Michigan State University

Civil War Collections

Welcome to the Civil War Collections web site created by University Archives & Historical Collections at Michigan State University. We have been featured on ABC TV (Flint) and Michigan Radio. In 2015, our site was listed in the College & Research Libraries News. We also contributed content to Ford's Theatre's Remembering Lincoln project.

Between 2011 and 2015, the nation commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Although no actual battles were fought in Michigan, men—and women—from the state served throughout the war in more than 50 Michigan regiments of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers, as well as in regiments of other states. These Michigan citizens were vital to the Union cause, and President Abraham Lincoln is quoted as exclaiming, "Thank God for Michigan!" when the state's first troops arrived to serve. As part of this sesquicentennial commemoration, University Archives & Historical Collections staff began transcribing and digitizing its collections relating to the Civil War in 2010. These materials—including hundreds of pages of correspondence, diaries, musters, reminiscences, and photographs—are being made available online here for public use.

The MSU Archives research guide (PDF) for The Civil War is available to the public. Check back as this document does get updated.

We hope you find these stories to be educational, interesting, and informative. Keep checking back as we are frequently updating the site with new collections. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please send them to us using our Contact link above. And, if you like what you see, do send us an email! If you are interested in a tour of the archives or to learn more about our collections, please call our main phone line at (517) 355-2330.

Content warning: language and content in resource descriptions and collections may be biased, harmful, and oppressive due to the historical nature of the content.

View all 2,227 items

6th Michigan Infantry Records (c.00007)

Company K's muster roll, dated October 27, 1863, lists the names and ranks of its members, as well as where and when they were wounded, died or were discharged.

7th Michigan Infantry Records (c.00309)

This collection consists of one volume of records of Company F of the 7th Michigan Infantry, mustered in Monroe in 1861.

14th Ohio Infantry, Company A, Regiment Records (c.00255)

This collection consists of a volume of records for Company A of the 14th Ohio Infantry in the Civil War.

Arnold Family Papers (c.00227)

This collection consists primarily of Civil War letters from William, Henry, and Uriah Arnold.

Israel G. Atkins Papers (c.00228)

This collection consists of Civil War letters from Israel G. Atkins to his parents in Perry, Michigan.

Austin and Foote Families Papers (c.00495)

This collection contains the political tickets from the election of 1864 and Grand Army of the Republic materials.

Bagley Family Papers (c.00562)

Civil War letters from Michigan men stationed in Georgetown, D.C.; Petersburg, Virginia and St. John's River, Florida. Camp life and general morale is also described.

Roger D. Baker Collection (c.00604)

The Roger D. Baker collection contains carte-de-visite photographs of prominent individuals from the Civil War such as Abraham Lincoln, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, David Farragut, Jefferson Davis, and John Wilkes Booth.

Bamber Family Papers (c.00046)

The collection includes letters (1862-1865) to Joseph S. Bamber from members of the Hayes family, related to the Bambers by marriage. These letters describe civilian experiences. The collection also contains Civil War letters (1861-1864) received by Edward H. Dickerman (3rd Michigan Infantry).

Albert W. Barber Papers (c.00282)

This collection contains Civil War letters from Albert W. Barber to his family while serving with Company F, 18th Michigan Infantry, in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Bostock Family Papers (c.00562)

This collection consists of the letters of Henry and William Bostock, brothers from Michigan who served in the Civil War. Henry served in Company E of the 6th Regiment of the Michigan Infantry. William served in Company K of the 10th Regiment of the Michigan Infantry. They wrote to their mother, Maria Bostock of Marshall, Michigan, while they were in the war.

Jerry L. Bower Student Paper (c.00409)

This collection consists of a student seminar paper entitled "The Civil War Career of John Gibson Parkhurst."

James Bradish Papers (c.00147)

The James Bradish papers consist of the letters Bradish wrote to his sister and friends in Michigan during the Civil War when he served with the 18th Michigan Infantry.

