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1. Overview of the Collection

 

     

Repository

McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi

     

Creator

Purchased January 1966; photocopies donated by Justine Medeiros February 28, 2006.

     

Collection Number

M100

     

Collection Title

Burwell (Andrew and Mary E.) Letters

     

Size

.50 cubic foot

     

Language

English

     

Dates

September 1864-July 1865 and undated

     

Collection Status

Processed

     

Abstract

Original and photocopies of letters predominately between Mary E. and Andrew Burwell. A handful of letters are to Andrew’s family. Also in the collection are a photocopy of a lock of hair and poems.

     

2. Subjects

Civil War – United States

3. Biographical/Historical Note

Andrew W. Burwell was born April 14, 1841, in Otsego County, New York. He moved to Marquette County, Wisconsin, prior to 1857 and, according to his statement, lived there continuously after 1857. He married Mary E. Swannell on August 11, 1861, and they established a home near the village of Packwaukee, Wisconsin. Their first child, Lucy, was born in 1863.

Burwell enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers (Infantry) on August 24, 1864; after mustering in September 12, 1864, in Madison, Wisconsin, his regiment was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 6th Army Corps. He was promoted from private to corporal during his term of service and had duties in such varied capacities as cook, provost guard, and picket line guard.

Most of Burwell's time was served in the Army of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Army. From August 7-November 28, 1864, he fought in Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign; during this campaign Burwell served provost duty at Cedar Creek, Virginia. Following this, he was moved to the Army of the Potomac at Petersburg, Virginia; here he was involved in the Siege of Petersburg, December 4, 1864-April 2, 1865. On the final day of the siege, April 2, 1865, he was wounded and taken to City Point Hospital, Virginia; later he was transferred to a hospital in Washington, D.C., and on July 12, 1865, he was mustered out of the army.

Andrew W. Burwell returned to his farm in Marquette County, Wisconsin, where he lived with his wife and daughter. Five other children were born to the couple between 1866 and 1886. Andrew died on May 14, 1924, according to pension records included in the case file. His first wife, Mary, died on April 3, 1899, and in 1912, he married Jane Swannell Booth, possibly a relative of his first wife.

4. Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of one-hundred seventeen photocopies of letters, poems, and a lock of hair; fifty-seven original letters; and fifty-four typescripts of dated and undated letters (one-hundred seventy five total papers) written between a Civil War soldier, Andrew Burwell and his wife Mary and his mother and sister. The letters range in date from September 7, 1864 to July 11, 1865.

There are forty-eight photocopies and twenty-eight original letters written by Mary. Her letters, for the most part, contain descriptions of her chores on the farm and financial arrangements. These letters give detailed impressions of life on the home front; women's greater sense of independence and responsibility in the absence of a male figure during times of war are explored. In one letter, Mary wishes that women had the privilege of voting. Her letters provide further insight into local sentiments toward the draft or taxes to avoid the draft. She also keeps her husband informed of who from their community has been drafted, killed, wounded, or returned home. Frequent references are made to newspaper reports on battles and guerilla activity. The importance of newspapers as an agent of propaganda and as a source of information during the Civil War may be better understood by reading these letters. Briefly mentioned are the mental problems of a returned soldier.

In terms of actual Civil War activity, Andrew's letters to his wife, of which there are fifty-five photocopies and twenty-seven originals, are more substantive. His letters mention important places, battles, and names of fellow soldiers. There are also nine photocopies and two original letters that are written to his family. His family consist of his mother, sister, and brother.

Andrew constantly is describing camp life; his descriptions span dwellings, rations, uniforms, cooking utensils, daily duties, and religious activities. Interestingly, his letters do not appear to have been censored; these letters often contained strategic information concerning troop movements, strategy, and supplies. He makes note of the numbers of Confederate soldiers who deserted. A detailed account of a Union deserter's execution is also given. Some of the places mentioned in Burwell's letters include Cedar Creek, Virginia, and Weldon Railroad and Hatcher's Run, Pennsylvania. Many of his comments pertain to his service in the Army of the Potomac in the Siege of Petersburg; Burwell saw most of his combat duty at the Siege of Petersburg, where he was stationed at Weldon Camp. Burwell also comments on City Point Hospital (Va.) where he was taken after being wounded at Petersburg. Burwell seems to have been impressed with the chaplain's role in the company; therefore, he included in the letters a detailed commentary on the Chaplain and the trust and responsibility delegated to such persons. Relations between Union and Confederate soldiers on the battlefield are also covered.

