Charles Speakman Civil War Letters - Chester County History Center

CHARLES SPEAKMAN CIVIL WAR LETTERS

Collection Title: Charles Speakman Civil War Letters

Collection Number: 157

Dates of Collection: 1861-1875

Box Numbers: 1

Repositiory: Chester County Historical Society

Project Archivist: Shira Loev

Abstract:

This collection contains letters from Charles Speakman about his service in the Civil War. Also includes letters from family and friends, along with papers documenting his military service.

Collections Contents:

Charles Speakman Civil War Letters, 1861-1875 Manuscript Collection 157


Arranged and described by: ShiraLoev


Project Archivist
This project made possible by a grant from IMLS Museums for America 2004 – 2006.
Chester Country Historical Society West Chester, PA
2006
Charles Speakman Civil War Letters, 1861      1875
Table of Contents
Biographical Note……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Scope and Content………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
Arrangement………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 2
Related Materials………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2
Folder 1: Letters July- August 1861……………………………………………………………………….. 2
Folder 2: Letters Sept. -Oct. 1861………………………………………………………………………… 3
Folder 3: Letters Nov. -Dec. 1861………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Folder 4: Letters Jan. -Apr. 1862…………………………………………………………………………. 5
Folder 5: Letters May 1862…………………………………………………………………………………… 6
Folder 6: Letters June 1862…………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Folder 7: Letters July-August 1862………………………………………………………………………… 8
Folder 8: Letters Sept. -Nov. 1862…………………………………………………………………………. 8
Folder 9: Letters Dec. 1862 -July 1863……………………………………………………………………. 9
Folder 10: Letters March 1864    June 1865………………………………………………………….. 10
Folder 11: Letters, various authors, 1862 – 1875……………………………………………………… 11
Folder 12: Military Service papers, [1861]- 1864…………………………………………………… 12
Biographical Note

Charles Speakman was a private in the 30th Regiment, 1st reserve. The ninth often children of Nathaniel and Ann Speakman, he was born July 28, 1839. His sister Abigail, to whom most of these letters are written, was born May 17, 1842. Speakman mustered into the service July 8, 1861 and was discharged on surgeon’s certificate on Jan. 17, 1863, having been diagnosed with dropsy. According to a note written on an envelope, probably by Abbie (Abigail) Speakman, Charles chose to rejoin the army:
After Charlie had been discharged from the regular army because of ill health, and after being home a short time, the Rebels invaded Penna. and although he was still ill he again went into the army although he was not sworn in and therefore received no pay, but as he remarks in one letter, he went for patriotism, not pay.
In 1864, Charles was appointed to the position of clerk in the office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, DC. While living in Washington, Speakman witnessed the aftermath of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, which he describes in detail in a letter written April 17, 1865 (see below). Charles died April 7, 1867.
Sources: History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, Bates; Speakman family file; Charles Speakman Civil War Letters
Scope and Content
 
This collection contains the letters written by Charles Speakman during his service in the Civil War. Also included are some letters written by family members or friends, as well as papers documenting Speakman’s military service.
Arrangement
 
Charles Speakman’s letters are arranged in chronological order. Letters written by other authors and military service papers are arranged separately in chronological order.
Related Materials
 
See photograph collections
Folder 1: Letters July-August 1861
 

  1. Camp Curtin, July 22, 1861
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • envelope illustration “The Union and the Constitution”, flag
    • refers to sounding of cannons for victory at Manassas
    • getting ready to set out for Washington, DC
  • describes cheering of people while passing through on train
  1. Camp Carroll, near Baltimore, MD, July 23, 1861
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • envelope and letter with illustration “One flag and one Government”; letter paper with patriotic verse
    • saw burnt, destroyed bridges on train ride
    • bridges are guarded 20 outside of Baltimore
    • complains of colonel’s inexperience
  1. Camp Todd, MD, 6, 1861
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • describes conditions at camp versus camp at Annapolis
    • people being shot by “Successionists”
    • he and another soldier invited to dinner
    • describes meals at camp
  1. Camp Todd, MD, 1861
    • addressed to sister
    • describes treatment of soldiers by locals
    • lists visitors
    • sickness among men at Annapolis
  1. Camp Todd, MD, 4, 1861

addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman request clothes, food, paper, envelopes spent time at house oflocals
local women presented soldiers with a flag have cannons
Gen. Edge Cope shot in the thigh while eating dinner

Folder 2: Letters Sept. – Oct. 1861

  1. Camp Tennally, DC, Sept. 2, 1861 addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman

blue ink illustrated envelope with “Loyal States, Pennsylvania” arrival in DC
toured Capitol, praises pictures in entrance; went up to the dome and saw Smithsonian Institute, President’s House, the Treasury, the War Departments; visited Senate Chamber
countryside is covered with tents
company called ”Brandywine Guards”; renamed Co. A from Co. H

