Letters to Louise Kingsley Savage

Letters to Louise Kingsley Savage

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Manuscripts
Creator: Savage, John A.
Title: Letters to Louise Kingsley Savage
Dates: 1851-1865
Quantity: 0.8 Linear feet (2 document boxes)
Abstract:The collection consists mainly of letters from John A. Savage, Jr. to Louise Kingsley Savage from 1851-1865. The early letters (1851-1859) were written during their courtship and pertain mainly to personal matters of their relationship. The letters from 1861-1865 were written while Savage served in the 28th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment. The most extensive set of letters are from points along the Mississippi River, particularly St. Charles and Helena (Ark.) where his regiment was involved in the battle of Helena (Ark.) and the siege of Vicksburg (Miss.). His later letters describe in detail the battle of Cold Harbor (Va.) while he was in the 36th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment.
Coll. Number: ms2217

Biographical/Historical Note

John A. Savage, Jr., Union Army soldier, first with the 28th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment in the western theater and later with the 36th Wisconsin which was part of the Army of the Potomac, married Louise Kingsley, resided in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of approximately 160 letters, the great majority of which were written by John A. Savage, Jr. to his wife, Louise-- both from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Beginning with their courtship in 1857, the letters document the development of this sometimes tumultuous relationship. There is a chronological gap in the letters from 1859 until 1862 in which time John and Louise were married and started a family.

When the letters resume in January of 1862 John has entered the Civil War with the 28th regiment of the Wisconsin volunteers. Herein lies the historical significance of these letters. This uniquely well-preserved correspondence opens a window onto the physical and mental strains the war put on its participants.

Savage, who was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and appointed Adjutant of the 28th regiment on August 30, 1862, spent most of the wartime years in the western theatre. He posted letters from Columbus, Ky., Memphis, Tn., St, Charles, Ark., and primarily from Helena, Ark. from where he and his regiment became involved in the important siege and battle of Vicksburg, Ms. Late in the war Savage Joined the Army of the Potomac and posted letters from Cold Harbour, Va. and Washington, D.C. Prominent names are frequently mentioned in the letters-- "Old Abe", Grant, Sherman, Bragg, Rosecrans, a Confederate cavalry leader called "Old Cuss"-- although Savage apparently had little, if any, direct dealings with them.

Descriptions of physical and mental hardships abound in these letters. "Magnificent" gas-lit Memphis is vividly contrasted with the "God-forsaken" yellow-fever infested swamps of southern Arkansas. Helena he places as being "only next door to Hell." He mentions the desolate plantations and crippled people along the shores of the Mississippi River. But he laments most about weather and disease. A second "war" is fought to move through the rain and mud. Naturally such conditions led to a prevalence of diarrhea, mumps, and typhoid fever, Many houses, he mentions, were converted into temporary hospitals. Cemeteries dotted the place. One of these cemeteries became the resting place of a friend and comrade, whose funeral is movingly recounted by Savage. His family is never far from his mind. He writes of desperately missing his wife and children, particularly one Christmas eve he spent sleeping in a log.

Politics is not completely absent from the letters. Savage generally supports the policies of Lincoln-- believing the country had to be saved--and denounces the "Copperheads" (Northern Democrats). The people of the South, he argues, want reconciliation and a reinstatement to the Union, only being prevented by the Rebel Army.

In conclusion it seems that the importance of this collection is in the changing ways in which the war was viewed by one of its participants. While the names, dates, and places may be of interest to avid Civil War researchers, no startling new material is uncovered here. But a vivid description is offered of how the war quickly became de-romanticized from a glorious mission full of grandiose visions to a national tragedy full of heartache and death.


Arrangement

Arranged in chronological order.


Index Terms

Arkansas--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
Cold Harbor, Battle of, Va., 1864.
Helena, Battle of, Helena, Ark., 1863.
Mississippi--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
Savage, Louise Kingsley
Soldiers--Wisconsin.
United States. Army. Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, 28th (1862-1865).
United States. Army. Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, 36th (1864-1865).
Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.

General Notes

Cataloged as part of the Georgia Archives and Manuscripts Automated Access Project: A Special Collections Gateway Program of the University Center in Georgia.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

John A. Savage, Jr., letters to Louise Kingsley Savage. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 
BoxFolder
11Correspondence, 1851- June 1857 (primarily 1857)
Correspondence, February 7, 1851
Correspondence, February 21, 1852
Correspondence, March 19, 1852
Correspondence, July 4, 1852
Correspondence, July 2, 1855
Correspondence, January 21, 1857?
Correspondence, March 15, 1857?
Correspondence, April 2, 1857?
Correspondence, April 10, 1857?
Correspondence, April 19, 1857
Correspondence, April 26, 1857
Correspondence, May 3, 1857
Correspondence, May 8, 1857
Correspondence, May 17, 1857
Correspondence, May 31, 1857
Correspondence, June 7, 1857
Correspondence, June 8, 1857
Correspondence, June 12, 1857
Correspondence, June 20, 1857?
Correspondence, June 28, 1857
 
