Collection (25 November – 21 December 1862) including holograph letters written by 1st Lt. Frank W. Adams, Company B, 51st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to his sister Elizabeth in Massachusetts, describing in great detail on the regiment's departure from the Boston Harbor aboard the Steamer Merrimac, voyage to North Carolina, their arrival in Newbern [New Bern], N.C. their encounter with the 43rd Massachusetts and their participation in the Battles of Kinston and Whitehall (present day White Hall), North Carolina as part of General John G. Foster's Goldsborough [Goldsboro] Expedition; also transcript of the holograph letters and one additional letter; also folios that formerly contained the letters and transcripts. Note: the letter dated 10-21 December 1862 also contains an envelope containing remnants of the ribbons once used to bind the letters; the folder that held the transcripts is stamped inside the font cover: "Robert W. Adams Oct. 1, 1947".
Francis Wayland Adams was born in Brookfield, Massachusetts, on 18 February 1840, to Daniel E. and Lucy (Hastings) Adams and he died in 1930. After graduating from Amherst College, he enlisted in the 51st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on 20 October 1862, obtained the rank of 1st lieutenant with Co. B, and resigned 25 January 1863. After his Civil War service, he was a principal at Lawrence Academy in Falmouth, Mass., for two years and then studied medicine and obtained his medical degree in 1868 from Harvard. He practiced medicine in Hartford, Connecticut, Royalston, Massachusetts, and Fishkill, New York. He also served in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1883. He married Fannie Russell Chanse of Royalston, Massachusetts, on 26 June 1872, and they had two children, Robert W. Adams and Mabel Winifred Adams.
Sources: Amherst College Biographical Record of the Class of 1862; The Catalogue of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity (1910); and WikiTree.
The letters primarily concern Adams' early Civil War experiences in North Carolina, particularly his time stationed in New Bern, N.C. and the battles of Kinston on the 13th and 14th of December 1862 and the Battle of White Hall on the 15th and 16th of December 1862.
The 51st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was organized at Worcester, MA between 25 September and 30 October 1862. The unit moved to Boston between 25 - 30 November whereupon they embarked for New Bern to take part in General John G. Foster's Goldsboro Expedition (10 - 19 December 1862). During the Goldsboro Expedition the 51st Massachusetts engaged in the battles of Kinston, White Hall and Goldsboro. After being transferred out of North Carolina on 24 June 1863 they saw duty in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia before being mustered out on 27 July 1863.
The 43rd Regiment Massachusetts Vounteer Infantry was organized at Springfield between 25 September and 30 October 1862. They embarked for New Bern from Boston and formed part of General Foster's forces during his Goldsboro expedition. The 43rd Massachusetts arrived at New Bern before taking part in the Battle of Kinston on 13th and 14th December and the Battle of White Hall on 15th and 16th December. The regiment took part in operations throughout Maryland and Virginia before being mustered out of service on 29 July 1863.
General Ambrose Burnside was born in 1824 and died in 1881. He was a major general in the Union Army. Burnside was promoted to major general of volunteers after his success with the North Carolina Expeditionary force in March of 1862. After the battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862 he was made commander of the Army of the Potomac. Burnside suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Fredericksburg but later defeated General James L. Longstreet and maintained Union control of Knoxville, Tennessee. Burnside also participated in the Overland Campaign and the Battle of the Crater before resigning his commission in April of 1865. After the war Burnside was elected governor of Rhode Island in 1866, serving three one-year terms before representing Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate. Burnside never completed his second term however as a year into it he died of heart disease on 13 September 1881.
General Foster's goal during the Goldsboro Expedition was to destroy the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad at Goldsborough, N.C. and thus prevent movement of Confederate troops and supplies defending against Union forces. Foster led the expedition from the occupied town of New Bern, North Carolina into the interior of North Carolina between 11 - 19 December 1862. He met heavy Confederate resistance along the way at Kinston, White Hall and Goldsboro.
The Battle of Kinston was fought on 13 - 14 December 1862 when General Foster's troops en route to Goldsboro met Confederate forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Nathan G. "Shank" Evans (1824-1868). The Union forces reached Kinston on December 12th from New Bern before crossing the Southwest Creek the next day and camping close to the bridge. Two regiments forced a crossing of the creek driving back a North Carolina Regiment holding the position and forcing Evans to withdraw all of his forces to a defensive line two miles the bridge crossing the Neuse at Kinston. The Union forces resumed their attack the following day when Evans ordered the bridge burned. The Union forces were able to extinguish the flames and cross the partially burned bridge and enter Kinston. Confederate casualties numbered 125 killed and wounded and 400 captured while General Foster lost 160 killed and wounded in the battle. The battle of Kinston resulted in a Union victory; as Foster wrecked the railroad bridge at Goldsboro, damage the C.S.S. Neuse but did fail to capture Wilmington.
The Battle of White Hall, N.C. was fought on 15 - 16 December 1862. The Confederate forces were under the command of Brig. Gen. B.H. Robertson (1827-1910) when Union Calvary reached White Hall. Shortly before Fosters forces arrived, the Confederates had crossed over the bridge spanning the Neuse River, set it on fire, and took up defensive positions. Foster's Calvary rolled barrels of pitch to the riverbank and set them on fire in an attempt to burn the Confederate positions while Union artillery fired upon the frame of the Confederate ironclad CSS Neuse. The cavalrymen then burned the village and returned to camp. The next day Union forces under General Foster resumed their attack the next day hoping to fool the Confederates into believing they were crossing the river while the rest of the troops maneuvered past White Hall and attacked a railroad trestle four miles south of Goldsboro. The fighting lasted until sunset with General Foster failing to reach the railroad trestle. General Foster's army was almost completely gone by 16 December. General Foster withdrew on 18 December traveling back through White Hall to New Bern. The results of the Battle of White Hall were inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory.
Source: http://ncpedia.org/White Hall-battle
The collection consists of 3 holograph letters and transcripts of 4 letters arranged in chronological order, also 2 folders that once held the letters and transcripts and an envelope of ribbon fragments once used to bind the letters. Frank W. Adams's son, Robert W. Adams, was probably responsible for writing the transcripts.
The holograph Letters of Frank W. Adams to his sister Elizabeth consists of 3 original, holograph letters, and the ribbon fragments, and is housed in #1224.1.a–c.
The holograph letters document the actions of the 51st Regiment Massachustets Volunteer Infantry during the period 25 November–21 December 1862, including their embarkation on the steamer "Merrimac" in Boston Harbor, their voyage to North Carolina, their arrival in New Bern, North Carolina, their encounter with the 43rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and their participation Gen. John G. Foster's Goldsboro Expedition including the battles of Kinston and White Hall, North Carolina. Adams describes life aboard the ship while traveling to New Bern as well as his observations of the effects of war upon the countryside and the soldiers' interactions with the freed slaves in North Carolina. He also writes of the regiments preparations for the Battles of Kinston and White Hall on 13–14 and 15–16 December and describes the carnage he witnessed before, during, and after the battles. Most of the letters cover several days. Also included is an envelope containing fragments of the ribbons that once bound the letters (#1224.1.c).
The typewritten transcripts consists of transcripts of 4 original holograph letters and are housed in folder #1224.1.b–i. This 50 page typescript of the letters is also arranged in chronological order, like the original holograph letters. The transcripts include letter of 4–9 December for which the holograph letter is missing; only the transcript is available. Also included are two portfolios formerly used to bind the letters.
Purchased from Denning House Antiquarian Books & Manuscripts of Lancaster, PA.
Processing, Container List, Finding Aid by HIST 5910 student Daniel Rowe, April 25, 2015; revised by Jonathan Dembo, May 11, 2016.
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.