  1. Camp Tennally, 8, 1861
    • addressed to sister
  • letter paper with large illustration of United States Capitol
  • declared that men should not work on Sunday but “attend divine worship and rest themselves”
  • marched in front of Secretary of War Cameron for gala day grand inspection
  • reconnaissance balloon goes up each night; news of enemy movements

telegraphed to camp

  1. Camp Tennally, 19, 1861

addressed to sister
had a grand review for Prince de Joinville, son of Louis Philippe, due d’Orleans
Segt. Cope went on furlough, married Bell Spackman of West Chester; promoted to Col. Clerk
rule adopted to take turns reading bible chapter each night reference to “great battle in Missouri”

  1. Camp Tennally, 5, 1861
    • addressed to brother, Townsend Speakman
    • discusses health of soldiers, beliefs about sickness
    • possibility of being sent to Missouri; thinks Missouri and Kentucky will “decide this struggle”

..    read in Chester County Times that number of barns were burnt in county

  1. Langley, VA, Headquarters M’Call, 13, 1861
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • company detailed as bodyguards for M’Call
    • reference to victory at Hatteras Inlet (Island)
    • read that New Orleans is almost in the possession of Union

Folder 3: Letters Nov. -Dec. 1861
 

  1. Langley, VA, 1, 1861

addressed to sister
had election for officers

  • Hooton elected Captain
  • C.W. Wields elected 1st Lieutenant
  • lists other promotions anecdote about runaway slave

request for food: butter, sausage, scrapple, cakes, preserves

  1. Langley, VA, 12, 1861
    • addressed to sister
    • reference to victory of Nelson at Piketon, KY
  1. Langley, VA, 2, 1861

addressed to sister Priscilla Speakman thanking for package
refers to skirmish at Drainesville
predicts Union will have Leesburg by New Year’s
anecdote about wounded Union and Confederate soldiers in hospital who fought each other and died
had teeth filled

  1. Langley, VA, CSA, 6, 1861
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • thanking for package
    • foraging parties bring back corn, hay

..    had an Ambrotype taken

  1. Camp Pierpont, Dec. 11, 1861

addressed to mother, Ann Speakman rebels made an advance the night before
Dillwyn Parker recruits troops from West Chester foraging parties
was issued new clothing
hopes rebellion will be crushed by summer 1862; will not return to civil life until country “restored to peace and prosperity”
Folder 4: Letters Jan. – Apr. 1862
 

  1. Camp Pierpont, VA, 8, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • loves to receive letters with news of home
    • describes Christmas – he was on guard; others played around, visited friends
    • received pay, $26 [page missing?]
  1. Camp Pierpont, VA, 5, 1862 addressed to sister discusses reasons for war

possibility that an acquaintance might be a rebel
women of New London, Chester County sent soldiers a “box of comfortables” – stockings, etc.
Col. Baird sick from being shot with poisoned arrow by an Indian during the “Indian Wars”

  1. Langley, VA, 15, 1862
    • addressed to sister
  • letter paper with raised seal “Union”, red and blue border
  • series of victories accomplished; plan made to overthrow other important places; refers to victory at Fort Donelson
  • victory unexpected because fleet supposed to have been badly damaged by storms
  • saw group of about 50 contrabands
  • was vaccinated
  1. Langley, VA, 23, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • letter paper with raised seal “Union”, red and blue border
    • some regiments were read Washington’s farewell address by colonel
    • requests candles, india meal
  1. Langley, VA, Feb. 26, 1862, 8:00 PM
  • addressed to sister
  • letter paper with raised seal “Union”, red and blue border
  • received marching orders for Leesburg and Centreville
  1. Langley, VA, March 2, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • did not march because not needed to support Banks in crossing river
    • expects to move soon because Gen. Banks is “stirring the rebels up” and regiments are being “hardened to marching”
    • received new pants
    • soldiers now have trumpet for drilling
  1. Camp near Alexandria, VA, March 18, 1862
    • waiting to move South
    • Alexandria abandoned except for soldiers
    • visited the Marshall House and place where Jackson shot Ellsworth
  1. Manassas Junction, April 13, 1862 addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman

describes march with 100 lb. knapsack reference to Bull Run
skirmishing
road from Centreville to Manassas rough – houses burnt down, wagon-bed wheels, dead horses
some soldiers visited Bull Run battleground
Folder 5: Letters May 1862
 

