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Letter, document and photograph archive of Sgt. Zebedee Culver, 19th Michigan Infantry, clerk at General Hospital No. 1 in Union-occupied Nashville, Tennessee, including rarely seen graphic carte-de-visite (CDV) and albumen images of injured soldiers from the Battle of Atlanta, with treatment notes, and a printed record of Gunshot Wounds and other Surgical Cases. Includes approximately 20 letters from Culver's service in Kentucky and Tennessee, 12 photographic images, 12 envelope covers, 4 reunion ribbons, 3 song/poem clippings, and Culver's 1865 School Teacher's certificate and 1881 pension document. Also included is a photocopy of the Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War listing Culver, and a reprint copy of "The Oklahoma Scout" Â¬Â¨âÃâ by Theodore Baughman, detailing his Civil War service with the 19th Michigan at the Battles of Resaca, New Hope Church, Peachtree Creek (in which Zebedee Culver also saw action) and other engagements. 4 of the period CDV images have information hand-written en verso including soldier's name and injury/treatment record, with all stating they were transferred to Nashville after being wounded in and around Atlanta between July 20-August 6, 1864. The soldiers are identified as Sebastian Langendorf (14th Ohio; "circular piece of bone removed an inch in diameter, exposing the brain"); Silas C. Bushing(?) ("Rebel," gunshot wound, gangrene); John A. Babb (amputation; gangrene, "arrested with bromine"); Janus Brithard (?) (gunshot wound, gangrene, "arrested with bromine"). Also included is a partially printed ledger recording the number and type of gunshot wounds treated at Hospital No. 1, compiled by A.A. Surgeon M.L. Herr, USA, under Surgeon USV in Charge, Dr. Bowman Bigelow (B.B.) Breed. One of the CDVs depicts an unidentified woman in dark dress with braided ornamentation, possibly a nurse. BACKGROUND: After the Union took control of Nashville in February of 1862, the city became the ArmyâÃÃ¶âÃâÂ¥s base of operations in the Western Theatre. It was the only southern state capital in Union hands and was strategically situated from a geographic standpoint. Northern troops anticipated Confederates would attempt to re-take the city, and established numerous fortifications and hospitals surrounding the Cumberland River. The Battle of Nashville took place December 15-16, 1864, resulting in a Union victory that many historians believe sealed the fate of the Confederacy. But the city remained otherwise relatively stable during the war, and a number of Federal hospitals were established, including General Hospital No. 1 on College Hill. It comprised a former church and a former gun factory, converted to house 936 beds, and was under the direction of Dr. B.B. Breed. ZEBEDEE CULVER of Quincy, Michigan, enlisted in Company C, 19th infantry, as Sergeant July 28, 1862 (age 22). Was taken prisoner at Thompson's Station, Tennessee on March 5, 1863 and exchanged on May 4, 1863. He participated in the battles of Resaca, Georgia and New Hope Church and was wounded in action at Peach Tree Creek, July 20, 1864. He was transferred to the Veteran's Reserve Corps March 15, 1865 and discharged for disability at Nashville, Tennessee June 6, 1865 from the 160th company, Second Battalion, Veteran Reserve Corps. (Source: Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 1861-1865).Sgt. Culver's letters are all written to his brother, Ben, from various locations, mostly in Tennessee. He writes of camp and hospital conditions including a smallpox outbreak, speculation about developments in the war elsewhere, and news of fellow "boys from Quincy". Culver, who appears to have been well educated for his time, writes with skill, some humor, and fairly legible penmanship. Some of the highlights include: HEADQUARTERS OF COMPANY C,19th Michigan Infantry, Near Danville, KY, illegible date, 1862: letter describing terrible conditions of Confederate prisoners, and his thoughts on some of his superior officers including Major Shafter or Shafer ("as noble a man as ever lived") and a scathing description of "Doc Clarke": "While he was principal of the post hospital at Nicholasville [Camp Nelson, KY], he would have a post mortem examination of all that died. And one of our co said that he would take his oath that he saw old Doc Clarke take some of their intestines and throw them out of the window because they were beloated [sic] so that they could not get them back. And the dogs were seen eating them afterwards. Ben, if I ever have a good chance at the old son of a bitch, I will cripple him so that he will never feed my insides to the dogs. If I don't you can shoot me for a butternut hide. It makes me so mad to think about him that I can't half write." He describes singing with other soldiers ("there are 4 of us in here that can howl the notes a little and when we get engaged we make the old tent get right up and howl…and it serves to pass the time away pretty well").CAMP DICK ROBINSON (KY), Dec. 12, 1862 : Descriptive letter of arriving at the camp to find, among other things, "three thousand barrels of pork here that the rebels left and about an acre of