Guide to the Eugene Marshall Papers, 1839-1962


Farmer, banker, and Union Cavalry officer, of Caledonia, Minn.

Correspondence, diaries, writings, documents, record books, scrapbooks, clippings, and photos, chiefly relating to Marshall's military service with Brackett's Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry, in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama (1862-1864) and on the Northwest Indian expedition (1864-1865). Diary includes comments on his immigration from Brockton, Mass., to Minnesota in 1853, and on secessionist spirit in Texas, 1859-1860. Letters from his sister reflect impact of immigrants on Brockton, 1890-1910. Includes material documenting aspects of the Dakota Territory in the 1860s; Plains Indians; Red River carts; the impact of the Civil War on southern unionists, middle Tennessee, and blacks; religion; education; the status of women; towns in southeastern New England, upper Middle West, Tennessee, and Mississippi River Valley; and Ignatius Donnelly, Horace Mann, and William T. Sherman.

Descriptive Summary

Eugene Marshall papers 1839-1962
Marshall, Eugene, 1832-1919
873 Items
Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The Marshall papers contain a variety of material, but the most important and sizeable sources of information are his correspondence (1847-1918) and his diary (1851-1905). The diary, 35 small volumes and related materials, contains a considerable amount of information on Marshall's activities in the years 1851-1861 but is primarily devoted to his military service (1861-1866). An edited version of these years of the diary, "The Civil and Indian War Diaries of Eugene Marshall, Minnesota Volunteer," a 1963 master's thesis by Clark G. Reynolds, may be found in this library. A typescript of a portion (1861, Nov. 20-1864, Mar. 14) of the war diary prepared by Marshall's daughter, Ethel, also forms part of the collection.

Marshall's correspondence, chiefly with his sister Olive (Mrs. Frederick L. Trow), provides a good amount of information for the antebellum and war years, but the letters are approximately twice as numerous and no less important for the period after the Civil War.

Another important portion of the collection is a roll of microfilm which contains copies of Marshall material at the Minnesota Historical Society. The contents of the roll are briefly outlined on cards in the main entry file. A more detailed summary may be found at the end of the current sketch.

Among other materials in the collection are: genealogical studies on the Marshall and related families (1588-ca. 1900); four volumes of records and scrapbooks (1852-1861, 1866-1883, 1906-1908); writings by Marshall, both printed and manuscript, including poetry, speeches, newspaper articles and letters to the editor, historical sketches, etc. (1855-1917); newspaper clippings, primarily dealing with his military service (1852-1914); business and legal documents (1855-1935); printed material, chiefly pertaining to veterans' reunions (1864-1915); pictures (1861-1913); and a small collection of miscellany. Stored separately from the body of the collection is one of the Indian arrows which wounded Marshall during the campaign of 1864. The arrow is kept in the library vault. Supplementary material to the collection includes: correspondence generated by Clark G. Reynolds and Anna Marshall Steer, Eugene's daughter, in 1961-1962; Xerographic copies of biographies of some of the individuals mentioned (filed with the first box of correspondence); and an article on George W. Northrup, Marshall's wartime friend (filed with writings).

There are some difficulties in using the collection which should be noted. The large number of volumes, etc., of the diary has necessitated the labeling of volumes. The diary also has several instances of overlaps and gaps. For example, three volumes contribute overlapping material for the years 1858-1860. Some rudimentary guides indicate the time coverage each volume provides. A guide to the chronological contents of the diaries is filed with them. This list correlates volume numbers with dates. In some instances wear on the pencil entries has rendered some pages nearly illegible. Some effort has been made to provide reconstruction of the entries. Diary entries after 1866 are few and scattered - clustered around and primarily concerned with the illnesses and deaths of Marshall's wife and eldest daughter.

A general recounting of Marshall's life and interests follows. Please see appropriate cards in the subject catalog for a complete list of dates and references for topics mentioned.

Marshall, after having failed to gain admission to Brown University, briefly tried teaching school in Marshfield, Mass. [letters], and then attempted to sell books on a subscription basis in Rhode Island [diary]. He attempted both ventures in 1851. Both turned out badly, and he left home for the upper Midwest in 1852. He survived the sinking of the Lake Erie steamer Atlantic, which had collided with the Ogdensburg, and made his way to Wisconsin, where he accepted a position as a schoolteacher while familiarizing himself with the opportunities available on the frontier in employment and enterprise [letters, diary, 1852].

In the spring of 1853 he wandered west through Wisconsin in search of suitable claims for farmland. He settled in Houston County, Minnesota, located on the Mississippi and in the extreme southeast corner of the state. In the fall of 1854, he was elected county surveyor, which provided him with an opportunity and an income to buy land. Marshall became involved in speculative schemes to develop the local economy until the depression of 1857 disrupted those plans. Hard times and ill health led him to journey to New Orleans and Galveston in the winter of 1859-1860 in search of a new locale and career, but he found both cities oversupplied with laborers. He returned to his Minnesota farm and became an active campaign worker for the Republican ticket in 1860.