2Correspondence, July 1857-1859 (primarily 1857)
Correspondence, July 1, 1857
Correspondence, July 8, 1857
Correspondence, July 12, 1857
Correspondence, July 17, 1857
Correspondence, July 18, 1857
Correspondence, July 19, 1857?
Correspondence, July 24, 1857?
Correspondence, July 30, 1857
Correspondence, August 8, 1857
Correspondence, August 13, 1857
Correspondence, August 20, 1857
Correspondence, August 24, 1857
Correspondence, August 29, 1857?
Correspondence, September 4, 1857
Correspondence, September 6, 1857
Correspondence, September 11, 1857?
Correspondence, September 13, 1857
Correspondence, September 15, 1857?
Correspondence, September 20, 1857
Correspondence, September 23, 1857
Correspondence, October 7, 1857
Correspondence, October 19, 1857
Correspondence, October 20, 1857
Correspondence, October 26, 1857
Correspondence, November 4, 1857
Correspondence, November 12, 1857
Correspondence, November 30, 1857
Correspondence, December 4, 1857?
Correspondence, December 17, 1857?
Correspondence, December 31, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, undated, 1857?
Correspondence, January 22, 1858
Correspondence, October 23, 1859
 
3Correspondence, 1862
Correspondence, January 12, 1862
Correspondence, January 30, 1862
includes photograph
Correspondence, July 17, 1862
Correspondence, August 19, 1862
Official military appointment as 1st Lt. and Adj. General, August 30, 1862
Correspondence, November 13, 1862
Correspondence, December 30, 1862
includes record of court martial proceedings
 
4Correspondence, January 1863
Correspondence, January 1, 1863
Correspondence, January 1, 1863
Correspondence, January 6, 1863
Correspondence, January 8, 1863
Correspondence, January 12, 1863
Correspondence, January 16, 1863
Correspondence, January 20, 1863
Correspondence, January 22, 1863
Correspondence, January 25, 1863
 
5Correspondence, February 1863
Correspondence, February 1, 1863
Correspondence, February 2, 1863
Correspondence, February 16, 1863
Correspondence, February 21, 1863
Correspondence, February 24, 1863
 
6Correspondence, March 1863
Correspondence, March 2, 1863
Correspondence, March 4, 1863
Correspondence, March 10, 1863
Correspondence, March 14, 1863
Correspondence, March 16, 1863
Correspondence, March 18, 1863
Correspondence, March 20, 1863
Correspondence, March 27, 1863
Correspondence, March 31, 1863
 
7Correspondence, April 1863
Correspondence, April 15, 1863
Correspondence, April 16, 1863
Correspondence, April 17, 1863
Correspondence, April 18, 1863
Correspondence, April 23, 1863
Leave of Absence Form, April 28, 1863
 
8Correspondence, June 1863
Correspondence, June 4, 1863
Correspondence, June 6, 1863
Correspondence, June 10, 1863
Correspondence, June 13, 1863
Correspondence, June 17, 1863
Correspondence, June 18, 1863
Correspondence, June 24, 1863
Correspondence, June 27, 1863
Correspondence, June 28, 1863
Correspondence, June 30, 1863
 
9Correspondence, July 1863
Correspondence, July 1, 1863
Correspondence, July 4, 1863
Statistics from Battle, July 4, 1863
Correspondence, July 5 1863
Correspondence, July 10, 1863
includes hand drawn map
Correspondence, July 14, 1863
Correspondence, July 19, 1863
Correspondence, July 21, 1863
Correspondence, July 23, 1863
Correspondence, July 25, 1863
Correspondence, July 26, 1863
 
BoxFolder
21Correspondence, 1864
Correspondence, March 20, 1864
Newspaper Clipping, March 21, 1864
Correspondence, March 22, 1864
Correspondence, March 30, 1864
Correspondence, April 13, 1864
Correspondence, April 22, 1864
Correspondence, May 1, 1864
Correspondence, May 12, 1864
Correspondence, May 14, 1864
Correspondence, May 15, 1864
Correspondence, May 18, 1864
Correspondence, May 22, 1864
Correspondence, June 3, 1864
Correspondence, June 5, 1864
Correspondence, June 12, 1864
Correspondence, August 18, 1864
 
2Correspondence, 1865-1870
Correspondence, June 23, 1865
Correspondence, June 28, 1865
Correspondence, December 5, 1865
Correspondence, September 29, 1865
Correspondence, April 12, 1865
Correspondence, March 2, 1870
Correspondence Undated and Fragments
Correspondence, undated (Twenty letters, mostly from wartime years)
Hand drawn map of Fort Pickering, Yazoo River--Tallahatchie River--Tallabusha? River Area
Fragments
Envelopes
Envelopes One-hundred thirty-four envelopes removed from letters, many of them dated and virtually all retaining the stamp(s).
Miscellaneous Items: Photographs of John and Louise (in cases), hair--presumably that of Louise, a "last rose of summer", Confederate money--Bill of Missouri