Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Gardner B. Clark Papers, 1861-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, September 2009

Summary Information
Title: Gardner B. Clark papers
Creator: Clark, Gardner B., b. ca. 1835
Inclusive dates: 1861-1865
Extent: 11 items
The Gardner B. Clark papers consist of ten letters from a Union soldier to his wife between 1861 and 1864. Also included is a Special Order from Major General Burnside.
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:

1997. M-3417.

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:

Gardner B. Clark Papers, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is organized into two series: Correspondence and Military Orders. The Correspondence series is ordered chronologically.


Clark, Gardner B.

Rank : Capt.

Regiment : 1st Michigan Sharpshooters Regiment. Company C. (1863-1865)

Service : 1861 August 21-1864 September 9

Gardner B. Clark joined Co. C of the 1st U.S. Sharpshooters, organized in the state of Michigan on August 21, 1861. He mustered into Federal service in late September as a private at the Sharpshooters' Camp at Weehawken, New Jersey. The regiment participated in the defense of Washington, D.C., from 1861 to 1862 and then was integrated into the Army of the Potomac. His company fought at most of the key battles of the war: the Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Williamsburg, the Seven Days Battle, Manassas, Antietam, Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Clark rose to the level of lieutenant by 1863 and was a captain by 1864. Clark was wounded at Gettysburg at "The Devil's Den" and was discharged on September 9, 1864.

Clark was born in Vermont around 1835. He married Mary Baxter on July 27, 1863. After the war they settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Clark worked for the local newspaper. Gardner and Mary had a son, Gardner B. Clark, Jr., in 1875. Clark Sr. was still living in Grand Rapids in 1894.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Gardner B. Clark papers consist of ten letters with his wife Mary, and one Special Order from Major General Burnside. In his letters, Clark writes of his feelings for his wife, the dead and wounded among his company, the upcoming draft in Michigan, and seeing fellow soldiers from Michigan. He also discusses a few experiences on the battlefield. In a letter from December 20, 1863, Clark voices his opinions on how the government is running the war:

"By what right have a few who hold the reins of the U.S. Government precipitated a long and cruel war upon thirty-million of their fellow beings. They say to preserve human liberty as our forefathers left it. Is it not just possible they are thrusting a worse bondage upon us than relieving us from tyranny. For certain it is the Military power that now rules[.] This Nation has no parallel, only in the history of the despots of the old world."

The order comes from Major General Burnside to the headquarters of the army of the Potomac's Camp near Falmouth, Virginia. The order is largely a morale-boosting call to the army, commending the "gallant solders" for their "many brilliant battlefield accomplishments and achievements."

Subject Terms

    • Bragg, Braxton, 1817-1876.
    • Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881.
    • Hancock, Winfield Scott, 1824-1886.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872.
    • Sickles, Daniel Edgar, 1819-1914.
    • United States. Army of the Potomac.
    • United States. Army. Michigan Sharpshooters Regiment, 1st (1863-1865) Company C.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Orders (military records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   89, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Gardner B. Clark papers [series]
    Folder   35  
     December 5, 1861
     March 6, 1863
     September 14, 1863
     September 27, 1863
     October 18, 1863
     December 20, 1863
     April 13, 1864
     May 1, 1864
     May 4, 1865
     May 7, 1865
    Military Order
    Folder   36  
     January 20, 1865
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library's Charles D. Merriman papers concern a soldier who was enlisted in the 1st Sharpshooters, Co. F

    Box 4 of the Clements Library's George H. Bates papers contains five letters from Michigan sharpshooters.