Greely Stevenson Curtis papers, 1861-1863

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Curtis, Greely Stevenson, 1830-1897.
Title: Greely Stevenson Curtis papers, 1861-1863
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 768
Extent: .25 linear ft. (1 box)
Abstract:Papers of Union soldier Greely Stevenson Curtis of Boston, Massachusetts, who served in Company B., 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and then in the1st Massachusetts Cavalry.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 1995.


[after identification of item(s)], Greely Stevenson Curtis papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Barbara J. Mann, May 1995.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Greely Stevenson Curtis was born November 21, 1830 in Boston, Massachusetts, to James F. and [?] Curtis. He attended the public Latin school for two years and then spent another year and a half at the Scientific School in Cambridge. He worked as an engineer and traveled to California, East Indies, and Canada.

Curtis was commissioned May 24, 1861 in Company B of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which was mustered on May 25. He was promoted to Major in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry in late October 1861 and was mustered on November 1. Curtis was again promoted, this time to Lieutenant Colonel on October 30, 1862. During the battle at Kelley's Ford, March 17, 1863, Curtis was in command of his regiment. He resigned on March 4, 1864 due to disability caused by disease. Curtis married Harriet Sumner Appleton and they resided in Boston. He died in 1897. Sources used to compile this biographical note include The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry 1861-85 by Alonzo H. Quint (Boston: James P. Walker, 1867) and Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War (Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1933).

Scope and Content Note

The Greely Stevenson Curtis papers are divided into two sections: Letters to Harriet Sumner Appleton and Letters to Mother and Others. These letters are in the form of photocopied typescript transcriptions.

The first section consists of twenty-three letters written by Curtis to his fiancee, Harriot Sumner Appleton. These letters date from June 15-December 24, 1861and were written while Curtis served with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment. They were written from camps in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia and discuss a soldier's daily life and the relationship between Curtis and Appleton.

The second section consists of thirty-one letters written by Curtis, mainly to his mother. A few are also written to his aunt, Frances, sister, Mary, and to his friend, Henry Lee Higginson. These letters date from July 8, 1861 -July 18, 1863 and were written from camps in Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. They also contain a discussion of a soldier's daily life and battles fought. Among those Curtis mentions is Robert Goul Shaw.

Both sets of the original letters contained many words or passages that were virtually indecipherable or were filled with abbreviations, some jocose or deliberately misspelled words, obscure allusions to places and persons, and ungrammatical passages. Therefore, double parentheses were used by the editors to designate comments, etc. that they inserted. Commas and periods were also added by the editors as punctuation was sparse in the original letters.

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Container List

Letters to Harriet Sumner Appleton, 1861
Box Folder Content
1 1 Explanatory notes
1 2 Typescript transcriptions, June 15 - August [13-14?], 1861
1 3 Typescript transcriptions, August 21-December 24, 1861
Letters to mother and others, 1861-1863
1 4 Explanatory notes
1 5 Typescript transcriptions, July 8, 1861-June 17, 1862
1 6 Typescript transcriptions, [June or July 1862?]- July 18, 1863, no date