University of Notre Dame

 

Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Sarah Stilson Correspondence.

MSN/CW 5061

 

Collection Summary

Title: Sarah Stilson correspondence
Dates: 1861-1865
Collection No.: MSN/CW 5061
Creator: Stilson, Sarah L.(Sarah Lyra), 1838-1912
Extent: Approximately 40 items; 1 container; .2 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: Letters written by and to Sarah Stilson, a teacher in New York State, during the Civil War. At the heart of the group is a lively correspondence of 25 letters between Stilson and Oliver Waldo West, a Union cavalry officer.

Selected Search Terms

Stilson, Sarah L. (Sarah Lyra), 1838-1912
West, Oliver Waldo, b. 1842
United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 130th (1862-1863)
United States. Army. New York Cavalry Regiment, 1st Dragoons (1862-1865)
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Correspondence

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: Sarah Stilson Correspondence, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Sarah Stilson Correspondence was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame in 2006, from Historical Collectible Auctions of Burlington NC (auction of 21 September 2006, lot 287). It was arranged and described in 2007-08, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2008, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Sarah Lyra Stilson was born in Burma (Burmah) in 1838, the daughter of the Rev. Lyman Stilson (1812-1886), a Baptist missionary, and Lucretia Brownson. Her parents had arrived in Southeast Asia earlier that year, under the auspices of the American Baptist Missionary Union. They were to remain in Burma, along the Arakan coast and at Maulmain, until the death of Mrs. Stilson in 1851. On returning to the United States Rev. Stilson settled in Nunda, Livingston County, New York; Sarah Stilson attended the Nunda Literary Institute and turned to teaching, first in Livingston County and, from 1863, at the Corning (New York) Academy. In April 1861 Stilson wrote, and published locally, a patriotic poem urging enlistment in defense of the Union ("To the 33rd New York Volunteers"); the sentiments expressed therein are much in evidence in her wartime letters. After the Civil War Stilson enrolled at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, graduating in 1869. Much of her subsequent teaching career was spent at Girls High School in Brooklyn. Stilson died in 1912.

Scope and Content Note

The correspondence includes 27 letters written to Stilson and twelve written by her, spread fairly evenly over the war years, from March 1861 to April 1865. Several of Stilson's letters are in the form of drafts, or of notes for letters that may or may not have been sent. The heart of the collection, comprising 25 items, is Stilson's correspondence with her friend and confidante Oliver Waldo West (b. 1842), a young newspaper editor (and future lawyer) from North Dansville, Livingston County, whom Stilson had met at a teachers' institute in 1860. In August 1862 West was mustered in to Co. K, 130th New York Infantry; he remained with the regiment, as 1st lieutenant, when it was converted to cavalry and designated the 1st New York Dragoons, in mid-1863. The following October West was detached to serve on the staff of Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasanton, commanding the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. He was captured on 7 May 1864, at Todd's Tavern, and spent the balance of the war in prison. The letters exchanged by West and Stilson (16 written by West, 11 by Stilson) are long, lively, and opinionated—often, it would seem, provocatively so. While much of the content is personal news, recounted at length, with frequent touches of humor, the letters are also very much a dialogue, an exchange of ideas and feelings about both contemporary affairs and the broader life of the mind. There is a good deal of commentary on literature; both West and Stilson had a weakness for verse. There is also a good deal of verbal sparring, not least about gender relations. Also in the collection are three letters to Stilson from Capt. Henry J. Gifford of the 33rd and 49th New York, written after the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Spotsylvania, and two other letters from soldiers.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged chronologically, one item per folder.

