possible topic

in doing the letter project, i got pretty interested in James Pollock and the whig party, so i’d like to do something with that.  I was looking through the list of everything in the Slifer collection and there are a series of letters exchanged between the two in 1861, so i was thinking that i could do a project similar to the first letter project, but do it for the whole of the correspondance. unfortunately, they only have the letters recieved by Slifer, but i think there would be enough in there to make a decent project out of it.

Final Project/ Response to Tim

I have been working on my final project topic and research is going very slowly. I think want to focus on women in Cumberland County during this period – specifically their relief efforts and their communications with men participating in the war. That is of course a very broad subject so I need to narrow it down. I’m going to head to the historical society this week to find more information. The archives here at school do not have detailed information on the subject I am pursing.

Tim, I also did not realize that there was another bibliographical element of that project and I am starting it right now. I handed in the bibliography that we had to do for Chris Bombaro. Thanks for posting about it because I had no idea.


This may not be news to some of you, and it is certainly off topic from what has been discussed recently on these blogs, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the bibliography project we handed in to Chris Bombaro is different from the bibliography project for Prof.  Osborne (which was supposed to be due on Monday).

Again, some of you may already be aware of this, but based on some of the conversations that we had briefly in class, I don’t think everyone is; I, for one, did not realize it until Monday after class.

The instructions and expectations for that project are posted on the projects page, and appear immediately under the instructions for the Letter project.

This is something that you will want to get working on as soon as possible, for – as we have learned – history takes time. And this project is no different.

I hope this is helpful to some people.

Your Proposal

Here are the specific guidelines I promised you as one way to structure a good proposal.

You are required to hand in a proposal for your main project soon, of course.  But as noted, my advice would be to get into the habit of putting together one of these – however rough – for longer papers that you write in the future.
Good Luck!
  • Description
A very specific picture of the topic and what you are going to do with it.  This does not have to be a thesis statement, but the question you are addressing would be a minimum requirement.
  • Significance
This is where you state the argument with which you are going to be engaging.  As you are learning, argument is the vital dynamic for the historian. What “conventions” are you challenging?  How is your study going to counter or enhance existing arguments around the topic?
  • Context
Here you display your wider understanding ot your topic and how your argument fits into the wider view.  Where does it stand in the historical context? What have other historians written about this period that touches on your topic? How will your effort add to the wider picture?
  • Evidence
What kinds of evidence are you going to be engaging?  How extensive is your evidence?  Where have you found your evidence?  How accessible is it?  Be specific here.  You go nowhere without evidence.
  • Method
How are you going to engage the evidence?  Are you going to take samples?  Are you going to do a case study?  Are you using statistical analysis, for example?  Or oral history methods,etc etc?
  • Bibliography
Here you demonstrate that you are are aware of the previous writings in this area and that you are familiar with the secondary materials which will assist in your understanding and analysis of your findings.
  • Timeline
Here you give an estimate of your research plan and lay out a schedule of research and writing that will bring you in to complete your new contribution to history on time.

Project Topic

Hey guys hope you all are having a good week so far. So I have been doing some thinking on possible topics for our new project. What I have come up with is topics that are related to the Battle of Gettysburg. My initial idea is writing about Robert E. Lee. Most historians blame Gen. Longstreet or Gen. Stewart for the loss. However, I was going to take a different approach to it a blame Gen. Lee for the loss. I was going to talk about his plans at the battle the and the constant stubbornness he showed by ignoring Gen. Longstreet who was probably right in not fighting there at all. I have two books that may help with this project so far. One is on Stewart called Saber and Scapegoat and General James Longstreet. My overall goal is to prove that Gen. Lee is to blame for the loss and the slaughter of his men not Longstreet or Stewart who most like to blame. I think this can be narrowed down and focus in on one event such as Pickett’s Charge which was an ultimate disaster for the Confederates. Let me know what you guys think.


I just realized that I have been leaving comments on peoples posts rather than posts this whole semester. I have started thinking about a final paper topic but I go back and forth between deciding what is too broad and what might be too narrow of a topic. I’m going to head to the archives tomorrow to begin my process officially. I’ll enclose my letter transcription because none of you have seen it.

The following is a letter from James W. Bowen, Provost Marshal of the 10th District Pennsylvania, to Edwin M Stanton, the United States Secretary of War. The letter is a plea to secure Union Captain William L. Gray’s freedom from Confederate imprisonment. The letter mentions that Captain Gray has a wife and children who are financially dependent on him. The letter has no date and no explicit location of where it was written. However, based on the information given in the letter pertaining to Captain Gay’s capture, James W. Bowen must have been writing this letter around or in the year 1863. The discourse and spelling throughout this document exhibit no conspicuous mistakes; however, further research concerning the date of Captain Gray’s capture at Gettysburg does not correlate with the date provided in the letter. This inconsistency is minor as the date of his capture is recoded as July 1st whereas the letter declares his capture was on July 2nd. The connection between James W. Bowen and William L. Gray is not clear. Their only similarity seems to be that they both come from Pennsylvania. Further information on Captain Gray is available in a personal narrative that had been made temporarily unavailable.

