Guide to the Eltinge-Lord Family Papers (Peter Eltinge Papers), 1856-1871
The Eltinge-Lord Family collection consists of the papers of two men related by marriage who served as Union officers in the Civil War. It has been organized into two divisions respectively centered on Peter Eltinge (ca. 1842-1877) of New Paltz, New York, and George P. Lord (ca. 1842-1866) of Camden, Delaware. Lord's marriage to Peter's sister, Mary Eltinge, formed the link between the two. Peter, a store clerk before the war, entered the 156th New Yolk Volunteer Infantry in August, 1862, and rose to the rank of captain. Most of his papers consist of correspondence with his father, Edmund Eltinge, an officer of the Huguenot National Bank in New Paltz, and the other members of his family. George obtained a naval commission in 1861, served with the Mississippi Squadron, and eventually became a lieutenant commander. The bulk of his papers consist of the official records of two of his commands, the U.S.S. Chillicothe and the U.S.S. Ozark . For a brief time in 1864, the two brothers-in-law served in the same theater and met while taking part in Banks' Red River campaign of that year. After the war Eltinge and Lord were partners in a grocery business in Memphis, Tennessee, until Lord's death in August, 1866. Peter Eltinge returned to New Paltz, where he worked in his father's bank and in insurance until his own death at the age of 35.
Filed in the first box of the Lord Division are a printed catalog of the contents of the various official naval records, a typewritten supplement of added material of similar nature, and copies of sketches of ships' histories as given in the U.S. Navy's Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. Filed in the first box of the Eltinge Division are copies of biographical sketches of individuals mentioned in both divisions. Other supplementary material filed at the beginning of the Eltinge collection includes a list of members of the 156th New York Volunteers and the service records of its officers as given in New York and the War of the Rebellion 1861-1865, Vol. 5. Researchers may also wish to consult Will Plank's Banners and Bugles, a popular history of the participation of Ulster County, New York, in the Civil War.
Researchers using the printed and typewritten guides to the Lord Division should be warned that those aids do not definitively describe the current order of those papers. Some material previously considered “undated” has been re-filed in appropriate places in the collection by date. Other peculiarities in both divisions include the filing of such items as general orders, printed materials, etc., in among correspondence and other categories. In such cases the material remains where originally filed and, in the instance of the Lord Division, as listed in the guides provided.
The most important part of the Eltinge Division is Peter's correspondence (1856-1871), which, although it includes one letter from 1856, does not begin with any continuity until 1859, or after he had already lived in New York City for a year. Another gap occurs between April, 1861, and September, 1862, for which there are no letters. The correspondence also becomes very thin after Peter closed his business in Memphis. Nine letters which appear after that date consist of exchanges with the War Department and Treasury concerned with clearing up minor discrepancies in accounts connected with military service. Other materials in the collection include typescripts of Peter's correspondence (1859-1871), a xerographic copy of a scrapbook, legal papers (1864-1865, undated), newspaper clippings (1863-1864), a picture of Eltinge in his officer's uniform, and a collection of miscellany (1865-1866). Researchers should be aware that the typescripts of the Eltinge correspondence reproduce only a portion of the letters for the years indicated and not always very accurately at that.
Most of the historically significant Eltinge material is contained in Eltinge's correspondence, particularly that dealing with the Civil War. Eltinge obtained a second lieutenant's commission in the fall of 1862 in the 156th New York Volunteer Infantry, a regiment recruited from Richmond County (Staten Island) and Ulster County, New York. The regiment saw service in several theaters and participated in General N. P. Banks' probe at and later seige of Port Hudson in 1863 and the Red River campaigns of 1863 and 1864 in the Department of the Gulf, as part of the 19th Corps relief force sent to defend Washington against Early, in Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley campain , as paw of Schofield's army which moved westward from the North Carolina coast to meet Sherman at Goldsboro, and on occupation duty in Lexington, Georgia, after the war in 1865. Peter Eltinge saw comparatively little action for all that campaigning, as either his regiment was held in reserve, his company detailed as a headquarters guard, or he himself in the hospital or in New York on a stint of recruiting duty which allowed him to convalesce. Peter was present, however, for practically all of Sheridan's campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, during which his regiment suffered heavy casualties.
The composition of the Lord Division provides very different material than that of Peter Eltinge. That portion of George Lord's personal correspondence reposited at Duke (1862-1867) consists of only one folder of letters, while xerographic copies of other personal letters (1862-1868) are only slightly more numerous. By far the largest part of the division consists of the official records of the U. S. naval vessels Chillicothe (1863-1867, undated) Ozark (1864-1865), and Osage (1863, undated), and other naval records. Those records pertaining to the Chillicothe are both plentiful and comprehensive, taking in official correspondence (1863-1867, undated), the reports of the chief responsible commissioned and noncommissioned officers (1863-1865), orders (1862-1865 , undated), commercial papers (1864-1865, undated), and a miscellany collected by or pertaining to the Chillicothe (1863-1865 , undated). Other portions of the division include oaths of allegiance (1864-1865), printed material (1863-1865), a logbook of orders (1864), a collection of miscellany (1864-1865 , undated), captured Confederate papers (1862-1865), clippings (1861-1862, undated), and photographs of naval officers, ironclads, and gunboats (ca. 1861-1865, undated).
