William is Senior Editor, Readex Digital Collections. He has been Editor of the Readex edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set since its early days. Previously, he was Editor of NewsBank Global Products and Assistant Vocabulary Editor. For the past ten years, he has also trained numerous NewsBank and Readex indexers.
The current release of imprints from The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a number of histories of Union regiments each written many years after the end of the war by amateur historians. In each instance, the author describes the challenging task in his preface and admits to his perceived shortcomings. We can see that these various accounts deviate from any established norm. And yet, each is similar in its description of the general experience of so many young men, even boys, whose lives were upended by the war and, in many instances, forever changed.
History of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers: From its Organization to Appomattox; to which is Added Experiences of Prison life and Sketches of Individual Members (1898)
By Thos. (Thomas) D. Marbaker. Sergeant Co. E.
Thomas D. Marbaker describes his process of determining how best to write the history of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers:
The Disastrous Events which Attended Joe Dobson: Illustrated with Sixteen Elegant Engravings (1817)
This imprint was published in Philadelphia in 1817 and sold for twenty-five cents. The National Library of Australia provides the only citation on-line other than the American Antiquarian Society. It states that it was “First published in London with title, Cobler [sic], stick to your last, or, The adventures of Joe Dobson / by B.A.T.” The AAS citation also refers to the earlier London publication noting that it appeared in 1809. The complete manuscript appears to be unique to this collection.
Each page of text is illustrated with an engraving, each of which is clearly reproduced. It begins:
The December release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes: the first-hand account of one of Sherman’s notorious bummers—the nickname used to describe the men under Sherman’s Union army who took food from Southern homes; a short work of wartime fiction from a New England woman; and the history of a monument erected in remembrance of the Massachusetts men who died on North Carolina battlefields.
Bentonville: What a bummer knows about it. Prepared by companion Brevet Major Charles E. Belknap, U.S. Volunteers, read at the stated meeting of January 4, 1893 (1893)
The 21st Michigan Volunteer Infantry website provides an obituary for Captain Charles E. Belknap (1846-1929) and this inscription on his memorial in Grand Rapids, Michigan:
The Universal Kalendar, and the North-American's Almanack, for the Year of our Lord Christ, 1784: Calculated for the Latitude and Longitude of the City of New-York (1783)
By Samuel Stearns, professor of mathematicks and physic
(Besides the usual Astronomical Calculations)
The most excellent and comprehensive Tide Tables, ever published in North-America—Observable Days—Physical Receipts—Remarkable Events—and An Account of the Times, the Battles have happened in the late War; with many other Things, very useful and entertaining.
The November 2016 release of The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922: From the American Antiquarian Society includes a personal history of a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church who spent three post-war years in Virginia attempting to reunite the Southern breakaway church with the Northern communion, an account of the erection of a monument to the Union’s first hero of the war, and the observations of people and events witnessed by a telegraph operator in the Department of War.
Virginia After the War: An Account of Three Years’ Experience in Reorganizing the Methodist Episcopal Church in Virginia at the Close of the Civil War by Rev. S. L. M. Conser (1891)
Rev. Solomon L.M. Conser (1812- ?) was a cleric in the Episcopal Methodist Church for 30 years. Prior to the Civil War he had served as a circuit preacher in southern Virginia. During the war he was a chaplain in the Union Army for two years.
Among the newly digitized works from the American Antiquarian Society in The American Civil War Collection, 1860-1922are travel guides for tourists visiting the Gettysburg and Petersburg battlefields after the Civil War.
Danner's Pocket Guide Book with History of the Battle of Gettysburg (1884)
This promotional pamphlet encourages visits to the iconic battlefield. In addition to an account of the battle, it includes illustrations, anecdotes, and advertisements, especially for accommodations. The City Hotel, which details its best features and services, boasts of having “Toilet rooms on first and second floors” and “Electric light and bells.” Additionally, it advertises:
Battlefield a specialty. Dinner with drive over the Battlefield with for (sic) or more, $1.35 each. Field Glasses go with every team. Six Battlefield Guides connected with Hotel.
Another advertiser is W.H. Tipton, “Battlefield Photographer,” who writes, “I have been constantly on the field since July, 1863.”
an unusual Christmas story instructive of the need for faith,
an elaborate account of the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln,
and a lithographic collection of caricatures, or political cartoons, from the years surrounding and including the Civil War.
Contraband Christmas. By N.W.T.R. With illustrations by Hoppin. (1864)
N.W.T.R are the initials for Nathaniel William Taylor Root (1829-1872) who appears to have been particularly interested in preparing Civil War-era boys for military service. The illustrator is Augustus Hoppin who has previously been featured here for his comical works Carrot-pomade and Hay Fever.
This tale takes place in Rhode Island and entails the Greene family and their three children the eldest of whom is a soldier in the Union Army. When he had last visited his family on leave, he had brought with him a black man who remained with the family to whom he was introduced as Chrismus. When asked, he explained that his former master had named him thus because he was born on Christmas Day twenty years earlier.
Included in the July release of newly digitized material from the American Antiquarian Society’s Supplement to Early American Imprints: Shaw-Shoemaker is a collection of intaglio prints created by artist William Russell Birch. In this important work he depicts many of the elegant country estates of early 19th-century American gentry.
The Country Seats of the United States of North America, With Some Scenes Connected With Them (1809)
William Russell Birch, an engraver and an enamel portraitist, was born in England in 1775. In his youth he was apprenticed to a jeweler as well as portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. Birch emigrated to the United States in 1794, and in 1809 he published this influential collection of intaglio prints of elegant country homes of prominent Americans.
This imprint contains little text, but the prints are enchanting in their portrayal of sylvan retreats of America’s earlier gentry. The pleasure of the collection rests entirely on the beauty of his work, which helped shape American style in architecture and landscape design.
Personal Recollections of General Nathaniel Lyon. Prepared by Companion Brigadier-General William A. Hammond, U.S.A. (1900)
This imprint is striking, in part, because of the biographies of the author and his subject. Nathaniel Lyon was a general in the U.S. Army early in the Civil War. He had served in both the Second Seminole War and Mexican-American War. He was killed in Missouri on August 10, 1861 at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek becoming the first Union general to die in the conflict. William A. Hammond, a physician, served as the Surgeon General of the United States Army from 1862 to 1864. After the war he became the first American to dedicate his career exclusively to neurology authoring many books and articles on the subject. Late in life Hammond authored this memory of his time with Lyon in the years before the war when both men were posted at Fort Riley.