Marshall enlisted in the Union Army in October, 1861, and attempted to obtain a position as an officer or noncommissioned officer, but he lacked sufficient political influence with Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey. He was mustered in as a private in one of several independent companies of Minnesota cavalry which later became a battalion within a regiment known as Curtis' Horse, later called the 5th Iowa Cavalry. This regiment served in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama in 1862-1864. When in the winter of 1863-1864 Marshall and most of his comrades re-enlisted as a unit and went home on furlough, their Minnesota battalion was reassigned to duty with troops operating against the Sioux, who had been at war in the Northwest since 1862. Marshall, by now a sergeant in Brackett's Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry, took part in two expeditions in 1864-1865 along the Missouri River Valley into the Dakota Territory.

Medically discharged in January, 1866, as a result of wounds suffered while on the expedition of 1864, Marshall returned to his home in Caledonia, Minn., and married his fiancée, Elizabeth ("Lizzie") Williams.

Marshall resumed farming in Minnesota briefly after the war, but in 1869 moved his family to Hancock County, Iowa, where he continued to farm and hold minor positions in local government. In 1880 he moved back to Caledonia and accepted a position in his brother-in-law's bank. Marshall retired from the bank in 1897 but remained an active member of the local board of education. In 1899, however, he moved to Manchester, Tennessee, with his two surviving daughters. Marshall remained in Tennessee, doing a little light farming and writing until his death in 1919.

The Civil War experiences of Marshall were not extremely eventful. For most of 1862 his regiment was assigned to the vicinity of Forts Heiman, Donelson, and Henry on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, patrolling against the operations of local guerrilla bands and garrisoning the area against occasional raids by C.S.A. Generals Forrest and Wheeler. Marshall occasionally was near enough to a major campaign to narrate operations on its periphery, describe its aftermath, or record rumors and stories of participants. Among the campaigns and battles so treated are the battles of Forts Henry and Donelson (Feb. 8, 1862), Clarksville, Tenn. (Sept. 5-10, 1862), Ft. Donelson (Aug. 23-25, 1862 and Feb. 3, 1863), and the Tullahoma, Chickamauga,and Chattanooga campaigns. The papers also give a glimpse of a long-range scouting raid led by Marshall's friend Northrup into western North Carolina in the winter of 1863-1864 as well as Marshall's critiques of campaigns in theaters far removed, such as those of Shiloh and Ball's Bluff.

Marshall's papers are more valuable sources on other aspects of the war for matters both inside and outside the army. He was particularly bitter and wrote often on how commissioned officers and NCOs were selected and how incompetents and alcoholics were able to retain such positions. The collection also contains a considerable amount of information about the following military topics of the Civil War: the cavalry, barracks and quarters (especially one transient billet at Nashville), camp life, mobilization and demobilization, discipline, firearms, food, foraging, medical and sanitary affairs, pay, recruiting and enlistments, supply, conscription, deserters, prisoners of war, legal rights of soldiers (notably whether they had the right to petition), and the procurement and care of horses for the army.

The diaries and letters contain many useful commentaries and descriptions of aspects of the war not immediately associated with military routine. There is a great deal of information on the condition of slaves, the affect of the war on Southern blacks, fears of slave insurrections, the confiscation of slaves, black refugees or "contrabands", blacks serving with the Union Army, hints by the Confederate Army that returning blacks could enlist in the Southern armed forces and gain emancipation, emigration of blacks to the north, the prospects of obtaining suffrage in the postwar era, and the attitude of both Union soldiers and Southern whites towards blacks. Marshall comments on circumstantial evidence of miscegenation between neighboring households and in the case of a fugitive couple. There is also material on how the war affected women, white Southerners who found themselves refugees in the North, and Union sympathizers in North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and other Southern and border areas. Marshall discusses some of the economic impact of the war, including confiscation of property by the Union army, smuggling, and the cotton trade in general. He notes the changes the war forced on life in cities as large as St. Louis and as small as villages in Tennessee and Alabama. Marshall optimistically commented on peace proposals as early as 1862, only to find himself still in the army three years later. While in uniform, he had opportunity to record his own reflections as well as those of comrades and other Minnesotans to the election of 1864, Lincoln's assassination, Johnston's surrender at the Bennett House in Durham, N.C., and the trial of Mary Surratt and her defense-by Reverdy Johnson. Among the Union commanders Marshall commented on were: Grant, W. T. Sherman, McClellan, Rosecrans, Fremont, Lew Wallace, George Crook, and Abner C. Harding.

