How to use this guide
In compiling this guide, project staff reviewed and analyzed collections and individually cataloged items for Civil War content.
We were led to materials through the Society's existing
card catalog of manuscripts and through information in our automated collections
management database. Analysis of items and collections included the review of materials not
previously highlighted for Civil War content but that fell into the appropriate time period or to
which the staff's attention was drawn by some other means. Consequently, this guide provides
detail about far more materials than could be found by an initial review of Civil War-related
subject entries in the card catalog or database.
At the same time, we should make clear that our search of the manuscripts collection for
Civil War materials has been comprehensive but not exhaustive, given the constraints of time,
staffing, and the sheer size of the collection itself. Certainly, other materials than those listed in
this guide may be located in our holdings through imaginative research strategies. The great
majority of Civil War manuscripts currently in the holdings Virginia Historical Society, however,
may be accessed through this guide.
Another important point to which the attention of users should be drawn involves the
types of materials that make up the Society's manuscripts collection. Although some military
service records, muster rolls, orders, and the like may be found in our holdings -- having made
their way by various routes into collections of personal and family papers -- the Society's
collection consists primarily of letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and related materials and is not the
place to launch a search for official documentation. Queries about such records should be
directed to the Archives Division of the Library of Virginia
in Richmond or to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
Each entry in this guide contains a main heading and a full description of its Civil
War-related collection content. The headings (in bold) include the title of the
collection, the date range of the collection, the item count for the whole collection (not just for
the Civil War items), and the manuscript call number for the entire collection. Entries that
consist entirely of photocopies, handwritten copies, or typed transcriptions include the
appropriate reference in the heading. Similarly, if a collection includes an access restriction of any
kind, a brief statement is included at the end of the heading, and a note explaining the restriction
appears at the end of the collection description.
Guide entries include a brief contextual description of items or collections as a whole,
followed by information about specific Civil War materials or references. In the case of
collections, indications of the physical location of items are often also included, such as an item
number or series (for example, a401 [item number] or Section 3 [series level]). Used in
conjunction with information in the Society's card catalog of manuscripts, selected finding aids,
or automated collections management database, guide entries should supply the researcher with
sufficient information to request specific materials.
A number of the Society's manuscript collections have been microfilmed to provide
greater access and to aid in the preservation of the original items. If an entire collection, or a significant portion
of one, has been microfilmed, the microfilm reel number appears in the heading. If a microfilm reel number is listed,
the library patron will be served film and not the
original manuscript. Some microfilm of Society collections may be leased through interlibrary
loan. Please contact the Society's reference department for additional information. A separate
guide to Civil War collections at the Society microfilmed by University Publications of America,
Confederate Military Manuscripts (Bethesda, Md., 1997), edited by Joseph T. Glatthaar, is
available at the reference desk in the library.
In a number of instances, materials within collections have been published in their entirety
or as excerpts. In those cases, a full citation for the published version is included in the collection
description. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the quarterly journal of the Society,
is cited as VMHB, and The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies (Washington, D.C., 1880–1901) is cited as Official Records. Also, some of the manuscript
collections in this guide have unpublished finding aids, which provide much greater detail for the
entire collection than is included here. A note indicating the existence of such a supplementary
guide is included at the end of the relevant entries. These finding aids are also available in the
A number of stylistic decisions were made to increase the clarity and readability of the
guide. All place names mentioned are in Virginia unless otherwise stated. The "Army of the
Potomac" is assumed to refer to the Union army; in the case of references to the short-lived
southern army department of the same name, they will be preceded with the word "Confederate."
Similarly, all units designated as "West Virginia" regiments are assumed to be Union. The few
Virginia units in the Union army will be preceded with the word "Union." Maryland regiments
in Confederate service will be prefaced with the word "Confederate."
Every effort has been made to include life dates for individuals who appear in the guide
descriptions, the only exceptions are presidents of the United States and the Confederate States
of America and Union and Confederate generals. The following sources were used to check facts, to establish life dates, and to identify
military units. They should be consulted by users who seek more detailed context for their
research: Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue (Baton Rouge, La., 1964) and Generals in Gray (Baton
Rouge, La., 1959); Mark M. Boatner, lll, The Civil War Dictionary (New York, 1959); E. B. Long,
The Civil War Day by Day: An Almanac (Garden City, N.Y., 1971); Robert K. Krick, Lee's
Colonels: A Biographical Register of the Field Officers of the Army of Northern Virginia (4th ed.;
Dayton, Ohio, 1992); Lee A. Wallace, Jr., A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1861–1865
(Lynchburg, Va., 1986); Janet B. Hewett, ed., The Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861–1865 (16
volumes; Wilmington, N.C., 1995–1996); and Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of
the Rebellion (New York, N.Y., 1959).
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