable to being drafted. Late in July, 1863, his number came up, but Vandergrift, loath to serve for unstated reasons, purchased a substitute and remained at home, presumably safe and sound. Meanwhile, his brother, Lewis, was serving in the army, rising through the ranks to 1st Sergeant of Co. B, 118th Pennsylvania Infantry, and his cousin, Joseph Hill Sharp, served as a private of Co. B of Birney's Zouaves, the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry, until his wounding at Cold Harbor and discharge for disability three months later.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Vandergrift papers contain eight manuscripts related to William R. Vandergrift's building projects around Philadelphia, Pa., 1855-1857, and six Civil War-related items retained by Mr. Vandergrift, 1862-1863.

Two letters, two documents, two construction diagrams, one memorandum, and one financial account reflect William Vandergrift's work on various types of building projects, including the manufacture of custom shelves to the construction of a schoolhouse in Newportville, Pennsylvania. The two construction diagrams, a floorplan and an outdoor elevation, pertain to the Newportville schoolhouse project.

Three Civil War-related items concern Vandergrift's status with his local draft board, including notification of his eligibility for the draft, notification that he had been drafted, and a certificate that he had purchased a substitute.

Soldiers authored three letters in the collection. Two of these letters are from William's brother, Lewis R. Vandergrift, serving in the 118th Pennsylvania Infantry, and provide an ironic (though surely unintended) commentary on the troubles with draft substitutes in the ranks. The other letter, from his cousin Joseph Hill Sharp, a member of Company B, 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry, contains an excellent first-person account of the battle of Fair Oaks and the carnage and pillage that followed.

Subject Terms

    • Architects and builders.
    • Draft--United States.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    • United States--History-Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • School buildings.
    • Sharp, Joseph Hill
    • Vandergrift, Lewis R.
    Genre Terms:
    • Accounts.
    • Exterior elevations.
    • Floor plans.
    • Legal documents.
    • Memorandums.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   21, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    William R. Vandergrift papers,  1855 February 8-1863 September 3 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Pennsylvania infantry. 118th regiment. History of the 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Corn Exchange Regiment... (Philadelphia: J.L. Smith, 1905).

    Wray, William James, compiler.History of the Twenty-third Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry... ([Philadelphia, 1904?]).

    Partial Subject Index:
    • 1862 August
    • 1863 July 27
    • 1863 August 1
    • 1863 August 1
    • 1863 September 3
    Fair Oaks, Battle of, 1862.
    • 1862 June 18
    Gettysburg Campaign, 1863.
    • 1863 July 28
    Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863.
    • 1863 July 28
    • 1863 September 3
    Soldiers--Alcohol use.
    • 1863 September 3
    • 1862 June 18
    Stealing from corpses.
    • 1862 June 18