The issues and causes of the Civil War were not abstractions for Marshall. During his trip south in 1859-1860, he encountered some of the feelings aroused by the John Brown Raid. Secession was discussed openly by Southerners as a real possibility. An associate of John Brown, Richard Realf, had left Texas for Washington to testify at a senatorial investigation just before Marshall arrived on the Gulf coast. Marshall found that the proslavery sentiment in Texas was so strong that its partisans had functionally suppressed liberty of speech, freedom of the press, and the local abolition movement. Texas' U.S. Senator Louis T. Wigfall openly advocated secession. Local laws on fugitive slaves were so restrictive that it was virtually impossible for free blacks to remain in the state. After the war, Marshall pondered what the proper policy for reconstruction should be, and he eventually had a chance to see how the South had evolved on matters such as race relations during his retirement in Tennessee.

Marshall saw only slightly more combat during the Indian wars than he had seen during the Civil War. The major action he participated in was the Battle of Killdeer Mt. (July 28, 1864), during which Marshall was wounded twice and the main Indian force dispersed. The expeditions gave Marshall a chance to record some detailed and valuable observations of the people who lived on the plains of the Missouri River Valley. His best descriptions are of the tribes living peacefully near army forts and former American Fur Company trading posts, such as the Hidatsa Sioux (or Gros Ventres of the Missouri) and the Mandan, and of the half-caste people who comprised the Red River Carters, who traded fur and buffalo meat and robes harvested while the Carters conducted long trains of two-wheeled vehicles across the north prairies. Other tribes mentioned include: the Arikara (Ree), Cheyenne, Chippewa, Crow, and Winnebago. Some Sioux tribes are listed under their precise names, such as the Yanktonai and Sihasapa (Blackfoot). Others have been cataloged simply as Sioux or Plains Indians. Marshall's observations of the Plains Indians include a description of their agricultural methods and how dogs were used as beasts of burden.

Most of the military concerns of the Civil War, particularly in regard to the quality of officers, carried over to the Sioux Wars. Others, however, took on particular importance. The problem of transportation of supplies and stores, especially forage for the horses, by wagon and steamboat, became the paramount concern as the army marched into present day Montana or into the northeast corner of the Dakota Territory over plains stripped of vegetation by plagues of locusts. Marshall also remarked on the service of U.S. Volunteers, regiments recruited largely from among Confederate prisoners of war for duty on the Indian frontiers. The regiments, prone to desertion and other disciplinary problems, constituted several of the garrisons in the area. Desertion and morale problems also arose among the Veteran Volunteers - the Union men who had re-enlisted - when the end of the Civil War did not end their service. Marshall noted the presence of a black scout accompanying the expedition as a translator of some Indian languages.

Marshall described the appearance, condition, etc., of several of the forts of the Northwest: Forts Snelling and Ridgely, Minn., which were respectively a mustering point and a winter's quarters, and Forts Berthold, Defiance, Rice, Sully, Thompson, and Union in Iowa and the Dakotas. Marshall mentions in passing two newspapers, The Northwest Indian Scout and The Frontier Scout, which were published at Forts Union and Rice. Robert W. Frazer's Forts of the West may prove helpful in locating some of these installations.

The expeditions went through few settled communities other than St. Peter, Minn., Sioux City, Iowa, and Yankton, Dakota Territory, which were the only towns Marshall described at any length. One of the secondary missions of the expeditions, however, was to explore and report on the Dakota Territory. Consequently, there is a good deal of description of the topography, vegetation, geology, natural resources, etc., of the countryside. Marshall repeatedly commented on the long seams of low-grade coal, or lignite, which lay exposed on the surface of the land, and which appeared to be burning spontaneously in one location. Reference should be made to the reports and addenda on these subjects found on the microfilm portion of this collection.

Marshall described and assessed at some length Gen. Alfred Sully, commander of the expeditions and son of the painter Thomas Sully, but said comparatively little of Sully's superior in the department, Gen. Henry H. Sibley. He discussed an investigation of Sully's conduct of the expeditions which arose from allegations made by Walter A. Burleigh, an Indian agent in and later a Congressional Delegate for the Dakota Territory, and territorial Governor Newton Edmunds, who was also a member of the Peace Commission negotiating with the Indians.

The Civil and Indian War material contains references to many regiments and other army units. Among the most prominently mentioned (in addition to those in which Marshall himself served) were the: 83d Ill. Inf., 6th and 7th Iowa Cav., 1st, 3d and 4th Minn. Inf., the 30th and 50th Wisc. Inf., and the 1st and 4th U.S. Vols.

