Osburn Family papers
The Osburn family papers consist of thirteen letters primarily written to Ginnie Osburn by her brothers Lewis and James who served in Maryland regiments of the Union Army during the Civil War. Major topics within the correspondence include life as a soldier, family concerns, illness, financial worries, travel on the frontier, business prospects, and local news.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
Osburn Family papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at http://digital.lib.umd.edu/ in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.
This collection is PROCESSED.
Little is known about the Osburn family of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, except what can be gathered from thirteen letters sent to Ginnie Osburn and her mother from Ginnie's brothers, Lewis and James, and friends, Rachael McClure and Matt--whose surname is not given. Both Lewis and James Osburn served in the Union army during the Civil War. Lewis was in Company B, 7th Maryland Regiment, while James served with Company I, 3rd Maryland Regiment. At least during the time of their correspondence, Lewis stayed in the Maryland and Virginia area, while James was in New Orleans.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Osburn Family Papers consist of thirteen letters which span the period from 1857 to 1864, although most were produced in 1863 and 1864. All the letters but one were written to Ginnie Osburn; her correspondents were her brother, Lewis, and her friends, Rachael McClure and Matt. The remaining letter is from Ginnie's brother James to their mother. Major topics within the correspondence include life as a Union soldier during the Civil War, family concerns, illness, financial worries, travel on the frontier, business prospects, and local news.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
The Archives and Manuscripts Department purchased the Osburn Family Papers from Charles Apfelbaum in 1994.
Processed by Meg Alessi, August 1996.
Chemically inert clips have been used to attach letters to their accompanying envelopes, where appropriate. All materials have been placed in acid-free folders and in an acid-free container.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Henry Allen, July 2004.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection is organized as 1 (one) series.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Correspondence, 1857-1864 (0.25 linear feet)
This series contains thirteen letters written between 1857 and 1864. Twelve of the letters were written to Ginnie Osburn: ten from her brother Lewis, one from Rachael McClure, and one from an apparent suitor named Matt. From an area near Shepherdstown, Pennsylvania, Rachael McClure wrote to Ginnie in 1857. In her letter, Rachael remarks about the cold weather, a funeral, and other personal news. A letter to Ginnie from Matt in Prescott, Wisconsin, in 1862 offers a detailed account of his journey west; he discusses poor travelling conditions created by bad roads and weather. He also describes frontier people and evaluates his brother's shipping business. Lewis's letters to his sister, dated 1863 to 1864, came from several locations: Hagerstown, Baltimore, and Frederick, Maryland; Alexandria and Kelly Ford, Virginia; and Washington, D. C. In his correspondence, Lewis describes his ill health, speculates about future paydays and the possibilities of furloughs, promises to send money, and expresses concern about his brother James's misbehavior at home. His letters often reveal a definite unhappiness with his life as a soldier. He complains about the "hard times" of "this bloody war": arduous marches and physical labor, uncaring army surgeons, his lack of money, and meager rations.The last letter in the series, from James Osburn to his mother, expresses a different attitude than that of his brother. Writing from New Orleans in 1864, James admits to "very hard times" scouting in the woods near Lake Ponchetrain but declares "Solgering agrese with me for I have not bin sick since I have bin a solger". He recounts a confrontation with Confederate troops in a swamp, describes his role as a bugler, and, like Lewis, speculates about a future payday and promises to send money home. Three miscellaneous documents are also included in this series. The first has an address where Lewis's army regiment may be reached in Washington, D. C. Another note has several signatures of "John McClure". The third item is a business card for a guesthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, with an accompanying small envelope addressed to James Osburn and his unit. The letters and miscellaneous documents are arranged by correspondent and then chronologically within each folder.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame||Item|
|?, Matt, 1862||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Letter from Matt (?) To Ginnie Osburn (Online), April 4, 1862||series 1||box 1||folder 1||item 1|
|McClure, Rachael, 1857||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|Letter from Rachel McClure to Ginnie Osburn (Online), November 14, 1857||series 1||box 1||folder 2||item 1|
|Osburn, James, 1861||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|Business Card for Marshall House in Alexandria, Virginia (Online), 1861||series 1||box 1||folder 3||item 1|
|Letter from James Osburn to his Mother (Online), March 16, 1864||series 1||box 1||folder 3||item 2|
|Osburn, Lewis, 1863-1864||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), February 3, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 1|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), February 19, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 2|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), March 22, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 3|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), October 8, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 4|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), May 10, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 5|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), July 25, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 6|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), November 20, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 7|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), December 14, 1863||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 8|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), February 24, 1864||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 9|
|Letter from Lewis Osburn to his Sister, Ginnie Osburn (Online), March 7 and April 10, 1864||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 11|
|Instructions by Lewis Osburn Directing Future Correspondence (Forwarding Address) (Online), 1864||series 1||box 1||folder 4||item 10|
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- Osburn Family -- Archives
- United States. -- Army -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources
Names (Added Entries)
- Osburn, Ginnie
- Osburn, James
- Osburn, Lewis