Container List

  • Letter. H[arvey] Farley, Springwater, New York, to "Miss [Sarah] Stilson," Nunda, New York, [1861] March 17. Folder 1 (MSN/CW 5061-01).
    ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, w/envelope.
    The author, the Livingston County school commissioner, confirms a teaching appointment for Stilson for the coming term.
    Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
    Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
    Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
    • Letter. Thomas Simons, Rome, New York, to "My dear Sarah [Stilson]," Nunda, New York, 1861 April 3. Folder 2 (MSN/CW 5061-02).
      ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet, w/integral address leaf.
      Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
      Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
      Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
      • Letter. C. K. Sanders, Nunda, New York, to "Miss [Sarah] Stilson," [Nunda, New York], 1861 April 7. Folder 3 (MSN/CW 5061-03).
        ALS, 1 page on 1 sheet, on "Nunda News Printing Establishment" letterhead.
        The author, a local newspaper editor and publisher, acknowledges an item submitted by Stilson for the Nunda News.
        Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
        • Letter. Mary and Lucy [Pratt], Mount Hope, New York, to "Dear Friend Sarah" [Stilson], n. p., 1861 June 10. Folder 4 (MSN/CW 5061-04).
          ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, on Union patriotic stationary. Lacking subsequent sheet(s).
          Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
          Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
          • Letter. [Oliver Waldo West], Dansville, New York, to "Ma Petite Hindoo Demoiselle" [Sarah Stilson], Nunda, New York. 1861 April 7. Folder 5 (MSN/CW 5061-05).
            ALS, 8 pages on 2 sheets, w/envelope.
            West recalls the circumstances of his first meeting Sarah Stilson, at Mt. Morris Teachers Institute in October 1860; responds to Stilson's theories about marriage; explains the game of baseball (with attendant diagram); muses on nature and religion.
            Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
            • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], Nunda, New York, to "Associate ruler[?] of the 'Two Gut News'" [Oliver Waldo West], n. p., 1862 May 6. Folder 6 (MSN/CW 5061-06).
              AL, 4 pages on 2 sheets. Written in a very fine hand on strips of paper 2 1/2 inches wide, this is almost certainly a draft.
              Stilson comments at length on West's letter of 27 April.
              Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
              Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
              Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
              Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
              • Letter. L[yman] D. Stilson, "Battlefield of Williamsburg Va," to "Dear Cousin S[arah Stilson]", n.p., 1862 May 8. Folder 7 (MSN/CW 5061-07).
                ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet.
                The author (1839-1912) was a cousin of Sarah Stilson's and, when the letter was written, a member of Co. D, 49th New York Infantry. Stilson relates his and his regiment's actions from 4 to 7 May 1862, including service at the Battle of Williamsburg (5 May 1862); he goes on to describe the field of Williamsburg in the aftermath of the battle.
                Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                • Letter. [Oliver] W[aldo West], Dansville, New York, to "Dear Sis" [Sarah Stilson], Rochester, New York, 1862 August 17. Folder 8 (MSN/CW 5061-08).
                  ALS, 8 pages on 2 sheets.
                  West mentions his efforts, since 31 July, raising what would become Co. K, 130th New York Infantry. Orders have now been received to go into camp at Portage in Livingston County. In response to a previous letter of Stilson's in which she admitted she had been close to urging him to enlist, West states that "women have no right to press themselves out of all bounds of propriety and fitness and make themselves ridiculous in "pushing" their sons, their brothers, their lovers, their friends and acquaintances out of doors into the army." Of the war itself, West doubts that it will result in the restoration of the Union: "They will either conquer and subjugate us, or we them." And: "For my part, though I feel a sorrowful, mournful sternness, a coldblooded, heartless inexorableness, an unchristian mercilessness as I utter it, yet I do say, let us destroy them, let us make them to us, and more so, as Ireland is to England, as Italy was to the Goths and Vandals, rather than ourselves be overrun and conquered, or our Republic cut into many petty sovereignties, which would bleed in interminable wars with each other." West speculates that he will be made "orderly Sergeant anyway, and very probably First Lieutenant."
                  Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                  • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], Rochester, New York, to "My dear Soldier Brother" [Oliver Waldo West], n. p., 1862 August 20-22. Folder 9 (MSN/CW 5061-09).
                    AL, 4 pages on 1 sheet.
                    Replying to West's letter of 17 August, Stilson voices her dismay at the view of the war expressed therein, and encourages him to be more optimistic, citing the North's inherent strength and the patriotism of its people, and the desperation of the South's most recent conscription act. She defends the role of women in the war effort: "Don't think that we northern 'women who can't fight' are non caring and perfectly at ease thru' all you soldiers' sufferings. If there's anything we can do we will do it. We will remember you if that will do you any good. We will write you long letters too if that will do you any good. We will pity you when you are sick if that will do you any good or if it won't, for that will be spontaneous . . . . And we will pray for you . . . ."
                    Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                    Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                    Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                    Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                    • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], Rochester, New York, to "My orderly correspondent and Quadratic soldier friend" [Oliver Waldo West], Suffolk, Virginia, 1862 September. Folder 10 (MSN/CW 5061-10).
