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Collection Number: 05422

Collection Title: Harrison Wells Papers, 1857-1869, 1905 (bulk 1862-1865)

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 30 items)
Abstract Harrison Wells of Zebulon, Ga., was a commissary sergeant with Company A, 13th Georgia Infantry Regiment, who served primarily in Virginia and Maryland. The collection is chiefly letters from Harrison Wells to his then fiancee May (called Mollie) Long, written from various military camps and battlefields while serving as a Confederate commissary sergeant during the Civil War. Letters frequently contain detailed discussions of military engagements and major battles including the Confederate capture of Harpers Ferry; the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam); the Battle of Chancellorsville; the Battle of Fredericksburg; the Second Battle of Winchester; the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House; the Confederate invasion and retreat from Washington, D.C.; and the Second Battle of Kernstown. Letters often mention troop movements and discuss the nature of the fighting and its aftermath, some with enumeration of casualties. Letters occasionally relate personal reflections, sentiments, and assurances of affections; descriptions of camp life and troop morale; opinions of specific military leaders, particularly Stonewall Jackson and Braxton Bragg; predictions for the war; and depictions of scenery and public reception in towns through which the troops passed. There are also two responses from May Long at Corona College in Corinth, Miss., chiefly discussing her schooling and leisure activities, but with some discussion of the impact of the war on the local area; Civil War era letters from members of Wells's family and from relatives of May Long including one describing actions in defense of the North Carolina coast; a few antebellum and post-war family letters including an 1857 letter from Eliab Horace Wells describing George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Va., and the construction of the capitol at Washington, D.C.; a map drawn by Harrison Wells of the Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, Va., area annotated with troop positions; an ambrotype of Harrison Wells and a daguerreotype of May Long; and other items.
Creator Wells, Harrison, 1840-1894.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
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 Harrison Wells Papers #5422-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Purchased from L & T Respess Books of Charlottesville, Va., May 2009 (Acc. 101103).
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

Harrison Wells (1840-1894) was a commissary sergeant with Company A, 13th Georgia Infantry Regiment, Confederate States of America. He was educated at the University of Georgia, graduating in 1860, and enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army in July 1861. During the Civil War, Wells's regiment was involved in several notable engagements, primarily in Virginia and Maryland, including the capture of Harpers Ferry; the Battle of Sharpsburg; the Battle of Chancellorsville; the Battle of Fredericksburg; the Second Battle of Winchester; the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House; the Confederate invasion and retreat from Washington, D.C.; and the Second Battle of Kernstown.

Throughout the war, Harrison Wells was engaged to May (called Mollie) Long of Baldwyn, Miss. May Long was educated at Corona College in Corinth, Miss. After the war, Long and Wells married and resided in Zebulon, Ga.

Other family members represented in the collection include E.W. Wells; Eliab Horace Wells; May's father, James L. Long; and Jonathan P. Long.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

The collection is chiefly letters from Harrison Wells to his then fiancee May (called Mollie) Long, written while he was serving as a commissary sergeant in the 13th Georgia Infantry Regiment at various locations, primarily in Virginia and Maryland. Also included are Civil War era letters from members of Wells's family and from relatives of May Long, a few pre- and post-war letters, and other items.

Wells's letters to May Long frequently discuss in detail military engagements and major battles including the Confederate capture of Harpers Ferry; the Battle of Sharpsburg; the Battle of Chancellorsville; the Battle of Fredericksburg; the Second Battle of Winchester; the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House; the Confederate invasion and retreat from Washington, D.C.; and the Second Battle of Kernstown. Letters often mention troop movements, the nature of the fighting, and the number of casualties. They occasionally relate personal sentiment and reflections; descriptions of camp life and troop morale; opinions of specific military leaders, particularly Stonewall Jackson and Braxton Bragg; predictions for the war; and depictions of scenery and public reception in towns through which the troops passed.

May Long's two letters in response to Wells chiefly contain descriptions of her schooling and leisure activities in Mississippi with some discussion of the impact of the war on the local area.

Other Civil War era letters include one from E.W. Wells discussing the well-being of Eliab Wells and the procurement of clothing for Harrison Wells and two from Jonathan P. Long relating personal news and effects of the war on family and farm. One of Long's letters also includes a transcribed excerpt from a letter written by his son Jimmy describing the latter's involvement in defenses of the North Carolina coast and the destruction of the New Croatan lighthouse.

Antebellum letters are among members of the Wells and Long families, sharing news and descriptions of daily life. One 1857 letter from Eliab Wells describes in detail the interior and grounds of George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Va., and comments on the progress of construction on the capitol at Washington, D.C. There is also an 1860 love letter from Harrison Wells to May Long alluding to their recent engagement.

Post-war items include a letter from Harrison Wells to James L. Long, May Long's father, requesting May's hand in marriage. Long's letter in response is also included. There is also an 1869 letter to May Long Wells from Ursula Schmidt, presumably a relative, containing reference to her life with her sister as two older single women living alone in New York, N.Y.

The collection also includes a map, circa 1863, hand-drawn by Harrison Wells, of the Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, Va., area annotated with troop positions and landmarks; an ambrotype of Harrison Wells and a daguerrotype of May Long; a school essay entitled "True Greatness" written by Harrison Wells, presumably while at the University of Georgia; and a 1905 newspaper clipping listing the muster roll for Company A, 13th Georgia Infantry Regiment.

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Kate Stratton, November 2009

Encoded by: Kate Stratton, November 2009

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