The papers of the Lord Division are marked by a number of gaps and omissions. The personal correspondence and the copies of personal correspondence contain relatively few items for the years 1862 and 1863. Although Lord wrote only sparingly to Peter Eltinge and his own family in Delaware, he apparently undertook an extensive correspondence with his fiancé and later bride (See Eltinge Division, letters, Edmund to Peter Eltinge, Jan. 9, 1864, and Lord Division, personal letters, copies, Mary to Edmund Eltinge, May 2, 19, 1864), while Mary presumably wrote with equal frequency. Practically none of these letters are represented in the collection, although the absence of Mary's early letters to George can be explained by their probable destruction in the sinking of the Covington, one of George's ships, in the spring of 1864.
The records of the Chillicothe, although by far the most numerous of the several ships' records in the collection, are not fully complete. There are several large and obvious gaps - occasionally months long - in the morning reports and other sections of the several sets of officers' reports. It should also be noted that the earliest examples of the Chillicothe's official correspondence do not involve Lord, but rather his predecessor, Lt. Joseph P. Couthony. Most of the various specialized sections of the ship's records are devoted to narrow subjects.
George Lord had been a cadet at the Naval Academy for a short time in the 1850s. He obtained a commission as a master's mate at Cincinnati in 1861, and participated in the Belmont, Ft. Henry, New Madrid (Island No. 10), and Red River campaigns and served afterwards on the lower Mississippi River. Lord's official correspondence as commander of the Chillicothe late in the war chiefly pertains to the regulation of trade on the river. Some of the naval records also cover George's service as commander of the “Ironclad Fleet in Ordinary” in the late part of 1865, while some personal letters (copies) deal with his brief career as a grocer in Memphis.
A general review of the information contained in the Eltinge and Lord Divisions follows. Please see appropriate cards in the subject catalog for a complete list of dates and references for topics mentioned.
Peter Eltinge's correspondence yields particularly good material on the battles in which he actively participated. Those actions included three sharp fights - Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek (letters, Sept. 22, Nov. 11, 1864) during Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Other, though less significant actions in which Peter saw a moderate amount of fighting were Banks' Red River Expedition of April-May, 1863 (letters, Apr.-May, 1863), and a large skirmish at Mansura, La. (letter of May 18-21, 1864), during Banks' Red River Expedition of 1864. Eltinge also wrote about the fighting of the Port Hudson campaign (letters of Mar. 6-July 23, 1863) the Red River Expedition of 1864 (letters of Mar. 19-June 7, 1864) including the battles of Pleasant Hill and Sabine Cross Roads, and Sherman's Campaign in the Carolinas (letters of Mar. 11-Apr. 20, 1865), although his company served as a headquarters guard for most of the Port Hudson campaign, his regiment was held in reserve for most of the important battles of the Red River campaign of 1864, and his division was used primarily in a supporting role in the Carolinas in 1865. His letters about the Red River campaign in 1864 do, however, contain considerable detail about the sinking of George Lord's vessel and his subsequent escape (various and scattered earlier letters also contain some personal information on Lord-not obtainable in the Lord Division itself). Eltinge serves solely as a commentator for other actions in which he played no part at all. These include the Yazoo expedition (letters of January 5, 11, 1865), Banks' probe toward Port Hudson (letters of March, 1863), Sherman's March to the Sea (letter of November 24, 1864), and the reactions to and controversy about the Confederate surrenders at Appomattox, Virginia and Durham Station, North Carolina (letter of April 14, 20, 1865).
Other excellent material on specific campaigns and battles can be found in the scrapbook and clippings contained in the Eltinge Division, particularly for the battle of Antietam (scrapbook, pp. 11, 12) and the Port Hudson campaign (clippings, July 14, 1863 and scrapbook, pp. 21-30). Much of the scrapbook consists of clippings taken from the New Paltz Times, which reprinted letter of area soldiers serving in one or another of the regiments recruited in that region of New York. One of the paper's correspondents was Charles J. Ackert, the paper's prewar editor, who had volunteered as a private soldier in the 156th New York Volunteers and after an early discharge became one of Peter Eltinge's correspondents.
Apart from the fighting itself, Eltinge wrote home about a wide variety of topics of a purely military nature, such as efforts to improvise cavalry in the Department of the Gulf and training troops through target practice and drill. More often, Eltinge wrote about routine problems, many of which were related to the management of personnel, especially as his regiment was chronically short of manpower. Related topics include: mobilization, recruiting and enlistment, alcoholism and military personnel , discipline, desertion, leaves and furloughs, discharges, and demobilization. Disease and battle casualties created a large number of vacancies among the officer ranks and inspired maneuvering for promotions among the surviving officers and enlisted men. Peter claimed that the colonel of the regiment often chose his own favorites for the vacancies and used the board of examination to eliminate unwanted candidates instead of the incompetents as the army had intended. From the other end of the personnel replacement system, Edmund Eltinge kept his son posted as to the effect conscription had on the male population at home and how local governments appropriated bounties to entice enough volunteers to meet their quotas.
The letters also cover some of the most mundane aspects of military service in the Civil War, including camp life, the military postal system, guard duty, foraging, food, medical and sanitary affairs, supplies and stores, surgeons, and chaplains. Due to frequent changes of station, pay became a problem, as the paymasters seldom caught up to the regiment in time. Additional information on some of these subjects may also be obtained from the scrapbook. Eltinge described some conditions at a few permanent and temporary barracks and quarters in the New York City area and at Key West, Florida. The clipping file contains a copy of an army newspaper, the Port Hudson [La.] Freemen (also referred to in scrapbook), edited by Charles J. Ackert.
Eltinge's letters and the scrapbook refer to the transportation of both men and supplies at various stages of the war. Most of the transportation was by water - ocean and river. One of the most significant of such references concerns the running aground of the 156th N.Y.'s transport, M. Sanford, on a reef near the Florida Keys. Peter's letters from Beaufort and Morehead City, North Carolina, during Sherman's Carolinas campaign touch on the transportation of supplies as he describes efforts to unload Chips in those ports in order to resupply Sherman's approaching forces.
Primarily because of his relationship with George Lord, Peter Eltinge's papers contain a number of references to naval affairs. Those references concerning naval operations on the Red and Mississippi rivers, prize money, and ironclads came chiefly from Peter's letters, while the clippings and oversize folder contain material on blockading operations as well, including the capture of Confederate blockade runners by Union gunboats.
Other topics associated with the military side of the Civil War in the Eltinge Division include the confiscation of property in the U.S. Army, fraternization of Southerners with Union soldiers in Louisiana, Confederate guerrilla activity in the lower Mississippi River Valley, conscription and desertion in the Confederate army, Union soldiers exercising their suffrage rights, 120th N.Y. Inf. troops held as prisoners by the Confederates, and the exchange of prisoners of war. Union commanders discussed include Generals Nathaniel P. Banks, Phillip Sheridan, William T. Sherman, Charles P. Stone (of Ball's Bluff, in connection with a visit he made to Banks' headquarters in 1863), and Albert Lee, the cavalry commander during Banks' Red River Expedition of 1864.
Peter Eltinge mentioned a number of Union Army regiments. In addition to his own, the 156th New York Volunteer Infantry, which was also known as the “Mountain Legion” (letters, clippings, scrapbook, oversize folder), his papers also make prominent mention of the 20th (scrapbook) and the 120th New York Volunteer Infantry (letter), regiments from his home county which served in the army of the Potomac. Other regiments mentioned include the 90th New York Volunteer Infantry, which served as a garrison at Key West, and the 31st Massachusetts and 176th New York Volunteer Infantry, both of which served in the Department of the Gulf. Edmund Eltinge wrote to Peter about conditions in the Army of the Potomac as a whole with regard to discipline and temperance.
During the Port Hudson campaign, Peter Eltinge had a chance to observe two black Union regiments in action, the 1st and 3d Louisiana Native Guard, the men of which impressed him with their bearing and courage. Eltinge wrote favorably of using blacks in military service, but he disapproved of northern states attempting to recruit southern blacks to meet conscription quotas. Soldiers' letters printed in Eltinge's hometown newspaper and preserved in the scrapbook also spoke well of the black soldier. Members of Peter's regiment sought commissions in black regiments as a way to obtain higher rank. Eltinge himself hired a black, Fulton Cox, as a servant from an army hiring agency near Washington, and he kept him in his employ after the war (letters, 1865; legal papers, 1864; scrapbook).
The Eltinge Division material contains a fair amount of information on non-military aspects of the Civil War as well, many of which deal with economic or racial questions. The banking background of the Eltinge family gave Peter a sharp eye for the economic landscape in the locales he passed through, and father and son exchanged observations on hot the economy of New York and the Union at large affected the investments Peter arranged for his father to make with the portion of his salary he sent home. Some of the other specific economic topics discussed include banks and banking in New York, economic conditions in Louisiana and Arkansas, wages in southern states, and cotton trade and smuggling during the war. Peter also took note of how blacks generally fared during the Civil War, and how they were perceived by white Union soldiers, and he commented on a particularly prosperous black at Key West who appeared to produce most of the fresh fruit and vegetables on the island.