                      AL, 8 pages on 2 sheets, w/envelope.
                      Stilson celebrates the news of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring: "I never have been "Abolitionist" until lately, but I am now. There! If I've incurred your everlasting displeasure and aroused your wrath to the annihilating pitch,—I stand annihilated, but am Abolitionist (!) . . . . Thank God and Lincoln! Emancipation to the enslaved! "Unconstitutional" no longer! Liberty universal where there is victory." She discourages West's ambition to be an officer: "Don't aspire to be lieutenant very soon for these lieutenants in young regiments are picked off and killed as soon as they go upon the field." Includes a song of her own composition, entitled "Soldier's Lullaby."
                      Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                      • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Suffolk, Virginia, to "Mon amie of the Empire State" [Sarah Stilson], Rochester, New York, 1862 October 6. Folder 11 (MSN/CW 5061-11).
                        ALS, 9 pages on 3 sheets, w/envelope.
                        West describes a forced march to the Blackwater River undertaken by four companies of the 130th New York, 3-4 October 1862; declines to condemn Stilson for her newfound abolitionism: "You may be an Abolitionist but you are ma petite Abolitioniste . . . . You may be an apostate, political or otherwise, but in your apostacy you write letters, long ones and good ones, to me and your thoughts are kindred with mine, though their flowers and petals may have a different hue and shape." In reply to her query, describes for Stilson the bugle or drum calls sounded in camp.
                        Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Page 9: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                        • Letter. [Oliver Waldo West], near Suffolk, Virginia, to [Sarah Stilson], Rochester, New York, 1862 October 9-10. Folder 12 (MSN/CW 5061-12).
                          AL, 8 pages on 2 sheets, w/envelope.
                          West discusses military preferment, and the regiment's need for drill. Fears the Emancipation Proclamation will lengthen the war, because it will make many Southerners "still more furious and full of fight." As for emancipation itself: "I wish . . . that every human being on the Earth had the utmost possible extent of liberty—if that would add to the sum total of his happiness and the happiness of his fellow men . . . . But come down here and see with your own eyes the 'poor, oppressed, benighted slaves' in their 'native land' so to speak, as I have done, and then say if you think your own happiness and their own happiness, compatible with investing these menials with the toga of citizenship or even of 'freedom.' Expresses his agreement with McClellan's "noble, soldierly, manly, and loyal" response to the proclamation in his general orders of 7 October, reminding his officers of the necessity for military subordination to civil authority.
                          Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                          • Letters. "Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Rochester and Lima, New York, to "Capt. H" [Henry J. Gifford], n.p., 1862 November 13 and 1863 January 24. Folder 13 (MSN/CW 5061-13).
                            ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet. Drafts of two letters to Gifford, written on the reverse of an advertising sheet for Boss's chemical writing fluid.
                            Henry J. Gifford (b. c1837), of Bergen, Genesee County, New York, was then time captain of Co. D, 33rd New York Infantry. The earlier of the drafts was Stilson's first letter to Gifford, whom she knew only through the descriptions of an unidentified correspondent. The second draft is a response to Gifford's reply, below (MSN/CW 5061-14).
                            Pages 1 & 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                            Advertising sheet: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                            • Letter. H[enry] J. Gifford, camp near White Oak Church, Virginia, to "my mythical friend Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, 1862 December 20. Folder 14 (MSN/CW 5061-14).
                              ALS, 3 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                              Though there is some mention of the battle of Fredericksburg, most of the letter is given over to an extended self-description by Gifford for Stilson: his appearance, education, "qualities of heart," religious beliefs, and so on.
                              Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                              Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                              Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                              Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                              • Letter. "Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, to "My patriotic soldier friend" [Oliver Waldo West], Suffolk, Virginia, 1862 December 24. Folder 15 (MSN/CW 5061-15).
                                ALS, 10 pages on 2 sheets, w/ envelope illustrated by Stilson.
                                Stilson responds to comments in West's letters of November and December (now lost); mentions acquaintances now in the army (including the artist and photographer Andrew J. Russell, Co. F, 141st New York Infantry); speaks of reading Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.'s novel Elsie Venner and the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (some of whose poems she apparently enclosed); expresses dismay over the recent defeat at Fredericksburg: "I am afraid it is one of two things, either that we must give up and divide and allow secession and lose all the precious blood that has been spilt,—all wasted,— or this war must touch every man in the Union. Which? What? Where???"
                                Pages 1 & 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Pages 3 & 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Pages 5 & 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Pages 7 & 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Page 9: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Pages 10 & 11: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Page 12: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                • Letter. "Quad" [Oliver Waldo West], Fort Nansemond, near Suffolk, Virginia, to [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, 1862 December 31-1863 January 2. Folder 16 (MSN/CW 5061-16).
