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Collection Title: Greer (Alexander and Joseph Thomas) Papers

Collection Number: M192

Dates: 1862-1865; 1873-1877

Volume: .20 cu. ft.

Provenance: Made available for copying by Ronald L. Evans, great-great grandson of Alexander Greer and great-nephew of Joseph Thomas Greer, in January 1982. Original is retained by Mr. Evans.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Alexander Greer was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. At the time of his enlistment on August 14, 1862, Greer was a shoemaker from Hookstown, Pennsylvania. This trade served him well during the war, for he was able to make extra money by making shoes for fellow officers. Greer's regiment, Company H of the 140th Pennsylvania Infantry, United States Army, served in the Army of the Potomac during 1862 and 1863. Being 40 years of age, Corporal Greer suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which soon limited his normal service activities. He then began serving as a nurse in the regimental hospital because of this limitation. Corporal Alexander Greer died on July 2, 1863, in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Joseph Thomas Greer, eldest son of Alexander Greer was also a shoemaker. He enlisted, at the age of 18, in Company E of the 155th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, United States Army, on August 15, 1864. His regiment served in the Army of the Potomac during the fall of 1864, and the spring of 1865. He was wounded in March of 1865 during one of the many battles in which his regiment saw action. Greer was also at Appomattox, Virginia, when General Lee surrendered his army to General Grant on April 9, 1865. He was discharged from the army on June 2, 1865.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of the service records and family correspondence of Alexander Greer and his son Joseph Tomas Greer both of whom served with Pennsylvania regiments during the Civil War. The approximately 65 letters were written on patriotic letterhead stationery.

There are twenty-one letters from Alexander to his wife Sara and their four children, spaning the period between September 1862 to Jun3 1863. They recount Alexander's service experiences during that period when his unit guarded railroad lines in Maryland and was later stationed in Washington, D.C. Alexander writes of food shortages and how he used his skill as a shoemaker to make money between the paymaster's infrequent visits. His letters also tell of his nursing duties, detailing the soldiers' injuries and illnesses. He often speaks of his patriotic duties to his country and family. The letters also provide much insight into the status of Alexander's family during his absence and reflect his concern for his family and relatives and for family affairs and finances; Alexander instructs his children, particularly Joseph Thomas, on how to care for the farm and the crops.

The twenty-six letters from Joseph Thomas Greer to his mother Sara span the period of August 1864 to April 1865. They recount his experiences with the Army of the Potomac near Petersburg, Virginia, in the fall of 1864, and culminate with General Lee's surrender at Appomattox in April 1865. In the letters he relates his experiences on the picket lines, in battles and skirmishes, and in charging rebel lines. The letters mention his regiment's review by Generals Mead and Grant, and by President Abraham Lincoln. Moreover, the letters reveal the living conditions in the field and the need for supplemental food and provisions due to the lack of rations and the break down of supply lines. In Joseph's last letter he speaks of enclosing a piece of Lee's flag, some Confederate money, and a part of a tree where General Lee stood.

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