Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Josephine Wakely Papers, 1862-1868

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Josephine Wakely papers
Creator: Wakely, Josephine, b. ca. 1845
Inclusive dates: 1862-1868
Extent: 22 items
The Josephine Wakely papers contain correspondence from several Civil War soldiers from Whiteford, Michigan, primarily describing battles, attitudes, and duties.
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:

1994. M-3030.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Josephine Wakely Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Josephine Wakely papers are arranged chronologically.


Josephine Wakely was born around 1845 in Toledo, Ohio, the daughter of Hiram and Caroline Wakely. By 1860, her family lived in Whiteford, Michigan, where her father worked as a shoemaker. During the Civil War, she kept up a correspondence with several soldiers. Wakely worked as a teacher before marrying John Cornell in 1879.

Wakely's most frequent correspondent was a neighbor, Adam H. Crist, born around 1838. Crist was the son of farmer Jacob Crist and his wife Mary. He enlisted in Company H, 15th Michigan Infantry, as a corporal on December 5, 1861, and fought in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Jonesboro, and Bentonville. Crist was discharged in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on April 7, 1865, at the expiration of his service. After returning from the war, he married a woman named Luana, and eventually settled in Adrian, Michigan.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Josephine Wakely papers contain 22 letters written to Wakely between 1862 and 1871. Six Union soldiers wrote seventeen of the letters during their Civil War service; they were likely Wakely's neighbors in Whiteford, Michigan.

Adam H. Crist, a corporal in the 15th Michigan Infantry, composed 10 of the letters in 1862 and 1863. In them, he described the aftermath of the Second Battle of Corinth (October 18, 1862), attacks by guerillas in Grand Junction, Tennessee (December 13, 1862), and taking horses from Southerners (December 27, 1863). Throughout his correspondence, Crist exhibited a dislike for military life, repeatedly stating that he did not blame anyone for getting out of the Army in any way he could. In several letters, Crist mentioned African Americans. On May 21, 1863, he observed that many in his regiment had taken roles as officers in "Negro regiments," while in another letter, he commented on the plight of soldiers: "they say we took the Negroes place & they took ours & it looks so to me for we are in bondage now while they are free." (July 16, 1863). In the same letter, he also discussed the superiority of western troops and wrote, "I never want to go unless Grant goes with us for I don’t want to fight under them Eastern generals."

Thomas Wakeley [sic] of the 8th Michigan Cavalry and George H. Rogers and Edward Keller of the 18th Michigan Infantry each wrote one letter to Josephine Wakely. In his letter of May 29, 1864, Thomas Wakeley described an assignment to tie a man to a tree as punishment. Rogers gave an account of washing clothes at Cumberland Hospital and expressed his appreciation for freckled Southern girls (February 15, 1863). From his location, Keller recounted seeing many steamboats burning aboard a gunboat on the Cumberland River (May 14, 1863).

Morris Cummings of the 24th Michigan Infantry and Thomas G. Spriggs of the 18th Michigan Infantry each contributed two letters. Cummings wrote from Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois, and mentioned attending Abraham Lincoln's funeral (May 26, 1865), while Spriggs wrote from Huntsville, Alabama, concerning news and an upcoming prisoner-of-war exchange (February 19, 1865). Five letters postdate 1865. They primarily provide news about family members and mutual acquaintances, though one letter recounts a religious conversion experienced by its author (June 1, 1866).

Subject Terms

    • Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862.
    • Cumberland Hospital.
    • Monroe (Mich.)
    • Soldiers--Michigan.
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 15th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 18th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 24th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Underground movements.
    • Whiteford (Mich.)
    • Crist, Adam H., b. c. 1838.
    • Cummins, Morris.
    • Keller, Edward.
    • Rogers, George.
    • Spriggs, David.
    • Spriggs, Thomas G.
    • Wakeley, Thomas.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   92, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Josephine Wakely papers [series]
    Folder   36  
     May 7-December 13, 1862
    Folder   37  
     May 13-July 16, 1863
    Folder   38  
     August 1, 1863-January 9, 1864
    Folder   39  
     May 25, 1864-March 30, 1865
    Folder   40  
     May 26, 1865-March 26, 1871
    Folder   41  
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Karl Heinrich Anschütz papers also document the 15th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War.