  1. Falmouth, VA, May 6, 1862
    • addressed to sister
  • camp at Washington’s childhood farm, thinks owners are inclined toward Confederacy
  • says Virginians are mostly enemies of the Union
  • refers to Blinker’s men who passed through VA and stole everything
  • naval warfare
  • discusses the comforts of smoking
  • bridges built across river
  1. Camp Washington near Falmouth, VA, May 11, 1862 addressed to Abbie Speakman (?)

movements depend on whether or not Gen. McClellan needs reinforcements
have two pontoon bridges over Rappahannock
anecdotes about local girl crying because she thought father was unionist and about people praying in church for Union soldiers to die
refers to charges made against Gen. M’Call; Charles says they are false Washington childhood home half hospital, half ruins; refers to apple tree/hatchet story

  1. Camp Washington, Falmouth, VA, May 16, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • skirmishes; Ira Harris cavalry captured a and 11 men; 1100 men beat Union back to Fredericksburg
    • describes Bucktail Camp
    • fall of Norfolk; sinking of Merrimack
    • Confederate Army “demoralized”

Folder 6: Letters June 1862
 

  1. Headquarters Gen. M’Call near Falmouth, VA, June 2, 1862 addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman

rebels advancing on Fredericksburg
refers to achievements of Gen. Shields against Gen. Jackson
Gen. McClellan awaiting their arrival to strengthen force before attack praising Horne Guards
thinks war will not last another winter; thinks govt. should enlist 200,000 more men

  • anecdote about woman complaining about her slaves
  • McDowell disliked because not considered loyal
  1. Camp 5 miles from Richmond, VA, June 19, 1862
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • boat trip down Rappahannock
    • daily fighting; fighting on Chickahorniny
  • McClellan orders no drums, trumpets, bands because noise gives away position; rebels play drums
  • balloon reconnoitering
  1. Chickahominy, McClellan’s Headquarters, June 28, 1862
    • addressed to brother, Thomas Speakman
    • heavy :fighting June 26 – 27, commenced in Mechanicsville, heavy losses, lost knapsacks

Folder 7: Letters July-August 1862
 

  1. City Point, July 4, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • lists casualties among officers
    • men have confidence in McClellan
  1. Camp near Harrison’s Landing, VA, July 11, 1862
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • “first engagement”
    • detailed description of the :fighting
  1. Camp near Harrison’s Landing, VA, 6, 1862 addressed to sister

shelled by rebels; rebels repulsed by gunboats
cut trees, burnt down houses    are constructing fort
fight at Malvern Hill – several thousand rebels taken prisoner, rebel gun boat “Young America” captured
soldiers pillaged abandoned homes Capt. Biddle dead

  1. Camp near Harrison’s Landing, VA, Sunday morning, 10, 1862
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • describes fatigue duty
    • fort being built
    • took a ride on Steamer John Warner
    • Neff, Co. E and Sgt. McCracken, Co. B died

Folder 8: Letters Sept.-Nov. 1862
 

  1. Sharpsburg, MD, 21, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • detailed description of fighting at South Mountain
    • complains that division has not had ambulances or stretchers for months
    • victory – took field
  • revels stole provisions from locals
  • 17, fighting at Sharpsburg
  • describes carnage of battle- dead men, animals; stench of decay
  1. Camp near Sharpsburg, MD, 4, 1862
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • discusses loss in numbers due to casualties
    • Sharpsburg houses damaged by battle
    • Moore of West Chester delivered sermon for soldiers
  1. Camp near Sharpsburg, MD, 12, 1862
    • addressed to sister Abbie Speakman
    • rebels in PA – Chambersburg and Mercersburg
    • women visiting troops get lodging in nearby houses; lodging scarce because houses used as hospitals
  1. Bivouac on the road to Culpepper, 15, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • got supplies (coats) from captured
  1. Bivouac on the road to Culpepper, 16, 1862
    • addressed to Phil [Price]
    • discusses new leader, loss of old leader
    • soldiers have marched 100 since leaving Sharpsburg, back to where they were last August near Rappahannock Station
    • criticizes unpreparedness for winter fighting/winter quarters, lack of soldiers; did not receive fresh clothing, horses
  1. Bivouac near Stafford Court House, VA, 19, 1862
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • wonders why they are in this location, will they ship out or encamp to await supplies
    • persimmons are abundant, water is readily available