Thomas C. Bradley Papers (c.00236)

This collection consists primarily of material relating to Bradley's police work (provost), including orders, payrolls, affidavits, and correspondence. It includes some material relating to his medical leave from the 12th Michigan.

Benjamin B. Brock Papers (c.00239)

This collection consists of Civil War letters from Benjamin B. Brock of the 26th Michigan Infantry to his family.

Campbell Family Papers (c.00182)

The Campbell family papers consist primarily of Civil War letters from Alexander and Allen Campbell to their father, John, in Groveland, Michigan.

R. E. Carpenter Letter (c.00121)

This collection consists of a letter from R.E. Carpenter of Oskaloosa, Iowa (1861). In this letter Carpenter expresses his anger at the secessionists and his eagerness to join the Union forces.

Charles William Cathcart Papers (LC.00006)

This collection contains several letters about the Civil War and life as a soldier from Charles' son, James, and his nephew, Will Peabody.

Rufus B. Cole Letter (c.00264)

This collection consists of a letter from Rufus B. Cole, stationed with a Michigan Civil War regiment in Louisville, Kentucky. The letter is primarily concerned with religious concerns and Cole's desire to be home again.

Crosby Family Papers (c.00268)

This collection contains the diary of Josiah Birney Crosby, who enlisted with the 12th Michigan Volunteers (Company E) in 1862 and served as a cook during the Civil War. The diary provides detailed snapshots of camp life from September-December 1862, during his early term of service in the western theater.

Sheldon R. Curtiss Papers (c.00215)

Collection consists of a published transcript of the Civil War diary kept by Sheldon R. Curtiss, a native of Saranac, Michigan. His diary describes army life as well as his experiences as a prisoner in Libby Prison and at Andersonville.

Hamilton Davis Collection (c.00633)

Collection consists of tintype images; one of Hamilton Davis and the other of his two cousins James and William Davis.

Davis Family Papers (c.00050)

The Davis Family papers consist primarily of the collection of over 180 letters written by Thomas (T. J.) to his wife, Lucinda, during the Civil War. Also included are Lucinda Davis' reminiscences and an obituary prepared when she died.

Dowd Family Papers (LC.00055)

This collection consists of the Civil War letters of Jefferson Dowd, who served in Company D, 66th Illinois Infantry and participated in Sherman's march to the sea.

William H. Doxtader Papers (LC.00132)

The collection consists primarily of family Civil War pension records. Albert and Daniel Doxtader both served in that regiment. Philander Doxtader served in the 115th New York Regiment. Many of these documents were collected and submitted by Louisa Doxtader (Philander's widow) and Matilda Doxtader (Daniel's widow).

O.G. Dunckel Papers (c.00024)

This is a collection of Civil War letters mostly sent from O.G. Dunckel to his family in Michigan. It also includes two work documents between O.G. Dunckel and the Chippewa tribe living on the Pine River.

Eaegle Family Papers (c.00170)

This collection consists primarily of Civil War letters to Emmiline (Emma) Daggett of Clinton County, Michigan.

George Farr Autobiography (c.00057)

The autobiography is primarily an account of the Civil War and of Farr's war experiences.

Emma Fields Collection (c.00361)

This collection is made up of miscellaneous items collected by Emma Fields of Greenville, Michigan. Included is a small song book which is illustrated with Civil War scenes.

Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War (c.00329)

Important events of the conflict between the States are graphically pictured in this volume. Battle scenes, naval engagements, and portraits of principal participants. The author is Frank Leslie and the volume was published circa 1895.

Henry A. Goodale Recollection (c.00565)

This collection contains "From Murfreesboro to Chickamauga and Libby Prison," which is a photocopy of a typed document made from an original dictation of Dr. Henry A. Goodale's experience as a surgeon in the Civil War (21st Michigan Infantry).

Othniel Gooding Letters (c.00275)

This collection consists of Civil War letters from Othniel Gooding of the 4th Michigan Cavalry to his fiancée, Lucy Dexter of Milan, Michigan.