Peter Eltinge also provided more general descriptions of areas he served in and how the war altered them. These locales included New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Morehead City, Beaufort, and Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Key West, Florida.
Scattered topics discussed briefly include censorship of newspapers in New Orleans, the celebration of Thanksgiving Day with dinner sent from New York to the 156th in the field, and reaction to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the capture of Jefferson Davis. In the division there are also a copy of a Unionist newspaper, the New South, published at Port Royal, South Carolina, and a letter published in a newspaper and reproduced in the scrapbook which is a good example of an amateur attempt at propaganda.
Prior to the war, Peter Eltinge worked as a clerk in two different firms in New York City. After working hours, he found time to participate in a choral group, and he attended several church services on Sundays, sampling the preaching Of several different ministers in the city, including Henry Ward Beecher and William Milburn, “the blind preacher” . Partly at the behest of one of his employers, Peter also taught Sunday school in poor neighborhoods of the city. He had earlier been active in a temperance education society for young people, “The Band of Hope,” when he had lived in New Paltz, and after moving to New York - and even after joining the army - he remained vitally interested in the temperance movement both back at home and on the state and national level. Peter inquired about and commented on the activities of the society in New Paltz, read copies of the Prohibitionist, a periodical published in Albany, and exchanged notes with his father and family about prominent temperance and prohibitionist figures like John B. Gough, Henry Ward Beecher, and John Pinchard Jowett, some of whom came to New Paltz to lecture, and others of whom Peter heard in New York.
Peter Eltinge also had a strong prewar interest in politics which he retained throughout his military service and after the war. He felt opposed to Democrats of whatever persuasion at the state and local level, most notably Fernando Wood, mayor of New York City, but he was also bitterly opposed to the abolitionists, as he preferred the non-extension, non-interference positions with regard to slavery. He judged himself to be ''a conservative Union man," not a Republican as his father was. Peter watched the Presidential election campaign and secession crisis of 1860 with an interest relatively devoid of partisanship, although he voted for Lincoln. He attended a speech given by William H. Seward in New York City, November 2, 1860, in which Seward repeated sentiments similar to those of the earlier famous “irrepressible conflict” address. During the war he watched northern friends serving as Treasury officials at New Orleans form a campaign committee for Michael Decker Hahn, a German émigré who became the Republican wartime governor of Louisiana. Edmund Eltinge continued to write to Peter about the shifts in New York State politics, especially the election of 1863 and the defeat of the Copperheads. The elder Eltinge also reported rumors of Lincoln's cabinet crisis in December, 1862, while Peter sent back rumors on the future assignment of the regiment. Among the other prominent political events and figures that appear in the Eltinge correspondence are the New York City elections of 1859, the presidential election of 1864, the Democratic convention at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln, George B. McClellan, Horatio Seymour, and John C. Fremont.
The conservative temper of Peter Eltinge's political beliefs resurfaced not long after the war, while he was serving on occupation duty in Lexington (Oglethorpe Co.), Georgia. He intervened on the side of the planters to quell discontent among newly freed Negro agricultural laborers, and he expressed himself opposed to extending the suffrage to blacks and was suspicious of the motives of Wendell Phillips for his advocacy of giving freedmen the vote. Peter at first thought that the political integration of Georgia under Presidential Reconstruction went rather well. During his stay there and in subsequent correspondence with people he had met there, he observed the revival of politics, the holding of new elections, a state constitutional convention, and even the observance of the Fourth of July in 1865. Apart from keeping law and order until civil authorities could reassume power, Eltinge's chief duty was the administration of oaths of allegiance to the inhabitants, most of whom took the oath readily. As 1865 ended, however, Peter felt that Georgia still had not met all qualifications for readmission to full statehood, and opinion for which a white Georgian correspondent excoriated him. As he had in the Civil War, Peter reported on the economic conditions prevailing in Georgia, especially the confusion in prices due to a lack of faith in Federal paper currency.
Peter Eltinge's attitudes had changed only a little by the time he and George Lord went to Memphis the next year to establish their grocery business. He noted that there was a lot of bitterness in Tennessee over the management of Reconstruction by Congress, and he himself thought Congress was acting too harshly, but he reported voting a straight Radical ticket that fall. Race relations in Memphis were strained, and a race riot involving hundreds broke out May 1, 1866.