Folder 9: Letters Dec. 1862 – July 1863
 

  1. Division Hospital, 3 below Fredericksburg, Dec. 22, 1862
    • addressed to sister
    • he is sick; complains that wounded get attention but sick do not
    • hospital in isolated location
    • division is at Belle Plain Landing on the Potomac putting up winter quarters
    • plans to apply for permanent discharge
  2. Hospital 1st PRVC near Camp Belle Plain, VA, Dec. 30, 1862
  • addressed to sister
  • diagnosed with dropsy
  • shuffled to various locations, sometimes in ambulance, sometimes walking in snow; sick mostly unattended; wounded able to be sent to Washington, DC for care
  • during engagement of the 13, sick had to lie within range of enemy

fire

  1. Camp near Chambersburg, PA, July 12, 1863 addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman

envelope with description of Charles’s discharge and re-entry into service local men not defending town, not providing food for soldiers
went to Lutheran church service ate meal at Indian Queen Hotel
troops heard fake report that Richmond was captured and Gen. Lee surrendered; report faked to raise morale
Folder 10: Letters March 1864 – June 1865
 

  1. Quartennaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, March 12, 1864 addressed to brother, Townsend Speakman

sending home grapevine cuttings for planting boarding in Washington, DC
William Saunders, who designed Gettysburg Natl. Cemetery ground, is in charge of grounds at boarding house
attended President’s Levee, saw Lieut. Gen. Grant does not have confidence in Gen. Meade

  1. Quartermaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, June 5, 1864
    • addressed to sister
    • PA Reserves stopped in DC en route home; Charles visited with old friends
    • calls regiments “skeleton” regiments because troop numbers have fallen sharply due to casualties
    • hopes to return home, attend Sanitary Fair
  1. Quartermaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, 28, 1864
    • addressed to sister
    • describes Christmas day; was invited to dinner
    • had teeth filled at dentist
    • saw play at Ford’s Theatre, “Frank Drew” and afterpiece, “Mazeppa”
  1. Quartermaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, 13, 1864
    • addressed to sister
    • got Abraham [Lincoln’s?] autograph, wants to collect more
  1. Quartermaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, April 17, 1865 addressed to sister Abbie Speakman

describes Lincoln’s assassination, Booth’s actions, the pursuit of Booth and $30,000 reward for capture
houses draped in mourning
describes state of Washington, attitude of people; mob trying to kill rebel officers
describes attack on Seward, rumor that John Surratt was captured disguised in women’s clothes
funeral procession to take place, body will be sent to Illinois; Lincoln will lie-in-state in White House

  1. Quartermaster General’s Office, Washington, DC, June 9, 1865
    • addressed to sister, Abbie Speakman
    • 15,000 soldiers mustered out on Saturday, 8-10,000 every day since
    • went to choral concert with no patriotic songs scheduled because ofpro- confederate audience; describes reaction when “Vive l’ America” was performed
    • has forwarded 2 of the “Diplomatic Correspondence”

Folder 11: Letters, various authors, 1862 – 1875
 

  1. Edward [Speakman?], Newport News, March 11, 1862
    • addressed to brother, [Charles?]
    • describes naval battles
  1. Charles D. Meigs, undated
    • addressed to Brinton
    • asking doctor to use influence to get Charles Speakman discharged due to illness
  1. Charles D. Meigs, Philadelphia, January(?) 7, 1863
    • addressed to Hammond
    • asking doctor to use influence to get Charles Speakman discharged due to illness
  1. G. Curtin, Pennsylvania, Executive Chamber, Harrisburg, PA, Feb. 4, 1864
    • addressed to “The President”
    • handwritten copy; approved by John Potts, Chief Clerk War
    • recommending Charles Speakman for clerkship in one of the departments in Washington, DC
  1. Charles Meigs, Astor, Delaware Co., Aug. 27, 1863
    • addressed to ?
  • handwritten copy; approved by John Potts, Chief Clerk War Dept
  • recommending Charles Speakman for employment by Postmaster General
  1. W. Howland, Indianapolis, May 9, 1867
    • addressed to Edward Speakman
    • consoling Edward about brother Charles Speakman’s death
  1. Rebecca Taylor, Cedarcraft, Jan. 4, 1869
    • addressed to cousin Priscilla Speakman
    • regarding family, friends, visiting
  1. Thomas Speakmen, Liverpool, Aug. 22, 1875
    • addressed to sister Priscilla Speakman
    • describing trip to Europe

Folder 12: Military Service papers, [1861] – 1864
 

  1. Military history of Charles Speakman (incomplete), undated
  1. Document forming volunteer company, [1861] 22 signatures, incl. Charles Speakman
  1. Appointment as Temporary Clerk in the office of the Quartermaster General, War Department, Washington, DC, 13. 1864
  1. Notification of $4.00/mo. pension allowance, Pension Office, Feb. 17, 1864 signed Joseph Barrett, Commissioner
  1. Appointment as Clerk, Class One in the Office of the Quartermaster General, War Department, Washington, DC, April 14, 1864

This project made possible by a grant from IMLS Museums for America 2004 – 2006.