Letters & Diaries
Additional Personal Papers Collections (1861-1865)
The additional personal papers collections include the letters and diaries of men and women who wrote about Franklin County or shared experiences with Franklin County individuals. Most of these collections were written by soldiers who served in regiments with Franklin County men and had similar military experiences. Other collections were written by visitors to Franklin, either soldiers or civilians, who commented upon conditions on the home front.
Alvin Alexander (1863)
These two letters to sisters Sallie and Lizzie offer a Union soldier’s views on camp life and on the conduct of Union officers.
Kelly Bennette (1864)
Kelly Bennette wrote in July 1864 about the invasion of the Confederate Army into Maryland and Pennsylvania and the subsequent burning of Chambersburg, PA. On July 5 and 6, 1864, Bennette wrote about crossing into Maryland and conversing with Union supporters. On July 30, 1864, Bennette wrote about the burning of Chambersburg and described the different attitudes in the armies toward private property and civilians.
L.M. Blackford (1863)
In this letter dated June 28, 1863, Blackford, a Confederate soldier from Virginia, tells his father, William M. Blackford, about his company’s march from Berryville, Virginia, to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He tells of seeing Pickett’s Division, Generals Lee and Longstreet, and of passing through Hagerstown on the way to Pennsylvania. He also describes the Confederate soldiers’ treatment of Chambersburg residents.
Josiah Bloss (1864-1865)
In these three letters to his sister, Josiah Bloss provides a Union soldier’s perspective on the final months and defeat of the Confederacy. Bloss was a member of the 17th Pa. Cav.
Peter Boyer (1862-1865)
Peter Boyer was a private in Company C, 117th Pa., a regiment which included several other companies that were from Franklin County. In February 1863, Boyer’s company was assigned to escort General George Meade’s Fifth Corp of the Army of the Potomac. Boyer became frustrated with the mundane duties that this assignment entailed, and he writes about his feelings in these letters to his father (also named Peter Boyer) and his brothers John D. Boyer, Cyrus Boyer, and Daniel Boyer. He also writes about the 117th’s engagements in northern Virginia, including battles at Cold Harbor and Petersburg.
James A. Carman (1864)
James A. Carman was a private in the 107th Pa. His two letters to his father offer a Union soldier’s perspective on life in the Confederate prisons of Richmond, Virginia, and Macon, Georgia.
J.F. Coghill (1863)
J.F. Coghill writes to his family about recent military movements and his experiences in the Confederate Army on the way to Maryland and Pennsylvania. Coghill comments directly on Chambersburg and the panic of the local citizens upon the arrival of Confederate troops.
Henry M. Erisman (1862)
Henry Erisman was a 26-year-old shoemaker when he enlisted in the 77th Pa. in 1861. He served as a sergeant in this regiment, and these three letters offer his view of the 77th’s encounters—both conversations and skirmishes—with Confederate soldiers around Nashville in 1862.
Abraham Essick (1849-1888)
Abraham Essick was a native of Franklin County but left that area in the 1840s. His diary begins when he received his license to preach in 1849. It continues through the 1850s, when Essick preached before congregations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland. Of special interest is his account of his time in Winchester, Virginia, where he also preached, and where he took note of the differences between Virginia and Pennsylvania. Essick returned to Franklin County for a visit in 1861, and his diary continues with his thoughts on the challenges of preaching in wartime.
Malcolm Fleming (1864)
Malcolm Fleming wrote to his mother on August 10, 1864 and recounts the burning of Chambersburg, tells of recent battle experience, reviews strategy, mentions life in camp, and describes the experience of being captured by “Yankees,” after having been turned in by “the negroes.” You may also see Fleming’s furlough order, which granted him leave and rations for his trip home.
James E. Green (1863)
James Green wrote two diary entries as he marched with the Confederate Army into Pennsylvania on their way to Gettysburg. On June 24, 1863, Green wrote about marching through Chambersburg and the fear he saw in the local residents. On June 25, 1863, Green described the landscape of Pennsylvania and expressed uncertainty about where the army would march next.
