Thursday, May 19, 2011

Galveston Research Summary #3 - Texas' Best Kept Civil War Secret?

Previous "Galveston Research Summaries" can be found below:

#1 - Dissent, Sedition, and Confederate Secret Police (here)
#2 - Ursuline Sisters (here)
Summary of Galveston/Civil War Research Project (here)

And now, for the latest in Galveston Research Summaries (!):

In late 2008, I had the great privilege of being invited to speak at the Waco, Dallas, and Fort Worth Civil War Round Tables over the course of a couple of weeks. It was great fun and I met some wonderful people. I wrote about my experiences in a previous post (here).

As part of my trip to Fort Worth, I took time to stop at the Pearce Museum (website here and on Facebook here) at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, (about 2/3 of the way from Houston to Dallas on I-45) which includes both Civil War and Western Art galleries.

The Civil War gallery tells the story of the war in Texas through exhibits that feature some of the more than 15,000 artifacts and documents from the Pearce Civil War Collection.

The collection - founded by Charles S. Pearce, Jr., and his wife, Peggy, started thusly (according to the Collection's history page here):

In 1991, Charles S. Pearce, Jr. purchased a gift for his wife, Peggy. That gift, a letter from the battlefield at Antietam written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to his wife Fanny, sparked an ongoing interest that led to the current collection of historically significant Civil War documents. In 1996, when the Pearces decided t
hat their collection needed a home where it could be viewed and researched, they placed it in the care of Navarro College.

As the collection was not opened up to researchers until the past 10-15 years, a good amount of the material has yet to make it into current scholarship or writing. Previous Pearce Collection archivist Julie Holcomb published one of the larger intact letter collections in an excellent book, Southern Sons, Northern Soldiers: The Civil War Letters of the Remley Brothers, 22nd Iowa Infantry (Northern Illinois University Press, 2003).

The College maintains an excellent finding aid for the collection here.

Consider the interests of two friends and outstanding bloggers: Harry Smeltzer at Bull Runnings and Eric Wittenberg at

Searches for "Bull Run" and "Manassas" yielded interesting results, including:

George Hood Letter (here) - 1861 - Letter from Massachusetts soldier after Bull Run
P.R. Reamy Papers (here) - 1861 - outstanding Confederate soldier letter written from near Bull Run battlefield, July 25, 1861

Searches for "cavalry" and "Gettysburg" yielded:

Oliver Dibble - 8th NY Cavalry - July 7, 1863 letter (here) describes Buford's cavalry charge
Henry B. Crosby Papers (here) - 19 letters describing his service in the 9th New York Cavalry

And many other collections - large and small - in all instances.

In terms of my own research I was able to find several great letters to help with my current Galveston/Civil War research and writing project.

The archivists can provide copies of the letters and transcripts, when available, for a nominal fee.

I encourage all researchers to take advantage of this wonderful resource!


B. Forbush said...

Informative post! I recommend this resource as it was recommended to me some years ago.

I found 2 sets of useful letters at the Pierce collection and purchased transcriptions of both at a nominal fee.

Unfortunately after some consideration, they decided they didn't want me to post some of these transcriptions, (from one of the soldiers) on my website, preferring I summarize the contents instead. In the end I chose not to do this simply because my site consists mostly of soldiers letters.

That aside, its a great resource. They are responsive and helpful.

Jim Schmidt said...

Brad - Thanks! It's ALWAYS great to hear from you.

It's too bad they wouldn't let you publish them on the web but I know you are more diligent than some people in securing all the proper permissions, etc.

Even if you weren't able to put them online, I do hope they helped shed some light on the men of the 13th Mass!