His Excellency, Secretary of War[i]


We the undersigned citizens of Pennsylvania respectively ask your interference in behalf of Capt. William L. Gray[ii] of the 151 82/11 Right P.V[iii] now a prisoner of war at Columbia S.G.[iv] Captain Gray was captured at Gettysburg[v] July 2nd AD 1863 and has been a prisoner since that time-he has a wife[vi] and five children entirely dependent on him for support. Since his capture he has lost a son in the service. 7His release would ne at once and act of justice and mercy and we respect fully urge you to exercise your influence to secure it.

Yours with Respect,

James W. Bowen8

Capt. To Pro Marshal 10th dist. Pa


[i] Edwin M. Stanton was born in Steubenville, Ohio on December 19, 1814. Though he was forced to drop out of school at a young age to support his mother, he began clerking for bookstores in 1828. During his time clerking, he began studying the law. In 1835 Stanton passed the bar examination. He practiced law in Cadiz, Ohio and Steubenville from 1837 to 1842 when he became the reporter to the Supreme Court. Four years later in 1847, Stanton became city solicitor.  In 1949 Stanton represented Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania vs. The Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company.  Because of his success in the trial as well as his success in other cases, James Buchanan appointed him to the position of Attorney General. However, with Simon Cameron’s resignation as Secretary of War in 1862, Stanton was appointed to the position of Secretary of War on January 20, 1862. He served until May 28, 1865. (Ohio History Central, “Conestoga,” Edwin M. Stanton (2005).http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org)

[ii] William L. Gray was born around 1823 in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. He was one of eight children. As a young boy he lost is father to freak farming accident and was sent to live with friends nearby. After traveling around the counties of Susquehanna the Schuylkill, he settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania where he began tailoring. Soon he took up preparing lumber for the building of bridges on the Schuylkill River. He lost his first wife in 1847. Gray re-married a woman named Elizabeth and they had five children together. The couple re-located to Cressona where Gray became involved in the mercantile system. (Michael A. Dreese, The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm (McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 15). Gray enlisted in the war on November 7, 1862 and was a Captain in the 151st Infantry Regiment of Philadelphia, Company I. He was captured at the battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863 and became a prisoner of war. Gray was discharged from Confederate imprisonment and mustered out on March 12, 1865. (Samuel P. Bates, A History of Pennsylvania Volunteers Volume VIII (Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1870), 694).Gray was described as having been the oldest officer in his regiment (he was 40 years old), and having been six feet tall and 200 pounds. Colonel McFarland as a prompt and gentlemanly man. ( Michael A. Dreese, The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm (McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 14).

[iii] The 151ist Regiment existed from October 1st 1862 to July 27, 1863. The regiment was comprised of men from counties of Susquehanna, Pike, Waren, Justina, Berks, and Schuylkill. The regiment started out at camp curtain in September and moved towards Washington and Arlington Heights in November. They consistently suffered hard weather conditions and ration shortages. In February, the regiment transferred to Bell Plain and fought at Chancellorsville. On June 12th, they began their march towards Gettysburg. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the  151st regiment showed extraordinary heroism. The regiment had twenty one officers and four hundred and six men at the start of the battle. By the end of the battle, two officers and sixty men had been killed, twelve officers and one hundred and eight seven men were wounded, and one hundred men were missing. (Samuel P. Bates, A History of Pennsylvania Volunteers (Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1870), 677-681).

[iv] Columbia, South Georgia was only one of the prisons that Gray stayed at during his 20 months of imprisonment. He was originally taken to Libby Prison along with two other officers in his regiment – Potts and Botz. According to a fellow officer during Grays stay at Libby Prison, Gray ran through the jail for physical exercise. Other prisoners showed their admiration and respect for him by calling him “Pappy Gray.” Captain Gray also spent time at Macon Prison in Macon, Georgia. When Lieutenant George L. Brown, Company I, 101st Pennsylvania, arrived at Macon, he thought Gray to be of good health. However in June, Gray almost died to a severe case of chronic diarrhea compounded by rheumatism and swollen legs. On July 27th, Gray and 600 other captive officers were transported to Charlton South Carolina where they were held in the Charleston City Jail. It was during his stay at Charleston jail that Gray recalls near starvation. (Michael A. Dreese, The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm (McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 60,110, 124).

[v] At the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Captain Gray was captured as a prisoner of war. According to——, he “fought to the very end was among one of the last to fall back.”(Michael A. Dreese, The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm (McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 60). He was one of one hundred of his men of the 151st regiment to be captured.

[vi] Elizabeth E. Gray outlived her husband and continued to receive pension money into 1890. By the age of 74, she was a widow with only two surviving children Anna J Gray and William Gray.(Ancestry.com, “Ancestry.com Operation Inc.,” 1890 Veterans Schedules about William L. Gray (2005).

7 Captain William Gray’s son, Arthur Lee Gray, was killed instantly around the year 1863 due to a bullet wound that severed his jugular during an assault on the outer defenses of Petersburg. Arthur Gray was nineteen years old at the time of his death. Though Arthur had already completed his three year term in the army, he received his injury after he re-enlisted in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers. .(Michael A. Dreese, The 151st Pennsylvania Volunteers at Gettysburg: Like Ripe Apples in a Storm (McFarland & Company Inc., 2000), 124).

