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Collection Number: 03115-z

Collection Title: Henry E. Simmons Letters, 1854-1865

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.


This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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Size 86 items
Abstract Soldier and educator of Providence, R.I. Chiefly letters to his wife from Henry E. Simmons while he was serving as a sergeant in the 11th Rhode Island regiment, U.S. Army, chiefly in the area around Washington, D.C., and in eastern Virginia, 1862-1863. Letters particularly emphasize Simmons's personal religious efforts among the soldiers and his observations of blacks and black laborers employed by the army. Also included are three letters, late 1865, from Simmons while he was principal of a freedmen's school at Arlington, Va., discussing affairs at the school and other matters.
Creator Simmons, Henry E., fl. 1862-1865.
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 Henry E. Simmons Letters #3115-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from W. H. Lowdermilk & Co. in March 1955.
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.

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Letters, 1862-1863, from Henry E. Simmons, corporal and later sergeant in charge of muster rolls and payrolls (company clerk) for Company I, 11th Rhode Island Volunteers, U.S. Army, to his wife, Anna, while he was in the army. Simmons was stationed in Virginia from October 1862 to July 1863, in the neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and later near Suffolk and Norfolk, Va., and Yorktown. Simmons and his wife apparently lived in Providence, R.I., before the war, but many of his letters to her are addressed to Westfield, Mass., where she stayed with her family during his absence.

Much of Simmons's duty seems to have consisted of remaining in camp on the edge of battle situations and being on hand to guard strategic locations. His letters include long, detailed accounts of his days, listing everything he did from the time he got up in the morning. He told Anna about his clothes and food, and compliments and commendations he received for his work. He was particularly careful to keep her informed about his health. Simmons also reported all services and prayer meetings among the soldiers that he attended or heard about and also told of his aspirations in the field of personal evangelism.

In addition to his comments on his army life, he often discussed his wife's arrangements at home, including his disapproval of her decision to return to her job at Tinkham & Co. He also discussed the affairs of her sisters. Most of these letters, however, relate to his own work in the Congregational Church's Sunday School.

The five items from 1854 are short writings of Hal Simmons. The three letters of October 1865 were written from the School for Freedmen, organized by the American Tract Society, Freedmen's Village, Greene Heights, Arlington, Va., where Simmons was principal, while Anna was away. Simmons wrote about the happenings at the school, household arrangements, and teachers' illnesses. There is also one letter to Anna from her sister, Addie, who was employed at the same school.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Suzanne Ruffing, August 1996

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, January 2010

This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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