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C. Fiske Harris Collection on the Civil War and Slavery Manuscripts

Scope & content

This collection contains original manuscript writings relating to the Civil War. There are 432 letters from Civil War soldiers written to family and friends back home, 11 letters from Charlotte F. Dailey during an inspection of Rhode Island troops in Union convalescent hospitals, 10 letters written to Mrs. Dailey from her husband and from family friend W.E. Gardiner, 4 letters from Samuel Wight’s family to him. This collection also contains the papers of Dr. Henry E. Turner including summons notices and treasury notes, as well as memos and brief notes.

The most detailed letters are the loving letters of Lieutenant Henri Eugene Bacon’s (2nd Liuet, Company F, 11th Regiment, Rhode Island Infantry) written to his wife expressing his love for her and advice dealing with finances and other issues of domestic life. Also notable are the lively, cheerful letters of Corporal George M. Turner, written in a teasing manner to his cousins and more straightforward to his parents. His letters reveal his thoughts on African-Americans, the war, politics and traitors, among other subjects.

15 Samuel Wight letters have been digitized. The George Turner Letters have been digitized.

Also included is a field diary for the year 1862 written by Private James Albert Barber of Company C, 1st Regiment, Rhode Island Light Artillery. The diary, written in the field, recounts the daily activities and actions of Company C. The handwriting is difficult to read and Barber’s spelling is largely phonetic but the diary contains first hand accounts of some of the major battles of the war immediately after they happened. A photocopy and transcript are available.