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Collection Number: 05060-z

Collection Title: Joseph S. Reynolds Papers, 1860-1865

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 section for more information.


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

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Size 50 items
Abstract Joseph S. Reynolds was a Chicago high school graduate who enlisted in the Union Army at age 23 in October 1861. He was an officer of the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and the Yates Sharpshooters, taking part in 17 battles, including Sherman's March to the Sea. He was mustered out on 16 July 1865. The collection consists chiefly of letters written by Joseph S. Reynolds to his family in Illinois during his Civil War service. Most letters are addressed to his siblings. They chronicle the movements of the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and the Yates Sharpshooters from the battle of New Madrid, Mo., to camps and battles in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. They provide details about troop movements, military life, Reynolds's health, and the countryside. On occasion, Reynolds mentioned African Americans in stereotypical ways. In an 1862 letter, he explained why the accounts of troop actions in Chicago newspapers were often wrong. On 10 November 1864, Reynolds wrote about Sherman's March to the Sea, and, on 26 April 1865, he discussed the meeting of generals William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnson and his belief that Confederate leaders should be punished and not pardoned. Also included are three letters to Reynolds, 1860-1861, two of which are about the difficulty of raising a military company; an ambrotype of Reynolds and photographic copy; and an unused gutta-percha case.
Creator Reynolds, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1839-1911.
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 Joseph S. Reynolds Papers #5060-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy (filmed May 2005) available.
  • Reel 1: Entire collection
Alternate Form of Material
Typed transcriptions, as received from donor, are provided.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Marie Weiden of Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2001 (Acc. 98974).
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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Joseph Smith Reynolds was born in New Lenox, Ill., on 3 December 1839. He enlisted in the Union Army on 19 October 1861 and was commissioned second lieutenant on 31 December 1861. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 9 April 1862, captain on 24 November 1863, major on 9 April 1865, and lieutenant colonel on 21 May 1865. Reynolds was in active service for nearly four years. With the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and the Yates Sharpshooters, he fought in 17 Civil War battles, was wounded three times, and took part in Sherman's March to the Sea. On 16 July 1865, he was mustered out.

After the war, Reynolds took a law degree from the University of Chicago and was admitted to the bar in 1866. He served in the Illinois state House of Representatives, 1867-1869, and in the state Senate, 1872-1874. In 1874, he served on a commission to establish a state school for mentally retarded children. On 31 January 1877, he married Mattie A. Gray, who died in 1890. When Reynolds died in 1911, he was living in Pasadena, Calif.

(Note derived from appraisal letters of John Sharpe, CPRM, Inc. See also Who was Who in America I, 1899-1900; Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography , v. 277; Mark Mayo Boatner III, The Civil War Dictionary, p. 695.)

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The collection is chiefly letters written by Joseph S. Reynolds to his family in Illinois during his service in the Civil War as a Union officer. Most letters are addressed to his sisters, Lottie, Hattie, and Sarah, or his brothers Charles, John, Willie, and Isaac. These letters cover four years, 1861-1865, and chronicle the movement of the 64th Illinois Infantry Regiment and Yates Sharpshooters from the battle of New Madrid, Mo.; to Camp Yates, Camp Big Springs, and Camp Clear Creek in Mississippi; to Pulaski, Tenn.; to Decatur, Ala.; to Dallas, Ga., and Marietta, Ga.; through Atlanta, Ga., to Savannah, Ga.; to Pocotaligo, S.C.; and finally to Raleigh, N.C. They provide details about troop movements, military life, Reynolds's health, and the countryside. On occasion, Reynolds mentioned African Americans in stereotypical ways. In an 1862 letter, he explained why the accounts of troop actions in Chicago, Ill., newspapers were often wrong. On 10 November 1864, Reynolds wrote about Sherman's March to the Sea, and, on 26 April 1865, he discussed the meeting of generals William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnson and his belief that Confederate leaders should be punished and not pardoned.

Also included are three letters to Reynolds, 1860-1861, two of which are about the difficulty of raising a military company; an ambrotype of Reynolds and photographic copy; and an unused gutta-percha case.

Typed transcriptions, as received from donor, are provided.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Kristin Soya, October 2001

Encoded by: Kristin Soya, October 2001

Updated by: Nancy Kaiser, May 2005; and Kathryn Michaelis, November 2009

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

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