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Civil War Correspondence
This material primarily consists of incoming correspondence from officers of the various Maine units, addressed to either the Adjutant General of Maine or the three Governors who held office during the Civil War. While much of it deals with the mechanical routines of running a regiment, the material can give researchers a unique insight into how the volunteer regiments worked - or in some cases, failed to work. Often beset by regimental politics as well as civilian political interests, most of these units nevertheless matured into formidable fighting forces in the end. The material is organized chronologically, regiment by regiment.
The Civil War placed an unprecedented burden on municipal officials, who were responsible for meeting Federal and State quotas of volunteers from their respective cities and towns; for establishing and paying out bounties to encourage enlistment; and for ensuring that the qualified dependant families of volunteers received "State Aid," financial assistance mandated by the State. This generated no end of confusion, bewilderment and aggravation which all had to be sorted out by the Adjutant General. This collection contains letters from parents or wives describing their hardships; letters from family members desperate to find out what has happened to their son or brother; letters from people concerned about Confederate Naval activity offshore or "spies" along the Canadian border. The War also intensified the normal frictions that always exist amongst neighbors and townsfolk. The material is organized alphabetically by town and chronologically within each community's folder or box.
Among the most important groups is the correspondence of the relief agencies. These letters, generated by the male and female agents of the Maine Soldier's Relief Agency, often give vivid descriptions of conditions in the field, particularly after Antietam and Gettysburg. There are also some letters from agents of the U.S. Sanitary Commission and the U.S. Christian Commission. Another major series of letters emanates from a group of individuals we have temporarily labelled "Important People Who Were Everywhere." Throughout the war, the Adjutant General and the Governors employed special agents to investigate and report on specific problems or conditions. For instance, after Antietam, General McClellan granted wholesale furloughs to weary participants who took themselves home immediately. The Army had a dreadful time getting them back. Eventually, in Maine, agents were sent through each county to find these men, determine whether they were able to go back, and send them on their way. At other times agents were sent as far afield as Florida to check on conditions among Maine troops. Also, within this category is correspondence from the numerous branches of the U.S. War Department and from the Executive Department, and various commands of the U.S. Army. The material is arranged chronologically within each series or subheading. A very large series of letters comes from the numerous suppliers of every conceivable type of material from tin cups to silk flags. This material provides extremely useful economic information, containing evidence of who was manufacturing what and where. It is filed chronologically by State and then individually by city within the State.
List representing a summary of Chamberlain-related correspondence.
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