Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Joseph W. Collingwood Papers: Finding Aid
mssHM 60852-60924  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (130.90 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Joseph W. Collingwood Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1784-1904
    Bulk dates: 1861-1862
    Collection Number: mssHM 60852-60924
    Creator: Collingwood, Joseph W., 1822-1862.
    Extent: 333 items in 5 boxes and 1 folder
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection chiefly contains detailed letters written by Lieutenant Joseph W. Collingwood (1821-1862) of the 18th Infantry regiment of Massachusetts to his wife in 1861-1862 during the American Civil War and covering various aspects of the campaigns, battles, and camp life. The collection also includes records of Company B, 3rd Regiment of Light Infantry of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia and some papers of the Collingwood family.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Joseph W. Collingwood Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of William C. Johnston in 1994.

    Biographical Note

    Joseph W. Collingwood (1821-1862), second son of William and Eleanor Harlow Collingwood, was born in 1821 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Plymouth. In 1840-1850s, Joseph W. Collingwood owned a fish market and occasionally went out with a fishing fleet to New Foundland. In September 1848, he became engaged to Rebecca W. Richardson, a teacher of the Boston Female Asylum. A short marriage notice in The England Washingtonian, the organ of Sons of Temperance, reported that the couple was married at the Female Orphan Asylum, Boston, on October 12, by the Rev. F. D. Huntington.
    Both Joseph and Rebecca were active in charitable works and temperance and abolitionist movement. Their son Herbert Winslow recalled that "I had for my chief playmates... two colored boys - the children of a fugitive slave, who had been captured in Plymouth just as he was to step aboard a fishing boat, bound for Canada. Rather than let him go back to Slavery the town people raised a fund and bought him from his southern owner. They then set him free. He sent back South for his wife, who was a slave, and they lived in Plymouth, held as an object lesson during the Lincoln campaign." Joseph W. Collingwood was also an active member of the Standish Guards, Plymouth Home Guards established to for the purpose of quelling riots, tumults and invasions and not to be sent out of state. According to Collingwood, the Guards had been established primarily for fear of Nativist riots similar to one four years ago in Filadelfia (sic!). Later he was an officer of the 3rd Regiment of Light Infantry of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, company B.
    On Aug. 21, 1861, Joseph W. Collingwood was commissioned Lieut. of the Company H of the 18th Infantry regiment of Massachusetts. His regiment was first attached to Fort Corcoran, the defenses of Washington, and then to the Army of the Potomac. Until March, 1862, the regiment remained in camp at Hall's Hill, Va., and then took part in the Peninsular Campaign, 2nd Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg campaigns. After Antietam, Collingwood was detailed as Provost Marshall to Keedysville, Md. He then joined the regiment in its movement to Falmouth and Fredericksburg, Va. Collingwood was mortally wounded in the Battle of Fredericksburg, and died of wounds on December 24, 1862. He was buried in Plymouth, next to his brothers, John B. and Thomas, who served in the 29th Infantry Regiment and also perished in the Civil War.
    Collingwood, Herbert Winslow, My Autobiography, Bulletin 6 Department of Agricultural Journalism. College of Agriculture. University of Wisconsin Madison (1935).
    Joseph Collingwood's daughter, Eleanor Wyman Collingwood accompanied Benjamin Apthrop Gould (1824-1896) and his family during his work at the national observatory in Cordoba, Argentina in 1870-1874. In 1878 she was a teacher at Hampton Institute founded by Samuel Chapman Armstrong. His son Charles Barnard Collingwood (1860-1937) married Harriet Thomas; he was a circuit judge in East Lansing, Michigan. His other son Herbert Winslow became a prominent agricultural journalist and the editor of the Rural New Yorker.

    Scope and Content

    Letters, chiefly 1861-1862, from Joseph W. Collingwood to his wife Rebecca. Most letters were written over two or three days. The remarkably detailed and candid letters cover various aspects of the campaigns and battles Peninsular Campaign (March-July, 1862): the siege of Yorktown, battle of Hanover Court House, Seven Days Battles (June 25-July 1), operations around White House Landing (June 26-July 2); 2nd Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Sheperdstown Ford, and the Fredericksburg Campaign. His letters provide detailed accounts of camp life of a Civil War soldier payments, uniforms, rations, foraging and procurement, diseases, firearms, drills and inspections, picket duty; roads, recreations, hospitals, and medical care. Collingwood also at length discussed lady nurses and surgeons; Confederate prisoners; socializing with Confederate soldiers; encounters with Confederates and Unionists of Virginia and Maryland, and recounted news from other regiments, especially 29th and 32nd Massachusetts.
    Collingwood, an avid admirer of George B. McClellan, filled his letters with discussion of commanders McClellan, Martindale, Barnes, Porter, Pope, and others, together with quite emotional reaction to the dismissal of McClellan and Porter, as well as news of the officers of Massachusetts regiments, including the scandalous, reputation of Ebenezer W. Peirce of 29th Mass. Of special importance is his take on political news and home front: abolitionism, congressional elections of 1862, charity works and recruitment in Massachusetts.
    The collection also includes records (general, brigade, division, regiment and company orders, rolls, and correspondence) of Company B, 3rd Regiment of Light Infantry of Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. Most letters and orders are addressed to Sylvanus H. Churchill.
    The collection contains letters from Rebecca Collingwood to Ann C. Wheeler, her Boston friend, and a few items documenting Mrs. Collingwood's teaching in the Boston Female Asylum, correspondence of Eleanor Wyman Collingwood with her friends and family, including her letters written from Cordoba, Argentina, and Hampton Institute.
    Ephemera consist of photographs of the Civil War era by Matthew Brady and R.W. Addis, including snapshots of various members of the 18th Massachusetts, family pictures, miscellaneous printed orders relating to Company B of 3rd Regiment of Massachusetts Militia, an issue of New England Washingtonian. Organ of Sons of Temperance (Boston, Mass.), copies of the Old Colony Memorial (Plymouth, Mass.), newspaper clippings, Masonic documents of Charles B. Collingwood, and miscellaneous post cards and envelopes of the Civil War era.


    The collection is arranged in the following series:

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Collingwood, Eleanor W., active 1861-1878 -- Correspondence.
    Collingwood, Herbert W. (Herbert Winslow), 1857-1927 -- Correspondence.
    Collingwood, Charles Barnard, 1860-1937 -- Correspondence.
    Gould, Benjamin Apthorp, 1824-1896.
    Boston Female Asylum.
    Massachusetts. Militia. 3rd Regiment.
    Standish Guards (Plymouth, Mass.)
    United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 18th (1861-1864)
    United States. Army -- Military life -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Hampton University.
    Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    African Americans -- Social conditions -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Peninsular Campaign, 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    Fair Oaks, Battle of, Va., 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    Malvern Hill, Battle of, Va., 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    Bull Run, Battle of, 2nd, 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862 -- Personal narratives.
    Unionists -- Maryland.
    Unionists -- Virginia.
    Soldiers -- United States -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Correspondence.
    Massachusetts -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
    Argentina -- Description and travel.
    Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
    Maryland -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
    Washington (D.C.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.


    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century.
    Family papers -- United States -- 19th century.
    Military records -- United States -- 19th century.

    Alternate Authors

    Collingwood, Rebecca W. Richardson.
    Collingwood Eleanor W., active 1861-1878.
    Collingwood, Herbert W. (Herbert Winslow), 1857-1927.