1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society Records

 Historical organization, Rhode Island.

 Records, 1861-1911. Bulk, 1875-1898.

 Size: 0.75 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 723

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, October 1996

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society of Rhode Island was founded circa 1875. Its mission was to preserve and disseminate the history of the Civil War. While the Rhode Island Historical Society had already been active for over fifty years, it had a more antiquarian focus at the time, and a separate society for the Civil War was deemed necessary. Full members were required to be Civil War veterans. At the monthly meetings of the Society, papers were read by members, describing battles and campaigns. The Society also developed a small library for use of its members. In 1878, it began publishing the papers read at its meetings, under the title Personal Narratives of the Battles of the Rebellion. These were published in seven series of about 12 small pamphlets each, and continued through 1915. These publications now constitute a major resource for those interested in the role Rhode Island played in the Civil War.

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists mainly of the Society's membership records, and drafts of papers and memoirs collected by the Society. The membership applications give detailed war service records for each member, as well as other general background information.

            With all the papers published by the Society, it is surprising to learn that 15 of the 18 papers here have apparently never been published. Some of them are valuable and important resources on specific campaigns or units. Some are really just long letters or testimony, rather than formal papers, but all are of potential interest.

            Among the scattered correspondence received by the society is a letter from the celebrated former R.I. governor William Sprague, who wrote to memorialize the late George N. Bliss in 1900.

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            Apparently, when the Soldiers and Sailors Historical Society dissolved, its library was donated to the Providence Public Library. The printed works in its possession were probably scattered among the holdings of the PPL. In 1933, the manuscript items were given to the Rhode Island Historical Society in an exchange; what they were exchanged for is unknown. In 1996, the collection was organized and placed in archival folders and boxes.

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Processing note:

            Several items have been removed from this collection over the years. Prior to 1985, an 1861 letter from Sylvester R. Knight to Ambrose Burnside was removed from this collection to the Ambrose R. Burnside Collection. In 1996, two other Burnside letters dated 1861 and 1867 were also removed to the Burnside Collection. Two of these letters are described in a letter by T.R. Dennis dated 10/16/1889, donating them to the SSHS. They have been given accession numbers #1933.31.2-4.

            It is possible that some of the R.I.H.S.L.'s extensive Civil War manuscript holdings were originally donated as part of the S.S.H.S. collection, but as no original inventory was complied it is difficult to be certain.

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Membership records:

Box 1.             Membership applications, bound, 1875-1898.

Box 2, fol 1.    Membership applications, loose, 1893-1896.

                                    Membership lists, 1885 and undated.

Speeches, essays and historical accounts:

Box 2, f 2.Arnold, William A. [Battery A, 1st R.I. Light Artillery], 6/30/1886. 3 pages.

Box 2, f 3.Ballou, Daniel R. "The Military Services of Major General Ambrose Burnside...", undated. 51 pages. Later published.

Box 2, f 4.Bliss, George N. "Reminiscences of Service in the 1st R.I. Cavalry", 4/11/1877. 47 pages. Later published.

Box 2, f 5.Bucklin, James T.[Testimony re Gen. Burnside's behavior at Antietam], 1911/02/25.

Box 2, f 6.Bucklyn, John K. "Battery E" [First Light Artillery], undated. 4 pages.

Box 2, f 7.Davis, James M. [Capture of Jefferson Davis], 2/1/1879. 3 pages.

Box 2, f 8.Denison, Frederic. "The Capture of Morris Island" [3rd R.I. Heavy Artillery], circa 1890. 46 pages.

Box 2, f 9.Earle, George A. [Company F, 1st R.I. Cavalry], 1/11/1881. 4 pages.

Box 2, f 10. Field, Chaplain S.W. "Reminiscences of the Battle of Fredericksburg" [with 12th R.I. Infantry], 12/15/1868. 16 pages. Presented to the G.A.R.

Box 2, f 11.[Finney?], James. [U.S. Steam Frigate Minnesota], undated. 3 pages.

Box 2, f 12. Graves, Thomas Thatcher. [Attack on Richmond], undated. 41 pages; page 1 missing.

Box 2, f 13. Higgins, M.J. [3rd Regiment, R.I. Artillery], undated. 11 pages.

Box 2, f 14. Hutchinson, William F. "The Capture and Destruction f the Rebel Ram Webb", 11/12/1879. 28 pages.