The collection contains a great number of Marshall's opinions and observations on politics. He speaks of the rough-and-tumble ethics of the frontier politics of Wisconsin and Minnesota, maneuverings within the infant Republican Party in Minnesota [letters, diary, 1852-18601, as well as observations on politics in Alabama in the early l900s. Marshall himself only actively campaigned in support of Lincoln and the Republican ticket in 1860, but his papers also mention or comment on the presidential elections of 1856, 1864, and 1896. Some of Marshall's earliest diary entries include observations on the activities of Hungarian nationalist Louis Kossuth in the U.S. and disapproving commentary on eulogies inspired by the passing of Daniel Webster [1851-1852]. Political figures of note with whom Marshall came into contact include: U.S. Representative Cyrus Aldrich of Minnesota, who spoke on the same program with Marshall during the campaign of 1860; Ignatius Donnelly and James H. Baker, then Lt. Gov. and Sec. of State of Minnesota, and later leading figures in the Populist movement of the l890s, who spoke to the troops at Ft. Snelling while Marshall was there in 1861; Jefferson Kidder, then a Minnesota Assemblyman and later a Congressional Delegate from the Dakotas, was another of the speakers who visited Ft. Snelling in 1861; the southern Unionist politicians, Emerson Etheridge, once a Representative from Tennessee, and Anthony A. C. Rodgers, who would later be a Representative from Arkansas, both actively campaigned in support of Union-sponsored elections in Tennessee in 1862 and were guarded by Marshall's regiment; and Minnesota Governor and later U.S. Senator Alexander Ramsey, whom Marshall lobbied for a commission [all of these figures appear in diary entries]. Marshall's daughter, Anna, met Richard Hobson, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, during his campaign for a seat in Congress [letter, 1904]. During Marshall's military service, he commented frequently in letters and diary on the performance of Stephen Miller, Ramsey's successor as governor of Minnesota. He also recorded less extensive commentary on J. P. Altgeld, Governor of Illinois; Isham Harris, Confederate Governor of Tennessee; Henry Wise, Governor of Virginia, whose suppression of John Brown's abortive uprising triggered angry public demonstrations in St. Louis; U.S. Representative Jesse O. Norton of Illinois, who interceded in behalf of his son, an incompetent officer of Sully's staff; Zachariah Chandler and Morton Wilkinson, senators from Michigan and Minnesota, who appeared to be the source of wild rumors during the first year of the Civil War; and the difference of opinion between Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Attorney General Jeremiah Black on the Kansas-Nebraska question. Marshall related an anecdote on how men of his regiment forcibly requisitioned food from George S. Houston, former U.S. Representative from Alabama. Marshall also recorded the comments of a fellow passenger of a Mississippi steamboat on Miguel Otero, Congressional Delegate from the Territory of New Mexico, and on the politics and government of that territory [diary, 1859].

Marshall wrote to and received replies from a number of congressmen and public officials [1894-1916]. Replies from Representative Mark H. Dunnell and Knute Nelson of Minnesota contain some specifics on issues and appointments. Representatives William C. Houston of Tennessee and James A. Tawney of Minnesota and Senators Cushman Davis of Minnesota and William B. Allison of Iowa supplied acknowledgments of a routine nature, although some of these letters deal with specific matters, such as constituent services on pensions, etc. Marcus Outright, the compiler of Confederate documents for the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, replied to an historical inquiry, while the signature of Vespasian Warner, former Representative from Illinois, appears on a document above the title Commissioner of Pensions.

Marshall recorded his own and others opinions on various events of his time - the Trent affair, the reaction of the Democrats to the furor over Sherman's peace terms to Johnston, and the ability of women in Minnesota to exercise limited suffrage and office holding rights.

Education was a recurrent theme in Marshall's letters and papers. Most of this material was generated during his tenure as a schoolteacher in Massachusetts and Wisconsin in the 1850s and later as a parent and member of the school board of Caledonia, Minn., in the period after the Civil War, by the experience of his daughter, Anna, instructing in schools in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee at the turn of the century, and by the career of his niece and her colleagues in Brockton, Mass., who lived in Olive (Marshall) Trow's boardinghouse. This material may be found under the following subject heads: education, teachers and teaching, and school facilities. Marshall himself held strong opinions on the proper education of children and women. He was reluctant to begin the teaching of children at home at an early age, and he was opposed to exposing women to a rigorous program of scholarship, which he thought would be ruinous to their health [letters, 1853-1857, 1870-1913]. Marshall himself demonstrated a lively curiosity on a great number of subjects and was not reluctant to attend lectures by visiting speakers. Among those whom he heard were Horace Mann, the educational reformer, and James Stanley Grimes, a theorist of phrenology, a subject which intrigued Marshall for a while thereafter [diary, 1851]. Marshall recorded some impressions of Union University at Murfreesboro, Tenn., where his regiment was billeted during the Civil War. There is also some material pertinent to the histories of two other southern universities. One of Marshall's sister's former boarders was Laura Gill, who had been dean of Barnard College and had been hired by the University of the South at Suwannee, Tenn., to set up a coordinate college for women there. Marshall's sister urged Eugene to visit her former boarder while both were in Tennessee. By the time Marshall had acted on his sister's suggestion, Miss Gill had left Suwannee for a similar assignment at Trinity College, Durham, N.C. [letters, 1908-1914]. Additional material pertaining to Laura Gill may be found in the Duke University Archives, Earl Waters Porter's A History of Trinity College and Duke, 1892-1924, and the B. N. Duke and Tillinghast Family MSS. in this library.

