William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan
Finding aid for
George T. Stevens Papers, 1864
James S. Schoff Civil War CollectionFinding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, September 1997
George T. Stevens papers
In 1861, George Stevens enlisted as assistant surgeon to the 77th New York Infantry, then returned to private practice after the Civil War. His letters written to his wife Harriet in 1864 describe military campaigns, the election of 1864, his health, and his desire to return home to his family and friends, while worrying over the difficulties of life after the war.
The material is in English.
William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open to research.
Copyright status is unknown.
George T. Stevens Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Stevens, George Thomas, 1832-1921
Rank : Asst. Surgeon, Surgeon
Regiment : 77th New York Infantry Regiment (1861-1865)
Service : 1861 November 23-1862 October 4 (dismissed by order of Secretary of War)1863 February 16-1864 December 13
George Thomas Stevens was born in Essex County, N.Y., on July 25, 1832, the son of Congregational minister Chauncey Coe Stevens and Lucinda Hoadley Stevens. After receiving a medical degree at Castleton (Vt.) Medical College in 1857, Stevens set up practice in northern New York state, and entered into the quiet life of a country doctor. On April 17, 1861 -- only two days before Lincoln issued a call for troops to crush the southern rebellion -- Stevens married Harriet W. Wadhams, daughter of William L. and Emeline Cole Wadhams of Wadhams Mills, N.Y. The couple had two children, Frances Virginia and Charles W., who later followed his father into medicine.
By the end of 1861, Stevens was persuaded to leave his new wife to enlist as assistant surgeon to the 77th New York Infantry. In a down and up military career, Stevens was dismissed from the service in October, 1862, probably for illness, but reinstated on February 16, 1863, becoming commanding surgeon of the regiment. He spent the next two and a half years as operating surgeon of his division and served a stint as medical inspector for the 6th Corps. He longed for appointment as surgeon general of the state upon his release, but was afraid it would go instead to some political crony.
After the war, Stevens returned to private practice in Albany, N.Y., working as surgeon at Albany Hospital and gaining an appointment as professor at Union University. In 1880, he moved his practice to New York City, where he gained recognition as the developer of a number of optical and surgical instruments. In 1883, he was awarded the highest prize awarded by the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine for his treatise, Functional Disorders of the Nervous System. Stevens also gained notice as an author, writing his war memoirs, botanical guides, and numerous medical treatises and articles. He died in New York City, January 30, 1921.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Stevens papers contain 29 letters written by George T. Stevens, surgeon with the 77th New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Although the letters, all addressed to his wife, Harriet (Hattie), span a period of only about four months during the late summer and fall, 1864, they include several excellent, action-packed descriptions. During these months, Stevens' unit was involved in Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign and in countering Early's raid on Washington. However, Stevens provides few details of these military campaigns, and with the exception of his own maladies, describes few of the medical cases he encounters during these campaigns. His comments on Lincoln, McClellan, and the election of 1864 offer some insight into the major issues of the day.
Stevens' letters are valuable in two ways: as an indication of how a surgeon spends his considerable spare time, and, in a broader sense, as a record of the emotions of a soldier increasingly anxious to return home to his wife and friends, while fretting over the difficulties of beginning his life anew following the war.
- United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 77th (1861-1865)
- United States. Army--Surgeons.
- United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
- Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1864 (August-November)
- Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
- Stevens, George T. (George Thomas), 1832-1921.
Additional Descriptive Data
Stevens, George T. Three Years in the Sixth Corps, 2nd ed. (New York, 1870).
Bathing.Botany--Virginia.Drumming out.Early's Washington Raid, 1864.
Franklin, William Buel, 1823-1903.Getty, George Washington, 1819-1901.Harper's Ferry (W.Va.)--Description and travel.
- 1864 July 12
- 1864 July 26
Marches--Maryland.Marches--Virginia.McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.Nostalgia.Opequon Creek (Va.), Skirmish at, 1864.Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
- 1864 July 26
- 1864 August 23
Punishment.Religious gatherings.Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1864 August-November.
- 1864 September 15
- 1864 November 2
- 1864 November 6
Tents.United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
- 1864 August 27
- 1864 September 15
- 1864 October 2
- 1864 November 6
United States. Army--Officers--Barracks and quarters.United States. Army--Surgeons.War--Psychological aspects.Washington (D.C.)--Description and travel.
- 1864 July 20
- 1864 July 23