A Guide to the David Earhart Collection, 1862-1863 Earhart, David, Collection Ms2002-017

A Guide to the David Earhart Collection, 1862-1863

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2002-017


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Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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© 2002 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Catherine G. OBrion, Special Collections Staff

Repository
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Collection number
Ms2002-017
Title
David Earhart Collection, 1862-1863
Physical Characteristics
This collection contains 8.5 linear inches of material.
Creator
Earhart, David G., 1834-1862
Language
English
Abstract
Thirty letters written by David Earhart while serving in the Stonewall Jackson Brigade, 4th Virginia Infantry, Company L. Correspondents include his wife Mary Elizabeth Caddell Earhart, his parents, his slaves, and his sister Mag. Also included are a letter to Mary Earhart after David Earhart was killed at Chancellorsville, images (probably ambrotypes) of Mary and David Earhart), a later cartede visite of Mary Earhart, and additional family correspondence.

Administrative Information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the David Earhart Collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

David Earhart Collection, Ms2002-017, Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Acquisition Information

The David Earhart Collection was donated by Thomas M. Perdue, Carolyn P. Johnson, and Mrs. Richard M. (Virginia) Perkins.

Provenance

Soon after David Earhart's death, his wife Mary Elizabeth moved back to her parents home, Thornspring Farm, in Pulaski County and took the letters with her. They remained there for over a hundred years. Ownership of the Caddall home passed from Mary's father, John Caddall, to her brother James B. Caddall in 1880, and to his niece Mary Cecil Stephens in 1906. The farm, the home, and much of the contents, including 29 of the letters, passed in 1949 to Margaret Painter Perdue, daughter of Mary Cecil Stephens and Thomas Morrison Painter, and at her death in 1975 to her children, Carolyn Cecil Perdue Johnson and Thomas Perdue. This information was provided by Thomas M. Perdue in September 2001.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Catherine G. OBrion in May 2002.


Biographical/Historical Information

David G. Earhart was born in 1834 in Montgomery County, Virginia, the fourth child of George Earhart and Nancy Taylor. He married Mary Elizabeth Caddall (1833-1887) of Thornspring Farm in Pulaski County. They had a son, George Fitzhugh Earhart, who was born in 1862 and died when he was eight months old.

Earhart left his wife and infant son in April 1862 to join the Stonewall Jackson Brigade, 4th Virginia Infantry. During Earhart's service, the Stonewall Brigade was engaged in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign (May and June 1862), the Seven Days Campaign near Richmond (June 25 to July 1, 1862), the Battle of Cedar Mountain, near Culpeper (August 9, 1862), Second Bull Run (August 30, 1862), Harpers Ferry (September 15, 1862), Antietam (September 17, 1862), Fredericksburg (October 20, 1862), and Chancellorsville. Earhart was killed in the battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863.

After the war, Mary Elizabeth Earhart returned to live with her parents on their farm in Pulaski County and lived there until her death in 1887.

Scope and Content Information

The David Earhart Collection spans the years 1862 to ca. 1880 (bulk 1862-1864). It is organized into the following series: Outgoing Correspondence, Miscellaneous Correspondence, and Pictures.

Outgoing Correspondence is comprised of the letters Earhart wrote to his family while he was a soldier in the Stonewall Jackson Brigade. Letters in this series date from 9 April 1862 to 26 April 1863. The bulk of the letters (24) are letters from David Earhart to his wife Mary Elizabeth, also called Mollie. There are also three letters to the family of slaves living on his farm (Anchy, Wash, Jeff, Green, Nancy, and Susan), two to his parents, and one to his sister Mag. The letters contain descriptions of daily life for enlisted men in the 4th Brigade and accounts of military actions at Front Royal, Petersburg, Winchester, and Sharpsburg (Antietam). Earhart describes the effect of the Union occupation of the northern Shenandoah Valley on Unionist sympathies there, living on meager rations, and the death and destruction he has seen on the battlefield.

In addition to relating news of his experiences, Earhart writes of his concerns about his farm and gives specific instructions to his wife and family of slaves working the farm. He tells his wife how much wool to use for blankets for the slave family on the farm and warns the slaves to continue working hard.