8 James W. Bowen was the Provost Marshal to the 10th district Pennsylvania. It is not clear whether or not he knew Captain Gray personally; however, Bowen seems to have expressed a keen interest in the war effort. Most specifically he was interested in the relief effort and he showed his interest when he donated one hundred dollars to the cause. Bowen was born around 1820 and was originally from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Bowen was a Sheriff before becoming involved with the war. He was married to Mary Bowen and they had four children whose names were: Charles, Fanny, Sarah, and Meriah.  By the age of 60, Bowen was registered in the census as a painter. (Ancestry.com, “Ancestry.com Operation Inc.,” 1860 United States Federal Census (2009).

Final Product

Wrapping up the loose ends of our letter assignment. It is amazing how much easier it was to read the letter after a couple weeks of looking at it from time to time. The words I could not discern the first few tries were easy after letting it sit for a while. This was a very interesting project, but I’m glad to have it complete.

Completed Letter

Here is my completed letter project.  I was not able to ascertain whether or not John Gutshall got the job he was being considered for, but I was able to compile a great deal of information about the people referenced in the letter and the Carlisle Barracks. 

The following is a letter from former Pennsylvania Republican Representative Lemuel Todd, who served from 1855-1857 and from 1873-1875 to Eli Slifer, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under Republican Governor Andrew G. Curtin.  This letter was written from Carlisle on August 25th, 1863 in order to convince Governor Curtin to not permit the appointment of Carlisle resident John Gutshall to a position as a construction superintendant at the Carlisle Barracks as a result of his anti-Union political views.  The letter contains no spelling or grammatical errors, indicating that the author was well educated. 

Carlisle, Aug 25, ‘63

Hon. Eli Slifer1

Dear Sir,

            I understand that Capt. Wilson2 who is charged with the rebuilding of the Carlisle Barracks3 contemplates appointing John Gutshall4, one of our citizens superintendant of the work.  Hon5, although I have nothing to say against Gutshall’s character as a mechanic6 was a man of integrity, yet I do protest against his appointment on the ground of his poor liberal character.  He is a copperhead7 of the unkempt character, and ardent and avowed secessionist.  All his political sympathies and views are bitterly against us, and every influence he can exert will be used for our determent.  Hon, common sense, and common justice agree that the Govt should patronize its own friends, and not its enemies- we have plenty of men who can perform the service as well as Gutshall, who are well affected.  If Capt. Wilson is a friend of Governor Curtin8, he will not make this appointment.  If he does, it will tell heavily against us not only in putting within the power of his enemies to make votes against us, but also his disappointing and souring one of his friends, who will be dissatisfied with the act, and reform that action by which on so much rides.  Do not allow this appointment of Gutshall to be made, for like a two edged sword, it point out both ways. 

Very respectfully,

Lemuel Todd9






1 Eli Slifer was born on May 23, 1818 to Abraham Slifer and his wife Mary Coulter Slifer in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  He did not receive a formal education, and became a boat builder in Lewisburg, Union County, Pennsylvania.  He was a staunch abolitionist and an active member of the Whig party, winning a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1848 on the party’s ticket.  He won reelection in 1850, and the following year was elected to the Pennsylvania State Senate representing Union, Mifflin and Juniata Counties, serving until 1854 (John W. Forney, Anecdotes of Public Men, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881, Google Books).  He was again elected State Treasurer in 1857, serving in this capacity in 1859 (“A Fatal Runaway,” New York Times, 28 May, 1888, 8).  Upon taking office in 1861, Republican Governor Andrew G. Curtin appointed Slifer Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a position he held until 1867 when Curtin left office (“An Ex-Official of Pennsylvania Dead,” Washington Post, 28 May, 1888, 4.).  In this capacity, one of his main functions was to handle correspondence to and from the Governor and sign proclamations before they were issued (“The Rebel Raid.” New York Times, 7 July, 1864, 1).  Therefore, individuals who had business to address with the governor would potentially write to Slifer.  In addition, his position required that he execute the duties of Governor of Pennsylvania when the Governor himself was out of state (“Arrivals in the City.” New York Times, 29 July, 1865, 1).  After the end of the Curtin administration, Slifer became a farmer in Kelly, Union County, Pennsylvania (Bureau of the Census, 1880 United States Federal Census, 1880).  Slifer died of injuries sustained in a carriage accident on May 26, 1888 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania (“An Ex-Official of Pennsylvania Dead,” Washington Post, 28 May, 1888, 4.).

2Captain Wilson was an officer who served as quartermaster of the Carlisle Barracks in 1863.   In this position, he served directly below Captain Daniel H. Hastings, who was commander of the barracks.  After the barracks were destroyed by Confederate troops in July of 1863, he was charged with procuring lumber to be used in the reconstruction.  This indicates that he may have been responsible for organizing the construction project at the barracks.  Wilson wanted to repair the barracks temporarily and only reconstruct the buildings that were necessary to accommodate soldiers.  Hastings overruled him and ordered the construction of all buildings and a new hospital facility on site.  Wilson’s first name was not recorded rendering further research into his life nearly impossible.  (Thomas G. Tousey, Military History of Carlisle and Carlisle Barracks, Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, 1939, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA). 

3The Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania were first built around the time of the Revolutionary War when they were used by the Continental Army for training and storing supplies.  In 1858, Congress funded the transformation of the barracks “into a modern military post.”  Once the Civil War began in April of 1861, troops poured in from all over the Union.  The barracks continued to serve an important role for the Union army until June of 1863, when the Confederate army invaded Southern Pennsylvania.  On June 25th, Major Daniel H. Hastings, the commander of the barracks, evacuated the troops at the barracks to Harrisburg to avoid the approaching Confederate troops (Thomas G. Tousey, Military History of Carlisle and Carlisle Barracks, Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, 1939, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).  The Confederates occupied both the town of Carlisle and the barracks by June 29th (“Positions of the Enemy,” The National Intelligencer, 30 June 1863, 3).  On July 1st, they shelled the town and burnt down the barracks, however Union troops commanded by Brigadier General Knpie drove them out of Carlisle the following day (“Our Harrisburg Letter,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4 July 1863, 2).  The Union army realized the importance of the barracks as a rendezvous for troops and therefore ensured that all the damaged buildings were restored in the fall of 1863 or early 1864 and that a new hospital facility was constructed on the premises.  This rapid rebuilding probably required that a number of contracts be given to civilians and businesses to supervise and perform different aspects of the construction.  Hastings was fired on April 21, 1864 as a result of allegations of favoritism in awarding construction contracts and “misappropriation of funds.”  He was subsequently tried and convicted of “fraud and embezzlement of $26, 000,” and sentenced to prison (Thomas G. Tousey, Military History of Carlisle and Carlisle Barracks, Richmond, VA: The Dietz Press, 1939, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA). 

4John Gutshall was born on October 19, 1818 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Cemetery and Burial Records, Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).  He was born in Pennsylvania, yet the location of his birth does not appear to have been documented.  He was a carpenter and longtime resident of Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania (Bureau of the Census, 1870 United States Federal Census, 1870).  From 1860 or earlier until 1877 or later, he operated a building and construction business out of his home at 109 South Hanover Street in Carlisle (Boyd’s, Boyd’s Business Directory, Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA) (Cumberland Valley Railroad, Cumberland Valley Railroad Directory, Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).  Therefore, it is possible that he would be considered for a construction contract during the rebuilding of the Carlisle Barracks in 1863.  A careful search of Civil War era records from the barracks and contemporary local newspapers reveals no mention of whether or not Gutshall ever performed work at the barracks.  Gutshall died in Carlisle on September 12, 1890 (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Cemetery and Burial Records, Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).

5Hon., in this context, is an abbreviation for Honorable.  This is a respectful term that can be used when addressing a government official, such as Eli Slifer. 

6By using the term mechanic, the writer of the letter was referring to John Gutshall’s occupation as a carpenter and builder. 

7Copperhead was a term used to refer to Democrats from Union states who opposed the Union waging war against the Confederacy.  These individuals believed that southern states should be allowed to form their own independent nation.  They were also known as Peace Democrats.  The term Copperhead possibly originated in 1861, after an editorial likened the Peace Democrats to Copperhead snakes (Charles H. Coleman, “The Use of the term ‘Copperhead’ during the Civil War,”  Mississippi Valley Historical Review 25, no. 1 (1938): 163-164).  Some became Copperheads as a result of their personal support for the institution of slavery, however many Irish and German laborers became Copperheads because they feared that free African-Americans would compete with them for jobs (Frank L. Clement, “Catholics as Copperheads During the Civil War,” Catholic Historical Review 80, no. 1 (1994): 36-57, JSTOR).  The Copperhead movement became very prominent in the agrarian Midwest because many Midwesterners believed that waging war against the South would create a nation in which industry is dominant over agriculture.  The Midwestern farmers also engaged in trade with Southerners, and therefore it would cost them financially if the South was annihilated in the war.  As the war went on, prominent Copperheads began to suffer severe consequences for their political beliefs, such as Ohio Congressman and fervent Copperhead Clement Vallandingham, who was arrested for disloyalty to the Union in May of 1863 (Frank L. Clement, The Limits of Dissent: Clement L. Vallandingham and the Civil War, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1970, Google Books).  In addition, there were incidents in which purported Copperheads became the victims of backlash from their local communities.  An example of this was when supposed Copperhead John B. Bratton’s printing shop in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania was destroyed by outraged townspeople in 1863 (James W. Sullivan, Hertford, England, to Jane Van Ness Smeed, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, July, 1932, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).  

8Andrew G. Curtin was born in Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania on April 22, 1817.  After attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, he became an attorney and practiced in his hometown of Bellefonte (“Andrew G. Curtin,”House Divided, Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5520).  He became active in the Whig party, and in 1848, he served as a Presidential Elector for the party’s victorious national ticket of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore (“Another War Governor Gone,” New York Times, 8 October, 1894, 1).  In 1854, he was offered the Whig nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania, but declined in favor of James Pollock (“Andrew G. Curtin,” House Divided, Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5520).  Upon his subsequent election, Pollock appointed him Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He became a Republican after the breakup of the Whig party, and at the 1860 Republican convention, supported Abraham Lincoln, as he believed he would carry Pennsylvania (“Another War Governor Gone,” New York Times, 8 October, 1894, 1).  That same year, he was elected Governor of Pennsylvania over Democrat Henry Foster by over 32,000 votes (A.K. McClure, The life and services of Andrew G. Curtin. An address by A. K. McClure, delivered in the House of Representatives at Harrisburg, PA, Harrisburg, PA: Dickinson College Archives and Special Collections, Carlisle, PA).  After taking office, he introduced a bill to giving the Governor the power to raise and equip troops, which was passed and signed within two days.  When the war began in April of 1861, and President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops, Pennsylvania was the first state to answer the call.  An ardent supporter of the President and the war effort, Curtin organized a conference of all the Union Governors, which was held on September 24th and 25th of 1864 in Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania, where they formulated an address pledging their support for Lincoln and offering more troops for the war effort (“Lincoln Freed Slaves 50 Years Ago; Semi-Centennial of Preliminary Proclamation Early in the Civil War,” New York Times, 22 September, 1912).  He initially decided against running for reelection in 1863, but changed his mind and was reelected (“Andrew G. Curtin, The American Volunteer, 3 September, 1863).  After leaving office in 1867, he was appointed to serve as Minister to Russia by President Ulysses S. Grant, a post he held from 1869 until 1872.  He subsequently switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party and served as a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania from 1881 until 1887.  He died on October 7, 1894 in Bellefonte (“Andrew G. Curtin,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-Present, Collection of the United States House of Representatives, http://bioguide.congress.gov/copyright.htm). 

9Lemuel Todd was born on July 29, 1817 in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle in 1839, where he studied classics.  After being admitted to the bar in 1841, he practiced law in Carlisle (“Lemuel Todd,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-Present, Collection of the United States House of Representativeshttp://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000293). After practicing law in his hometown with his fellow Dickinson alumnus Samuel Alexander, he was elected to Congress as Republican in 1854.  He served for two years until he was defeated in 1856 by his Democratic opponent (“Lemuel Todd,” Dickinson College Chronicles, Dickinson College, http://chronicles.dickinson.edu/encyclo/t/ed_toddL.htm).  While serving in Congress, he remained involved in local political issues in the Carlisle community, such as urging a local attorney to argue in front of the Board of Education in favor of a constituent seeking a position as a teacher (Lemuel Todd, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to James Hamilton, Carlisle Pennsylvania, July 7, 1856, Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).  After the Civil War broke out, he was appointed Major in command of the First Regiment of Pennsylvania Reserves on June 10, 1861 (“US Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles,” Ancestry.com, Historical Data Systems, Inc.,    http://search.ancestrylibrary.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&db=civilwar_histdatasys%2c&rank=0&gsfn=lemuel&gsln=todd&sx=&gs1co=1%2cAll+Countries&gs1pl=1%2c+&year=&yearend=&sbo=0&sbor=&ufr=0&wp=4%3b_80000002%3b_80000003&srchb=r&prox=1&ti=5542&ti.si=0&gss=angs-d&o_iid=21416&o_lid=21416&pcat=39&fh=1&h=530749&recoff=1+2).  In this capacity, he fought at the battles of Gaines Mill, Second Bull Run, and South Mountain, before withdrawing in the fall of 1862 for health reasons.  He was subsequently appointed Inspector General by Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin and was charged overseeing the Pennsylvania militia and state guard, as he did during the Confederate invasion of Southern Pennsylvania in 1863.  (“Lemuel Todd,” Dickinson College Chronicles, Dickinson College, http://chronicles.dickinson.edu/encyclo/t/ed_toddL.htm).  As his job required him to oversee state militia, it is entirely possible that he would have sought to ensure that the United States military appointed exclusively pro-Union individuals to work at bases in the state of Pennsylvania such as the Carlisle Barracks.  In 1873, he was again elected to Congress as a Republican and served until 1875, when he retired and returned to practicing law in Carlisle (“Lemuel Todd,” Dickinson College Chronicles, Dickinson College, http://chronicles.dickinson.edu/encyclo/t/ed_toddL.htm).  He died on May 11, 1891 in Carlisle at the age of 73 after suffering from hemoptysis or coughing up blood (Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Death Report, Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA).

I completed my letter research last night and was able to find information on almost all that was mentioned in the letter. However I was not able to ascertain whether or not Charles Woods received that transfer that he asked Eli Slifer for. I searched documents for the individual, for his regiment during the war and at the hospital he was working. This gave me the most difficulty trying to complete the project.

This past week I was able to find much more information on the author of my letter, Charles Woods. I looked for records of him from the U.S. Census throughout his lifetime and was able to find out general information about him there. On GoogleBooks I found a record of his graduation from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He was a part of the 152nd Regiment of Pennsylvania during the Civil War, which was stationed at Fort Monroe in Virginia. There was not much information on him after the war, but I was able to find out he moved back to Danville and lived at his father’s house for a time, working as a salesman. As for the rest of my letter, the people, places and battles mentioned were not too hard to find.

“Mystery Company”

A few updates from the past week of research:
The biggest fact that I was able to find out is the identity of the “Company of Volunteers” that was identified by S.W. Price as originating from Jersey Shore, PA. They are Company A, of the 34th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. As it turns out, shortly after Price’s request to have them put into service they were enlisted into Camp Curtain in Harrisburg in June of 1861. From that point on, much of their history was fairly easy to track down.

The Captain of that Company, H.C. Ullman, who was a lawyer from Jersey Shore, served with the Company until the winter of 1862, when he was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg and discharged on December 23, 1862. Ullman is also mentioned in the letter by Price.

… More information will come soon.

Letter Project

Hey guys in the final stages of completing my letter project. Feel like I have researched all that I can on the matter. Have a good amount of information this Lemuel Terrel or Lemuel Terrell character. Some of the other content within the letter was a little more difficult to look up and find. But I feel like I have a good amount of information the people and certain events that are stated in my letter. Hope all of you guys are doing well on this project.  Best of 0f luck on the successful completion of it.

New Info

I went to the Archives the other day and got a tremendous amount of help on the last few remaining words I couldnt figure out. I also found out the archives has a few pamphlets on sample writing from the 19th century that would have been a good help earlier in my transcribing but oh well, better late then never. I also am realizing under the suggestion of professor obsorne how useful google books is. Hope to find much more useful things such as these.


Is it okay if I include 2-4 paragraphs on people I found a lot of info on (Slifer, Curtin, Todd)??
Not a bad question, Brad. Answer, remember what your mission is. It is to bring the letter to life, not write long biographies. All these need solid descriptions but remember what Butterfield said about selection. A brief synopsis of their career, with birth and death dates, what they are doing at time of letter, what is their role in what happens. And, most importantly, where your reader can go to find out more, i.e. your citation.

Brad, this kind of question and answer should be on the blog so that all can benefit.

Project Update

Well I have finally been able to track down this Lemuel Terrell character. However, I have stumbled upon something very interesting in my research. While looking for him which has taken me about 5 days and with help from Mrs. Bombaro and Jim from the Archives I have discovered that Lemuel Terrell, which is what the 1860 and 1880 Federal Census say. May also be the Lemuel Terrel in the 1840 census. Both of whom lived in New York and then apparently moved to Pennsylvania and in 1880 when recorded had a family as well. Also as a side note I have come across a Lemuel Terrel who lived in Virginia around the time when the 1840 Census was taken. The trail goes cold on him after that. Now it’s just piecing the two gentlemen together who may be the same person just under a different spelling. Keep all you updated.

Letter Update.

Hi guys,
I found a great deal of info on Gov. Curtain (thanks for the tips Brian), and a sufficient amount on Lemuel Todd.  I was able to find Capt. Wilson’s position and a little about his work at the barracks, but that was it.  I looked through all the records pertaining to the barracks at the Carlisle Historical Society.  The logbooks from the barracks made no mention of John Gutshall, the guy the letter was about.  I’m not sure if that means he didn’t get the job or they just didn’t mention him because he was a civilian.  If anyone has any ideas or hints as to where I could find better info, I’d appreciate the tips.

Major Topics from Letter

The most prominent topics from my letter that I have been researching so far are the author of the letter – S.W. Price, Camp Scott, and Camp Curtin. Research on Price has been tedious so far, but I have learned that he was the pastor at the United Methodist Church in Jersey Shore, PA from 1860-1861. It also appears that he was so moved by the content of his letter that he decided to join the military in the 20th Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers. More information is forthcoming regarding his background.

Camp Scott, one of two mentioned in the letter, was a military training facility on the site of the York Fairgrounds. There is a fair amount of information on Camp Scott, which produced several thousand Pennsylvania soldiers.

Camp Curtin was located in Harrisburg, PA and was named in honor of the Governor after he called for additional troops from PA. It was this movement that created the 20th Pennsylvania, of which Price was believed to be a member.

David FrEY

Turns out my author’s name is David A. FREY and not FRYE. Took me about five minutes to then locate him on ancestry, where in the 1880 census it says right next to his name: Editor. For awhile I even had doubts about his newspaper’s existance or relevance, but it turns out his newspaper ran weekly for about fifty years.

Letter Transcription

Williamsport – December 1, 1862

I wrote some 8 or 10 days ago to Gov. Curtain concerning a commission of 2 (?) for my son, he he served a commission from Gen. McClellam on the 4th of July for Company K 5 Pennsylvania Reserve Corp. which was vacant and he has been acting in that capacity ever since John McKnight ___ ____ promoted to some other post. I was ____ he has been acting aid to Gen. Seymour since the battle of Antietam, if he does not get his Commission from that date I have foreseen ____ hence more close than his wages will be the lowest since ___ ___ ___ more than orderly as he was.

He has been in 11 hour ___ fights and never been one day from camp & of those that earns to be promoted does not get it but other that does not go near the battlefield. It is not right in my opinion he can give any recommendation the Gov. may want & I think it hard for my letter not becoming answered by the Gov. now. Gov. Curtain, I think they was few men in our country that done more traveling more & spent more money than I did to elect him. I will refer you to Mr. ____ as to that & not even answer my letter or pay no attention to it. I think Curtain rather hard on those that has been his friend you will please write if no ____ it with respect I remain your

Sam Caldwell

Still working on some of the names but it turns out the General he served under was removed immediately following the battle because President Lincoln thought he was not doing a sufficient job which caused alot of contreversy…something to look into

I was able to find the author of my letter, Charles Woods on ancestry.com. The information he wrote in the letter regarding his father and his father’s hometown matched up to a Charles Woods in the 1880 U.S. Census. It has still been hard to find much of any other kind of information on Charles Woods. I have continued to research the hospitals and battles he mentions in the letter as well as the general topic of medicine and hospitals in the Civil War. Good luck to everyone on their letters and projects.


Those of you who trying to blog and trying to make some progress on your transcription and not doing TOO badly. Looking at the sample edited letter will remind you that the transcription is just the first stage and that much needs to go into these footnotes. And it needs to be substantiated information, as well. This all takes time. My major piece of advice is simple – CONTEXT.  Chronology, space, and circumstance must be your guide to making your letter live again.

Those of you who are not by now trying sufficiently to fulfil the blogging requirements and who are not making progress on their assignments, heaven help you.

Letter Transcription

Here is a copy of my letter so far:

From Charles Woods signed on May 19, 1863, requesting a transfer from his position at Chesapeake General Hospital to a position in a northern hospital.

Chesapeake Genl Hospital

To the Hon. Eli Slifer

Sir, I have the honor to express my thanks for the favor granted me through my father Thomas Woods “Danville” PA. I refer to your cooperation in the application for the transfer of Charles Woods ___ USA from Ft. Monroe to a Northern Hospital. The circumstances were such at the time as to render the success of being transferred improbable as it has since proved to have been the case. Per communication from the surgeon general US Army, you doubtless were aware of the condition of affairs at Suffolk at that time, of the probability of a general engagement. Since however the main journey has been ___ from that point and there is now no probability of an engagement in this quarter for some time.

The result of the late battle of Fredericksburg must necessarily have filled many northern hospitals under which circumstances there will be a favorable opportunity to work.

I mention these facts merely as a suggestion that an application at this time might be favorably looked upon.

I have been in service very nearly two years and in this dept about fourteen months. If it is not asking too much I should consider myself highly favored to have you again apply to the Surgeon General USA for a transfer.

I have the honor to be sir

Your __ Servant,

Charles Woods __ USA

Research on Letter

Hello all. Hope all is well and that the letters are going well. Still trying to track down this Lemuel Terrell character. Working on how to find more information on him. Getting plenty of information on Governor Curtin. Actually there is no place I haven’t looked that hasn’t given me information on him, whether that is a little or a lot. Was wondering if anyone had the website for the course and would be kind enough to give it to me. I think I may have copied it down wrong and therefore can’t get into it. Good luck with the project and see you guys tomorrow.


I finished transcribing the letter and I found some info on the guy who wrote it and the guy it was written about.  Here is the complete transcription:

The following is a letter from former Pennsylvania  Republican Representative Lemuel Todd, who served from 1855-1857 and from 1873-1875 to Eli Slifer, Secretary to the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew G. Curtin.  This letter was written from Carlisle on August 25th, 1863 in order to convince Governor Curtin to not permit the appointment of Carlisle resident John Gutshall to a position as a construction superintendant at the Carlisle Barracks as a result of his anti-Union political views.  The letter contains no spelling or gramatical errors, indicating that the author was well educated. 

Carlisle, Aug 25, ‘63

Hon. Eli Slifer

Dear Sir,

            I understand that Capt. Wilson who is charged with the rebuilding of the Carlisle Barracks contemplates appointing John Gutshall, one of our citizens superintendant of the work.  Hon, although I have nothing to say against Gutshall’s character as a mechanic was a man of integrity, yet I do protest against his appointment on the ground of his poor liberal character.  He is a copperhead of the unkept character, and ardent and avowed seccessionist.  All his political sympathies and views are bitterly against us, and every influence he can exert will be used for our detrement.  Hon, common sense, and common justice agree that the Govt should patronize its own friends, and not its enemies- we have plenty of men who can perform the service as well as Gustshall, who are well affected.  If Capt. Wilson is a friend of Governor Curtin, he will not make this appointment.  If he does, it will tell heavily against us not only in putting within the power of his enemies to make votes against us, but also his disappointing and souring one of his friends, who will be dissatisfied with the act, and reform that action by which on so much rides.  Do not allow this appointment of Gutshall to be made, for like a two edged sword, it point out both ways. 

Very respectfully,

Lemuel Todd

Primary Sources

In searching databases for my primary sources, and especially ancestry.com, ive been able to find a good amount of context to give me some clues as to the content of my letter. Ive yet to piece them all together but I had been picking out familiar names in some of the old regiment lists off of ancestry.com that i remember being in my letter. Still some more compiling to do but the research for this project went a lot smoother than the one before. hope everyone else is having similar luck.

Letter Research

Hey guys hope you all are having a great weekend. I have been able to find a great amount of information on Andrew Gregg Curtin the Governor of Pennsylvania during the Civil War. However, the gentleman who wrote him the letter I am researching is becoming quite difficult to find. I have tried looking him up in ancestory.com and they don’t even have him listed. I have also tried looking him up through another database but can’t recall it off the top of my head. Will start searching for him a different way now. If anyone needs any help let me know.

Letter so far

Lang Wister

Camp Pierfort
Jan 20 1862

To Eli Slifer
Dear Sir,

Since I have last had the pleasure of seeing you, we have had a great deal of trouble in our regiment. Most of which has arisen, or may I say all, through acts of Lieutenant Col Race? Then the regiment was under Col C.J. Biddle at Camp Mason and Dixon and before any of the Capts. had got their ________ we were ordered by the Col. to draw lots from our respective ranks, with the result of which every capt. was satisfied. The ______ drawer by us were kept until either two weeks, being a period of chaos without the slightest question. At the above time. Ltn Col Race left _____ on the grounds of Sickness? and wounds? and first capt Taylor as the Capt. in Command saying that his ______ was older than any of the other though he had heard this only from Taylor. Thats depriving capt. Holland? of his just rights.

Now since the question of rank has again arisen, I write to request you to put us all on an equality? in that respect as one has equal rights with the other all going into the regiment? at the same time. If you remember they _______ the Brigade reception of Perry Co. came to Harrisburg? (Yes I know this sentence does not make any sense) to see you without saying? and handed over the election returns? of my Co. on the 21st of April when you promised me my _____ in two ______ days. From that time until the time when I succeeded into the service, I was almost constantly in here trying to into _____ Curtin and promises? from day to day- So I leave it to your judgement to say whether I am not entitled; if any change is needed in rank (as drawn by lot) to have a _____ of as early a date as one of our Capts. especially as non of theirs were organized before ______………………………………………

So thats what I have so far. Only a small paragraph more to transcribe . There are a few key words that appear several times that I need to figure out what they are in order to gain correct context. Looking forward making sense of all thats written


Sunday July 17, 1854


I (received?) your kind letter a few days ago, but have been prevented by the hours of ___________ from replying on an earlier day.  My position in relation in relation to the gubernatorial question is this, I am not a candidate for nomination, nor do I intend to be, nor have I ever consented to the ________ of my name in that connection.  I have no enthusiasm from the (action?) politics of the day and have no wish to enter the arena again to struggle for any office.  If however, the ________ cannot agree upon a candidate to be submitted to the people for that office, and they in their wisdom should give me a unanimous nomination, I would face ________ to yield my own wishes to those of my friends, But ________ __________ can __________ is not likely to happen, I _______ may ______ that my own desire to remain quietly at home will be gratified.  This is my position and you may so say to your friends

__________ Respectfully

James Pollock

Col. E. Slifer

so thats what i have so far. i’ll get back in the archives and try to get the missing words one of these days. probably tomorrow afternoon, i want to go down there and check out some of the primary sources i’ve found using the library catalog.  Just filtering through the catalog and using fairly general searches search as “pennsylvania whig party” and the time period i’ve been able to find a good deal of sources.

I was also able to find a lot using worldcat and the american memory project.  i searched for articles authored by james pollock and i quickly found a lot. unfortunately though, Pollock gave a few speeches that i found on world cat that would be great for me, but they only exist on the west coast (and one in Maine).  but american memory project was the most useful.  Pollock and lincoln exchanged a few letters that were interesting from what i can understand so far, but they’re written in 1850’s chicken scratch so i need to spend more time on them.


american memory project = good

people had bad handwriting back in the day

Just sayin’….

A word of advice from someone who has seen it before….if you all don’t start blogging and keeping up with other 204 requirements, the next lecture Osborne gives you about academic responsibility and being thorough and intellectually curious won’t be quite as low-key as the one you got this week. In fact, it will be VERY. UNCOMFORTABLE. If you choose not to believe me, I might not be able to exert enough self-control to keep from saying “I told you so” after I witness the event. But I suggest rather that you just blog and avoid the otherwise inevitable.

As always, call or email if you need me,

Most Recent Letter Transcription

Rev. S.W. Price


Jersey Shore, Pa

May 8th, 1861

Hon. Eli K. Slifer,

Dear Sir; –

Having learned that the control of the Northern Central Railway was to a great extent under the State; I write you asking the favor of a renewal of the (illegible) Clergyman’s ticket. By granting it you will greatly ablige me.

Allow me Sir, to call your attention to another item or two, in which as public officer and Christian Philanthropist you will doubtless feel interested and effect your functions to a proper extent.

The first is an extract from a letter read from Camp Scott “There have been four of our men died in Camp within the last two days, and if we do not get better living and more of it we will all die before our three months are up.”

Every preparation cannot be made for a military campaign in two or three short weeks; but in an agricultural section like Penn. the brave men who have sacrificed comfortable homes and profitable situations to defend our Rights and our government, should be abundantly and comfortably provided for.

Another thing I will call your attention to and will Secure your influence for; is the Company of Volunteers raised in this place more than two weeks ago. They are a fine body of soldiers, good size, well-drilled, and after seeing last week the soldiers in Camp Curtis I have no hesitancy in pronouncing them a better body of men then two-thirds Encamped there – in every respect. We have kept them at the Expense of this little town for more than two weeks, knocking all the time for admission to the Army, until they are discouraged and many of our Citizens begin to complain of Expense. Some of us have used our influence to keep them together. Now, if they can be taken please have them (entered/issued?) immediately; or if that cannot be, have the kindness to inform us, and we will allow them to disband. They want to go and are willing to serve during the war. They are under the command of Capt. Ullman a lawyer of this place. Excuse the (perhaps unjustifiable liberty, but I hope pardonable) liberty, a comparative stranger has taken in addressing you these lines, and believe me

Yours Fraternally, Saml. W. Price

History of York County

One of the topics that I came up with from my letter was that of Camp Scott, a Union training camp for soldiers that was located on the fair grounds in York, Pa. As a resident of York County, I found this to be an enticing topic. In the library I found a multi-volume work dedicated strictly to the history of the county. It looks like this will be very helpful as I move forward, in addition to the well established York County Historical Society. I look forward to following through with these sources.


The bibliography went fairly smooth for me although I cant say how well I did till we get to class. I did also have trouble finding some book reviews so I just went online and searched for some. Whilst doing the research for the bibliography, I found a neatly transcribed battle report from the subject of my letter, Langhorne Wister. This will certainly help in figuring out the language usage and style of writing Wister used in my letter. I recommend that to anyone whose still having trouble on their letters.