This collection consists of correspondence (1861-1862, 1864) of James W. Carter, a Massachusetts soldier in the Civil War, with his cousin Lydia A. Goodnow.
Of particular interest are comments on camp life, the Battles of Big Bethel and First Bull Run (Manassas), General Benjamin Butler's role at Bethel, and General Winfield Scott's praise of Massachusetts troops (June, 1861). Other commentaries concern the disruption of camp routine by discovery of gold in a nearby creek, a visit by Governor John Albion Andrews of Massachusetts to their camp at Alexandria (July, 1861), a 4th of July celebration (1861), and the unsanitary conditions of Negroes. Battle information relates to an advance to Centreville, Union defeat at bull Run, and the effectiveness of enemy fire (July, 1861).
Letters from Camp Meigs mention possible assignment to General Nathaniel P. Banks for an expedition to Texas or New Bern, N.C. Also included is a report and newspaper criticism of a disorder involving the 47th Mass. Regiment. Apparently a small riot had erupted over the poor quality of food being furnished by food contractors (1862). The last Civil War letter comments on conditions in New Orleans and tells of Union troops rounding up and supervising Negroes on the plantations (1864).
The remaining correspondence (1888-1918) deals with family matters, the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic), the death of James W. Carter, and the disposition of his lands. One letter gives a detailed account of an East to West coast railway trip on the Canadian Pacific R. R. through Montreal to Vancouver and south to San Francisco. Particular attention is devoted to the growing of wheat in the midwest, cattle raising, midwestern Canada, and the Rocky Mountains.