                                  ALS, 8 pages on 2 sheets, w/envelope.
                                  West responds to Stilson's letter of 24 December, above. Discusses the character of the regimental surgeon Benjamin Kneeland; speculates on the emergence of a military dictator ("I can very easily conceive of circumstances quite possible to us, when a Caesar would be welcome and necessary, viz: When the Government . . . shall have lost the confidence of the people and become weak and powerless, and it only is a question whether a Northern general or a Southern general shall conquer and rule the whole, our people would not be long in choosing between Halleck or Lee, Butler or Stonewall Jackson, McClellan or Davis. And I can tell you one thing for certain: If the occasion should ever force McClellan to ask; where are my men? the armies of the tottering Republic would with but very slight exception dip their banners to the hero of Antietam and hail him as their chosen chieftain, and follow him wherever he should lead till he should triumph over all that oppose him and proclaim peace to a distracted Continent"). Questions the efficacy of the Emancipation Proclamation: ". . . is my boy Lewis . . . any more free now than before? Not a bit. Bah! Paper edicts won't give us victory. We must rely on the army and Little Mac."
                                  Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                  • Letter. "Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, to "Friend [Oliver Waldo] West", Suffolk, Virginia, 1863 January 17. Folder 17 (MSN/CW 5061-17).
                                    ALS, 10 pages on 3 sheets, w/ 1 enclosure (a newspaper clipping bearing the poem "The Battle Autumn of 1862") and envelope.
                                    Stilson discusses the enclosed poem, John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Battle Autumn of 1862"; she also discusses a poem of her own entitled "Twenty-One", which is included in the letter and which was written for West's 21st birthday, 4 January 1863; she comments on receiving letters ("Oh! I enjoy getting letters. What a strange throb there is to an unread letter! Get a letter just as you are going into battle—put it into your vest pocket with the seal unbroken—and go and fight—how you'll hear its heart beat! What if such a letter should be found with a dead soldier, wouldn't the unbroken seal have a kind of mysterious signification?"). Stilson goes on to speak of Tennyson, and describes a recent dream.
                                    Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Page 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Page 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Pages 8 & 9: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Page 10: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Enclosure, front: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Enclosure, back: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                    • Letter. [Oliver] W[aldo West], Fort Nansemond, Virginia, to 'My dear lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, 1863 January 29-February 3. Folder 18 (MSN/CW 5061-18).
                                      ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet, w/envelope.
                                      West responds to Stilson's letter of 17 January, above. Describes an engagement at Kelly's Store, Virginia, near Suffolk, on 30 January 1863; continues to be critical of the Emancipation Proclamation ("You know that the President, wherever our forces 'held occupied and possessed' Southern states or portions thereof, especially refrained from freeing the slaves: but where we did not have power, and where he could not, there he declares the slaves free . . . . If that isn't crawling through a knot hole to suit 2 factions, I never saw any such exploits."). Condemns Horace Greeley's recent ministrations for peace; if peace and Southern independence are to be the result of the war, "what in the name of the orphans and childless mothers it has made, was it begun for?" Holds out hope for the success of Hooker with the Army of the Potomac; calls Burnside "an ingenuous, generous and modest, and withal yet unfortunate man . . . ."
                                      Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                      Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                      Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                      Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                      Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                      • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], Lima, New York, to "My dear Brother Quad" [Oliver Waldo West], Suffolk, Virginia, 1863 April 10. Folder 19 (MSN/CW 5061-19).
                                        AL, 4 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope. Possibly lacking subsequent sheet(s).
                                        Stilson speaks of teaching and of playing chess, and talks of the sexes: "So the poets do dare say that the longing to love and be loved is the strong passion of a woman's heart, do they? . . . Well, all right, I presume they know, but then you don't know but I may be an exception to all women. I may have no desire to love and be loved, you know? Suppose you ask the poets where the case stands."
                                        Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                        Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                        Envelope, front: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                        Envelope, back : 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                        • Document. Whitman Metcalf, Certificate of church membership. 1863 May 12. Folder 20 (MSN/CW 5061-20).
                                          ADS, 1 page on 1 sheet.
                                          A note written for Sarah Stilson, certifying Stilson's membership in the Baptist church at Nunda, New York. Metcalf was the church's pastor. The certificate enabled Stilson "to avail herself of the half fare ticket" to attend the meeting of the American Baptist Missionary Union in Cleveland.
                                          Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                          Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                          • Letter. [Oliver] W[aldo West], Suffolk, Virginia, to "You blessed little Pagan" [Sarah Stilson], Springwater, New York, 1863 June 7. Folder 21 (MSN/CW 5061-21).
