Scope and Content
Title: Sparks family papers
Dates: bulk 1861-1864
Collection Number: mssHM 60739-60822
Creator OR Collector:
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Abstract: Correspondence and documents of the Sparks and Reed families.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the
Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material,
nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and
obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
[Identification of item], Sparks family papers, The Huntington Library, San
Purchased from Butterfield & Butterfield, May 1999.
The Sparks family of Bell County, Texas, was founded by William C. Sparks, a native of Mississippi. Having obtained a grant
of land from the Mexican government, he settled in Robertson county and moved to Bell County in the early 1850s. He married
Jane Alexander (d. 1867), a native of Arkansas. They had six children: Clara Jane (who married Volney Cavitt and lived in
Wheelock, Robertson County), John, Elijah (private of Co. I of the 17th Texas Infantry, who died of pneumonia in camp in Dec.
1862), William C. (private of Co. E of 2nd Texas), Minerva (wife of Michael Reed), and Samuel A. (who ended the Civil War
with the rank of the Lieutenant, and later was a farmer in Wilkinson Valley and sheriff of the Bell County).
Michael R. Reed, son of John R. Reed and husband of Minerva Sparks, joined the 17th Regiment of the Texas Infantry in June
1862, together with his brothers, Henry and Edmund, and his brother-in-law, Elijah. The regiment, part of Walker's Texas Division,
McCulloch's Brigade, took part in the Red River Campaign. In Dec. 1862, Michael Reed was a male nurse at a hospital in Austin,
Arkansas. In June-July 1863, he was sent to a convalescent camp four miles north of Monroe, Louisiana. In Dec. 1863 he went
home on furlough. In March, when he returned to camp, he was arrested and was about to be court-martialed. He died of wounds
in July, 1864 near Alexandria, La.
William Sparks, brother of Minerva Sparks Reed, joined the 2nd Texas Infantry, nicknamed "2nd Texas Sharpshooters." The regiment,
one of the best drilled regiments in the Confederate Army, took part in the battle of Shiloh, Farmington, occupation of Juka,
siege of Corinth, and siege of Vicksburg. It surrendered with the remainder of the Vicksburg garrison on July 4, 1863. After
the surrender of Vicksburg, William Sparks made it back to Texas. The regiment was reorganized at Houston in the fall 1863,
and served on the coast of Texas to the end of the war.
The collection is arranged chronologically. It is housed in two boxes.
Scope and Content
Letters from Michael R. Reed, William Sparks, and Clara Jane Cavitt to Minerva Sparks Reed; also documents relating to the
Michael Reed's letters describe the regiment's march through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, the minutia of camp life, and
encounters with Union prisoners. He at length discusses conscription, substitutes, and desertions, and duly reported war news,
often rather distorted (thus he reported rumors of a complete Confederate victory at Gettysburg and Vicksburg).
William Sparks' letters were written during the siege of Vicksburg and blockade of Galveston. They contain information about
camp life, diseases, (especially the outbreak of yellow fever), conscripts, Methodist preaching in Galveston, war news, and
discussion of Confederate politics.
The letters of Clara Jane Cavitt and other papers of the Sparks family document life in Texas in 1850-1860s, including charity
and war efforts, reaction to the conscript law of April 1862, and discussion of war news.
Typewritten transcripts are available.
Cavitt, Clara Jane Sparks
Reed, Michael R.
Reed, Minerva Sparks
Sparks, William C.
Confederate States of America. Army -- Military life -- Sources
Confederate States of America. Army. Texas Infantry Regiment, 2nd
Confederate States of America. Army. Texas Infantry Regiment, 17th
Red River Expedition, 1864 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
Soldiers -- Southern States -- Correspondence
Galveston (Tex.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
Texas -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories -- Sources
Texas -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
Vicksburg (Miss.) -- History -- Siege, 1863 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
Family papers -- Texas -- 19th century
Letters (correspondence) -- Confederate States of America