Box 2, f 15. Metcalf, Col. E. "On to Richmond", 10/16/1878. 18 pages.

Box 2, f 16. Monroe, J. Albert. "The Rhode Island Artillery at the First Battle of Bull Run", undated. 31 pages. Later published.

Box 2, f 17. Spicer, William A. "A Visit to West Point, and Gen'l William T. Sherman's Funeral", 3/17/1891. Bound in: "When We Are Gone", a poem by Frederic Denison.

Box 2, f 18. Viall, Nelson. "The Fourteenth R.I. Heavy Artillery (Colored)" [later the 11th U.S. Heavy Artillery], 10/20/1891. 34 pages.

Box 2, f 19.Woodbury, Rev. Augustus. "The Soldiers' and Sailors' Historical Society", undated. 27 pages.


Box 2, f 20. Correspondence, 1879-1900, as follows:

            1879/01/25     Henry C. Lee to George N. Bliss

            1879/04/12     Henry C. Lee to George N. Bliss. Recounts Civil War incident.

            1879/11/30     Rhode Island Historical Society to SSHS, 11/30/1879. Thanks for gift.

            1879/12/12     William A. Mose to George N. Bliss. Confederate veteran.

            1880/04/30     Illinois "Military Order of the Loyal Legion..." to SSHS.

            1880/07/07     Henry B. Dawson to SSHS. Requests publication.

            1886/08/06     Benjamin H. Child to J. Albert Monroe. Includes excerpts from diary of Theodore Richardt re casualties at Gettysburg.

            1886/08/25     J.K. Bucklyn to J. Albert Monroe.

            1886/10/28     John Delevan to J. Albert Monroe.

            1886/11/09     John Delevan to J. Albert Monroe.

            1889/10/16     T.R. Dennis to P.S. Chase. Encloses gifts for Society

            1900/01/04     William Sprague to Martha Work Bliss. Condolences. Copy by Sprague.

            1900/01/11     Martha Work Bliss to William Sprague.

            1900/01/12     William Sprague to Gen. Rhodes. Encloses two previous letters.

            Undated          SSHS to Messrs. Bigbie & Kelley. Draft.

            Undated          SSHS to Sidney S. Rider. Draft.

            Undated          Unknown author, re donating Civil War library to Lehigh University.

Box 2, f 21.Constitution and reports, as follows:

            Undated          Original constitution and subscription list.

            Undated          Draft of later constitution.

            1877/01/03     Reports of: Librarian; cabinet keeper; treasurer.

            1881/01/12     Reports of: Librarian and cabinet keeper; treasurer; publication committee.

            1887/01           Report of treasurer.

            1888/01/17     Report of treasurer.

Box 2, f 22. Copyrights for publications, Library of Congress, 1878-1879. 10 items.

Box 2, f 23.Miscellaneous, as follows:

            1861/08/01     Report of 71st Regiment, N.Y. infantry to Gen. Burnside. Printed.

            1869/11/04     Circular from the Headquarters of the G.A.R.

            1873/06/23     Circular re Battle of Stone's River

            1879/11/29     Publications agreement

            1880?              Newspaper account of meeting.

            1881/03/29     Note from U.S. Senate re Congressional Record.

            1886/05/18     Circular from Third Army Corps Society

            1902/10/27     Copy of deed, Daniel Williams to son Peleg, Jan. 23, 1712/13.

            Undated          Notes on artillery

            Undated          Circular card from SSHS re book by Butts (2 copies)

Box 2, f 24. Original wrappers of books.

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Afro-American soldiers - Rhode Island

Burnside, Ambrose E. (1824-1881)

Davis, Jefferson (1808-1889)

Eleventh Regiment, U.S. Heavy Artillery

First Regiment, Rhode Island Cavalry

First Regiment, Rhode Island Light Artillery

Fourteenth Regiment, Rhode Island Infantry (Colored)

Minnesota (U.S. Steam Frigate)

Morris Island, S.C.

Sherman, William T. (1820-1891)

Sprague, William (1830-1915)

Third Regiment, Rhode Island Heavy Artillery

Twelfth Regiment, Rhode Island Infantry

United States - History - Civil War, 1861-1865

Webb (C.S.A. ramming ship)

Cards also appear in the catalog for all of the authors listed in folders 2 through 19.

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