Chadwell Leavenworth Collection

The Chadwell Leavenworth Collection comprises a series of letters between family members. Gideon and Lucinda Chadwell’s son, Alexander, served in the Missouri State Guard and later in the 2nd Missouri Cavalry (CS). Alexander had three sisters, Nancy Amanda, Martha and Mary Emma. The family resided in the Ste. Genevieve area. Although Alexander fought for the Confederacy, the family remained in correspondence with their extended Union sympathetic family in Illinois.

everything is in an uproar…there is nothing to talk about here but war. I hate the war and all that is connected with it… from what I can learn the south has been behaving all the while it is the republicans that are doing the mischief I guess there will be a great deal of blood shed before the north whips the south some of the people around here thinks it will be a very easy matter to whip but I guess they will have a bitter pill to swallow first
Minerva Phillips, Central City, Illinois – January 26, 1862

Alexander served in the 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Division, Missouri State Guard. His initial post was Camp New Madrid, in southeastern Missouri. His service in the Missouri State Guard expired in late 1861, and Alexander joined the 2nd Missouri Cavalry as a 2nd Lieutenant. Alexander wrote home about news from the front and friends in the services. Soldiers often speculated about rumors and news in camp, and in one letter Alexander reflects on how President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation will impact the War.

We are all well; there has been but little sickness in camp this winter so far. There is little to do now in camp and times are rather dull Since we returned from the Holly Springs Raid [MS] of which you have no doubt already heard at least the federal account: if you get the other letter you will find a Short description of that brilliant little affair…The Yankees are deserting very fast Several hundred have deserted and come to Grenada …I see by a paper which I have just been reading that at Baton Rouge Louisiana whole Regiments laid down their arms and refused to fight to carry out Lincolns Proclamation We have rumors of Illinois and Indiana withdrawing their Troops from the field and it is believed by a great many that a parts of [Ulysses S.] Grants army have gone back there to put down rebellion. it is also said that Kentucky has refused to aid in prosecuting the war unless the Proclamation is withdrawn. One thing is pretty sure, the yankee army is becoming or has already become very much demoralized, and from all that I can learn we will soon see the beginning of the end according to my opinion…..
Alexander Chadwell, Camp Buck Hill, Mississippi – February 8, 1863

As the War continued, Gideon received news from his friends and family throughout the Midwest. He received letters from soldiers in Arkansas about camp conditions, and others who were captured and sent to Union prisons. Gideon’s nephew in Illinois wrote about the passing of Union troops and their treatment of defiant civilians.

…there Was Some Rough times when they stayed At Centralia there was a man went There One day and there was A pointed Him out as a copperhed they arrested Him and used him Rough for A while And he got A way from them and there Was A Soldier Shot at him did not hit Him the Same day the cut the buttons Off A mans coat another Instance They was going to take a Mans Briches off because they were brown He drawed his Revolver and they Took It from him…
James M. Strong, Central City, Illinois – March 20, 1864

Beyond war and political news, the Chadwell Leavenworth Collection provides details about the family’s post-war life. Alexander worked was a surveyor and schoolteacher. By August 1881, he was teaching in Conway County, Arkansas. Martha married Joseph A. Leavenworth, who operated a sawmill in Leota, Mississippi. Their lumber contributed to the building of homes in Mississippi. The Chadwell Leavenworth Collection consists of correspondences from 1837 through 1944. Community and Conflict only included correspondences from 1861 through 1875. Researchers are encouraged to contact State Historical Society of Missouri for additional letters and document.


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