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Collection Number: 04440

Collection Title: Ira Russell Papers, 1861-1865

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 FAQ section for more information.


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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 31 items)
Abstract Ira Russell, physician of Massachusetts, who served in the Union Army as a surgeon during the Civil War, first as administrator of hospitals in northwest Arkansas, then as surgeon-in-charge of the hospital complex at Benton Barracks near St. Louis, Mo., which could serve between 2,000 and 3,000 patients at one time. Papers chiefly relating to Ira Russell's service at Benton Barracks, Mo., including orders and military and personal correspondence. Most of the orders were recorded in an 84-page volume that covers operations at the hospital in 1864. Many of the letters, 1861-1865, relate to the running of the hospital at Benton Barracks. In some of them, Russell discussed the condition of African-American troops who were stationed at Benton Barracks and employed at the hospital. After March 1864, one of the hospitals at Benton Barracks was designated as a facility "for Colored troops only." There are also a few letters of Ira's son, Fred W. Russell, who, in one letter, discussed the progress of the war in Missouri and Arkansas. There is also a four-page journal Fred Russell kept of his sightings of meteors in Massachusetts in 1863.
Creator Russell, Ira, fl. 1861-1865.
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 Ira Russell Papers #4440, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from Charles Afplebaum of Valley Stream, N.Y., in March 1986.
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

Major Ira Russell, a Massachusetts doctor, served in the Union Army as a surgeon during the Civil War. Russell at first held the post of administrator of hospitals in northwest Arkansas. In February, 1863, he was transferred to Benton Barracks near St. Louis, Mo., where he worked as surgeon-in-charge of the hospital there. He held this post until late 1864, when he was apparently reassigned. Russell's two son, Edwin and Fred, accompanied him to Missouri, but, after a short time, they apparently returned to Massachusetts.

Benton Barracks, Mo., was a Union military complex established in 1861 as a training camp and depot for Federal troops in the mid-west. The facility, located on the outskirts of St. Louis, could accommodate 30,000 soldiers and contained a mile of barracks, warehouses, cavalry stables, parade grounds, and a large military hospital. The hospital itself could, according to Russell, serve 2,000 to 3,000 patients.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Papers in the collection chiefly relate to Ira Russell's service at Benton Barracks, Mo., including orders and military and personal correspondence. Most of the orders were recorded in an 84-page volume that covers operations at the hospital in 1864. Many of the letters, 1861-1865, relate to the running of the hospital at Benton Barracks. In some of them, Russell discussed the condition of African-American troops who were stationed at Benton Barracks and employed at the hospital. There are also two letters of Ira's son, Fred W. Russell, who, in one letter, discussed the progress of the war in Missouri and Arkansas. There is also a four-page journal Fred Russell kept of his sightings of meteors in Massachusetts in 1863.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Personal Correspondence, 1861-1865.

7 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence of Ira Russell and a few letters of his son, Fred W. Russell. The earliest letter is addressed to Professor A. C. Twinning and contains a record of meteors sighted by Fred in Massachusetts. Most of the letters date from 1862 through 1865 and discuss conditions at the Benton Barracks hospital. One of the letters is from Fred, who described his war experiences in Arkansas and Missouri.

Folder 1

Personal correspondence, 1861-1865 #04440, Series: "1. Personal Correspondence, 1861-1865." Folder 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Military Papers, 1863-1865.

25 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Orders, inventories, military correspondence, and a volume containing copies of orders. The bulk of these papers relate to the hospital administration. Among the topics covered are the dispersal of the property of deceased soldiers; pay of hospital personnel, including African-Americans employed at Benton Barracks; hospital and barrack inspections; epidemics; arming of hospital personnel; and, on 12 March 1864, the designation of the General Hospital at Benton Barracks as "for Colored troops only."

Folder 2-3

Folder 2

Folder 3

Papers #04440, Series: "2. Military Papers, 1863-1865." Folder 2-3

Folder 4

Volume #04440, Series: "2. Military Papers, 1863-1865." Folder 4

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Other Papers, 1863 and undated.

6 items.

Fred W. Russell's "Observations on Shooting Stars," 4 pages, describing his sightings of meteors in Massachusetts in September and October 1863, and notes about his observations.

Folder 5

Other papers, 1863 and undated #04440, Series: "3. Other Papers, 1863 and undated." Folder 5

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Processing Information

Processed by: John Beam, April 1985; Roslyn Holdzkom, May 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

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