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Monday - Friday:
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Other times by appointment

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The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-4483
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The Papers of Captain Samuel J. Major

Scope and Contents - Access - Container List

Historical Sketch

The Union Army during the Civil War was essentially a volunteer army. To become an Officer of Volunteers, one only needed to raise a company. Often prominent and wealthy citizens used their money and influence to sign up a hundred men or so to make up their company. At the beginning of the war, this was fairly easy to do, as the enthusiasm for fighting for the Union was high.

The Union Army of the Potomac was itself a largely volunteer army. In August of 1861 the Union Army of the Potomac formed by merging commands in Washington, Northern Virginia, and the Shenandoah. In Virginia, the primary battles took place between the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of the Potomac (later renamed the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862). The two forces fought at the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Seven Days, The Wilderness, Bull Run, and Gettysburg. The Union Army of the Potomac was led during these times by such generals, as George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, and George G. Meade.

Born in 1815, William Henry French was a veteran of the Mexican wars. He was appointed a Major General during the Civil War in November 1862. He commanded troops at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Manassas Gap, Auburn, Kelly's Ford, Brandy Station, and in the Mine Run operation. Meade considered French personally responsible for the failure at Mine Run. When the Army of the Potomac reorganized that winter, French was displaced and saw no further field service. He continued in the regular army until 1880 when he retired as Colonel 4th Artillery. He died in 1881.

Scope and Contents

The material in this collection is dated from 1861 to 1865, and centers primarily on General William French and the activities of the Union Army of the Potomac in November and December 1863. The material consists mainly of correspondence and orders to the Union Army of the Potomac.

Provenance

Gift of Mary E. Jonitz Major. January 28, 1980. Accession # A80-1.

Access

Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.

Size

One hollinger documents case.

Container List

Folder 1: Letter of Appointment of B. General William H. French, September 28, 1861.

Folder 2A: Orders and Dispatches During the Operations of the Left Wing Army of the
Potomac Between Nov. 6 and 9, 1863 Cover

Folder 2B: Orders and Dispatches During the Operations of the Left Wing Army of the
Potomac Between Nov. 6 and 9, 1863

Folder 3: Copy of Order Issued by Abraham Lincoln, November 10, 1863

Folder 4: List of Confederate Prisoners, December 3, 1863

Folder 5: General Henry Prince's Operations Report, December 6, 1863

Folder 6: Letter from John W. Horn, Colonel 6 Rgt Maryland to Gen. French,
March 27, 1864

Folder 7: Correspondence: Charles H.T. Collis to General French, July 8, 1864

Folder 8: Correspondence: Charles H.T. Collis to General French, July 9, 1865

Revised: 7/14/08