In letters to his father, David Earhart discusses his unsuccessful effort to buy a substitute to enable him to come home and manage the farm. Other subjects include: the death of a child, religious faith, disease, Greenwood Hospital in Albemarle County, Camp Steavenson, and Camp Winder in Caroline County.

Miscellaneous Correspondence dates from 22 February 1862 to 1 June 1863. It contains a letter from David Earhart's father-in-law John Caddall congratulating David Earhart on the birth of his son, George Fitzhugh Earhart, in 1862; a letter from J.D. Caddall (David Earhart's brother-in-law) to John Caddall informing him of David Earhart's death at the battle of Chancellorsville, and a letter from Lieutenant Hamilton D. Wade, Earhart's commanding officer, to Mary Elizabeth Caddall Earhart regarding Earhart's death and attempts to have his body sent home.

The collection contains three pictures: images (probably ambrotypes) of David and Mary Elizabeth Caddell Earhart in matching wooden cases, ca. 1862, and a carte de visite, ca. 1880, of Mary Elizabeth Caddell Earhart.

Index Terms

    Subjects:

  • Civil War
  • Local/Regional History and Appalachian South
  • Montgomery County (Va.)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Outgoing correspondence, 1862-1863

Letters David Earhart wrote to his wife, parents, sister, and slaves while serving in the Stonewall Jackson Brigade, 4th Virginia Infantry, Company L.

Arranged chronologically.

  • Box-folder 1-1
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Apr 9 1862
  • Box-folder 1-2
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, May 13 1862
  • Box-folder 1-3
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, May 18 1862
  • Box-folder 1-4
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, May 23 1862
  • Box-folder 1-5
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, May 29 1862
  • Box-folder 1-6
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jun 13 1862
  • Box-folder 1-7
    David Earhart to Mother and Father, Jun 28 1862
  • Box-folder 1-8
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jul 2 1862
  • Box-folder 1-9
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jul 11 1862
  • Box-folder 1-10
    David Earhart to Archy, Wash, Jeff, Green, Nancy and Susan, Jul 25 1862
  • Box-folder 1-11
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jul 25 1862
  • Box-folder 1-12
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Aug 19 1862
  • Box-folder 1-13
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Sep 2 1862
  • Box-folder 1-11-14
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Sep 19-24 1862
  • Box-folder 1-11-15
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Oct 1 1862
  • Box-folder 1-16
    David Earhart to sister Mag, Oct 9 1862
  • Box-folder 1-17
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Oct 11 1862
  • Box-folder 1-18
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Oct 30 1862
  • Box-folder 1-19
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Nov 11 1862
  • Box-folder 1-20
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Dec 23 1862
  • Box-folder 1-21
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jan 3 1863
  • Box-folder 1-22
    David Earhart to Father (George Earhart), Jan 1863
  • Box-folder 1-23
    David Earhart to Archy and Jeff, Jan 9 1863
  • Box-folder 1-24
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Jan 22 1863
  • Box-folder 1-25
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Mar 19 1863
  • Box-folder 1-26
    David Earhart to Arch, Jeff, Wash, and Green, Mar 20 1863
  • Box-folder 1-27
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Apr [8] 1863
  • Box-folder 1-28
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Apr 12 1863
  • Box-folder 1-29
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Apr 19 1863
  • Box-folder 1-30
    David Earhart to Mary Earhart, Apr 26 1863
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1862-1863

Letters David and Mary Elizabeth Caddall Earhart received from John Caddall, a letter from Lieutenant Hamilton Wade to Mary Elizabeth Caddall Earhart, and a letter from J.D. Caddall to John Caddall.

Arranged chronologically.

  • Box-folder 1-31
    John Caddall to David Earhart,
  • Box-folder 1-32
    J. D. Caddall to John Caddall, May 4 1863
  • Box-folder 1-33
    Lieutenant Hamilton D. Wade to Mary Earhart, Jun 1 1863
Pictures, 1862-ca.1880

Images (probably ambrotypes) of David and Mary Earhart, ca. 1862, in matching wooden cases, and a carte de visite of Mary Elizabeth Caddall Earhart, ca. 1880.

  • Box-folder 2-1
    David Earhart ambrotype, ca. 1862
  • Box-folder 2-2
    Mary Earhart ambrotype, ca. 1862
  • Box-folder 2-3
    Mary Earhart carte de visite, ca. 1880