Among the locales described in the papers as a result of Marshall's extensive travelling are: Huntsville, Ala.; the Mississippi river front of Arkansas; Cairo, Ill.; Keokuk and and Sioux City, Io.; Calloway County and Smithland, Ky.; New Orleans, La.; Caledonia, St. Paul, and St. Peter, Minn.; Yankton, S.D.; Mansfield, Memphis, and Nashville, Tenn.; Galveston and San Antonio, Tex.; Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, and Ripon, Wisc.; and parts of Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and Rhode Island. He also provides a few glimpses of life in Sheboygan, Wisc., and Clarksville, Tenn., the effects of the Civil War on Calloway County and Smithland, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., Carroll County, Mansfield, and Nashville, Tenn., and northern Alabama, and life in Minnesota during the Civil War and Sioux liars. Marshall also recorded some descriptive material on the territory of New Mexico which was recounted to him.

Of the various places described in the Marshall papers, none emerges as fully as does Brockton, Mass., through the letters [1861-1910] of Eugene's sister Olive. Olive (Marshall) Trow became the proprietor of a boardinghouse when her husband's health failed, and she remained in her hometown for the rest of her life, during which rural North Bridgewater, once a poor agricultural community of native New Englanders, became Brockton, a small but rapidly expanding manufacturing city with a diverse immigrant population. Olive's primary connection with these and other societal changes were her daughter Lizzie, a schoolteacher, and Lizzie's colleagues who boarded at the Trows'.

Olive was a nativist and betrayed a contempt for immigrants, who included Irish, Swedes, French Canadians, Italians, Jews, and blacks. She and her neighbors attempted to discriminate against new groups through "real covenants" which prohibited resale of property to specific nationalities [1899-1900]. She was troubled by greater militancy and expectations of Brockton's labor pool, particularly domestic servants. The city went through a difficult time in the winter following the coal miners' strike of 1902, and Olive expressed strong anti-union sentiments. She was displeased when Socialist candidates won positions in local government. Her letters also supply other economic indicators. She occasionally offered fairly general assessments of the state of the economy in Massachusetts, while other of her letters are rather specifically directed to the salaries, etc., of teachers in the local area. On a related note, Olive was considerably more supportive than her brother of women who sought scholarly or professional self-improvement, and she took pride in the accomplishments of her former boarders who became physicians and osteopaths, undertook graduate studies, or otherwise made careers for themselves. Olive mentions visiting lecturers, such as John (Captain Jack) Wallace Crawford. Other minor insights into life in Brockton include personal and public reactions to the assassination of McKinley and the San Francisco and Italian earthquakes of 1906 and 1908.

In both Eugene Marshall's papers and his sister's letters, there is a good deal of information about illness and the medical profession, in part because both brother and sister were both long-lived and survived many of their family members. Their father, Hayward Marshall, suffered a number of afflictions of age, most notably a circulation problem which nearly paralyzed his legs before his death in 1876. Marshall's eldest daughter, Fanny, developed a severe bone infection in 1882 which resisted treatment until her death in 1888; his wife, Lizzie, suffered a stroke in 1895 and died three months later. Olive's husband lived with a heart condition most of his adult life before succumbing in 1905 to a series of strokes. Olive herself died in 1917. These and lesser medical problems demonstrate, through the treatment and care prescribed, something of the level of medical knowledge current and the amount of confidence the medical profession inspired. Hayward Marshall sought help from a hypnotist and a "clairvoyance" doctor [letters, 1865-1868]. Fanny's illness was misdiagnosed from beginning to end by qualified doctors, while at least one quack approached Eugene with an offer for her quick cure. There is a little information on ordinary folk medicine, such as the application of leeches [diary, 1851]. Both Eugene and his sister would inform the other of diseases moving through the area. There may be some epidemiological interest in such reports of the following diseases: cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, erysipelas, influenza, measles, meningitis, scarlet fever, smallpox, typhoid, and yellow fever. Others would include infectious illnesses, such as tetanus, and ill-defined or veterinary diseases which are either cataloged under the bodily part affected or under the term used, such as "hog cholera". Marshall also noted instances of alcohol and drug abuse, both in and out of the army.