                                            ALS, 6 pages on 2 sheets, w/envelope. Written on company stationary (Co, K, 130th New York Infantry); the envelope bears a regimental corner card.
                                            Continued sparring on gender issues, marriage, and the nature of West and Stilson's relationship, in response to Stilson's letter of 10 April, above. "I haven't the least present intention of marrying thee—so don't commence a suit for breach o' promise or write me another such angry unaccountable epistle . . . . You are just the kind of girl I like to sit down and talk or write ideality or reality to, just as the fit takes me. For you have brains to understand me and sentiment enough to appreciate me . . . ."
                                            Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 6: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                            • Manuscript. [Sarah Stilson], Notes for a letter to Oliver Waldo West. 1863 June. Folder 22 (MSN/CW 5061-22).
                                              AMs, 2 pages on 1 sheet. Written on a flyer for the Livingston County Teachers' Institute. (1860).
                                              Outline notes for a letter to West, titled "Letter to Quad June 1863". Stilson enumerates 18 points to be made in the letter, and elaborates on point 3 ("Long story of my cold stiff letter, causes &c." )
                                              Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                              Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                              • Letter. H[enry] J. Gifford, Camp, detachment 33rd N.Y.S.V., near Berlin, Maryland, to "Friend Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Springwater, New York, 1863 July 17. Folder 23 (MSN/CW 5061-23).
                                                ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                A letter written in haste just before Gifford's regiment (the 33rd New York Infantry) recrossed the Potomac after the battle of Gettysburg.
                                                Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                Envelope, front: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Camp, 130th N.Y.V., Manassas Junction, Virginia, to "My dear Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Springwater, New York, 1863 August 13-15. Folder 24 (MSN/CW 5061-24).
                                                  ALS, 14 pages on 4 sheets, w/ envelope.
                                                  West recounts the regiment's movements over the previous month through Loudon, Fauquier, and Prince William counties, Virginia; reports the 130th New York has been converted to cavalry, and is drilling as such (though still without horses); speaks of encamping near the "estate of Rev. Mr. Pollock" outside Warrenton, and of his friendship with the eldest Pollock daughter, Maggie.
                                                  Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 9: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 10 & 11: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 12: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 13: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Page 14: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                  • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], n. p., to [Oliver Waldo West], n. p., [1863] September 16. Folder 25 (MSN/CW 5061-25).
                                                    AL, 2 pages on 1 sheet. Lacking preceding sheet(s).
                                                    Stilson speaks of assuming a teaching position, presumably at the Corning, New York Academy. Responds to details of West's letter of August 13-15, above.
                                                    Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                    Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                    • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Headquarters, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, near Auburn, Virginia, to "Ma chére amie-soeur" [Sarah Stilson], Corning, New York, 1863 October 28-29. Folder 26 (MSN/CW 5061-26).
                                                      ALS, 12 pages on 3 sheets, w/ envelope.
                                                      West reports that the old 130th is now the 1st New York Dragoons, and that he himself has been detached to serve as an aide on the staff of Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasanton, commanding the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Explains the structure of the Cavalry Corps, and voices his dismay with recent events in Virginia: "The recent movements of this army—what do they amount to? Our entire army has retired before a force of the enemy almost not more than one third of ours. And when finally the rebs in their turn Retired, they tore up our R. R. from Manassas to Rappahannock Station bending he rails and burning the ties—most Completely destroying it. Great expense and valuable time must be consumed to put us where we were 2 or 3 weeks ago."
                                                      Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 9: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 10 & 11: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Page 12: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                      • Letter. [Oliver] W[aldo West], Headquarters, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac [near Brandy Station, Virginia], to "My dear 'Lyra'" [Sarah Stilson], Corning, New York, 1863 December 10. Folder 27 (MSN/CW 5061-27).
                                                        ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                        West directs a great deal of sardonic criticism at Meade and the Army of the Potomac, regarding the recent "reconnaisance in force" across the Rapidan (i.e., the Mine Run campaign of 26 November to 1 December).
                                                        Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                        Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                        Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                        Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                        Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                        • Manuscript. [Sarah Stilson], Notes for a letter to Oliver Waldo West. 1863 December 15. Folder 28 (MSN/CW 5061-28).