Of other interest is the insight these letters provide into the postal system during the Civil War. Also included is important information on the Civil War economy, not only at the national level but also in various states. Interestingly, no mention is made of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, who was shot, oddly enough, on Andrew Burwell's twenty-fourth birthday. (Burwell was stationed in Washington, D.C., when the assassination took place.) Burwell does, however, mention seeing President Johnson at a military parade in Washington, D.C.  

5. Arrangement

The papers are arranged first by photocopies which consist of the letters in chronological order from September 1864 to July 1865; then the photocopies of undated letters; and lastly photocopies of five poems and a lock of hair. After the photocopies, the originals are in chronological order from September 1864 to July 1865. No originals of the undated letters or poems are in the collection.

6. Related Material

Related collections at the University of Southern Mississippi include:

7. Administrative Information

 

   

Provenance

Purchased January 1966; photocopies donated by Justine Medeiros February 28, 2006.

   

Use Restrictions

This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code). Reproduction of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Provision of photocopies or digital reproductions does not constitute permission to publish, distribute, provide internet access to, or otherwise display images of materials in this collection. Copyright is retained by the lawful copyright holder, and it is the responsibility of the permission seeker to contact and secure permission from the copyright holder. Where copyright permission is not granted, images are only for use in private study subject to the Fair Use exceptions made in U.S. Copyright Law.

   

Access Restrictions

Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.

   

Preferred Citation Method

In citing these materials, the following information should be included:

Item, title of collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.

   

Processing Information

Revised by Shawna Guidry, February 24, 2015.

   

Sources

Adjutant General’s Office. Compiled Military Service Records, 5th Wisconsin Infantry [RG 94, National Archives

Contents of the collection and the collection case file

Frederick H. Dyer. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. New York: Sigamore Press, 1959.

Veteran’s Administration Pension File. [RG 15, National Archives.]

   

 