There is also a notable amount of information, primarily in Olive's letters, on the medical education and career of her nephew, Marshall Lawrence Cushman, who took his undergraduate and medical schooling at the University of Michigan in 1901-1906, specializing in otolaryngology - ears, nose, and throat surgery - under the tutelage of Roy Bishop Canfield, then among the pioneers of such surgery in the United States. Lawrence Cushing went on to further study in Vienna and Berlin before starting a private practice in Lansing, Mich. Some additional biographical information on Cushing and Canfield may be found in the supplementary material folder filed with the first box of correspondence.

Eugene Marshall shared some of his sister's nativism, although his prejudices were mixed with more detached observation. Marshall commented on Germans and Irish in Texas and Minnesota [diary, letters, 1858-1883], Norwegians in Minnesota [diary, 1860], and Dutch generally [diary, 1852]. Some nativist comments relating to social attitudes in Wisconsin and political leniency in certifying naturalization there may also be found [letter, 1852].

In his later life, Marshall developed a considerable interest in his genealogy, most of which may be found in a special book compiled of family charts, etc. Marshall's record and scrapbooks as well as correspondence with family members, professional genealogists, and town clerks contain related information. He succeeded in tracing his ancestry back to the Mayflower and back to 1588. Among the 30 or more surnames mentioned in his research are the following: Cook, Wild, Hayward, Cary, Manly, Symmes, and Gannett.

As a farmer and the son of a farmer, Marshall's papers contain a good deal of information, observation, and detail concerning agriculture in Alabama, Dakota Territory, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Marshall's father kept Eugene informed of the prices of farm commodities in Massachusetts and Vermont where he maintained farms, and the elder Marshall offered some bits of folklore for determining the quality of dairy cattle when Eugene went into dairying briefly after the Civil War [letters, 1860-1875]. Eugene noted land prices in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the 1850s and in Iowa immediately after the wars. In shone same states he recorded aspects of frontier and pioneer life, including a vivid description of a fire in the grasslands of the Midwest [letter, 1855]. Other items related to agriculture in the Midwest of the 1850s include the role of farm women, the transportation of grain along the Mississippi, Marshall's speculation in patents for a machine which made fences from prairie sod, and the wages and hiring of agricultural labor. During his prewar trip to Texas, Marshall noted efforts made to improve the stock of the cattle industry and Texas agricultural laws which made land ownership by non-Texans difficult.

Marshall himself commented little on the labor movement, although he had some observations on labor and laborers, i.e., on attitudes toward work, working conditions, and wages, in particular contrasting situations in the North and South [diary, letters, 1904]. During his early years in the Midwest he recorded wages in the building trades while assessing the economics of life in the frontier towns. One of Marshall's later correspondents, Edmund Smalley of Chicago, intermingled commentary on low wages with speculation on the proper political strategy for the GOP; his letters contain a strong flavor of Social Darwinism [letters, 1910].

Marshall's geographic location and economic speculative interests brought him to note the progress and role of railroads. He personally invested in and followed the political future of railroads in Minnesota, particularly the Southern Minnesota and the Root River railroad companies [letters, diary, 1855-1862]. He used the progress and activity of the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railroad as a barometer of Texas' economic health during his trip there. Later, sister Oliver forwarded a newspaper clipping on the manipulation of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad by J. P. Morgan and its effect of New England [letter, 1910]. Related to the railroad industry are some 1859 diary observations on the controversial Rock Island Bridge (as a possible navigational hazard) and isolated citations of railway fares and telegraph rates in the 1880s and 1890s.

Other industries mentioned or described to some degree in the diary include the iron industry in the lower Cumberland, and Tennessee River valleys and some cotton mills in west central Tennessee [1862-1863].

A number of noteworthy incidents involving points of law and criminal justice appear in the collection: severe coporal punishments meted out to blacks in antebellum Texas, rough-and-tumble notions of pretrial custody in frontier Minnesota when the police sympathize with the prisoner's victim [diary, 1858], a wave of garroting and robbery in North Bridgewater, Mass. [letters, 1865], thievery of farm equipment in Vermont [letters, 1875], comments by a correspondent on the recall of judges and their decisions [letter, 1912], and the determination of insanity in a murder case in Minnesota [diary, 1864]. Marshall himself was involved in a long, drawn out settlement of his father's estate with Eugene's stepmother and her relatives in Vermont courts [letter, diary, 1876-1877; miscellany, 1839].