                                                          AMs, 1 page on 1 sheet. Written on a flyer for Bullard's Panorama of New York City.
                                                          Outline notes for a letter to West, titled "Letter to Quad". Stilson enumerates 16 points to be made in the letter, and elaborates on several.
                                                          Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                          Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                          • Letter. [Oliver] W[aldo West], Headquarters, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to "My dear Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Nunda, New York, 1863 December 18. Folder 29 (MSN/CW 5061-29).
                                                            ALS, 3 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                            West sends Stilson a group photograph of Pleasanton and his staff, in which he himself appears (the taking of the picture is described in MSN/CW 5061-26, above).
                                                            Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                            Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                            Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                            • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Headquarters, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac, to "chére amie Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], Corning, New York, 1864 January 11. Folder 30 (MSN/CW 5061-30).
                                                              ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                              West says that he has written his sister Mary a scolding letter, for her (apparent) gossip that he and Stilson were engaged: "Deuce take it! Almost every young lady I ever corresponded with, has been held up by some officious person or other as my 'intended'. I don't care anything about it on my own account . . . . But 'tis often quite unpleasant for a young lady to have such reports and innuendo floating about concerning her."
                                                              Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                              Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                              Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                              Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                              • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Camp, 1st New York Dragoons, to "Dearly beloved in the Equation" [Sarah Stilson], Corning, New York, 1864 April 15. Folder 31 (MSN/CW 5061-31).
                                                                ALS, 8 pages on 2 sheets, w/ envelope.
                                                                West speaks of leaving winter camp, and of his recent duties as Judge Advocate. Describes a visit to the Union signal station atop Pony Mountain near Culpeper, Virginia, where he encounters Grant: "It was the first time I ever saw him. I was not disappointed. He has a look of immense determination and force about his face." Now back with the 1st New York Dragoons, West mentions that 240 men in the regiment are currently dismounted.
                                                                Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Pages 6 & 7: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Page 8: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                • Letter. H[enry] J. Gifford, near Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia, to "Friend Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], n. p., 1864 May 20-31. Folder 32 (MSN/CW 5061-32).
                                                                  ALS, 5 pages on 2 sheets.
                                                                  Most of this letter was written on 20 May, after the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania and before Grant moved the Army of the Potomac south to the North Anna River. Capt. Gifford was now serving on the staff of the 49th New York Infantry (3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 6th Corps). He spends a page or so summarizing the Overland Campaign to date: "We have been through a series of terrible battles since we crossed the Rapidan on the 3rd of May. My own division has been in every engagement and thus far has suffered a loss of 5520 men and officers. we started with 8700 — In the second days fighting our General (Getty) was wounded as also were two of his staff — the next day one staff officer was killed and another wounded. So that now, there are but two of our original staff left, myself and our Provost Marshall — I have had two horses wounded by shell—and was myself struck in the shoulder by a spent ball—but no injury done . . . . Thus far our movements have been a perfect success and although our loss has been about 30000 still we have received reinforcements to cover that loss. The death of Genl Sedgwick was a sad loss to the old 6th as well as to the army. He was killed by a bullet from a sharpshooter while inspecting his line of battle." Gifford also responds to queries in Stilson's (too infrequent) letters, and writes of the death of his mother the previous March.
                                                                  Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  Page 5: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                  • Letter. Mary L. West, Dansville, New York to "Miss [Sarah] Stilson," Corning, New York, 1864 June 8. Folder 33 (MSN/CW 5061-33).
                                                                    ALS, 3 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                                    Responding to an inquiry of Sarah Stilson's, Mary West writes that her brother Waldo ". . . was taken prisoner by the rebs. May 7th and, with others, immediately taken to Libby Prison, Richmond . . . ." West is unwounded but, according to the report of a surgeon who left the prison on 28 May, in need of food.
                                                                    Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                    Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                    Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                    • Letter. Geo[rge] H. Stuart, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Sarah L. Stilson, Corning, New York, 1864 August 1. Folder 34 (MSN/CW 5061-34).
