Abbott family Civil War letters
Letters from three brothers of the Abbott family, sent to members of their family primarily during the American Civil War.
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English.
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There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.
Conditions Governing Use
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Extent1 linear feet (2 boxes)
Letters from the Abbott brothers include details of their school days at St. Paul's School (Concord, New Hampshire) and at Harvard College, included in their early letters home. The Civil War letters concern camp life, battle engagments of each military unit, news of family and friends and those killed in battle, and also include comment on the historical times. There are battlefield sketches in a few letters. Also included are a few letters from their parents, letters from others, and letters to their parents from other concerning the Abbott boys' military service.
Biographical / Historical
Josiah Gardner Abbott (1814-1891) was born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was graduated at Harvard in 1832, was admitted to the bar in 1835, and received an LL.D. from Williams College in 1862. Abbott served in the Massachusetts legislature as state senator, was a delegate-at-large to every national Democratic convention, and was a judge of the superior court of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He also served as a representative to the U.S. Congress and was an overseer of Harvard University from 1859-1865. Abbott married Caroline Livermore (ca.1816-1887) of Boston and together they had eleven children. The Abbotts were a wealthy and politically minded family, first of Lowell Massachusetts, and in 1861 of Boston.
This set of papers comprise letters from three sons of Josiah and Caroline Abbott:
- Edward Gardner Abbott (1840-1862) received an AB from Harvard College in 1860 and was an officer with the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was killed at the Battle of Cedar Mountain on Aug 9, 1862.
- Fletcher Morton Abbott (b.1843) was an officer with the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was later appointed aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. William Dwight of the Nineteenth Army Corps., then stationed in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was discharged from duty due to ill health on Dec. 23, 1863.
- Henry Livermore Abbott (1842-1864) received an AB from Harvard College in 1860 and was an officer with the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (also known as the Harvard Regiment). He was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6, 1864.
Other children of Caroline and Josiah Abbott were:
- Caroline Mary Livermore Abbott (b. ca. 1839).
- William Stackpole Abbott (1844-1846).
- Samuel Appleton Browne Abbott (Harvard College AB 1866).
- Sarah Livermore Abbott (b. ca.1850).
- Franklin Pierce Abbott (Harvard Law LLB 1876).
- Arthur St. Loe Abbott (b.1856) (Harvard College AB 1877).
- Grafton St. Loe Abbott (b. ca. 1857).
- Holker Welch Abbott (b. ca. 1858).
Organized into the following five series:
- I. Letters from Edward Gardner Abbott to his family
- II. Letters from Fletcher Morton Abbott to his family
- III. Letters from Henry Livermore Abbott to his family
- IV. Miscellaneous papers concerning Edward Gardner Abbott
- V. Miscellaneous papers concerning Henry Livermore Abbott
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Deposited as permanent loan from Dr. John Adams Abbott of Concord, Massachusetts, and Mrs. Helen F. Abbott Washburn of East Greenwich, Rhode Island; received: 1939 October 11.
- Some of these letters are published in: Henry Livermore Abbott. Fallen leaves: the Civil War letters of Major Henry Livermore Abbott, edited by Robert Garth Scott. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1991.
- See also: Anthony J. Milano. Copperhead defiance from a Yankee officer: private letters of Major Henry Livermore Abbott, Harvard College, class of 1860, Twentieth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1864. Harvard University Thesis (Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies), 1987.
Processed by: Charlotte Gray, with assistance from Bonnie B. Salt
- Abbott family. Abbott family Civil War letters: Guide.
- Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
- Language of description
- EAD ID
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