Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Josiah Edmond King Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscripts Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Josiah Edmond King papers
Creator: King, Josiah Edmond
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 28 items
Serving in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry and then in the 147th, Josiah King witnessed some of the most memorable events of the war, including Gettysburg, Atlanta, and the March to the Sea. His letters home contain observations and asides, particularly on the Presidential election of 1864, as well as itemized lists of goods to be sent from home.
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:

1983. M-2045.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.


Gift of James S. Schoff, 1983.

Preferred Citation:

Josiah Edmond King Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


King, Josiah Edmond

Rank : Private; Corporal (1863 January 1); 2nd Lieutenant (1864 May 12); Adjutant (1864 August 5)

Regiment : 28th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Co. N (1861-1865)147th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Co. C and H (1862-1865)

Service : 1861 August 30-1865 July 15

Little is known about Josiah Edmond King other than that his uncle, Charles L. Keck, was a resident of White Haven, Luzerne County, Pa., and that he was a soldier in the 28th and 147th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments. While it is impossible to state with certainty, King appears to have been much closer to his uncle Charles and Aunt Ellen, than he was to his own parents, and there are indications that Charles and Ellen may actually have raised him along with his siblings Julia and Reuben. Clearly, Charles exerted some control over Edmond's finances, even while he was in the army, and once in requesting funds Edmond remarked, "I have no other place to look to." The Keck household also included King's cousins Wilson, George, C. Edmond ("the little one"), and, beginning in July, 1863, another "little one" named John. Another of King's brothers, never named, enlisted in the army in 1862, and was seriously wounded, perhaps at Gettysburg. He sat out the duration of the war at his parents' home, where he was still the victim of a "lingering disease" in May, 1865.

In June, 1861, King enlisted in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment raised and equipped by John W. Geary that went on to compile one of most illustrious war records in the state. Under Geary's command, the regiment fought in the hard, early campaigns in western Virginia and Maryland, seeing action at Pritchard's Mill, Berlin, Point of Rocks, and Bolivar Heights, among other places. Called eastward to join in at the second Battle of Bull Run, the regiment were engaged at Antietam where they sustained a astonishing 261 casualties -- the second highest rate among federal forces.

In October, 1862, five companies of the 28th, including King's Company N, were assigned to detached duty in Harrisburg to become the core of a new regiment, the 147th Pennsylvania Infantry. Life in King's new regiment was no less strenuous -- or dangerous -- than it had been in the 28th. They suffered heavily at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, where they fought at Round Top in the 1st of July and at Culp's Hill on the 2nd and 3rd.

While the transfer of Joseph Hooker to the Army of the Cumberland, King transfered southward, steadily earning promotions and, on May 12, 1864, a Lieutenant's commission. The 147th Infantry again found themselves in the thick of battle, fighting at Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, as well as in a number of engagements during the Atlanta Campaign and March to the Sea. King's regiment was mustered out of the service at Washington on July 15, 1865.

At the time of the war, Edmond King was unmarried. There are one or two references to "Mollie," who was possibly his girlfriend or fiancée.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Josiah Edmond King served in two of the most active and "efficient" regiments from the state of Pennsylvania, although his first letters home contain few details about combat. Like many soldiers, he was preoccupied with the rigors of marches and camp life, and with requests for funds and packages of food and other essentials. His itemized lists for goods to be forwarded from home are excellent and unusually specific.

Beginning in July, 1863, the quality of King's correspondence noticeably improves, and his letters become increasingly detailed and peppered with keen observations. King witnessed some of the most memorable events of the war, including Gettysburg, Atlanta, and the March to the Sea, and although his letters provide little actual description of the engagements, they are full of thought-provoking -- and occasionally poignant -- asides. King was a particularly interesting, staunchly Republican commentator on the Presidential election of 1864, and thereafter it appears that his political leanings veered ever more into the Radical camp. An interesting motif in his letters is King's experimentation with handwriting styles, doubtless brought about by his heavy load of paperwork for the Army.

Three of the letters in the collection were written by Dr. Richard C. Halsey, surgeon with the 142nd Pennsylvania between August 4, 1862, to March 29, 1863. His two letters from before, during, and after the Battle of Fredericksburg are exceptional from the medical view. Halsey's casual style exhibits an interesting blend of sincere patriotism and cynicism. His letter of March 10, 1863 in which he reports excellent health and no plans to be home for some time to come, is interesting in light of the fact that he was discharged nineteen days later.

Subject Terms

    • United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 28th (1861-1865)
    • United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 142nd (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 147th (1862-1865)
    • Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States. Army--Surgeons.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • Draft Riot, New York, N.Y., 1863.
    • Gettysburg Campaign, 1863.
    • Sherman's March to the Sea.
    • Patriotism.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   24, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Josiah Edmond King papers,  1862 March 7-1865 May 22 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Partial Subject Index:

    • African American camp followers.
    • African American domestics.
    • Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • Boredom.
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Chancellorsville (Va.) Battlefield.
    • Civilians--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Civilians--Confederate States of America--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Draft.
    • Draft Riot, New York, N.Y., 1863.
    • Evacuation of civilians--Georgia--Atlanta.
    • First Families of Virginia.
    • Food.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, 1862.
    • Geary, John White, 1819-1873.
    • Gettysburg Campaign, 1863.
    • Gettysburg, Battle of, 1863.
    • Grand Review (Washington, D.C.), 1865.
    • Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879.
    • Jewelry.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Marches--Alabama.
    • Marches--Virginia.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Morale.
    • Packages from home.
    • Patriotism.
    • Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    • Prices.
    • Railroads--Tennessee.
    • Reconstruction.
    • Sherman's March to the Sea.
    • Soldiers--Costume.
    • Spotsylvania (Va.) Battlefield.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
    • United States--Politics and government--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army--Promotions.
    • United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment etc.
    • United States. Army--Surgeons.

    Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65 (Harrisburg: B. Singerly, state printer, 1870) Volume IV, pp. 551-76 (147th Regiment) and Volume I, pp. 418-83 (28th Regiment).

    Warren, Horatio N. Two Reunions of the 142d Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers... (Buffalo, N.Y.: The Courier company printers, 1890).

    Taylor, Frank H. Philadelphia in the Civil War, 1861-1865 ([Philadelphia]: The City, 1913).