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Earhart, David, Collection

A Guide to the David Earhart Collection, 1862-1863 Ms.2002.017


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Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu

Catherine G. O'Brion

Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Identification
Ms.2002.017
Title
David Earhart Collection,1862-1863
Quantity
0.3 Cubic Feet 2 boxes
Creator
Earhart, David G., 1834-1863
Language
The materials in the collection are in English.
Abstract
This collection consists of 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

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [identification of item], [box], [folder], David Earhart Collection, Ms2002-017, Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Source of Acquisition

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

Processing Information

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


Biographical Note

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 Contents

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.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

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

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the David Earhart Collection by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).

Container List

Outgoing correspondence
1862-1863
Scope and Contents note

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

Arrangement note

Arranged chronologically.

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

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.

Arrangement note

Arranged chronologically.

  • box-folder 1 folder: 31
    John Caddall to David Earhart
  • box-folder 1 folder: 32
    J. D. Caddall to John Caddall
    May 4 1863
  • box-folder 1 folder: 33
    Lieutenant Hamilton D. Wade to Mary Earhart
    Jun 1 1863
Pictures
1862-ca.1880
Scope and Contents note

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