old wagons all chopped to pieces… and a few old cannons, one of them is a brass 6 pound Spanish gun which was made in the year 1723 and was taken from the Mexicans by Taylor and was got by the rebels at the Gosport Navy Yard." Culver also mentions his negative reaction to "the President's message" (likely the Emancipation Proclamation) saying it "stinks of compromise," and that "the only [way] this rebellion is put down so that it will stay is at the point of the bayonet, the extermination of every rebel both North and South and the immediate death of slavery." GUY'S (sp?) GAP, TN, July 8, 1863 – "I feel tip top this morning because we have rec'd news that Grant has got Vicksburg. Lee is all cut to pieces. Bragg is demolished and secession received a clip that made its head ache for a long time. Hip Hip hurrah. The boys are all in tip top spirits but have lots to do, about half the reg't are at work on the railroad…. We had a pretty rough march from Franklin to this place. It rained all the time and we had to come over a dirt road through the cedar woods. And where there were no rocks the mud was up to the wagon axles. The morning after we got in Murfreesboro I woke up and found the water full 4 inches deep in our bed. Our rations all wet. Knapsacks and cartridge boxes full and if my head had not been up on a chunk of wood I expect I should have been full too. The only dry thing there was about me was the inside of my canteen… I had to hunt quite a spell for my gun. But finally found it all covered up in the mud and water. There were nearly five days that I did not have hardly a dry thread in my clothes or a good hour's sleep." MURFREESBORO, TN, July 26, 1863: a cartoon drawing of "Old Morgan in Ohio" and a reference to the landscape laid waste by troops fighting the Battles of Murfreesboro and Stones River: "You can't see anything for 4 miles around the city but old camp grounds. Houses, barns, fences, in fact everything has been torn down. I was in a house yesterday that cost at least estimate $25,000. And there was nothing left but the bare walls. I made use of a part of the railing around the front porch. The only thing I could get my hands on."MCMINNVILLE, TN, March 23, 1864: briefly describes a skirmish with Rebel guerillas near McMinnville. "I heard Rebel bullets whistling around my ears the other night. I was on picket and the…I was in charge of was attacked by 10 guerillas…They fired 7 shots at us and we fired 12 at them. We wounded one man and one horse. They did not touch one of us but some of those shots came mighty close to me I tell you." NASHVILLE, TN – U.S. General Hospital No. 1, Nov. 27, 1864: "They say old Hood is about giving us a call here in Nashville. If he does I may get another finger knocked out, for all that are able to use a gun will have to go out and meet him." NASHVILLE, TN – U.S. General Hospital No. 1, April 2, 1865: "About the hospital, things move on finely. We have got an excellent Surgeon in Charge [Dr. B.B. Breed] to put things through. He has started another library, a chapel, two reading rooms, two gardens and is now trying to get up a singing school. If he fails in that it will be his first failure in anything he has undertaken since he has been here. We have all the books and papers we can read. They are furnished by the U.S. Christian Commission free of charge."NASHVILLE, TN, April 4, 1865 – "We received the news at noon yesterday of the Fall of Richmond and Petersburg and you had better believe there was some hallowing and and big goings on. Old "Negley" [likely Fort Negley] let loose 100 "blanks". Also the State House garrison forts…Zollicoffer and a host of smaller fry which with the muskets of the different regts garrisoning the city made it sound like the 15th and 16th of December [the Battle of Nashville]". Letter goes on to describe festivities lasting into the night as well as reaction from Secessionists. NASHVILLE, TN – U.S. General Hospital No. 1 (on US Christian Commission stationery), April 21, 1865: "The news of the tragedy in Washington [Lincoln's Assassination] came like a thunderbolt here. We were in the midst of celebrating recent victories when the news came and the reverse of feeling was beyond conception. Even among the Secession sympathizers the President's loss was deplored, for they had come to the conclusion that the rebel cause had gone under and that Lincoln was their protector from punishment which they richly deserve and which now there is little prospect for them to escape. I will send a paper home containing the proceedings in the city on the day of the President's funeral. One of the city papers estimated that there were 50,000 persons present. But I think they have got full 30,000 too many. I have seen a great many men together when it was known exactly how many were present and I think 20,000 is a fair estimate…"
PROVENANCE: Private Michigan Collection.
CONDITION: All period items with light toning, wear, and handing grime/creases. CDVs: 3/4" loss to one albumen print, some minor corner losses and creases. Record of Gunshot Wounds: A few pages unbound at top. Some separations and a few fold lines, most notably on the April 4, 1865 letter.