Hall and Wilcox Papers (LC.00001)

This collection consists of a number of Civil War letters of Andrew Ferdon, Bell and David Merwin, Earl and Mary Wilcox, and other associates of the Wilcox family.

James S. Hannum Manuscript (c.00561)

This collection consists of the manuscript entitled Michigan Bridget: Discovering the Truth Behind the Legend by James S. Hannum, M.D. The manuscript is about Bridget Deavers, a camp follower with the First Michigan Cavalry who acted as a field nurse for the troops.

Hardenbergh Family Papers (c.00527)

This collection includes letters written by various members of the Hardenbergh, Baker and Stanton families to Catherine Hardenbergh Baker of Barry County, Michigan.

Benjamin M. Harman Papers (c.00496)

Benjamin M. Harman, a resident of Porter, Van Buren County, Michigan enlisted at the age of 23 in Company D of the 6th Michigan Infantry.

Ezra C. Hatton Collection (c.00235)

The collection includes correspondence, invoices, orders and receipts primarily from the period 1862-1869.

Edwin R. Havens Papers (c.00016)

The Edwin Havens Papers consist of letters and diaries written by Havens while serving in the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War.

Clyde and Mary Henson Collection (c.00606)

The Clyde and Mary Henson collection primarily contains portraits of Civil War veterans. Notable portraits include Ulysses S. Grant and George B. McClellan. The collection also contains photographs of members of the 3rd Michigan Cavalry.

J. P. Hoffman Collection (c.00613)

Collection includes photographs of scenes from the American Civil War.

Augustus Holmes Papers (c.00108)

This collection consists of letters written by Augustus Holmes in the 6th Michigan Cavalry to family and friends.

Edwin Holmes Papers (c.00109)

This collection consists of Edwin Holmes' Civil War letters to family and friends. Holmes served in the 10th Michigan Infantry.

Simeon A. Howe Letters (c.00427)

The letters relate the activities of Howe's regiment (First Regiment of Mechanics and Engineers) and give a descriptive view of army life in general.

Horace B. Jewell Papers (c.00146)

This collection includes Horace B. Jewell's Civil War letters to his family in Michigan, written while serving with the 52nd Ohio Infantry.

Kedzie Family Papers (c.00244)

This collection includes correspondence to and from Robert C. Kedzie, who briefly served as a surgeon in the 12th Michigan Infantry.

Kennedy Family Correspondence (c.00068)

A letter, written in a camp near Sharpsburg, Maryland in October 1862, by J. Benton (Bent), a Captain in the First Michigan Infantry, discusses the relative fighting merits of eastern city troops and western men in the Union Army.

Newton Thorne Kirk Papers (c.00028)

This collection includes the Civil War reminiscences of Newton Thorne Kirk (1836-1909). Written between 1907 and 1909, this account was based on a war diary of Kirk's service with Company E, 26th Michigan Infantry.

George L. LaForest Collection (c.00661)

This Civil War collection of George L. LaForest includes letters, articles and images from the civil war period.

Ralph M. Lickley Papers (c.00388)

This collection contains images from the civil war in Georgia and Tennessee.

William Lickly Family Papers (c.00434)

This collection contains Civil War letters (1862-1864) of William Lickly, James Lickly, and Albert Barber, to and from friends and relatives.

James L. Lucas Manuscript (c.00086)

A manuscript from James Lucas' narration where he describes the American political scene in the 1850s and the coming of the Civil War.

Mallison Family Collection (c.00675)

This collection consists of materials from the Mallison family including the Civil War letters of Simeon Mallison and George Hewes.

Bertha Malone Papers (c.00245)

This collection consists of ten letters sent to or from the Noddins family between 1864-1887, as well as a lecture on the capture of John Wilkes Booth.

Alvah Marsh Papers (c.00110)

Alvah Marsh served with the 7th Michigan Infantry, primarily in Virginia. He was wounded in November 1863, and spent the following months as a patient and later as a nurse in Virginia army hospitals, where he also caught smallpox. Marsh apparently received a medical discharge in 1864.

Marsh Family Papers (c.00047)

The Marsh Family papers consist of original and typed transcripts of Civil War letters, the bulk of which were written by Benjamin F. Marsh to his family in Fentonville, Michigan, while serving in the 8th Michigan Infantry.

Mattoon Family Papers (LC.00019)

Letters from Gershom Woodruff Mattoon and his brother George Pearson describe their enlistments and the movements of their regiments (6th Michigan Cavalry and the 27th Michigan Infantry. Gershom Mattoon remained interested in veteran's affairs and corresponded with old army comrades long after the war (1890-1910).

Mayo Family Papers (UA.28.1)

Over fifty Civil War letters of Perry Mayo, written to his family in Calhoun County, Michigan, from June 1861 to May 1864, constitute the most important part of this collection.

Francis McCullagh Diary (c.00689)

This collection consists of the diary of Francis McCullagh of the 1st Michigan Infantry Regiment.

Irenus McGowan Papers (c.00160)

This collection consists of Civil War letters from Irenus McGowan to friends in Michigan. A former schoolteacher, McGowan served with the 29th Indiana Infantry in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In his letters he discusses military life as well as the battles of Shiloh and Corinth, the Confederacy's weakness, and the Homestead Bill.

John C. McLain Papers (c.00111)

This collection consists of a typewritten copy of the Civil War diary (1862-1865) of John C. McLain.

Emma Miller Papers (c.00005)

This collection consists of correspondence (1862-1864) received by Miss Emma Miller of Chickaming (Berrien County), Michigan during the Civil War.

Robert Mueller Collection (c.00690)

This collection contains 3 letters dated August 18, 1962, October 20, 1862 and ?, 25th 1862.

Wilbur Nelson Papers (c.00159)

This collection consists of Nelson's war diaries, several transcriptions, a narrative describing Nelson's war experiences, and a muster roll.

Roger Noble Papers (c.00122)

This collection consists of three Civil War letters from Roger Noble of the 7th Michigan Infantry to his family in Michigan. He describes daily war life and tells of looting Robert E. Lee's plantation. The collection also contains a newspaper photo of Noble printed in 1961.

Virginia Norfleet Reminiscences (c.00149)

This collection consists of a typed transcript of the reminiscences of Virginia Norfleet which was written for her grandchildren.

Edwin R. Osband Diaries (c.00136)

This collection consists of three diaries (1861-1864) written by Edwin R. Osband of Wayne County, Michigan, kept during his service in Company H of the First Michigan Regiment of Engineers and Mechanics during the Civil War.

Harrison Outwater Papers (c.00141)

This collection consists of two Civil War letters of Harrison Outwater from the 1st New York Artillery.

John Gibson Parkhurst Collection (LC.00025)

This collection consists primarily of the diaries of John Parkhurst relating details of court cases he tried, battle accounts of the Civil War, his experiences as a prisoner-of-war, and later his business affairs and political problems.

Parsons Family Papers (00020)

This collection includes correspondence of the Edward Parsons Family. Edward Parsons' letters to and from New York relatives make up the bulk of the personal correspondence. In addition, the collection includes some photographs from the 19th century.

Abel G. Peck Papers (c.00107)

This collection consists of letters from Abel G. Peck to his family during the Civil War. His letters describe Sharpsburg, Maryland in the aftermath of the battle of Antietam, as well as as his part in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Pendleton Family Papers (c.00295)

This collection contains correspondence, a majority from relatives and school friends of Charlotte “Lottie” Maria Pendleton, who studied at Oberlin College, Michigan Union College, and Adrian College from the late-1850s to the early-1860s.

People Photograph Collection

A collection of photographs arranged by people.

Pinckney Family Papers (c.00490)

The Pinckney Family Papers contains items from the Pinckney family who have been a prominent part of the Lansing, Michigan, community since the nineteenth century.

Porter Family Papers (c.00179)

This collection includes carte-de-visite photographs of Civil War era individuals.

