unc logo

Collection Number: 05198

Collection Title: J. Smith DuShane Letters, 1860-1862

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.


Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the microfilming of this collection.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 24 items
Abstract Schoolteacher, lawyer, and Union Army soldier J. Smith DuShane was born in New Castle, Lawrence County, Pa. DuShane enlisted on 31 August 1861 as a sergeant in Company K of the 100th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Most of his war career, 1861-1862, was spent in coastal South Carolina and Virginia. After being wounded in the shoulder at Second Manassas (Bull Run), 29 August 1862, DuShane was discharged from the army. He then returned to New Castle and married schoolteacher Adela McMillan (b. 1841). In September 1864, DuShane was admitted to the bar in Lawrence County, where he eventually served one term as district attorney. He had been a schoolteacher before the war and was again listed as such in the 1880 census. The collection consists of letters written from DuShane to his future wife Adela and one undated fragment of a letter to his parents. In the latter half of 1861, DuShane wrote from Annapolis, Md., and Hilton Head, S.C., with descriptions of his surroundings, a storm at sea while en route to South Carolina, and the November Port Royal Expedition. The bulk of the letters were written in 1862 and include accounts of various operations in the Hilton Head and Beaufort, S.C., area; the commandeering of the Confederate steamship Planter by its slave pilot; his teaching philosophy, the defiant character of the residents of Fredericksburg, Va.; and fellow soldiers' retaliation against the so-called "land shark" peddlers who followed the regiment through Virginia. As the relationship between DuShane and McMillan grew, he wrote at length of his love for her. DuShane also recounted, in a feeble hand, the events leading to his being wounded at Second Manassas. Undated items include two separate descriptions of the Union defeat, 16 June 1862, at the Battle of Secessionville, James Island, S.C., an event that greatly affected DuShane.
Creator DuShane, J. Smith, 1838-1922.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
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 J. Smith DuShane Letters #5198-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Historical Collectible Auctions of Graham, N.C., in February 2005 (Acc. 100008).
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.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Related Collections

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

J. Smith DuShane was born in New Castle, Lawrence County, Pa., on 19 September 1838. He worked as a teacher before enlisting on 31 August 1861 as a sergeant in Company K of the 100th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, known as the "Roundheads." From November 1861 to July 1862, DuShane was stationed in South Carolina, spending most of his time there in the towns of Beaufort and Hilton Head. On 16 June 1862, he participated in the Battle of Secessionville, James Island, S.C. Shortly thereafter, his unit was shipped to Virginia, moving inland and northward by way of Newport News and Fredericksburg. On 29 August 1862, DuShane was wounded in the shoulder at Second Manassas (Bull Run), ultimately resulting in his discharge from the army later that year. He returned to New Castle and married schoolteacher Adela McMillan (b. 1841), a longtime friend with whom he had corresponded throughout his time in the army. They are known to have had at least two children, daughter Birdie (b. 1866) and son Clair (b. 1868). In September 1864, J. Smith DuShane was admitted to the bar in Lawrence County, where he eventually served one term as district attorney. By the 1880 census, he was again listed as a schoolteacher. In 1898, DuShane was president of the Roundhead Society, a group of 100th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment veterans. He died in New Castle on 26 April 1922.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists of letters written during the Civil War by J. Smith DuShane to his future wife, Adela McMillan, and one undated letter fragment from DuShane to his parents. Adela's letters to DuShane were apparently destroyed at her request. The changing relationship between the two is reflected in the varying terms he used to address her, from "cousin" and "sister," to "friend" and finally "May," his personal nickname for her. He often signed his own name as "Pat." As time went on, DuShane began to write at length of his love for McMillan. The first letter, 6 May 1860, was written before DuShane's wartime entry into the army. In 1861, then a sergeant in the 100th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, DuShane wrote from Annapolis, Md., and Hilton Head, S.C., with descriptions of his surroundings, a storm at sea while en route to South Carolina, and the November Port Royal Expedition, which resulted in the Union capture of Fort Walker and Fort Beauregard. Most of the letters were written in 1862 and include accounts of various operations in the Hilton Head and Beaufort, S.C., area; the commandeering of the Confederate steamship  Planter by its slave pilot; and fellow soldiers' retaliation against the so-called "land shark" peddlers who followed the regiment through Virginia. Other topics include his teaching philosophy and the defiant character of the residents of Fredericksburg, Va. DuShane also recounted, in a feeble hand, the events leading to his being wounded at the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), 29 August 1862. A pair of letters, dated 7 July and 9 July 1862, appear to have been written that August. Undated items include two separate descriptions of the Union defeat, 16 June 1862, at the Battle of Secessionville, James Island, S.C., an event that greatly affected DuShane.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Letters, 1860-1862 and undated.

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Jessica Tyree, March 2005

Encoded by: Jessica Tyree, March 2005

Revisions: Finding aid updated in June 2005 by Nancy Kaiser.

Funding from the Watson-Brown Foundation, Inc., supported the microfilming of this collection.

Back to Top