by Sean Mulligan
The Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives is excited to announce the recent acquisition of the papers of Davis Hosmer, a soldier of the American Civil War. Born on April 14, 1845, in Farmington, Massachusetts, Davis was a farmer who left his family in September 1862, to enlist in Company F of the 45th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. His regiment was deployed to New Bern, North Carolina, in the fall of 1862, and was engaged in several battles including the Battle of Kinston (December 12, 1862) and the Battle of White Hall (December 16, 1862).
This collection consists of approximately 50 pieces of correspondence from Davis to his family, as well as letters written to him from friends and family. The subjects of the letters convey the difficult realties that soldiers and their families faced during the war. There are often references of death, religion, and perceptions of the war, as well as discussions about everyday life in camp and at home. In one letter, Davis requests his parents mail him a box of food noting that “I can get all the hard tack I want but want something to eat with it.” Responding to his plea, they later mailed him a supply box with various food items to his camp in North Carolina. Other correspondence, including a letter from his sister-in-law Sarah Hosmer in 1862, focus on the conflict itself, with her “wish that war would end and peace reign throughout the land.”
Additionally, this collection contains a diary Davis kept that recounts his daily actions during his service. Tragically, Davis did not live to see the end of the War as he passed away in a New Bern hospital from typhoid fever on February 10, 1863. There are several letters written to Davis’s dad (Nathan Hosmer) that recount his death and the efforts to get his body shipped back home to Massachusetts. Davis’ commander, 2nd Lieutenant Theodore Hurd, commented in one letter, “how well and faithfully he has performed all his duties as a young soldier boy in the army of the Union.”
Since it ended in April 1865, the American Civil War has long been a topic of discussion and debate among researchers. Now at UNCG, students, faculty, and the public will have an opportunity to view first hand the thoughts and feelings of those who experienced it. While most of the letters have been well preserved, several items have been sent to the University Libraries’ Preservation Services Lab for minor repairs. The papers of Davis Hosmer should soon be available for researchers.