Here is a copy of my proposal

For my final project I would like to use two primary source documents that were written during the occupation of Carlisle in 1863. The letters of Margaret Flemming Murray and Mary Flemming Murray, depict two personal experiences during the events of the shelling of Carlisle. The two sisters each wrote a lengthy letter to their brother Harmer Murray who was living in Harrisburg. By transcribing their letters in a paper format, I hope to present a more in depth analysis of the shelling of Carlisle from a personal standpoint. Additionally, I hope to incorporate the experiences of other women who experienced the same events. Carlisle native Sarah Meade for example, was forced to house a confederate soldier.

Throughout the Civil war women all over experienced it brutality. The women of Carlisle were no different. Through my final project, I would bring the Shelling of Carlisle to life primarily though the interpretation of women who experienced it first hand. However, I would my argument to extend further by incorporating Sarah Smead, and Susan Thorne, two women who lived in Carlisle during this period.  Further, I would like to apply a quotation from a letter written during the American Revolution by Abigail Adams that I feel applies to the women of Carlisle in the 1860’s. In a letter Adams wrote to her husband concerning war, she said, “when you offer your Blood to the State, it is ours. In giving our Sons and Husbands we give you more than ourselves. You can only die on the field but we have the misfortune to survive those whom we love most.” Adam’s point is one that is universal and can help us to understand women’s experience during the Civil War.

Though there is abundant material on women’s involvement in the Civil War, there is not much specific writing on the women of Carlisle during this period. For that reason, the primary source materials of the Murray sisters and the experiences of Sarah Smead and Susan Thorne offer incite that I can present in a unique manner. Though there are articles and excerpts in Cumberland county journals and historical books that address native Carlisle women in the 1860’s. I would like to focus on the journal articles by Sandy Mader, Dawn Flower, and Eric Wittenburg. The books I will use will include Women and the Civil War by Lisa Frank, Cumberland County History, as well as other Cumberland County history books located in the Dickinson College Archives and Dickinson Library.

The evidence I will be engaging will include both primary and secondary sources that I have located at the Carlisle historical society, the Dickinson College Archives, The Dickinson Library, and World Cat (Inter- Library Loan). I will use primary and secondary sources to evaluate the material of the Murray sisters as well as the other prominent women who lived in Carlisle in the 1860’s. By using both primary and secondary sources, I can acquire the best evidence of the period and present my findings in paper format.


Bennet, William. Our Sacred Honor. New York: Simon and Shuster, 1997.

Flower, Dawn L. “ A Corner of Carlisle History,” Cumberland County History 5, no. 1            (1989): 29-41.

Frank, Lisa. Women in the American Civil War. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO Inc., 2008.

Mader, Sandy. “ Women of Carlisle’s East End.” Cumberland County History 20, no.1-2            (2004): 35-36.

Murray, Margaret, Carlisle, to Harmar Denny Murray, Harrisburg, 3 July 1863. Record            Group 18-15 , Cumberland County Historical Society.

Murray, Mary, Carlisle, to Harmar Denny Murray, Harrisburg, 23 July 1863. Record            Group 18-15, Cumberland County Historical Society.

Smead, Raphael “The Smeads.” CCHUS Journal Winter 9, no. 2. (1992): 64.

Wittenberg, Eric J. “The Shelling of Carlisle.” Blue and Grey: For Those Who Still Hear            the Guns 2, no. 24 (2007): 41-46.


Week of October 11th: continue to transcribe letter, continue to look for sources

Week of October 18th: complete letter transcription, finish taking notes and compiling information

Week of October 25th: compose outline and complete bibliography.

Week of November 1st: begin writing.

Week of November 8th: complete majority of writing.

Week of November 15th: begin revising final product.

Week of November 22nd: Review final product, make revisions.


Here is a copy of the proposal that I turned in today in class. This copy does not include the argument that I will be making. As discussed in class, I will try to focus on this one particular hospital and look at the manuscripts at the Virginia Historical Society on the women who worked at the Ladies’ Relief Hospital. The women of Lynchburg felt they needed to start their own medical institution because they were not allowed to work in the other medical facilities in the town. As Osborne mentioned, there were certain prejudices regarding the work of women in hospitals in the South that perhaps did not exist in the North. One source mentioned that when the women of Lynchburg were turned away from the existing hospitals in the town, there was a saying “No more women, no more flies.” Other sources have mentioned that women were not wanted in the hospitals because they might get in the way and interrupt the work of the male doctors and surgeons. I will attempt to discover the cultural differences that existed in the South and try to find primary sources that explain why these women felt they needed to found their own hospital.

My Proposal:


My topic is based on the role of women in Civil War hospitals. In particular, I will be focusing on Lucy Otey, the founder of the Ladies’ Relief Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia. This medical facility was founded in 1862, toward the beginning of the American Civil War. The Ladies’ Relief Hospital was one of the only establishments of its kind at the time. It was a hospital run entirely by women in Lynchburg for wounded Confederate soldiers. Using Otey’s personal papers as well as secondary sources that exist on this institution, I will compare the role of women and the impact they had on their patients in this hospital, to the more common role of women in Civil War hospitals as nurses and assistants to male doctors and surgeons.