Most of Peter's letters from Memphis dealt with economic matters. Eltinge and Lord were two of many northerners trying to make a quick gain in the recovering region. Business activity seemed to rise and fall quickly, and Peter complained to his father that the banks were too cautious in making loans to businesses. He wrote home often of their fortunes and prospects with the grocery, which did most of its business selling provisions to large plantations, but Eltinge was eager to invest in a more lucrative venture. He first considered wholesaling tobacco in the area before finally deciding to buy an interest in a cotton crop. A number of Union officers, including other former officers of the 156th New York Volunteers, had established themselves as labor contractors to cotton plantation owners in return for a share of the cotton crop. Peter, with the help of substantial loans from his father, took a fractional share of a cotton crop in Arkansas, but the venture turned out badly, as changing marketing patterns and bad weather drove down prices and held down both the quality and yield of the crop Peter had invested in. Eltinge had begun thinking of investing in cotton growing during the war and had discussed cotton prices in a letter written in Georgia. Once in Memphis, his letters became increasingly filled with discussions of cotton prices, growing, ginning, trading, and commission merchants in the area of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and of agricultural labor, both black and undesignated, in those states. Scattered topics dealing with Eltinge's activity in Memphis include descriptions of the city itself, and discussions of the tobacco trade in the area and the availability of fire insurance.
Other items, unrelated to business, which came up during Eltinge's residence in Memphis include an explanation of barbecue cookery to his relatives, mention of a Fourth of July celebration held by Unionists living in town, and an old regimental comrade's report of the effect of the 1866 elections in Illinois.
Unlike Eltinge, George Lord saw a considerable amount of battle early in the war, only to spend most of the rest of the conflict in more sedentary duty. References in newspaper clippings to Lord and the ships he served on, the U.S.S. Tyler and the U.S.S. Benton, give some glimpse of his involvement in the Belmont, Mo., Ft. Henry, and the New Madrid-Island No. 10 campaigns. In the last of these, he led the boarding party which captured and saved from destruction the General Bragg. After having participated in some of the initial probing during the Vicksburg campaign (such as the Yazoo expedition), Lord's vessel, the “tin-clad” U.S.S. Covington, took part in a small expedition up the White River in Arkansas. During the White River expedition, Lord had his ship tow the burning Des Arc, a private cargo ship, away from the supply fleet.
Lord became involved in the Red River campaign of 1864 after the fall in the water level of that stream temporarily stranded the ironclads of the Mississippi Squadron at Alexandria, Louisiana. The Covington and other light draft vessels were then ordered up the Red River in support. The Covington, which along with the U.S.S. Signal, was convoying the John Warner when it was ambushed by artillery and infantry of the Confederate army. All three vessels were destroyed, and Lord's crew had to disperse to avoid capture. Lord himself made it to Alexandria, where on May 7 he was assigned as the executive officer of the ironclad U.S.S. Chillicothe, of which he became captain later in the month. The most graphic account of Lord's experiences on the Red River contained within the Lord Division itself may be found in a letter to his father-in-law of May 24, 1864 (personal letter, copy). An equally graphic account may be found in one of Peter Eltinge's letters home, which is filed in the division devoted to his papers. Other valuable letters on this episode are those of Lord's wife, who had gone out to visit George shortly before he was ordered up the Red River and who waited anxiously for news after learning that the Covington had been sunk (personal letters, copies, May 9, 17, 19, 1864). Scattered routine letters relating to the loss of the Covington may also be found in various sections of the division (letters, personal letters, copies, records of the Chillicothe, official correspondence).
After the Red River campaign of 1864, Lord's ship rarely saw action. Ship's personnel occasionally went ashore to augment sorties by the army, such as at Woodville, Mississippi, in October, 1864 (records of the Chillicothe; official letters), or to carry out small landing actions or patrols. The Chillicothe, which suffered from the lack of a long-postponed overhaul, was stationed at Ft. Adams, Mississippi, with the primary missions of regulating trade, checking the operations of local Confederate regulars and guerrillas and preventing the passage of troops and supplies over the Mississippi to the army opposing Sherman in Georgia. The printed material among the Lord papers includes an announcement of the capture of Ft. Gaines during the combined army-navy campaign at Mobile Bay in August, 1864, the only other significant campaign mentioned.
Lord put in claims for prize money for his role in the salvaging of the Des Arc and the capture of the General Bragg, claims which continued to generate correspondence even after his death (personal letters, copies; records of the Chillicothe, official correspondence). Among the more notable participants in that exchange were Admiral Charles H. Davis and S. J. W. Tabor, the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury.
Apart from active operations and prize money, Lord's papers are rich in material on various and detailed aspects of American naval life and science in the period of the Civil War. This is primarily due to the fairly comprehensive nature of the collection of the U.S.S. Chillicothe's records, with additional material coming from the miscellaneous papers associated with that same ship, the smaller collections from the Osage and Ozark, and Lord's personal correspondence. The distinctly naval topics raised include some details of ship life, training requirements for the crew, “watch bills” - or lists assigning men to combat stations and duties in case of fire -, orders for the pattern of signals to identify transports, intelligence reports exchanged with other army and naval units on Confederate army and guerrilla activity, precautions to be taken against submarine mines (then known as torpedoes), lists of the various firearms available to the ship's crew (and instructions on the use of the Sharps rifle), regular reports by the Chillicothe's chief gunner on the condition and supply of munitions and ammunition, and a letter from a fellow officer serving on blockade duty on the Atlantic coast Complete and partial lists of vessels in the Mississippi Squadron can be found in printed materials and among copies of personal letters. While the Lord material necessarily deals with gunboats and ironclads on a continuing basis, specific references to vessels which can be placed in either category have been so cataloged. Note should also be made of Lord's postwar duty of directing the demobilization of the “Ironclad Fleet in Ordinary” at Mound City, Illinois.
