Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John B. Stickney Papers, 1862-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2010

Summary Information
Title: John B. Stickney papers
Creator: Stickney, John B., 1830-1882
Inclusive dates: 1862-1865
Extent: 33 items
The John B. Stickney papers consist of letters written by a Union soldier in the 35th Massachusetts Regiment, to his family in Massachusetts. Stickney wrote about the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, and Vicksburg.
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:

Donated by Clinton H. Haskell, 1949. M-732 .

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:

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


This collection is organized chronologically with undated items at the end.


John Buffington Stickney (1830-1882) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, to Jeremiah Chaplin Stickney and Anne Frazier. He studied law at Yale University and graduated in 1856. On August 1, 1862, Stickney left his Worchester, Massachusetts, law practice and enlisted as a 2nd lieutenant in the 35th Massachusetts Infantry. He was soon promoted to 1st lieutenant, captain, and finally adjutant, before leaving the service on June 17, 1863. His regiment saw action at the Battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Snyder’s Bluff, and Vicksburg.

Shortly after the war, Stickney married Carrie F. Rust; they had 6 children. He and his family moved to Florida, where he practiced law and, between 1876 and 1882, served as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Stickney died from yellow fever during a trip to Washington, D. C., on November 5, 1882.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The John B. Stickney papers (33 items) consist of letters written by a Union soldier in the 35th Massachusetts Regiment to his family in Massachusetts. Stickney wrote about the battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, South Mountain, and Vicksburg. Though the bulk of the letters are addressed to his parents, Stickney also wrote to sister Mattie and to his future wife, Carrie Rust.

In his letters home, Stickney described life as a lieutenant in the Union army, which, in the early days, he enjoyed. He detailed his division’s experiences with travel, food, shelter, and sickness, and reported on their official activities, such as constructing fortifications near Big Black River (July 1, 1863). He also discussed leisure activities; for example, in a letter to his sister, Stickney mentioned playing euchre with his friends (September 28, 1862). In three letters, he mentioned an African American servant named David Silver, who accompanied him during the first months of the war (August 30, 1862; September 28, 1862; December 30, 1862). Though Stickney enjoyed good health throughout his service, his regiment saw action in many battles and he lost many friends. He commented that, "Only Berry and myself remain of all our circle of friends that came out together" (May 31, 1863).

Stickney often discussed news from the front, though he was skeptical of rumors, particularly when they were of Union successes. However, after the battles of Antietam and Vicksburg, he was optimistic that the war was coming to a close.

The following are items of particular interest:

  • August 30, 1862: He traveled from Boston to Arlington, Massachusetts, and wrote details about the itinerary, food, and sleeping conditions; he passed on rumors from the Battle of Bull Run.
  • September 28, 1862: Stickney gave an account the Battle of South Mountain and Antietam, and described President Lincoln and Secretary Chase reviewing the troops to help build the army’s morale. He also described ladies of Massachusetts nursing the wounded after the battle. Of the aftermath he wrote, "The Rebel dead and wounded were piled up in heaps…the destruction of the Rebels was awful."
  • December 16, 1862: Stickney reported on the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericksburg.
  • June 7-July 6, 1863: Stickney described the conflict at Vicksburg, including the capture of 27,000 Rebel prisoners on the 4th of July and shared his opinion about the danger of a raid on Washington by Robert E. Lee.
  • August 3, 1863: Stickney relayed news about the state of the army in Mississippi and mentioned a laudatory letter that General Grant had sent to his corps.
  • June 9, 1864: Friend Joseph Gottlieb described the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, and mentioned troop movements in the region surrounding Richmond.
  • August 3, 1864: Stickney wrote about a policy for the payment of soldiers that would benefit recruiting efforts for the Union.
Subject Terms

    • Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862.
    • Euchre.
    • Falmouth (Va.)
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
    • Massachusetts infantry. 35th regt., 1862-1865.
    • Military life.
    • Newport News (Va.)
    • Snyders Bluff (Miss.)
    • Soldiers--Massachusetts.
    • South Mountain, Battle of, Md., 1862.
    • United States--Army--Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 35th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
    • Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   77, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    John B. Stickney papers [series]
    Folder   23  
     August 26, 1862-September 28, 1862
    Folder   24  
     September 1862-December 16, 1862
    Folder   25  
     December 30, 1862-March 24, 1863
    Folder   26  
     March 27, 1863-May 31, 1863
    Folder   27  
     June 1, 1863-July 5, 1863
    Folder   28  
     July 6, 1863-August 3, 1864, and  undated
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Date and locations of letters:

    • August 26, 1862: Camp Casey, Hunters Chapel, Arlington, Virginia
    • August 30, 1862: Camp Whipple, Arlington, Virginia
    • September 14, 1862: Brookville, Virginia
    • September 23, 1862: Headquarters, Antietam, Maryland
    • September 28, 1862, Near Antietam, Maryland
    • [September 1862]: [Near Washington]
    • October 22, 1862: Pleasant Valley, Virginia
    • November 10, 1862: Camp at Jefferson, Virginia
    • December 12, 1862: Below Fredericksburg, Virginia
    • December 16, 1862: Below Fredericksburg, Virginia
    • December 30, 1862: [Near Falmouth, Virginia]
    • December 30, [1862]: Near Falmouth, Virginia
    • January 6, 1863: Near Falmouth, Virginia
    • February 5, 1863: Near Falmouth, Virginia
    • March 21, 1863: Newport News Virginia
    • March 24, 1863: Newport News, Virginia
    • March 27, 1863: Onboard a transport, 25 miles from Baltimore, Maryland
    • March 31, 1863: Covington, Kentucky
    • May 3, 1863: New Winchester, Kentucky
    • May 9, 1863: Lowell, Kentucky
    • May 31, 1863: Stanford, Kentucky
    • June 7, 1863: Cairo, Illinois
    • June 17, 1863: Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi
    • June 20, 1863: Haines’ Bluff, Mississippi
    • July 1, 1863: Snyder’s Bluff, Mississippi
    • July 6, 1863: Near Big Black River, Mississippi
    • July 24, 1863: Milldale, Mississippi
    • August 3, 1863: Milldale, Mississippi
    • June 9, 1864: Near Cold Harbor, Virginia
    • August 3, 1864: New York
    • Undated: Newport, New Virginia
    • Undated: Ashley’s Gap, Virginia
    • Undated: Lexington, Kentucky
    Related Materials

    The George Nichols papers concern the 25th Massachusetts regiment during the Civil War.


    History of the Thirty-fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862-1865: With a Roster. Boston: Mills, Knight & co., 1884.