The correspondence can be divided into four sections. The first part (1864-1875) relates to the courtship and subsequent marriage of Marshall L. Barnhardt and Sallie Pines Dunlap. Though much is of a personal nature, one letter (Feb. 17, 1864) gives a good description of camp conditions at City Point, Virginia. This letter was written while Marshall was a member of the Confederate Army. This group of letters also reflects the conditions in North Carolina immediately after the termination of the Civil War. Also included in this section of correspondence are several letters (1874-1875) of a business nature which were written when Marshall Barnhardt maintained a general store in Cedar Hill, North Carolina.
The second portion of the correspondence consists of letters from George Columbus Barnhardt to his mother while he was stationed in the Philippine Islands. In these letters, Barnhardt describes his activities at Laguna and Batangas. He also describes General Baldwin's expedition in Mindanao and the conditions at Jolo.
The third section (1917-1919) consists of World War I correspondence. Several of the letters are to Daisy Barnhardt Parsons from her son Marshall Parsons while he was a member of the American Expeditionary Force in France. Though little of importance is contained within these letters due to the severe wartime censorship, Marshall does reflect on the hardships of the common soldier involved in trench warfare. Marshall Parsons had been reported killed in action, but a letter from a nurse to Daisy Parsons tells of Marshall's stay in an Army hospital. Another letter (April 21, 1919) that can be included in this section is from General George Barnhardt to his mother written prior to Barnhardt's departure from Germany. In this letter, Barnhardt makes favorable comments as to the conditions of the roads from Paris into Germany. He also comments on an upcoming review of the troops by General Pershing and on the plans being made to remove the troops from Germany.
The last portion (1922-1944) of the correspondence is mainly of a personal nature. The only letters of significance are written by General George Barnhardt while he was stationed in Washington, DC, as commander of the District of Washington and in Hawaii. In these letters, Barnhardt comments as to his duties at these two stations.
The remainder of the collection consists of a few of Marshall L. Barnhardt's financial records, an account book (1875-1892) which belonged to M. L. Waddell of Norwood, NC, a home cure for consumption, and several cake recipes. Also included are a variety of clippings pertaining to the history of Cabarrus County, the history of Catawba College, and descriptions of the Battle of King's Mountain and several North Carolina women who were heroines in the Confederacy. A list of churches in Anson County, with some descriptions given, is included as is a list of the Norwood branch of the DAR.