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Harrison Family Letters

Identifier: MS-0544

Scope and Contents

The Harrison Family Papers are comprised of 17 personal letters written primarily between Mr. J. S. Harrison and his wife, Julia E. Harrison during his enlistment. Letters from Julila and Mr. Harrison’s family are also included; a letter from Sallie (unknown relation) to a Mr. West; and one from Sallie writing to her husband.

Two letters predate the Civil War, one in which a sister to either Mr. or Mrs. Harrison writes of the family coming to see “the negro” which the Harrisons intend on selling and speaks a bit about Mary, her family’s slave, whom they will hire out for Christmas. A later letter from J.S. Harrison to wife Julia mentions two slaves, Sam and Henry, who had successfully run away.

Mr. Harrison’s correspondance with his wife dates back to September 13th, 1861 in which he explains he is stationed at a boarding house attending the sick. Subsequent letters speak of certain battles and run-ins with “Lincolnists.”  In some letters he sends his wife money in the amounts of $10 or $20, and in others he divulges his discontentment and boredom with the war and the Southern Confederacy, describing his surroundings as a bunch of “swamps and frog ponds” and often complains that there is nothing to do. He writes that his regiment travels 5 to 10 miles a day.

In his letters from 1863 to 1864 he declares the “war will end with Abe’s Presidential Career” and that their “cause is just and God will give us the victory” but then his attitude takes a shift mid-1864, writing how he is “tired of the cruel war….Yanks are determined to...destroy this country”. In the same letter he mentions how he is staying in a private house because of an injury he received. He tells his wife “You must not let your temper run too high with the Lincolnites as they have the advantage now”. His last letter concerning the War is dated July 22nd, 1864.

The locations of his letters are sent first from East Tennessee, and later from Kentucky (Mills Springs, Camp Waldy, Camp Milloparego), Alabama (Decater), and Mississippi (Corinth, Okolona).

The Collection also includes letters that post-date the Civil War (1869) from a Mrs. Sallie writing to her husband and to a Mr. R. B. West, in which she speaks of church, her family, and going on buggy rides.


  • Creation: 1854-1869


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Mr. J. S. Harrison, from Liberty, Tennessee, fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War where he served as a surgeon and later a commissary.


0.20 Linear Feet

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US