The naval material also covers such logistical topics as food, provisioning, ordnance and ordnance stores, fuel (primarily coal), and the transportation of supplies and stores. Many of these are represented in departmental reports of supplies on hand or in correspondence and commercial papers exchanged with naval depots and private contractors. Some of the responsible officers who filed related reports include the engineer, who kept records on the condition of the power plant (records of the Chillicothe, official letters, engineer's monthly returns; records of the Ozark), the yeoman, who was responsible for filing miscellaneous reports on personnel and supply matters (records of the Chillicothe, yeoman's reports), and the carpenter, who was in charge of the maintenance of the wooden structure of the ship and insuring that adequate repair materials were kept in stock.
A number of other topics deal with personnel management, including recruiting, promotions, leaves and furloughs, pay and allowances, and discharges. The question of discharges became a delicate one as the war came to an end and the navy demobilized at a somewhat slower pace than the army. The maintenance of discipline and morale became difficult at the unpleasant station of Mound City, where desertion grew more frequent. The records of several courts-martial can be found among the official letters and miscellany of the records of the Chillicothe, and there are references to alcoholism and disciplinary problems in other categories of the Lord Division, most notably in the Chillicothe's Master at Arms reports of the members of crew under punishment. A printed circular promulgated by Admiral David Dixon Porter shortly after he assumed command of the Mississippi Squadron directly addressed the problem of morale. Two of the topics Porter discussed in that circular included naval hospitals and health conditions, both of which he promised to improve for the sake of morale and to keep the men fit for duty. Climate and crowded conditions made service on the lower Mississippi and at Mound City relatively unhealthy, as may be seen in the surgeon's reports (for medical and sanitary affairs) and in Lord's own personal letters (copies: for health conditions). “Fever” was the most common complaint, although dysentery was occasionally a problem. One of the Chillicothe's officers applied to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles for permission to resign due to chronic illness, a request Lord duly approved and forwarded.
Among the more important naval figures whose letters recur in the Lord papers are Admiral Porter, Admiral Samuel Phillip Lee, Porter's successor in command of the Mississippi Squadron, and Lieutenant Commander E. Y. McCauley, one of Lord's immediate superiors in the squadron who later became an admiral.
Riverine operations and the regulation of trade brought Lord and the Mississippi Squadron into frequent contact with governmental and military agencies, both friendly and hostile, which line officers of the navy seldom had to deal with otherwise. Since the army had initially organized the Mississippi Squadron, and the squadron, even after its transfer to the navy, obtained still more men from the army when the government permitted experienced seamen and rivermen to transfer services, there are some items among Lord's papers which reflect on matters of personnel management in the army. The navy, particularly during operations such as Banks' Red River expeditions, assumed most of the burden of transporting the army's supplies and stores. In one instance, the navy transported cotton bales for the construction of field fortifications. A shore party manning an artillery battery during an operation near Woodville, Mississippi, in October, 1864, ran into some difficulty and ultimately surrendered to Confederate forces when the 3d U.S. Colored Cavalry unexpectedly fired on the sailors. Official letters of the Chillicothe include a couple of complaints by Southern civilians about confiscation of property by the Union army.
The Mississippi Squadron worked closely with the army to contain regular and irregular forces of Confederates, and it worked with the army and the Treasury Department to insure that commerce, particularly cotton trade, was conducted in a manner which did not unduly aid the Confederate war effort. The official correspondence of the Chillicothe reflects the exchange of military intelligence between the two services on guerrilla activity. Such reports included one on a team of saboteurs operating against the ships and warehouses along the river (printed material). The Chillicothe papers contain some copies of captured Confederate documents which relate primarily to the Department (or District) of Southern Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, also referred to as the District of Homochitto (after a local river) and “Scott's Command,” (after Col. John S. Scott, who headed that jurisdiction in 1864). Orders from that headquarters bearing the name of C.S.A. General George B. Hodge, one filed among the Chillicothe's official correspondence and another among that ship's orders, indicate what the Confederate regulations were on commerce passing through Union lines. Two other items, filed separately as “Confederate Papers, 1862-1863,” included an enlistment contract which promised a furlough to members of the 9th South Carolina Volunteers and a letter from a member of the Texas Legion at Vicksburg describing bombardments and health conditions while the city was under sedge. Two of Lord's personal letters to his in-laws describe how rapidly the flow of Confederate deserters into Union lines grew in the last month of the war. A single official letter deals with the attempt of a Southerner to send a letter through a Union naval officer to a Confederate soldier held as a prisoner in the north.
