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Robert H. Caldwell Papers - MS 623

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The Robert Caldwell Papers consist of a series of Civil War era letters, primarily from Robert Caldwell of Elmore, Harris Township, Ottawa County, Ohio. The collection was copied from the Caldwell Family Papers, located at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, Ohio, with the cooperation of Nan Card, Reference Archivist. The originals were donated by Mr. C.K. Wesley in 1972.

No restrictions exist on the use of this collection. Duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research. The collection was processed and register prepared by Mark Daymude, Graduate Student in History at B.G.S.U., in December 1991.

Biographical Sketch

Robert H. Caldwell was born on June 14, 1841, the son of William and Jane (Davis) Caldwell. Robert was one of four children, with two brothers and a sister. William C., the oldest brother, served with the 72nd Regiment, O.V.I. as hospital steward and assistant surgeon. Charles, the middle brother, died in 1852 at the age of 13. Juliet, the sister, studied at Oberlin.

Robert worked for his father, a lumberman, at the family's mill. At the age of twenty, Robert joined the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was appointed 3rd corporal of Company I. He was promoted to sergeant on June 7, 1862.

In August, he was sent home on a recruiting mission. He rejoined the 21st in mid November. At the Battle of Stones River, he was wounded. He died in the hospital on February 8, 1863.

Scope and Content

The Robert H. Caldwell Papers consist of correspondence between the members of the Caldwell family during the Civil War.

Robert Caldwell served with the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company I, from September 1861 till February 1863. The correspondence presents a complete series of communications during the period Robert was in the army. Three of the letters are from his brother William, serving with the 72nd O.V.I., with one letter each from Robert's mother Jane, his uncle John Davis, and Amos Wood, also of Company I.

The letters from Robert describe camp life in some detail. Robert was a good friend of Captain Vantine of Co. I, and he served as his clerk. This put Robert in a position to learn information which may not have been available to the average soldier. This also allows him to comment on the company politics. In addition, he mentions health conditions, guard duty, movements, skirmishes, and the conduct of the war.

Two letters stand out as being particularly useful. First, a letter to William, dated July 31, 1862, provides a history of the 21st O.V.I. from its muster-in till the end of July. Second, a letter to his father, dated January 3, 1863, offers a description of Robert's participation in the Battle of Stones River. It should be noted that this letter is difficult to read, so a typed transcript is also provided.

The letters after Robert's death are between various family members expressing their sympathy to each other.

Series Description


Sept 15, 1861-Jan 14, 1863
Arranged chronologically
A series of 114 letters to members of his immediate family, while he served with the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company I, during the Civil War

Jan 18-Feb 23, 1863
Arranged chronologically
A series of six letters from members of the Caldwell Family, expressing sympathy for the death of Robert


Box 1

  1. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Sept 1861
  2. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Oct 1861
  3. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Nov 1861
  4. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Dec 1861
  5. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Jan 1862
  6. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Feb 1862
  7. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Mar 1862
  8. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Apr 1862
  9. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, May 1862
  10. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, June 1862
  11. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, July 1862
  12. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Aug 1862
  13. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Sept 1862
  14. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Oct 1862
  15. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Nov 1862
  16. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Dec 1862
  17. Correspondence - Robert Caldwell, Jan 1863
  18. Correspondence - Miscellaneous, Jan-Feb 1863

MS 623 - Robert Caldwell List of Transcripts
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