Marshall did not participate in organized religion. A Methodist revival held near his home in Minnesota in 1858 led him to express a dislike of displays of emotion in religion [letters, diary]. He expressed a similar dislike of the pageantry of Spanish-style Catholicism he witnessed in Texas [letters, diary], although he sent his eldest daughter to Catholic schools in the Midwest [letters, 1882-1883]. Marshall noted with amusement a stormy merger and renewed split of two Protestant congregations in Tennessee [letters, 1909].

Marshall was an active Freemason through much of his life and encouraged his brother-in-law to join the Masons [diary, letters, 1862-1863]. The assistance of Fred's lodge members to Olive during her husband's long illness is recounted in her letters [1897-1908]. Eugene Marshall noted with satisfaction the participation of army officers in the Independent Order of Good Templars during the winter camp at Sioux City, Iowa, in 1865-1866 [diary]. The Templars were modeled after the Freemasons as a fraternal-order but were basically a temperance society.

Occasionally Marshall discussed the observance of holidays - Thanksgiving in New England and on the frontier, Christmas in Texas, and the New Year of the new century in 1901.

The collection contains a few scattered items of pictorial interest: stationery portraits of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin, federal stationery of the Civil War, a letterhead picture of the falls of Minnehaha, and a post card of a ferry crossing at Ft. Snelling, Minn.

Scattered topics discussed include: Eugene's mild disgust that a relative took up spiritualism [letters, 1858], his account of the damage done by a flood in Tennessee in 1902, and a mention of lawn tennis in Tennessee in 1905.

Miscellaneous people who appear in the collection include: Warren Upham, secretary of the Minnesota Historical Society and a noted archeologist and geologist, who thanked Marshall for donating typescript and manuscript materials on Brackett's Battalion [letters, 1909-1910]; Solon J. Buck, then superintendent of the Minnesota Historical Society and later Archivist of the United States (1914-1948), who agreed to purchase a set of the Independent Marshall had offered for sale [letter, 1918]; and Robert Morris (1818-1888), the "poet laureate of Freemasonry," who captained a supply steamboat in Tennessee during the Civil War [diary, 1862].

The Oversize Folder contains a certificate attesting to Marshall's membership in the Minnesota chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

The material reproduced on the microfilm reel consists of papers at the Minnesota Historical Society. There are four titles on the reel, all of which pertain to Marshall's military service. They are:

The Abstract covers the activities of the company of the title from its organization until it went into winter quarters at Ft. Ridgely, Minn., after the 1864 campaign of the Sioux Wars. The Abstract, a very terse outline of the unit history, was submitted by Lt. Mortimer Neeley, the last company commander, and was probably prepared by Marshall himself. Although the Abstract might serve as a reference tool for chronology and unit lineage matters, it is only 15 pages long and therefore can provide only a little detail of the-military actions it covers, such as the Tullahoma and Chattanooga campaigns and the Battle of Kildeer Mt.

The Narrative gives only a history of the formation of the Minnesota cavalry companies Marshall was associated with and the operations of the 5th Iowa Cavalry from the fall of 1861 to the end of 1862. Marshall presumably wrote and sent the Narrative to the Minnesota Historica1 Society in 1909, but his considerable use of the diaries he had kept during the war provided a greater feeling of immediacy than might be expected of a memoir of events 45 years past. The Narrative is 21 pages long, but it manages to include anecdotes and descriptions of insight and color concerning Gen. William T. Sherman, the appearance of Ft. Henry after its capture and occupation, and details concerning supply, the exchange of prisoners, and action at Ft. Donelson and Clarksville, Tenn.

The Report (24 pp.) was a survey of Dakota Territory, particularly of present North Dakota, by a hospital steward of German extraction temporarily acting as the naturalist for the Northwest Indian Expedition. The report covered the territory along the army's line of march in 1865; apparently a similar report had been filed for the area of operations in 1864. Rothhammer attempted to cover flora, fauna, geologic formations, climatic conditions, and the suitability of the area for agriculture. His report spent a considerable amount of time on the extensive deposits of lignite or low-grade, "brown" coal found in the area. In his remarks on the report (16 pp.), Marshall indicated that he had transcribed and edited the report and had eliminated material he thought inaccurate, overly florid, or not germane, particularly most of Rothhammer's commentary on the Plains Indians. Marshall also added a long section on a plateau region of present-day North Dakota which lies northeast of the Missouri River, which he called "the great Coteau of the Missouri," where many of the rivers of the Upper Plains found their headwaters. The remarks also disagreed with the report's evaluation of the region's agricultural potential and its explanations of various geological and hydrographic phenomena. Rothhammer's commentary, corrected by Marshall, appears to be among the first moderately thorough surveys of the Dakota area since that of Lewis and Clark.

