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Collection Number: 04403

Collection Title: Julius Frederic Ramsdell Papers, 1864-1869; 1910-1911

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.


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Size 40 items
Abstract A diary, letters, and other material of Julius Frederic Ramsdell, member of the 39th Massachusetts Regiment, from Woburn, Mass. Letters from Ramsdell to members of his family and the diary that he kept while in Virginia during the war constitute the bulk of these papers. The letters and diary discuss fellow soldiers; marches; drills; fighting, especially the Battle of Globe Tavern, Va., August 1864 (Battle of Weldon Railroad); Ramsdell's imprisonment at Belle Isle Prison, Richmond, Va., August and September 1864; Southern dialect; the friendliness with which Union soldiers were treated; blacks; and other matters.
Creator Ramsdell, Julius Frederic, 1845-1910.
Language English
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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 Julius Frederic Ramsdell Papers #4403, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Typed transcription of diary available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Edith (Mrs. Johnston) Bird of York, Maine, in November 1984.
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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Julius Frederic Ramsdell was born 29 October 1845 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Estranged from his father at an early age, Ramsdell moved to Woburn, Massachusetts, to live with his aunt and uncle, Lydia and Charles Choate.

In December 1863, at the age of nineteen, Ramsdell enlisted as a private in K Company, 39th Regiment of the Massachusetts Infantry. He served in eastern Virginia until August 1864 when he was taken prisoner by the Confederate Army after the battle of Weldon Railroad. He was a prisoner at Belle Isle in Richmond until he was paroled and exchanged in October 1864. After time in a hospital at Annapolis, Maryland, and a brief furlough at home, Ramsdell returned to eastern Virginia where he served until the end of the war.

After his discharge from the army in June 1865, Ramsdell returned to Woburn and resumed an apprenticeship in the leather trade that he apparently had begun before he entered the army. He remained in the leather business for a number of years, managing his own factory until it merged with another company. He also served at various times as an officer in three local banks.

When Ramsdell died in early October 1910 he was survived by his wife, S. Elmira Ramsdell, and three daughters.

For further information, see the photocopy of Ramsdell's obituary in folder 8 of these papers.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

A diary, letters, and other material of Julius Frederic Ramsdell, member of the 39th Massachusetts Regiment, from Woburn, Mass. Letters from Ramsdell to members of his family and the diary that he kept while in Virginia during the war constitute the bulk of these papers. The letters and diary discuss fellow soldiers; marches; drills; fighting, especially the Battle of Globe Tavern, Va., August 1864 (Battle of Weldon Railroad); Ramsdell's imprisonment at Belle Isle Prison, Richmond, Va., August and September 1864; Southern dialect; the friendliness with which Union soldiers were treated; blacks; and other matters.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1864-1865.

Approximately 30 items.

Letters from Ramsdell to members of his family in Woburn, Massachusetts, particularly his aunt, Lydia Choate. Ramsdell's correspondence primarily concerns such topics as friends and fellow soldiers, personal health, the weather, such military news as he was allowed to mention, and his duties in camp or at a military hospital where he convalesced in May and June 1864. He did not write of his experiences in the Confederate prisons, Libby (22-23 August 1864) and Belle Isle (23 August - October 1864), in great detail, except to hint at the tremendous hardship of his weeks in Richmond (19 October 1864).

Folder 1

January-May 1864 #04403, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1865." Folder 1

Folder 2

June-December 1864 #04403, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1865." Folder 2

Folder 3

1865 #04403, Series: "1. Correspondence, 1864-1865." Folder 3

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Diary, 1864-1865.

2 items.

The original of the diary Ramsdell kept during his military service, and a photocopy of a typed transcription of the diary. The transcription was presented to the Southern Historical Collection along with the original. The original diary consists of four sections: the first three contain entries for 1864; the last, a leather-bound volume, documents events to August, 1865, a point shortly after Ramsdell's discharge from the army.

Ramsdell wrote in his diary almost daily during his military service except for the period 14 September - 31 December 1864. Entries largely document military activities, including marches, drills, setting up camps and fortifications, guard duties, battles and skirmishes (particularly the battle of Weldon Railroad in mid-August 1864), his experience as a prisoner from 19 August to 14 September 1864, and news of fellow soldiers. Each entry also notes the weather and Ramsdell's health for the day. Occasionally Ramsdell commented on such topics as Southern dialect and vocabulary, high prices in the Confederacy, and the friendliness with which northern soldiers were treated by blacks.

Personal notes and accounts at the back of the 1865 section and a drawing of Ramsdell's camp (26 January 1864) are not included in the typed transcription.

Folder 4

January-May 1864 #04403, Series: "2. Diary, 1864-1865." Folder 4

Folder 5

June-22 August 1864 #04403, Series: "2. Diary, 1864-1865." Folder 5

Folder 6

22 August-14 September 1864 #04403, Series: "2. Diary, 1864-1865." Folder 6

Folder 7

Volume 1, 1865 #04403, Series: "2. Diary, 1864-1865." Folder 7

Folder 8

Volume 2: Typed transcription (photocopy) of the material in folders 4-6 and volume 1 #04403, Series: "2. Diary, 1864-1865." Folder 8

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, circa 1865, 1910.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Material, 1865-1911.

6 items.

Documents relating to Ramsdell's military service, including a 24-hour pass, his discharge certificate, and his widow's pension certificate (1911). Also included are a ticket to a National Peace Jubilee (1869), an obituary of Ramsdell, and the New Testament which he kept with him during the war.

Folder 9

Other material, 1910 #04403, Series: "4. Other Material, 1865-1911." Folder 9

Folder 10

Other material, 1865-1911 #04403, Series: "4. Other Material, 1865-1911." Folder 10

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Processing Information

Processed by: Linda Mackie Griggs, December 1984

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010

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