Both the navy and the army in the Mississippi Valley found themselves in the role of regulator of trade during the last half of the war. The Union government, particularly the Treasury Department, changed policies and procedures often and put military officials, who sought both to enforce regulations and end the war as quickly as possible, in a difficult position with Southern civilians. A clipping from a Memphis newspaper noted that Union General N.P. Buford had 40 cotton traders arrested, although they had apparently acted in conformity with recently published regulations. Military authorities supervised the conduct of cotton sales and the transportation and importation of finished goods entering the interior. As changes in regulation occurred, the notifications of the changes sometimes arrived accompanied by explanations provided by the Treasury Department.
The Chillicothe's official letters include a long circular on the cotton trade with endorsements by Secretary William Fessenden and President Lincoln, among others. Other, angry letters from army and navy commanders periodically urged stricter suppression of black market trade in cotton. The official letters and commercial papers include numerous applications and certificates for permission to buy, sell, or transport cotton and finished goods. The logbook of orders in the Lord Division actually contains as many entries about the shipment of cotton and supplies as it does about the receipt of orders. One series of official letters (and depositions filed with the official letters) deals with a British subject, B.H. Clark, who swindled sellers of cotton and was brought to trial.
Lord's remaining time while stationed on the lower Mississippi was also spent taking renewals of the oath of allegiance of residents of the South, some of whom affirmed that they had never aided the rebel cause, although most takers of the oath admitted having supported the Confederate government in some way. Lord noted the enthusiasm with which the people in the Mississippi River Valley greeted the generous terms of Lincoln's amnesty proclamation of December 8, 1863.
In contrast to his brother-in-law, George Lord revealed no strong interest in politics in his letters. The election of 1864 intrudes into his papers only when a political argument among some of his men led to a breach of discipline requiring Lord's attention. A correspondent from Illinois in 1865 mentioned that opposition to Negro suffrage had affected politics in that state (letters). Lincoln's name rarely appears. Exceptions include official and unofficial printed circulars dealing with his assassination. Similarly, Jefferson Davis surfaces for serious attention only in orders concerned with his capture at the end of the war.
Lord appeared to be equally as taciturn on the subject of his own feelings about blacks as he was on politics. Some of his official correspondence acknowledged the help that local “contrabands” had offered in the gathering of intelligence. Otherwise, his main concern about “contrabands” was that he followed proper procedures in accepting them into Union control and in reporting them to higher headquarters. He demonstrated a somewhat greater, if still dispassionate, interest in the operational details of Negro agricultural labor in the Union-controlled areas of Mississippi and Arkansas. He noted that by 1864 local planters had shifted over to paying blacks a low, fixed monthly wage, and that they claimed using the cheap freed labor to be less burdensome that the responsibilities of slaveholding. Lord's few other comments on the economics of wartime cotton production include a report that some planters had begun to lease their land rather than work it themselves (personal letters, copies). Lord's wife, Mary, during her stay at Memphis while George was on the Red River expedition, visited and briefly described a camp of contrabands named “Prichettsville” in a letter to her parents (personal letters, copies).
George Lord's few letters from Memphis (personal letters, copies) offer a somewhat different picture of prospects there than can be found in Peter Eltinge's letters. Lord was more cautious than his brother-in-law, whom he thought tended to be too trusting and optimistic when entering into business deals. Lord did not join Peter in speculating in cotton crops, although he had been more receptive to the proposal to wholesale tobacco. He offered a few observations on business trends and opportunities in Memphis, but he wanted to refrain from aggressive investment or speculation until the prize money he anticipated to receive would give him ready capital.
Obituaries of George Lord may be found in newspapers filed in the oversize folder in Picture Cabinet II. One of the papers, the Republican Memphis Daily Post of August 17, 1866, also contains articles on the Republican Party convention of 1866 held in Philadelphia and on a convention of blacks held in Nashville, Tennessee, where the participants primarily discussed ways of providing freedmen with an education.
Among the most interesting Items in the Lord Division is a collection of photographs. Most are of ships of the Mississippi Squadron on which Lord served or which formed part of the force which went up the Red River in 1864. Most of the photographs are sepia in color and appear as paper prints, although there are a few modern transparencies of ships pictured elsewhere in this and other collections. The ships represented include the U.S.S. Benton, Blackhawk, Chillicothe, Covington, Mound City, Neosho, Ouachita, Queen City, and Tyler. There is a picture of a large portion of the Mississippi Squadron on the Red River expedition of 1864 and another of the C.S.S. Tennessee. One transparency, taken from a lithograph not contained in this collection, is of the naval battle of Hampton Roads between the U.S.S. Monitor and the Merrimac (C.S.S. Virginia). Important naval personages portrayed include Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter and Lt. Cmdr. (later Admiral) James Augustus Greer, the commander of the Benton. There are also some modern copies of a portrait photograph of George Lord in a naval uniform, three 8 x 10 in. prints and one 4 x 5 in. negative.
