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Collection Title: Belcher (Granville W. and Mary Caroline) Letters

Collection Number: M42

Dates: January 13/18, 1862 to August 26, 1864

Volume: 79 letters

Provenance: Unknown.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Granville W. Belcher (b. ca. 1832-33) was a farmer from Martinsville, Henry County, Virginia. He enlisted in company F, 57th Virginia Infantry on July 10, 1861. Granville was promoted to 1st Corporal in December but in January 1862 his record reports "absent without leave." He returned to service by May and continued with his unit except for periods of illness in mid-1862 and again in late 1863. For much of his time, Granville was a cook for his unit.

In February 1864 Granville deserted at Weldon, North Carolina, was confined, and then deserted again in July. His name appears on a list of Confederate prisoners of Bermuda Hundred, and records show that in August he was at the USA Post Hospital near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. By August 25, 1864, when he was sent to the General Hospital, Granville had taken the oath of allegiance to the United States.

Granville was married to the former Mary Caroline Dickinson, and they had a son, George. Members of the two families whose correspondence is included in the collection are Granville, Mary Caroline, Charles Belcher, William H. Dickinson, and Washington Dickinson. All the males served in the Confederate Army.

Scope and Content:

The bulk of this collection consists of 69 letters, dated from February 2, 1862 to June 28, 1864, from Granville W. Belcher to his wife, Mary Caroline Belcher. Ten (10) letters, dated from January 13/18, 1862 to August 26, 1864, between Mary Caroline; her brother, Washington Dickinson; her nephew, William H. Dickinson; Granville; and Granville's brother Charles Belcher make up the remainder of the collection. Granville and Washinton served in the Virginia 57th Infantry Regiment, William was a member of the 10th Virginia Calvary and Charles was also in the Confederate Army.

Granville's letters regularly express his displeasure with army life. He complains of excessive marching, poor rations and ill health. He also describes other aspects of army life, including the high prices of food and the election of Confederate regimental officers and noncommissioned officers.

Granville's letters rarely mention combat, although he does describe his regiment's action during the Battle of Gettysburg. He chronicles a few other engagements, only two of which he was actually involved in. More often, he writes of missing home and Mary Caroline. Occasionally he gives her instructions on how to manage their farm. A recurrent theme in Granville's letters is his desire to return home unharmed. He repeatedly assures Mary Caroline that if he is killed or wounded it will not be due to bravery on his part. The letters recount his attempts to go home on furlough or by securing a paid substitute. The letters also describe his arrest, sentencing, and confinement for going home without leave.

The remaining letters in the collection provide description of conditions in various Confederate camps, of some military action, of Mary Caroline's loneliness and have information pertaining to Granville and Mary Caroline's farm.

Box and Folder List: available.


Created by: Bobs M. Tusa
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Revised: November 8, 2004