8. Container List

Box 1

Folder 1

Photocopies of Letters. September 1864

Dear Mary September 7

Dear Wife September 9

Dear Wife September 11

Dearest Husband September 12

Dear Wife September 12 and Dear Family November 13

My Dearest Husband September 15

Dear Husband September 20

Dearest Wife September 24

Dearest Husband September 25

Dear Husband September 27

Dear Wife September 30

Folder 2

Photocopies of Letters. October 1864

Dearest Husband October 2

My Dearest Husband October 5

Dear Wife October 7

Dear Wife October 10

Dear Wife October 15

My Dear Husband October 18

Dearest Wife October 19

Dear Wife and Mother and sister October 23

Dear Mary October 23

My Dear Husband October 23

Dear Wife and family October 27

My Dear Husband October 30

Dear beloved Wife and family October 31

Folder 3

Photocopies of Letters. November 1864

My Dear Husband November 6

Dear Wife November 12 and Dear Family November 13

Dear Husband November 13

Dear Wife and Family November 17

Dear Wife November 18

Dear Wife Mother and Sister November 20

My Dear Husband November 24

Dear Wife November 27, 29 and December 2

Dear Husband November 27

Folder 4

Photocopies of Letters. December 1864

Dear Wife December 2

My Dear Husband December 4

My Dear Husband December 7

My Dearest Husband December 9

My Dear Husband December 11

Dear Mary December 14

My Dearest Husband December 16

Dearest Mary December 19

My Dear Husband December 22

Dearest Wife December 24

Dear Mary Mother and Sister December 25

My Dear Husband December 27

Dear Mary December 30

My Dear Husband December 30

Folder 5

Photocopies of Letters. January 1865

My Dear Husband January 3

Dear Mary January 4

My Dearest Husband January 6

Dear Wife January 8

My Dear Husband January 10

Dearest Mary January 12

My Darling Mary January 15

Dear Husband January 18

Dear Mary January 20

My Dear Husband January 22

Dear Mary January 25

My Dearest Husband January 27

Dear Wife January 28

Folder 6

Photocopies of Letters. February 1865

Dearest Mary February 3

My Dear Husband February 3

My Dear Husband February 6

Dear Mary February 9

Dear Mary February 11

My Dear Husband February 14

My Dearest Husband February 18

Dear Husband February 23

Dear Wife February 25

My Dear Husband February 26

Folder 7

Photocopies of Letters. March 1865

My Dear Husband March 1

My Dear Husband March 5

Dear Brother March 7

My Dearest Husband March 10

My Darling Wife March 12

Dearest Husband March 12

My Dear Husband March 16

My Darling Wife March 16

My Darling Wife March 22

My Dearest Husband March 24

My Darling Mary March 24 & 26

My Dearest Husband March 29

Folder 8

Photocopies of Letters. April 1865

My Dearest Husband April 2

My Dearest Husband April 4

My Darling Wife April 6

My Dear Husband April 7

My Darling Wife April 12

Dearest Wife April 25

Dearest Wife April 28

Dearest Wife April 30

Folder 9

Photocopies of Letters. May 1865

Dear Mary May 3

Dear Mary May 10

My Darling Wife May 16

Dearest Wife May 25

Dearest Wife May 28

Folder 10

Photocopies of Letters. June 1865

My Dearest Husband June 8

My Darling Wife June 11

My Dear Husband June 13

Dearest Wife June 15

Dearest Mary June 20

My Dearest Wife June 23

My Darling Wife June 27

Folder 11

Photocopies of Letters. July 1865

Dearest Mary July 6

My Darling Wife July 11

Folder 12

Photocopies of Undated Letters

Partial Letter to his family (nd) and To His Mary Dear (Nov 26)

Dear Mary

Dear Wife

Dear Andrew

Dear Brother

Dear Brother

My Dear Husband

Dear Mary

Folder 13

Photocopies of Poems and a Lock of Hair (N.D.)

Folder 14

Original Letters. September 1864

Dear Mary September 7

Dear Wife September 9

Dear Wife September 11

Dearest Husband September 12

Dear Husband September 20

Dearest Husband September 25

Dear Husband September 27

Dear Wife September 30

Folder 15

Original Letters. October 1864

Dearest Husband October 2

Dear Wife October 10

My Dear Husband October 18

My Dear Husband October 30

Dear beloved Wife and family October 31

Folder 16

Original Letters. November 1864

My Dear Husband November 6

Dear Wife November 12 and Dear Family November 13

Dear Husband November 13

Dear Wife November 18

Dear Wife Mother and Sister November 20 and November 22

My Dear Husband November 24

Dear Wife November 27, 29 & December 2

My Dear Husband November 27

Folder 17

Original Letters. December 1864

My Dear Husband December 7

My Dearest Husband December 16

Dearest Wife December 24

My Dear Husband December 30

Folder 18

Original Letters. January 1865

My Dear Husband January 3

Dear Mary January 4

My Dearest Husband January 6

Dear Wife January 8

My Dear Husband January 10

My Darling Mary January 15

Dear Mary January 20

My Dear Husband January 22

Dear Mary January 25

My Dearest Husband January 27

Folder 19

Original Letters. February 1865

Dearest Mary February 3

My Dear Husband February 3

My Dear Husband February 6

Dear Mary February 11

My Dearest Husband February 18

Dear Wife February 25

My Dear Husband February 26

Folder 20

Original Letters. March 1865

My Dear Husband March 1

My Darling Wife March 12

Dearest Husband March 12

My Darling Wife March 16

My Darling Wife March 22

My Dearest Husband March 24

My Darling Mary March 24 & 26

My Dearest Husband March 29

Folder 21

Original Letters. April 1865

My Dearest Husband April 2

My Darling Wife April 12

Folder 22

Original Letters. May 1865

Dear Mary May 10

Dearest Wife May 25

Folder 23

Original Letters. June 1865

Dearest Wife June 15

Folder 24

Original Letters. July 1865

Dearest Mary July 6

My Darling Wife July 11

 

9.  Item List

Photograph Log

No Photographs

10. Publication  Information

 

   

Publisher

The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries, Special Collections

   

URL

http://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol/index.php

   

Physical Address

The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries

McCain Library & Archives

118 College Drive #5148

Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148

   

Email Contact

To email, go to: http://www.lib.usm.edu/askalibrarian/

   

Revision Date

Last revised: February 24, 2015

   

 


Prepared and maintained by
The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections
http://www.lib.usm.edu/spcol
118 College Drive #5148   Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5148


Last Edited: Apr 12 2016 01:48:11 PM