Civil War Letters Collection

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Civil War soldier portrait, ca. 1862 and letter to Arthur Tappan Strong from his friend Robert, February 9, 1862
Civil War soldier portrait, ca. 1862
and letter to Arthur Tappan Strong

Tis hard to see the mighty prancing war horse, trampling the dying and dead beneath their merciless feet. No dear wife, near to speak a word of comfort. No living sister or Mother to administer relief in that hour the most sad in the history of humanity. O the humanity. O the horrors of war. Truly it may be considered the most cruel and awful scourge which can befall a nation. Heaven grant there may be an end soon. (Samuel D. Lougheed letter to his wife Jane "Jennie" Lougheed, October 7, 1862)

A selection of original Civil War correspondence between soldiers from the battlefields and their family members and friends on the homefront. These letters describe firsthand accounts of battle, reflections on the nature of war and its profound effect on those involved - both on those at the front lines and loved ones who remained anxiously at home. Many are love letters home to sweethearts and wives, some cautionary advice from fathers to sons, one a harrowing account of capture and escape over enemy lines; all seemingly are reflections of the same sentiment:

"The battle has been raging all day in the distance and I am unable to ascertain whether any thing has been gained or not. O how I long for this war to end. How I long for peace. How will I hail the day when I return to the bosom of my family. My Dear I hope to see you." (Samuel D. Lougheed letter to his wife Jane "Jennie" Lougheed, April 30 - May 1 1863)

The letters and original writings have been transcribed as written, with no attempt to change spelling. Many of the correspondents have ties to the Pacific Northwest, some eventually settling in Washington State.

About the Database

The Civil War Letters Collection was created with the CONTENTdm software's innovative new program, JPEG 2000, which enables materials to be displayed in a higher quality, more usable online format. This new software includes pan and zoom capabilities which allows the user to move in and out of the image and move across the image to display the details. In addition, transcriptions were provided to allow for easier interpretation of the letters. The letters and other materials in this collection were scanned using a Microtek ScanMaker 9600XL saved as TIFF files, manipulated in Adobe PhotoShop to achieve the best and clearest possible digital image and loaded into the Contentdm JPEG 2000 software and linked with descriptive metadata.

Selection, research and descriptive metadata for the Civil War Letters Collection was done by Sheri Boggs, Kristin Kinsey and Rose McLendon in 2006. The textual materials in this database are selections from various manuscript collections held in the UW Libraries Special Collections.