Benjamin D. Pritchard Records (c.00324)

This collection consists of Pritchard's military records when he was a captain in Company L of the Michigan 4th Cavalry from 1862-1865. It includes two ledger books (1862-1864), five folders of invoices and receipts, and an inventory of Company L's weapons, ammunition, clothing, horses, and track. There are also several roll call issues of supplies.

Peter Randall Letters (c.00528)

This collection include Civil War letters from Peter Randall to his wife Mary Catherine Haynes and daughter Clara. Peter was born in Vermont around 1837 and came to Washtenaw County. He enlisted in the army February 26, 1864, died October 27, 1864, and was buried in the government cemetery.

Republican Party Campaign Materials (00033)

This collection consists of Republican materials from national campaigns of 1864.

Karl L. Rommel Collection (c.00532)

The Karl L. Rommel collection consists of photocopies of Civil War letters and documents. Correspondents include Harrison Traphagan, David R. Frego, Robert A. Moon, "Augustus," L.A. Hall, and "Robert."

Alanson Royce Papers (c.00104)

The letters describe Civil War conditions in Missouri in 1861 and 1862, especially the hostility between Unionists and Confederates.

Scofield Family Papers (c.00134)

This collection consists of a number of Civil War letters (1862) of Guy I. Scofield, Company H, 23rd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, to and from his family.

John Shaw Papers (c.00286)

Consists of a letter describing battles around Richmond, Virginia.

Smith and Carpenter Families Papers (c.00301)

This collection contains four Civil War letters and a small diary of Josiah B. Smith, kept during his service as a bugler in the 8th Michigan Cavalry in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Stoddard Family Papers (c.00011)

This collections consists of transcripts of letters written by early residents of Michigan.

Subject Photograph Collection

Collection of photographs that are arranged by subject. Of note are the folders under War. United States Civil War.

G.B. Surdam Papers (c.00097)

This collection consists of Civil War letters from G.B. Surdam to his brother and sister. Surdam, a sergeant in the 6th Michigan Infantry, describes his service in Maryland and Virginia, and the military takeover of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Jesse Taft Papers (c.00150)

This collection consists of Civil War letters written by Jesse Taft to his family during his service in the 9th Michigan Cavalry.

Webster Teachout Papers (c.00150)

This collection consists of 29 letters sent from Webster Teachout, a union soldier, to his family in Michigan between 1864-1865. There are also three letters sent from acquaintances of Teachout about a payment owed.

Thomas-Prescott Papers (c.00170)

Correspondence includes letters related to the illness and subsequent death of Amos W. Thomas, a soldier 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Henrietta Marsh Thompson Sheet Music (00192)

The Henrietta Marsh Thompson Sheet Music Collection consists of one volume of sheet music collected and bound by Thompson.

Mrs. Earl Tooker Collection (c.00332)

This collection consists of one letter, dated July 14, 1863, written by a Confederate soldier, John Flood, Company H, 47th Regiment, Georgia Volunteers, to his mother in Woodstock, Georgia. He discusses the fall of Vicksburg and Grant's siege of Jackson, Mississippi.

Waldron Family Papers (c.00413)

Collection consists of two Civil War letters (1863) to Aaron K. Waldron's wife, née Sarah Gunderman, from her brothers John (126th New York Regiment) and Abram (148th New York Regiment).

Warren Family Papers (LC.00007)

This collection includes letters (1864-1865) from Frederick P. Warren describing his life as a soldier in the Civil War.

Joseph H. Weaver Papers (c.00016)

Collection consists of a discharge certificate for Joseph H. Weaver, a corporal in the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry (1865).

John Wheeler Papers (c.00006)

This collection consists of twenty letters from John Wheeler, a union soldier, to his family in New York between 1861-1864.

Chester P. Whitman Letters (c.00347)

This collection consists of two letters written by Chester P. Whitman while he served in the Union Army during the Civil War. These are typed transcriptions; the originals are not here at the archives.