Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Palmer B. Holdridge Letterbook, 1862

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, April 1992

Summary Information
Title: Palmer B. Holdridge letterbook
Creator: Holdridge, Palmer B., ca. 1838-1862
Inclusive dates: 1862
Extent: 70 pages (12 letters)
Palmer Holdridge was a volunteer in Company D of the 114th New York Infantry during the Civil War. The Holdridge letterbook contains copies of 12 letters to Holdridge's wife, Kate, written from his mustering in to shortly before his departure for Louisiana in late November 1862.
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:

1989. M-2479.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Palmer B. Holdridge Letterbook, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Holdridge, Palmer B., ca. 1838-1862

Rank : Private

Regiment : 114th New York Infantry Regiment. Co. D (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August-1862 December 16

Palmer Holdridge was the adopted son of Levi Keith of Nelson, N.Y., and a volunteer in Company D of the 114th New York Infantry. Leaving his wife, Kate, and infant son Freddie in Nelson, Holdridge accompanied the 114th Regiment to Baltimore in September, 1862, where they were stationed on guard duty. Baltimore, still bearing the scars of the 1861 riots, was relatively quiet during the fall, and while Union flags were in evidence throughout the city, anti-Union activity was common, including the poisoning of soldiers and the theft of Union provisions. At the end of October, the 114th were attached to Banks' Louisiana forces, and were shipped, after innumerable delays, from Fortress Monroe to Ship Island, La. Holdridge died of diarrhea at Ship Island on December 2nd, 1862. His younger brother, Hira, a soldier in the 9th Iowa Infantry, also died in the "iron grasp" of disease.

From their arrival in camp, and through their duty at Baltimore and the trip to Ship Island, the 114th Regiment were afflicted with diarhhea, measels, and diptheria, and saw more than their share of mishaps. Almost as soon as they arrived in camp as recruits, nearly every member of the regiment was stricken with diarrhea, and one older recruit, a veteran of the Mexican War, collapsed on the parade ground from its effects. Alcohol was also rife in camp; one recruit was thrown from a window while drunk, while another was struck with a stone and nearly killed. Once under way, however, the regiment experienced only slight problems with discipline, including a man caught sleeping on guard duty (he was pardoned, rather than executed), and two who were caught attempting to desert. The regiment performed well in its duty in Louisiana and in Virginia during the closing stages of the war.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Holdridge letterbook contains retained copies of 12 letters to Holdridge's wife, Kate, written between his mustering in, in August, 1862, to shortly before his departure for Louisiana in late November. The letters are literate and engaging, and contain some interesting anecdotes and observations. Of interest are letters in which he describes guard duty, deserters, the hospital and patients in Baltimore, and the letters in which he writes of the interminable delays while staging for Banks' expedition and of the regiment's ongoing battle with disease.

Subject Terms

    • Baltimore (Md.)
    • Guard duty--Maryland.
    • Homesickness.
    • Military camps--Maryland.
    • Steamboats.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 114th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   8.2, Schoff Civil War Diaries and Journals  
    Palmer B. Holdridge letterbook,  1862 August 21-1862 November 28 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Beecher, Harris H. Record of the 114th N.Y.S.V... Norwich: J. F. Hubbard, 1866.

    Pellet, Elias Porter. History of the 114th New York state volunteers... Norwich: Telegraph & Chronicle, 1866.

    Partial Subject Index
    • 5
    Baltimore (Md.)
    • 7-8, 24-26
    Camps (Military)--Maryland.
    • 8-9, 16-17
    Carriages and carts--Accidents.
    • 12-13
    Charleston (S.C.)
    • 62-63
    Civilians--Maryland--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 26
    • 180
    Deserters, Military.
    • 29-30
    • 2
    • 41
    • 24-25
    Emancipation Proclamation.
    • 22
    • 30
    Fort Monroe (Va.)
    • 52
    Guard duty--Maryland.
    • 23-24, 28-29
    Hampton (Va.)
    • 65-66
    Holdridge, Hira H., c. 1842-1863.
    • 179
    Holdridge, Palmer B., c. 1838-1862.
    • 178
    • 12, 22-23, 35
    McClellan, George B., 1826-1885.
    • 34
    • 22
    • newspaper clipping
    Rexford, Willie.
    • 42
    Soldiers, Convalescent.
    • 39-40
    • 5-6
    Steamboat travel.
    • 45-47, 50
    • 50-51
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • 21
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • 63-64
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
    • 39-40