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Collection Number: 02636

Collection Title: Berry Benson Papers, 1845; 1865-1922.

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; this finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

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Size 4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 2200 items)
Abstract Berry Benson (1843-1923) of Hamburg, S.C., was a Confederate army soldier in the 1st South Carolina Regiment. After the war he lived at Augusta, Ga., where he was a teacher, cotton trader, author, and inventor of a remunerative bookkeeping technique. The collection contains correspondence, writings, notes, Civil War diary and reminiscences, and other papers of Benson relating to his early life, family history, and Civil War career. Writings include fiction; poetry; plays; humor; and commentary related to the Civil War, including Benson's experiences at the battles of Fredericksburg, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Bull Run, Winchester, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness; his escape from Elmira Prison; manners and mores; and other subjects. Other papers relate to Benson's expertise in handwriting, codes, ciphers, mycology, and other matters. Also included are full diaries from 1880 and 1884 regarding his his travels in Mexico, Cuba, and Texas.
Creator Benson, Berry, 1843-1923.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Berry Benson Papers, #2636, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Charles G. Benson in 1943, and gift of Jennie and Olive Benson in 1944.
Additional Descriptive Resources
A copy of the original finding aid for this collection is filed in folder 1a.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Berry Benson (1843-1923) of Hamburg, S.C., was a Confederate army soldier and author. During the Civil War, Benson was in the 1st South Carolina Regiment, taking part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Bull Run, Winchester, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness, and escaped from the federal prison at Elmira, N.Y., by digging a tunnel. After the war he lived at Augusta, Ga., where he was a teacher, cotton trader, author, and inventor of a remunerative bookkeeping technique. Benson's Civil War experiences were published in Berry Benson's Civil War Book: Memoirs of a Conferate Scout and Sharpshooter, edited by Susan Williams Benson (1962). The book primarily comprises Benson's diary, memoirs, letters, and the diary of his brother.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, writings, notes, Civil War diary and reminiscences, and other papers of Berry Benson (1843-1923) relating to his early life, family history, and Civil War career. Writings include fiction; poetry; plays; humor; and commentary related to the Civil War, including Benson's experiences at the battles of Fredericksburg, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Bull Run, Winchester, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness; his escape from Elmira Prison; manners and mores; and other subjects. Other papers relate to Benson's expertise in handwriting, codes, ciphers, mycology, and other matters. Also included are full diaries from 1880 and 1884 regarding his his travels in Mexico, Cuba, and Texas.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated.

About 600 items.

Arrangement: Chronological.

Correspondence of Berry Benson. Topics include his experiences during the Civil War, his escape from Elmira Prison, travels, correspondence with publishing houses regarding his writings, codes and cryptograms, civic matters, and the adoption of war orphans in Europe.

Folder 1a

Original finding aid #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 1a

Folder 1

1845; 1863-1877 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 1

Folder 2

1878-1883 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 2

Folder 3

1884-1893 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 3

Folder 4

1894-1895 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 4

Folder 5

1896-1898 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 5

Folder 6

1899-1900 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 6

Folder 7

1901 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

1902 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 8

Folder 9

1903-1909 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

1910-1911 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11-13

Folder 11

Folder 12

Folder 13

1912 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 11-13

Folder 14-17

Folder 14

Folder 15

Folder 16

Folder 17

1913 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 14-17

Folder 18

1914 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 18

Folder 19

1915 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 19

Folder 20

1916-1917 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 20

Folder 21

1918-1919 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 21

Folder 22

1920 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 22

Folder 23

1921-1922 #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 23

Folder 24

Undated #02636, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1845-1922 and undated." Folder 24

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated.

About 1600 items.

Writings of Berry Benson, chiefly on the Civil War, includes manuscripts, stories, remininscences, notes, clippings, diaries, and his memoir.

Folder 25

"Little Joe" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 25

Folder 26

"The Flying Auto" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 26

Folder 27a

"Martha" and "Who Killed General Sedgwick?" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 27a

Folder 27b

"Sergent John Derrick" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 27b

Folder 28

"How I Lifted the Colonel's Mare" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 28

Folder 29-31

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

Miscellaneous manuscripts #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 29-31

Folder 32-34

Folder 32

Folder 33

Folder 34

Poems #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 32-34

Folder 35a-35e

Outlines, ideas, rough drafts, and fragments #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 35a-35e

Folder 36a-36c

Problems, puzzles and cyphers, codes #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 36a-36c

Folder 37-38

Folder 37

Folder 38

Clippings #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 37-38

Folder 39

"Escape" #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 39

Folder 40-51

Folder 40

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

Folder 45

Folder 46

Folder 47

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Miscellaneous writings #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 40-51

Folder 52-56

Folder 52

Folder 53

Folder 54

Folder 55

Folder 56

Volumes 1-5 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 52-56

1 March-29 May 1880: Benson's travel diaries and notes on trip to Mexico, the West Indies, and Havana.

Folder 57

Volume 6 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 57

March-April 1884: Diary and memoranda on trip to Mexico and Texas.

Folder 58

Volume 7 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 58

1884-1885: Benson's record of his manuscripts submitted for publication, and whether or not they were accepted. Incomplete.

Folder 59

Volume 8 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 59

1893: Scrapbook containing clippings of Benson's series "I and My Comrade" published in ten installments in the Augusta Chronicle from 13 August-26 November 1893.

Folder 60

Volume 9 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 60

1893-1894, 1897: Notes, drawings, and other studies on poisonous mushrooms.

Folder 61a

Volume 10 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 61a

1877: Benson's memoirs, handwritten. See also Transcription Volumes TV-2636/1-3

Transcription Volume TV-2636/1-3

TV-2636/1

TV-2636/2

TV-2636/3

Transcription Volumes of Berry Benson's memoirs #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." TV-2636/1-3

Folder 61b

Loose material probably from Volume 10 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 61b

Folder 62

Volume 11 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 62

Annotated copy of Elmira Prison Camp, by C.W. Holmes (1912).

Folder 63-64

Folder 63

Folder 64

Volumes 12-13 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 63-64

Typed Civil War reminiscences.

Folder 65

Volume 14 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 65

"Black Tom"

Folder 66-69

Folder 66

Folder 67

Folder 68

Folder 69

Volumes 15-18 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 66-69

Pocket notebooks with notes, poems, and other writings.

Folder 70

Volume 19 #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 70

Loose material mostly related to the Civil war, includes drawings and postcards.

Folder 71

#02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." Folder 71

See Special Format Images SF-P-2636/1-3

Special Format Image SF-P-2636/1

Glass negative: 1 November 1864, Provost Marshal's office pass #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." SF-P-2636/1

Special Format Image SF-P-2636/2

Glass negative: 28 October 1864, order #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." SF-P-2636/2

Special Format Image SF-P-2636/3

Glass negative: 30 October 1864, order #02636, Series: "2. Writings, 1880-1912 and undated." SF-P-2636/3

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Processing Information

Processed by: SHC Staff

Encoded by: Noah Huffman, December 2007

Updated by: Adam Fielding, Kate Stratton, and Jodi Berkowitz, November 2010

This collection was rehoused and a summary created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This finding aid was created with support from NC ECHO.

Diacritics and other special characters have been omitted from this finding aid to facilitate keyword searching in web browsers.

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