Oliver C. Spoor Papers

1847-1900, 1861-1865; 1861-1865
Manuscript Collection #308
Spoor, Oliver C.
Physical description
0.143 Cubic Feet, 28 items , copies, consisting of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous documents.
Preferred Citation
Oliver C. Spoor Papers (#308), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1847-[1861-1865]-1900) of a Civil War soldier who served in the 3d Regiment NY Cavalry Volunteers, consisting of correspondence, newspapers clippings, camp life, murder, robbery, marriage.

Biographical/historical information

The bulk of the correspondence (1861-1864) is written by Oliver C. Spoor and his brothers James W., Joseph, and Phillip L. Spoor who enlisted in the Union army and were stationed at various points. The letters are addressed to their parents, Reverend and Mrs. J.W. Spoor of Rochester, New York. Oliver C. Spoor enlisted in the 3rd Regiment New York Cavalry Volunteers and rose to the rank of captain before the war ended.

Scope and arrangement

The bulk of the correspondence is addressed from camps in Eastern North Carolina, east central Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. area. Other letters are written from northern locations where the brothers were stationed prior to being sent south.

Of particular significance are letters written from New Bern, N.C. (1862) in which descriptions are made of the town and its environs; battles around Washington, N.C.; raids on Hamilton, Williamston, and Tarboro; the burning of Hamilton and Williamston; stealing of livestock; and encounters with guerrilla forces.

Also of note are commentaries (1862) concerning duty in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland; troop movements around Manassas, Winchester, and Front Royal, Virginia; ineptness of Union generals; plundering of farms; and the victory of Confederate forces under General Thomas J. Jackson over Union troop of General Nathaniel Banks in western Virginia. An 1864 letter from Newport News, Virginia, comments on the possibility of a Naval engagement involving ironclads; gunboat problems; an explosion at Smithfield, Virginia; and news of a brigade of Black troops raiding parts of eastern Virginia and North Carolina.

General topics relate to the rigors and general conditions of camp life. Commentaries touch upon sanitary conditions, foul weather, the problem of finding adequate provisions, and disease and sickness among the troops.

Also included are references to communications, the general ability of the Officer corps, plundering of farms in search of food, condition of the streets of Washington, and architectural features of Southern homes.

An early letter in the collection is dated April, 1827 and addressed from Hood Valley, Oregon. This correspondence discusses the chronic need for more women and clerics in the Oregon territory, the marriage of white men and Indian women, and the rowdy drunken conditions which were prevalent. The letter also contains an extensive geographical and climatological description of the Hood Valley. Included is a listing of the various small fruits and trees, both indigenous and those which had been introduced to the valley, and the wildlife and fish of the valley forest. A list is furnished of the jobs available for women and the salaries of these jobs.

Several later letters are of general miscellaneous nature between members of the Spoor family.

Documents in the collection include copies of the muster papers of Captain Oliver Spoor enrolling him for duty at Norfolk, Virginia (January, 1865), to serve his unexpired term of service. Other documents include copied newspaper clippings dealing with the deaths of several of the Spoor brothers while serving with the Army; news of the marriage of a relative of the Spoor family; death of a relative; and other miscellaneous items.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 13, 1976, 28 items, copies; Papers (1827-1900) consisting of correspondence and miscellaneous primarily of a Civil War soldier. Loaned for copying by Reverend R. Graham Nahouse, Greenville, N.C.

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Reverend R. Graham Nahouse

Processing information

Processed by D. Lennon, March 1977

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Descriptions updated by Jennifer Overstreet, July 2020

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894
Jackson, Stonewall, 1824-1863
Spoor, Oliver C.
Corporate Names
United States. Army--Military life
Women--West (U.S.)
North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Oregon Territory--Geography
Oregon Territory--History
Oregon Territory--Social life and customs
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction and pillage
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Food supply
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns