Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Heinrich Spaeth Papers, [1862]-1945

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, June 2011

Summary Information
Title: Heinrich Spaeth papers
Creator: Spaeth, Heinrich, b. 1838
Inclusive dates: [1862]-1949
Bulk dates: 1910-1915
Extent: 0.25 linear feet
The Heinrich Spaeth papers contain letters, documents, photographs, and a diary, most of which relates to Spaeth's service with the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a German-American regiment that fought in the Civil War.
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:

1996. M-3324 .

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:

Heinrich Spaeth Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Heinrich Spaeth papers are arranged into four series:

  • Series I: Correspondence and Documents
  • Series II: Diary
  • Series III: Photographs
  • Series IV: Ephemera and Miscellany


Heinrich (Henry) Phillip Spaeth was born in the Württemberg region of Germany on December 25, 1838, the son of Christopher and Julia Spaeth. Around 1845, the family settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Christopher worked as a grocer until his death from cholera in 1849. After his father's passing, Heinrich held jobs at a paper box factory and a furniture factory and subsequently enlisted in Company D of the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a German-American regiment. Spaeth enrolled as a private in April 1861, and fought in the battles of Mill Springs, Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Resaca as part of the Army of the Cumberland. He was discharged as a 1st lieutenant in June 1864, after which he returned for three years to Cincinnati and worked as a clerk. In 1867, he moved to Aurora, Indiana, and opened a hardware store, H.P Spaeth & Co. Around 1870, he married Sophia Kastner, with whom he had two children: Julia, (1871-1960) and Frederick (1873-1950). Sophia died in 1874, and 6 years later, in 1880, Spaeth married Mary E. Smith (b. 1842). Upon the 1911 publication of the book The Truth about Chickamauga by Archibald Gracie, he gathered accounts from fellow soldiers in order to refute Gracie's claims about the role of Van Derveer's brigade at Chickamauga. Spaeth lived until at least 1920.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Heinrich Spaeth papers contain 82 items: 33 letters, 29 photographs, 13 pieces of ephemera, 3 legal documents, 3 newspaper clippings, and a diary. The materials span 1862 to 1949, with the bulk of items covering the period between 1910 and 1915.

The Correspondence and Documents series contains letters to and from Spaeth, spanning 1871-1918. Though written many years after the Civil War, most of these relate to the experiences of the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, particularly at the Battle of Chickamauga. Several men who served in Van Derveer's Brigade wrote letters to Spaeth with accounts of the closing hours of the engagement. They attempted to refute the claims of Archibald Gracie, who wrote in his book The Truth about Chickamauga that the soldiers under General Ferdinand Van Derveer had been routed and driven off Snodgrass Hill on the evening of September 20, 1863. The soldiers from the 9th Ohio Infantry who provided these accounts were George A. Schneider (May 24, 1912), C.W.H. Luebbert (June 7, 1912), Ferdinand Zimmerer (June 17, 1912), Alvin Arand (June 18, 1912), and Herman Gerbhardt (June 20, 1912). Though written almost 50 years after the battle took place, the letters provide many details in support of their claims. Also included is an undated letter from Spaeth to Gracie, which contradicts Gracie's claims and states, "the third and last stand on Snodgrass Hill was as perfect as any man could or would ask." In the letter, Spaeth also discussed the official and revised casualty figures for the engagement.

Additional letters from the same period relate to controversy over Civil War monuments in Chattanooga, Tennessee, commemorating actions during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. On November 26, 1910, Colonel Judson W. Bishop of the 2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry wrote to Spaeth, complaining of efforts "persistently made during the past fifteen years by the Turchin's Brigade association to appropriate for [General John B.] Turchin" ground allegedly captured by Van Derveer's Brigade at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863. Bishop called the claims for Turchin "preposterous." Spaeth seconded the opinion in a letter to Captain Philip Rothenbush of the 35th Ohio Infantry, in which he called the actions "contemptble [sic]." An additional letter, dated July 5, 1915, also further addresses the issue of monuments in Chattanooga.

The Diary series contains Spaeth's diary, kept during his service with the 9th Ohio Infantry. The volume was written entirely in German Sütterlinschrift or old German blackletter handwriting; it describes his wartime experiences.

The Photographs series contains 29 graphic items, most of which are undated and unlabeled, spanning ca. 1860s-1949. The photographs are in a variety of formats and depict many members of the Spaeth family, including Heinrich Spaeth at various stages of life. One photograph shows a parade float advertising Spaeth's business with the sign, "Spaeth's Big Free China and Stove Show," and another shows Heinrich Spaeth in front of a home in Aurora, Indiana.

Ephemera series contains a roster for the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I.) Association and the Loyal Legion of the United States, newspaper clippings, German money, and a few miscellaneous items.

Subject Terms

    • Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
    • German American families.
    • German American soldiers--History--19th century.
    • German Americans--History--19th century.
    • Gracie, Archibald, 1858-1912.
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 9th (1861-1864)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, German American.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
    • Van Derveer, Ferdinand, 1823-1892.
    • Arand, Alvin.
    • Bishop, Judson W.
    • Gerbhardt, Herman.
    • Luebbert, C.W.H.
    • Schneider, George A.
    • Zimmerer, Ferdinand.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    • Documents.
    • Photographs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   73, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Correspondence and Documents,  1871-1918 [series]
    Box   73, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Diary,  [1862] [series]
    Box   73, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Photographs, ca.  1860s-1949 [series]
    Box   73, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Ephemera,  undated [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The Spaeth papers were donated along with a large selection of books. Search the University Library catalog for "J. Kachen Kimmel" for a full list of titles, which are housed in the Book Division.


    Memoirs of the Lower Ohio Valley: Personal and Genealogical . Madison, Wisconsin: Federal Pub. Co, 1905.