A Guide to the Henry Clay Trumbull Papers, 1863-1865 Trumbull, Henry Clay Papers Ms1988-018

A Guide to the Henry Clay Trumbull Papers, 1863-1865

A Collection in
Special Collections and University Archives
Collection Number Ms1988-018


Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

2020 ( CC0 1.0 )

Processed by: John M. Jackson, Special Collections and University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
Henry Clay Trumbull Papers, 1863-1865
Physical Characteristics
0.5 Cubic Feet 1 box
Trumbull, Henry Clay
Photocopies of Trumbull's Civil War letters and diaries.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Henry Clay Trumbull Papers must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this colleciton should include the following information: Henry Clay Trumbull Papers, Ms1988-018, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Henry Clay Trumbull Papers were borrowed by Special Collections in 1988. After copies were made of the original documents, they were returned to the donor, and the copies retained.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Henry Clay Trumbull Papers commenced and was completed in April, 2019.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Clay Trumbull, who served as chaplain in the 10th Connecticut Infantry during the Civil War, was born in Stonington, Connecticut on June 8, 1830. He was the son of Gurdon and Sarah Swan Trumbull. In 1851, Trumbull was hired as a clerk for the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad. The following year, while still working for the railroad, he joined the Congregationalist church and became superintendent of a mission Sunday school. In 1858, he became Connecticut state Sunday school missionary. Trumbull married Alice Cogswell Gallaudet in 1854. The couple would have eight children.

Shortly after being ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1862, Trumbull became chaplain of the 10th Connecticut Infantry. Captured at the battle of Fort Wagner (South Carolina) on July 19, 1863, he was held prisoner until being exchanged, and on November 24, he rejoined the regiment. He continued to serve with the 10th until it mustered out in August, 1865.

Returning to civilian service, Trumbull became New England secretary of the American Sunday-school Union. In 1875 he became editor of the Sunday School Times in Philadelphia. He continued to serve as the publication's editor until his death. In addition to his work with the Sunday School Times, Trumbull wrote more than 30 books, including War Memories of an Army Chaplain. He continues to be considered a pioneer of the Sunday school movement and in personal evangelism. Henry Clay Trumbull died on December 8, 1903.

The 10th Connecticut Infantry was organized at Hartford, Connecticut and mustered into service on October 262, 1861. The regiment joined Burnside's coastal North Carolina campaign the following February, particpating in the battles of Roanoke Island and Newbern. After the Union victory at Newbern in March, the 10th remained in the city through the summer. The regiment was assigned to support McClellan's attack on Richmond in December, 1862, then was ordered to South Carolina. In July, 1863, the 10th participated in the assault on Fort Wagner before being ordered that autumn to St. Augustine, Florida for rest and recuperation.

In February, 1864, veterans of the regiment returned to Hartford, Connecticut on furloughs, but by May, the regiment was assigned to the Army of the Jjames, moving against Confederate forces at City Point and Bermuda Hundred, Virginia. The regiment continued to serve in eastern Virginia for the remainder of the war, suffering particularly high casualties during the Battle for Fort Gregg in April, 1865, and participating in the final pursuit of Confederate forces to Appomattox Court House. The 10th Connecticut Infantry was mustered out of service on August 25, 1865.

Scope and Content

This collection contains photocopies of the Civil War letters and journals of Henry Clay Trumbull, who served as chaplain in the 10th Connecticut Infantry during the Civil War.

The first letter in the collection, written by Trumbull from Charleston, South Carolina on July 20, 1863, is addressed to an unnamed provost marshal and is in protest of being held a prisoner-of-war. Nearly all of the letters that follow are addressed to Trumbull's wife Alice. They commence with letters written from Columbia, South Carolina, with the first few letters describing Trumbull's capture and imprisonment.

Following his arrival in St. Augustine, Florida, to rejoin the regiment during its rest and recuperation there, Trumbull's letters focus on his activities as regimental chaplain, his acquaintances in camp, the activities of the regiment itself, his environs, and family matters at home. Beginning in April, 1864, Trumbull's letters follow the regiment's movements through eastern Virginia, and are written from Fort Monroe, Gloucester Point, Bermuda Hundred, North Bend, and Deep Bottom, at times finding himself on the field of battle and under fire. (As an illustration of his duties as chaplain, on August 10, 1864, Trumbull relates at length the capture and execution of Private Frank McElheney, a deserter from the 24th Massachusetts, whom Trumbull had offered counsel.) His later letters continue to follow the regiment's activities, being written from camps outside Petersburg and Richmond. The letters end on September 1, 1865, with Trumbull writing of his arrival in Hartford.

Trumbull's two journals cover much of the same subject matter as his letters home but in much greater detail. The journals commence with July 27, 1863 and continue through the end of 1864. Following the end of the second journal are various notations, including names and addresses, account expenditures, newspaper subscriptions, and the bookkeeping notes on the estate of Henry W. Camp.


The collection is arranged by document type, then chronologically.

Index Terms


  • Civil War
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Box-Folder 1 folder: 1-13
Outgoing correspondence
Box-Folder 1 folder: 14-15