Collection Facts

Extent: 
47 items
Dates of Original: 
1861 - 1865
NYH Topic Area(s):

Historical Context

The American Civil War was fought between the years 1861 - 1865 between the Union (the North half of the country) and the Confederates (the South half of the country). The war began over the disagreements between the North and South regarding slavery. The Civil War is known for having more American deaths in a war than any other war America has been a part of.

Scope of Collection

The Ingraham P. Smith Collection consists of forty-five letters and two medical documents. Smith, a resident of Middlefield, Otsego County, New York, served with the121st New York Volunteer Infantry, Company G. The letters, written to his mother and sister, range in date from December 03, 1861 to May 06, 1865. A letter dated July 29, appears to have been written by his brother Jeremiah, who served with the 51st New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Smith’s letters describe troop movements and destinations, the capture of confederate soldiers, camp life, and information about battles, such as the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse and the Wilderness Campaign. His letters also furnish information about the Union hospitals and convalescent camps he was sent to when he contracted chronic diarrhea and again when he was wounded. During his recuperation Smith writes about the poor hospital conditions, death of patients, serving as a hospital guard and helping the Christian Commission and Soldiers Relief Association with an event to aid the Union soldiers. Several notable individuals such as President Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, George Meade, Philip Sheridan and Jefferson Davis are mentioned in Smith’s letters.