                                                                      AL, 1 page on 1 sheet, w/ envelope. Written on U. S. Christian Commission letterhead.
                                                                      Stuart, chairman of the U. S. Christian Commission, writes to thank Stilson for a donation of $12.25 from the Elocution Class of Corning Academy.
                                                                      Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                      Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                      • Letter. "J. B. M.," Camp Russell, near Winchester, Virginia, to "Dear Lady," Corning, New York, 1864 December 8. Folder 35 (MSN/CW 5061-35).
                                                                        ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                                        Though this letter obviously ended up in Stilson's hands, it was addressed not specifically to her but to "one of the Numerous Pretty Young Ladies of Corning." The author identifies himself only as J. B. M., a member of Troop L, 6th New York Cavalry, then attached to the Army of the Shenandoah. Asserting that his intentions are "no other than honorable," he describes himself, says he was formerly a resident of Corning, and asks that the recipient write him in return.
                                                                        Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                        Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                        Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                        • Letter. [Oliver] Waldo [West], Camp Parole, Annapolis, Maryland, to "Lyra" [Sarah Stilson], n. p., 1865 April 25. Folder 36 (MSN/CW 5061-36).
                                                                          ALS, 3 pages on 1 sheet, w/ envelope.
                                                                          West writes from Camp Parole in Maryland, where paroled Union prisoners of war were required to report pending exchange for Confederate prisoners. He writes that he is just returned from a trip home to Dansville, but lacked the time to visit Stilson at Corning. He also mentions that the officers at Camp Parole were allowed to attend Lincoln's funeral in Washington, which he did.
                                                                          Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                          Pages 2 & 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                          Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                          Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                          • Letter. "Sarah Quadratic Hindoo Maid" [Sarah Stilson], n. p., to [Oliver Waldo West], n. p., n. d. Folder 37 (MSN/CW 5061-37).
                                                                            ALS, 4 pages on 1 sheet. Lacking preceding sheet(s).
                                                                            The concluding sheet of a letter of uncertain date, in which Stilson writes at length of her teaching.
                                                                            Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                            Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                            Page 3: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                            Page 4: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                            • Letter. [Oliver Waldo West], n. p., to [Sarah Stilson], n. p., n. d. Folder 38 (MSN/CW 5061-38).
                                                                              AL, 2 pages on 1 sheet. Lacking preceding sheet(s).
                                                                              The concluding sheet of a letter of uncertain date.
                                                                              Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                              Page 2: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                              • Letter. [Sarah Stilson], n. p., to [Oliver Waldo West?], n. p., n. d. Folder 39 (MSN/CW 5061-39).
                                                                                AL, 1 page on 1 sheet.
                                                                                Written in a fine hand on one side of a small sheet, this is doubtless a draft. Stilson writes with great indignation of West's possessiveness: "What is more I am not your jewel nor your pride nor your pet—not a bit of it . . . . I have written to you for my amusement. I am under no obligation to do so. There is not a hair of my head nor a little finger of mine that belongs to you and if you tell me again that I am your pet &c I will not write to you in a great while."
                                                                                Page 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                                • Enclosures. n. d. Folder 40 (MSN/CW 5061-40).
                                                                                  Three enclosures, which cannot be readily associated with any individual letter. These are: 1) an oval pencil drawing (perhaps by Stilson) entitled "News from War," showing four family members seated in a drawing room, listening to the reading of a letter; 2) a newspaper clipping with the box score of an intrasquad game played by the Dansville (NY) Base Ball Club (the "second Nine" was captained by West); 3) a cotton boll.
                                                                                  Enclosure 1: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                                  Enclosure 2, front: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                                  Enclosure 2, back: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image
                                                                                  • Envelope. 1862 March 17 (postmark). Folder 41 (MSN/CW 5061-41).
                                                                                    A patriotic cover which bore a letter from Lyman Stilson to Sarah Stilson; the letter itself is not present in the collection.
                                                                                    Envelope: 150 dpi image | 100 dpi image