Mattoon Family Papers (LC.00019)
Gershom Woodruff Mattoon was born near Rochester, New York on September 12, 1842. His family moved to Vernon Township, Shiawassee County, Michigan in 1846, then to Greenbush Township, Clinton County in 1858. He enlisted with the First Michigan Lancers from November 23, 1861 until they were disbanded on March 22, 1862. He enlisted again on September 1, 1862, this time with the Sixth Michigan Cavalry. He served with this regiment until mustered out at the end of the war on November 24, 1865. During his tour of duty he was wounded in action, and promoted to sergeant. After the war, Mattoon returned to Michigan, where he married Nancy Agnes Amy Lindley (1843- ) on September 27, 1868. He lived in Michigan until his death on February 7, 1911. Gershom's brother, George P. Mattoon (1832-1909), served with the Twenty-seventh Michigan Infantry during the war.
The most informative portion of this collection is the correspondence relating to the Civil War. Letters from Gershom Woodruff Mattoon and his brother George Pearson describe their enlistments and the movements of their regiments. A letter from Gershom dated December 4, 1864 tells of the burning of Loudon County, Virginia by Union forces in retaliation for raids by General Mosby. His mother's letter of April 27, 1865 tells of the death of Abraham Lincoln. A letter from Cambric, New York dated April 24, 1864 describes how a neighbor of the family enlisted and then deserted after receiving his bonus; and a letter from another soldier dated July 12, 1864 tells of the horrors of the Wilderness Campaign during that summer.
Gershom Mattoon remained interested in veteran's affairs and corresponded with old army comrades long after the war (1890-1910). Some of these letters shed additional light on the war. Letters from Samuel Smith (1900) describe conditions in Confederate prisons. A letter dated October 16, 1905 tells of Sheridan's famous ride from Winchester, and a letter of December 19, 1908 describes the battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. A final letter of interest in the collection is dated March 13, 1881 and relates the opinions of an old army comrade in Virginia on race relations, politics, Lincoln, and Jefferson Davis.
Additional information concerning the Civil War is recorded in a bound book of family and regimental records. Rough notes, speeches and writings by Gershom Mattoon, as well as newspaper clippings he collected to preserve the history of the war round out the collection.