Center for Archival Collections

Reference Services | Manuscripts by Subject | Purchasing Microfilm | CAC Homepage

Samuel McClain Papers - MS 640

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory
List of Transcripts

Introduction

The Samuel McClain Papers consist of approximately .3 linear ft. of Civil War era documents, dating from 1864, consisting of the correspondence and diary of Samuel McClain during his service with the 144th O.V.I., including his imprisonment in various Confederate prisons.

The collection was loaned to the Center for Archival Collections for microfilming and copying through the cooperation of David Ferner and Douglas Decker, May-July 1992. This register was prepared by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts, and Steve Charter, Reference Archivist, Center for Archival Collections, May-July, 1992, with revisions in February 1997. No restrictions exist on the use of this collection.

Biographical Sketch

Samuel McClain, son of Robert and Rachel (Barton) McClain, was born December 29, 1830 in Straw Camp, Ross Township, Jefferson County, Ohio. He lived on the family farm until, when in the early 1850s, he succumbed to "gold fever" and ventured to California. He was married December 24, 1854 in Puerto del Reyes, California to Lucinda Ann Richardson, a daughter of Michael Richardson. Samuel and Lucinda remained in California until 1860 when they moved to Weston, Wood County, Ohio. The names of their children were Laura Jane, born October 14, 1855; Mary Elizabeth, born August 4, 1858; Sarah Ann, born December 23, 1861; and William Robert, born January 9, 1863.

Samuel engaged in farming until May 2, 1864 when he enlisted as a musician (drummer) in Company I of the 144th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On August 13, he was captured near Berrysville, Virginia. Samuel McClain died December 16, 1864 at Salisbury Prison Camp in North Carolina. Lucinda died December 24, 1880 in Weston, Wood County, Ohio.

Scope and Content

The Samuel McClain Papers is a moderately complete series of Civil War era correspondence, with a related diary. The collection consists of a series of 18 letters from Samuel to his wife Lucinda during his service with 144th O.V.I. and a pocket diary which includes his period of captivity in various Confederate prisons until his death.

The letter series, consisting of transcripts of 18 letters, spans the period from when he enlisted in May of 1864 until his capture in August. The early letters give his impressions of the camps and surroundings, with only a little reference to military affairs. However, the letter written from July 6th through the 11th describes the Regiment's involvement at Monocacy Junction. The letter started August 7th, which describes hopes for mustering out and returning home, was the last written before his capture.

The diary, available on microfilm, with a transcript, covers the entire period of McClain's service, including his period as a prisoner of war at Salisbury Prison Camp until his death in December of 1864. The first section of the diary parallels the information in the series of letters, however, the more significant part covers the period after August 11th and the last of the letters. There are brief entries describing capture, a series of different prisons, and terse accounts of camp life, including rations, lice, escape attempts, boredom, family, ill-health, and deaths. The final entry in the diary, written by an unknown party, tells of the death of McClain.

Series Description

CORRESPONDENCE

CORRESPONDENCE - LUCINDA McCLAIN
May 6-Aug. 11, 1864
Arranged chronologically
Letters written to wife, Lucinda, giving his impressions of the camps and surroundings. Major reference to military affairs in the letter written from July 6th through the 11th describes the Regiment's involvement at Monocacy Junction

LITERARY PRODUCTIONS

DIARY
May 1-Dec 16, 1864
Arranged chronologically
Pocket diary, including entire period as prisoner of war not covered in the correspondence. Entries describe capture, different prisons, and camp life, including rations, lice, escape attempts, boredom, family, ill-health, and deaths

Inventory

Box 1

Folder

  1. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Perrysburg, Ohio, May 6 [1864]
  2. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Columbus, Ohio, May 7-8, 1864
  3. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Fort McHenry, Md., May 15, 1864
  4. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., May 18, 1864
  5. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., May 25-28, 1864.
  6. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., May 30-June 1, 1864
  7. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., June 3, 1864
  8. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., June 4, 1864
  9. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., June 11, 1864
  10. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, [Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md.], [June 17?,1864]
  11. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., June 17-18, 1864
  12. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., July 5, 1864
  13. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., July 5, 1864
  14. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Camp Parole to Monocacy Junction, July 6-11, 1864
  15. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Ft. Worthington, Md., July 12, 1864
  16. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, Relay House, Md., July 13-14, 1864
  17. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, In the field, near the Potomac River, July 20-24, 1864
  18. Samuel McClain to Lucinda McClain, In the field, near Harpers Ferry, Aug. 7-11, 1864

On Microfilm

  1. Diary, May 1, 1864-Dec 16, 1864
  2. Transcript of Diary, May 1, 1864-Dec 16, 1864

MS 640 - Samuel McClain Papers: Transcript List
Manuscripts by Subject | Civil War Collections