John Hamer (1863)
This Union soldier’s letters to his sister, Eveline Hamer, deal with such topics as his health, his longing to see women again, and his views on slavery.
David D. Hougham (1863)
This August 4, 1863, letter to Hougham from a family member describes Union troop movement from Philadelphia to Reading, Pennsylvania.
Augustus Hover (1863-1864)
This Union soldier’s four letters to his mother report on his regiment’s activities in Virginia.
Samuel Z. Maxwell (1863)
Samuel Maxwell enlisted as a private in the 126th Pennsylvania in 1862. At that time he was 21 years old. He later was transferred to the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, and this letter to his aunt, Annie Ruby, and cousin, dated October 1, 1863, describes his life since joining the Union Army.
Lafayette McLaws (1863)
McClaws describes marching through enemy territory in Virginia, remarking upon the hiding inhabitants as well as the physical destruction. He recounts his encounters with people, conveying the tension between occupying soldiers and residents. McLaws mentions that many townspeople in Chambersburg fiercely oppose abolition and President Lincoln, even as they hope for peace. McLaws also mentions that the mail is being read by outsiders, because the mail carriers are repeatedly captured.
Henry C. Metzger (1861-1865)
Metzger’s three letters to his father contain complaints about the treatment of privates in his Pennsylvania regiment.
George Miller (1861-1865)
These letters are addressed to George Miller of York County, Pennsylvania, from his friends and family. Although the authors were not from Franklin County, they fought with and lived side by side Franklin County men in their regiments. The collection consists largely of the letters of John J. Miller, a private in the 67th Pa. Vols. (also known as the Keystone Zouaves). His letters to George repeatedly discuss camp life on the Sea Islands in South Carolina and in Georgia. Other correspondents in this collection include brother Jacob Miller and friends Joseph Helker, Daniel Helker, and Sam Pile.
Lucius P. Mox (1862-1865)
Lucius Mox was a baker during the war and served in several different units, including the 101st Pennsylvania and the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. The letters collected here are to his sweetheart, Jennie. He tells many stories of camp life and writes repeatedly about how much he misses Jennie and the rest of his friends and family at home.
126th Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers (1862-1864)
This collection includes letters from and to members of the 126th Pennsylvania Regiment of Volunteers. The collection also contains other miscellaneous documents, including medical certificates, loyalty oaths, and furloughs.
Letters to the Pennsylvania Daily Telegraph (1861-1865)
This collection contains letters written to the Pennsylvania Daily Telegraph newspaper by Pennsylvania soldiers, including William Tell Barnitz, A.H. Baum, and Samuel Reinhart. These authors were not necessarily residents of Franklin County, but they served in various regiments with Franklin County men and comment on the activities of those regiments. Some of the letters also discuss Chambersburg, and one notes conversations with Chambersburg’s merchants about the city’s burning by Confederate troops.
Samuel and Cynthia Potter (1862-1864)
This extensive collection contains the letters of Union soldier Samuel Potter to his wife, Cynthia Potter. Potter describes his work in the hospital department of the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry and tells about his encounters with Confederate troops in Virginia. He also frequently comments on the likelihood that he will receive a furlough and return home. His letters often read like love letters and express a continual longing to see Cynthia again. The last letter in this collection is from J.R. Loyd, informing Cynthia of Samuel’s death in the service.
Bob Taggart (1861-1863)
Bob Taggart’s letters to his family offer a Union soldier’s view of the battles of South Mountain and Bull Run. Taggart was a member of the 9th Pa. Reserve Infantry, and he writes about his regiment’s attempts to move toward Richmond. His letters include commentary on life in various army camps along the way. Correspondents in this collection include brothers John Taggart and Sam Taggart, and sisters Mary and Tilly.