The Order Book of Brackett's Battalion (88 pp.) begins with the order from Washington of Feb. 25, 1864, which separated the Minnesota cavalry companies from the 5th Iowa Cavalry and established them as an independent battalion. It ends with the expedition encamped back near Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 25, 1864. Orders include those pertinent to the battalion issued from other headquarters as well as those published by the battalion commander. Of special interest are the orders pertaining to the Battle of KiIdeer Mt. and those dealing with problems of military discipline. Most of the orders issued by Brackett's Battalion are countersigned by Marshall, who was battalion sergeant major and acting adjutant at the time.

  • 1) An Abstract of the history of Captain A. B. Brackett's 3rd Company - Minnesota Cavalry - organized at Fort Snelling Minnesota November 1st 1861
  • 2) Narrative of the Civil War by Eugene Marshall
  • 3) Report of the physical condition and natural products of that part of the Dakota Territory which was passed over by the Northwestern Indian Expedition commanded by Brevet Major General Alfred Sully during the summer of 1865. by Sigismund M. Rothhammer, and Remarks Upon Report of S. M. Rothhammer Acting Naturalist Northwestern Indian Expedition by Eugene Marshall, 1865
  • 4) Battalion Order Book of A. B. Brackett

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Contents of the Collection

1851 Sept 2 - Dec 4
Box 1
1852 Aug 29 - Dec 31
Box 2
1853 Jul 10 - Aug 13 - 14
Box 2
1853 Apr 1 - Dec 1
Box 3
1856 Jul 8 - oct 14
Box 4
1858 Aug 25, 26
Box 4
1859 Oct 31 - Dec 17
Box 4
1858 Jan 12 to 1859 June 1
Box 5
1860 Apr 5 to 1861 Jan 31
Box 5
1859 Dec 17 - 18 to 1860 Jan 31
Box 6
1861 Oct 19 - Dec 10
Box 7
1861 Dec 11 to 1862 Feb 28
Box 8
1862 Mar 1 - Mar 20
Box 9
1862 Mar 21 - May 9
Box 10
1862 May 17 - June 30
Box 11
1862 Jul 1 - Aug 22
Box 12
1862 Aug 23 - Aug 27
Box 13
1862 Aug 29 - Oct 4
Box 14
1862 Oct 4 to 1863 Feb 16
Box 15
1863 Feb 5 - Mar 25
Box 15
1863 Mar 26 - May 27
Box 17
May 28 to July 9, 1863
Box 18
1863 Jul 10 - Sept 4
Box 19
1863 Sept 5 - Oct 18
Box 20
1863 Oct 19 to 1864 June 16
Box 21
1863 Nov 21
Box 21A
1864 Jan 24 - Feb 29
Box 22
1864 Mar 8 - Mar 14
Box 22
1864 Mar 23 - Mar 24
Box 22
1864 May 4
Box 22
1864 Mar 18 - Apr 6
Box 23
1864 Apr.7 - Apr 28
Box 24
1864 May 2 - May 30 [typescript]
Box 24
1864 May 31 - Jul 4
Box 25
1864 Aug 25 - Sept 7[itinerary]
Box 25A
1864 Jul 5 - Aug 18
Box 26
1864 Jul 25 - Jul 31
Box 27
1864 Aug 18 - Sept 22
Box 28
1864 Sept 23 - Dec 31
Box 29
1865 Feb 27 - Mav 28
Box 30
1865 May 29 - Jul 20
Box 31
1865 Jul 21 - Nov 30
Box 32
1865 Dec 1 to 1866 Jan 24
Box 33
1877 Sept 15 to 1888 June 11 (scattered entries)
Box 34
1894 Dec 30 to 1895 Oct 25
Box 35
1905 Jul 10
Box 35
Miscellaneous Oversize
Oversize Folder 1

Historical Note

Eugene Marshall (1832-1919), born in North Bridgewater (present day Brockton), Massachusetts, was a surveyor, farmer, and banker who served as a volunteer in the Union Army during the Civil War and Sioux Wars (1862-1865) while with units known successively as Curtis' Horse, the 5th Iowa Cavalry, and Brackett's Battalion. Marshall left his family home early and spent most of his adult civilian life in Minnesota and Iowa and his retirement years at Manchester, Tennessee. While on these migrations and during other travels in and out of uniform, he recorded a wealth of perceptive observations concerning the events, people, and environments in each area he encountered. Marshall amplified these passive observations with accounts of his own participation in politics and economic endeavors and commentary on national figures and events. His experiences in the Midwest and the South are complemented by equally observant letters from his sister who had remained in North Bridgewater.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], The Eugene Marshall Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Papers of Eugene Marshall were acquired by Duke University in 1960-1962.

Processing Information

Processed by David A. Keough

Completed 1997

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.