Extensive research has been conducted on the role of women as nurses and assistants during the Civil War. However, there has been little to no research done on hospitals run by women because this kind of establishment was rare during the Civil War. There are select cases in which women ran their own hospitals and tended to the wounded of the Civil War, including the Ladies’ Relief Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia.  I will examine this exception to the role of women in the medical field as well as examine the mortality rate of the wounded at the Ladies’ Relief Hospital in comparison to a hospital run by male doctors from the same time period.


Male doctors and surgeons ran hospitals during the Civil War. Women were expected to care for the wounded by assisting their male superiors and collecting materials for the hospital patients. Over the course of the war, the town of Lynchburg, Virginia had thirty-two hospitals in the town to care for wounded soldiers that came from Civil War battles throughout the country, such as the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.  Women volunteers in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1861 were not permitted to work in the main hospitals of their town. One female Lynchburg native, Lucy Mina Otey organized five hundred women from Lynchburg, the Ladies’ Relief Society, and petitioned Jefferson Davis to form their own hospital. Her petition was granted and the Ladies’ Relief Hospital was founded in August of 1861 on Main Street in Lynchburg. The hospital was established in the old Union Hotel in the town. The manuscript collection of Lucy Otey and primary sources regarding the Ladies’ Relief Hospital begin in 1861, when Otey petitioned Davis to found the hospital.


For my evidence I intend to use primary sources from the Lucy Otey manuscript collection as the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia. This collection includes materials on the establishment of the Ladies’ Relief Hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia and Otey’s work in this organization. I intend to visit the Virginia Historical Society in person and transcribe manuscripts that are relevant to my research. I also have found several secondary sources on Lucy Otey and the Ladies’ Relief Hospital that exist as whole books online. There are several sources that exist on women’s roles in hospitals that I found through the Dickinson College catalog and databases including America: History and Life database. These sources are either books that I can obtain from the Dickinson College library or are articles that I have access to through the library databases.


I am going to take samples from my evidence by transcribing manuscripts that I am using as my primary source. If I am able to find the data on mortality rates at this particular hospital, then I will be using statistical analysis.


Alcott, Louisa May. Hospital Sketches. Edited by Alice Fahs. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2004.

Blackford, Charles Minor, and Peter W. Houck. Campaign and Battle of Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg, VA: Warwick House Pub., 1994.

Confederated Southen Memorial Association, comp. History of the Confederated Memorial Associations of the South … New Orleans: Graham, 1904.

Frank, Lisa Tendrich, ed. Women in the American Civil War, Volume 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO Inc., 2008.

Hass, Paul H. “A Volunteer Nurse in the Civil War. The Letters of Harriet Douglas Whetten”. Wisconsin Magazine of History. 48, no. 2 (1964): 131-151.

Janney, Caroline E. Burying the Dead But Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.

Schultz, Jane E. Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Straubing, Harold Elk. In Hospital and Camp: the Civil War Through the Eyes of its Doctors and Nurses. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1993.

Tripp, Steven Elliott. Yankee Town, Southern City: Race and Class Relations in Civil War Lynchburg. New York: New York University Press, 1997.


Week of October 17: Visit the Virginia Historical Society and transcribe Otey manuscript collection; continue to research primary sources.

Week of October 24: Continue to research primary and secondary sources. Complete list of sources and take notes.

Week of October 31: Finish taking notes on sources.

November 8-14: Write first draft of paper.

November 15-20: Edit and Revise paper.

November 29- December 1: Write up final draft of paper.

December 2-3: Make final edits and revisions

December 4/6: Turn in final product.

The Proposal

As instructed by Osborne, here is the proposal

Jason DeBlanco

Professor Osborne

HIST 204


Topic Proposal

Description: My topic is the comparison and examination of Quartermaster Sergeant John C. Brock’s letters compared to the letters of black soldiers who were less educated and/or held lower ranks.

Significance: By examining the difference between higher ranked black military officer’s writings and those of lesser rank/educated personnel, it will open up the viewpoints of differently tiered African Americans and their unique beliefs on the context of the war. This could answer such questions as did lower ranked black soldiers understand the greater good they were doing for their fellow soldiers and southern slaves, or were their motives for fighting purely selfish compared to those who had greater military command and foresight?

Context: Most of the letters will likely consist of soldiers writing from the battlefield and perhaps some before the war if available. Brock’s letters span from April 21, 1864 to March 9, 1865. Brock’s letters come from late in the war due to the fact that Black soldiers were not able to legally enlist until after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It was after this that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton issued the enlistment of black soldiers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, places which received troops from the state of Pennsylvania. On May 22, 1863, The Bureau of Colored Troops was established to “recruit Union colored troops, commission white officers, form regiments, and coordinate their activity in the war.” Under appointment from Stanton, the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments was advised to raise three black regiments and oversee their transportation and subsistence while at Camp William in Cheltenham Township, Pennsylvania. It was here that Brock was mustered in on April 5, 1864 as a private in Company F of the 43rd Regiment.

Evidence: My primary source of evidence is Brock’s collection of letters compiled in Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War. In the preface to the letters, the editor notes that many other soldiers wrote into such newspapers as the Christian Recorder, Weekly Anglo-African, Pine and Palm, and the Liberator. I have been able to find letters in the Liberator and another newspaper not mentioned, the North American printed out of Philadelphia which has included some letters from soldiers of the 54th regiment. These newspapers were all found relatively easily using the 19th Century U.S Newspaper Database on the library website. The article also lists another book, Documentary of the Negro People in the United States written by Herbert Aptheker. This book includes letters written by three black soldiers which adds to the amount of primary source evidence to compare and contrast letters. They also list other authors who’ve written books on similar subjects including James M. McPherson, Edwin S. Redkey and Noah Andre Trudeau. Other publications and studies recently released include the black military experience and the letters of Corporal James Gooding of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer infantry.


Aptheker, Herbert.  Documentary of the Negro People in the United States. Kingston Publishing, 1994.

“Flag Raising at Camp William Penn.” Liberator. 14 October, 1864

McPhereson, M. James. The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted during the War for the Union. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.

Smith, Ledell Eric ed. “The Civil War Letters of Quartermaster Sergeant John C. Brock, 43rd Regiment, United States Colored Troops.” Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War. University Park, PA: Pennylvania State University Press, 2001.


Week of October 11th – Gather books and secondary source articles on black soldier life and level of education

Week of October 18th – Look for primary sources such as letters, diaries, newspaper articles.

Week of October 25th – Analyze letters from different ranking officers of color.

Week of November 1st – Begin writing first draft of paper, including preliminary analysis of the writings.

November 8th to 29th – Revise and complete final draft of paper with correct bibliography.


Following the discovery of a newspaper article which specifies the 76 men drafted in Cumberland County during the Civil War Draft, I have decided upon the topic of the success rate of the draft in Cumberland County. I will be using ancestry library edition to track down the fates of the 76 men, and determine whether or not the draft was a success based off of their rates of desertion.


After a bunch of dead ends I have a topic for my final paper. I will be analyzing a selection of corresspondence from Everard Bierer to Eli Slifer in the first 2 years of the war. Bierer was born into a powerful family in Germany that had moved to the United States in 1804. Within these letters (From the Dickinson Archives) he is asking Slifer for multiple appointments for himself and his men. of interest, he first asks for someone to be sent to fill a recently open position so that he does not have to promote an officer who he thinks is a Southern supporter. I will be researching the porspect of Southern supporters and even traitors in this company nd if I have to I will have room to expand it.


For some reason far beyond my understanding, I have been unable to log on to this blog over the past several days. It simply would not load onto my computer.

I was, however, able to identify the individual from Dickinson who Prof. Osborne referred to in class last week. James Alexander Ventress Pue graduated in the Dickinson Class of 1859 and went on to fight in the First Maryland Calvary of the Confederate Army. Although his Calvary Battalion was not present at the Battle of Gettysburg as previously believed, he was traveling with Fitzhugh Lee’s Calvary Brigade at the time and most likely would have returned to Carlisle and Dickinson College during the June occupation of the town.

More information on Pue is available in the Dickinson Chronicles.

Topic Proposal

Ive been scrambling my brain to narrow down to a topic and even find some primary source documents on African American’s reactions to post civil war life, even some letters from the surrounding area but have been drawing blanks. What helped though was scanning through the bibliography we had to do for Professor Osborne and I remembered I used the book Making and Remaking Pennsylvania’s Civil War. For some reason this book had slipped my mind, but in there is an article highlighting an African American soldier named John C. Brock who was in the 43rd United States Colored Regiment that trained at Camp William Penn. John C. Brock also lived in Carlise before and after the Civil War. Included in the article were nine personal letters written by Brock from various places in Virginia. Since Brock was educated by the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a young boy, his letters were well written and even spiritual in context. To expand on this, Im planning on looking at Brock’s letters and comparing them with less educated and/or less spiritual blacks and reporting the similarities and differences in their viewpoints on the war.


I originally had a bit of trouble deciding what to do as my topic, but I was finally able to choose something that dealt with Civil War hospitals as I wanted to do. My topic deals with a hospital that falls outside of this region, but while I am home for fall break I will be able to do some research on primary materials that are in Virginia. The hospital was an establishment in Lynchburg that was run by the women in the town. I plan to write my paper as a reactionary paper to the role of women in hospitals at the time. Lucy Otey founded the hospital, which was named the Ladies’ Relief Hospital, in 1861 after the women of Lynchburg were banned from volunteering in the other medical facilities of the town. In my research I also hope to find some data on the success rate or mortality rate of the wounded soldiers at this hospital in comparison to other establishments where women worked as nurses under their male superiors. So far I have been able to find some secondary sources that mention the Ladies’ Relief Hospital but none that mention or directly cite the Otey manuscript collection that exists at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia. There are a good amount of sources regarding the role of women as nurses in Civil War hospitals run by males.