Among the other senior officers Lord forwarded letters or reports to were Mai, Gen. Edward R. S. Canby, Banks' successor as commander of the Department of the Gulf, and Brig. Gen. John W. Davidson, then commanding the District of Natchez.
While Eltinge and Lord were in military service, the Eltinge family kept them informed about activities at home. Several of Peter's sisters became involved in various charity fairs in the New York City area which were held to raise money for the United States Sanitary Commission (Eltinge division, scrapbook, letters). Similar activities were instituted in Boston, where another organization sought to raise money for a sailors' home (Lord division, printed material).
Peter's sisters led a fairly active life during the war. At one time or another, he had sisters residing in New York City, Camden, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., while Edmund Eltinge occasionally stopped in to see his daughters in Washington and New York. As a result, Peter received descriptions of war-time Washington, as well as reports of the burning of Ford's Theater in December, 1862, an exhibit of the expeditionary clothing worn by the arctic explorer Elisha Kent Kane and lectures at the Smithsonian Institution, and visits to art exhibitions, including one by landscape artist Francis Regis Gignoux, at art galleries in New York City.
Peter's father occasionally gave him some indication of how the economy back home fared during the war - what were the prospects for the crops on the family farm, about Edmund Eltinge's own involvement in getting the Wallkill River Valley Railroad - a spur line off the Erie Railroad - pushed through the New Paltz area (letters, scrapbook), what local wages were, what interest rates were available, and what the price of various securities and commodities were like. Other incidental information relative to economic conditions in the North may be gleaned from articles which form part of the newspaper clippings found in the Lord Division. Information found there includes exchange market quotations on precious metals and commodities. Extraneous pieces of correspondence in 1865-1866 mention the venture of one of Peter's friends, A, H. Gough, in the oil industry of Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Other interesting bits of information sent to rather than from New Paltz include Peter's commentary on the notoriety surrounding the celebrated “Diamond Wedding” of Estaban de Oviedo and Frances Bartlett in New York City in 1859, and Mary Lord's anecdote as to how her hosts in Memphis in 1864 had made a special effort to show her one of the few Steinway pianos then in that area,
Disease recurs as a topic in both divisions, Although the Lord Division contains the Chillicothe's surgeon's file, most of the descriptions of the illnesses on board that ship were fairly general, Peter Eltinge's wartime letters contain more specific references to the incidence of diphtheria, yellow fever, and tuberculosis, and the scrapbook in that division mentions instances of the latter two diseases, George Lord once wrote to his father-in-law about an outbreak of smallpox in Baltimore in February, 1864, and expressed concern about his family in Delaware, Although Peter Eltinge noted several waves of cholera as they passed through Memphis in 1866, and George Lord experienced at least one bout of some sort of fever prior to his death, his obituary listed only “congestion of the stomach” as the cause. Peter himself died of tuberculosis, as did several other members of his family (scrapbook).
Among the various items to be found in the clippings in the scrapbook in the Eltinge Division are articles written by Civil War humorist Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne), an account of winemaking and grape cultivation in Nets Jersey, a history and genealogy of the Eltinge family and its settlement in New Paltz, a commentary by Charles J. Ackert that wartime New Orleans tended to treat the Sabbath as just another day for activity and enterprise, and a portrait (wood engraving) of Winfield Scott. Newspapers found in the Oversize Folder, in addition to those already mentioned, include copies of the New Paltz Times and The Southern Ulster Times.
There are a number of scattered items in the Lord Division connected with the Civil War. They include an order limiting the correspondence of naval personnel with members of the press (records of the Chillocothe, orders), letters announcing the formation of a veterans' organization known as the Mississippi Squadron Association (personal letter), a piece of stationery bearing the Confederate flag (Confederate papers), and a critical evaluation of General Banks by Mary Lord after George had been ordered up the Red River (personal letters, copies).
- Collection Number
- Eltinge-Lord Family papers (Peter Eltinge papers)
- Eltinge, Peter, ca. 1842-1877
- 7 Linear Feet, 14 boxes, 2,245 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], Eltinge-Lord Family Papers (Peter Eltinge Papers), David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Eltinge, Peter, ca. 1842-1877
- Eltinge, Peter, ca. 1842-1877
- Lord, George P., ca. 1842-1866
- United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 156th (1862-1865)
- United States. Army. Dept. of the Gulf
- United States. Navy. Mississippi Squadron
- United States. Navy -- Officers -- Correspondence
- United States. Army -- Officers -- Correspondence
The Eltinge-Lord Family Papers were acquired by Duke University in 1976.
Processed by: Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library Staff
Completed ca. 1976
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller