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Guide to the David Ludlow Thompson Papers
1862-1961 (Bulk 1862-1865)
  MS 670.24

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan E. Burke

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on August 12, 2014
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: The David Ludlow Thompson Papers
Dates: 1862-1961 (Bulk 1862-1865)
Abstract: The David Ludlow Thompson Papers consist primarily of letters Thompson sent to his mother, Keturah Sayre Thompson, and his friend, Elias A. Fairchild, relating his experiences in battle during the American Civil War, inquiring about friends and relations at home, and asking to be sent clothing, food, and reading materials. Housed with each letter is a transcript provided by the donor that has been photocopied onto archival quality paper. The reader is cautioned against editorial mistakes in the transcripts. The "original" transcripts (i.e. those not printed on archival quality paper) are housed in a binder in Box 2, along with a wooden spoon carved by Thompson while he was held as a prisoner of war. Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.
Quantity: 0.7 Linear feet (2 boxes)
Location note: Manuscript Cage
Call Phrase: MS 670.24

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Biographical Note

David Ludlow Thompson was born in Windham, Ohio on August 28, 1837 and was educated at the Flushing Institute in Flushing, Long Island, where he became a faculty member.

In August of 1862, he enlisted in the Ninth New York Volunteer Infantry, Company G (also known as Hawkins' Zouaves), and was later transferred to the Third New York Volunteer Infantry, Company B. During his war service, Thompson saw action in the Peninsular Campaign, the Battle of Antietam, and the siege of Charleston. He was taken as a prisoner of war by the Confederate troops after Antietam and was held at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia for 18 days before being exchanged. In 1863, he spent time in an army hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia.

David Ludlow Thompson was honorably discharged from military service on June 17, 1865 and died on March 31, 1926.

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Scope and Content Note

The David Ludlow Thompson papers consist primarily of letters that Thompson wrote to his mother, Keturah Sayre Thompson, and his friend, Elias A. Fairchild, describing army life, relating his experiences in battle, inquiring about friends and relations at home, and asking to be sent clothing, food, and reading materials. His letters also include detailed descriptions of the weather, the inedible rations, the ill-fitting garments provided by the U.S. Sanitary Commission, his poor attempts to mend his clothing, his bout with scurvy, and having to share his quarters with rodents and insects. His advanced education is evident in his frequent references to the literary canon, using quotes from Milton, Chaucer, and Tennyson to illustrate different situations.

Most notably, the letters include a description of the Battle at Antietam and a letter sent to Elias A. Fairchild, declaring that David Ludlow Thompson had been declared a prisoner of war after Antietam.

Also included in the collection are photocopies of articles written by Thompson regarding his experiences during the American Civil War, biographical information, and a wooden spoon that Thompson carved while being held at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.

Portions of this collection relating to the Civil War have been digitized and are available to on-site researchers and to users affiliated with subscribing institutions via EBSCOhost.

Arrangement

The David Ludlow Thompson papers are organized in the following six series:

  1. Series 1: Letters sent by David Ludlow Thompson to Keturah Sayre Thompson, 1863-1865
  2. Series 2: Letters sent by David Ludlow Thompson to Elias Fairchild, 1862-1865
  3. Series 3: Letters sent by David Ludlow Thompson addressed jointly to Keturah Sayre Thompson, Elias Fairchild, and other family members, 1863-1865
  4. Series 4: Other correspondence pertaining to David Ludlow Thompson, 1862-1865
  5. Series 5: Biographical and Geneaological Materials, 1961, undated
  6. Series 6: Wooden spoon made by David Ludlow Thompson, 1862

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Fairchild, Elias A., 1827-1907
  • Thompason, Keturah Sayre, 1801-1888
  • Thompson, Keturah Sayre, 1801-1888

Document Type

  • Correspondence

Subject Topics

  • Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862--Personal Narratives.
  • Libby Prison.
  • South Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Thompson, Keturah Sayre.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal Narratives.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and Prisons.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • United States.--Army.--New York Infantry Regiment, 9th (1861-1863).
  • United States.--Army.--Regiment Infantry, New York Volunteers, 3rd (1861-1865).
  • Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to:

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as the David Ludlow Thompson Papers, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence, 1779-1851

Scope and Contents note

This series contains correspondence between David Ludlow Thompson and his mother, Keturah Sayre Thompson. He writes primarily of the daily particulars of army life and asks often for news, clothing, and reading materials from home.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Letter sent by David Ludlow (D.L.) Thompson to Keturah Sayre (K.S.) Thompson
January 5, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
February 2, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
February 10, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
March 7, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
March 29, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
April 15, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
August 20, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
1863 August
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
July 15, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
September 30, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
October 11, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
December 21-25, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
December 28, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
January 3, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
January 6-17, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
February 19-23, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
March 3, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
June 6, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to K.S. Thompson
June 9, 1865

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Series 2: Letters sent by David Ludlow Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild, 1862-1865

Scope and Contents note

Series 2 consists of letters sent by Thompson to his friend Elias Fairchild detailing the particulars of army life and asking for news from home. Most notably, this series contains a letter written from Libby Prison in October of 1862, detailing Thompson's experiences at the Battle of Antietam.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
1862 October
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
October 9, 1862
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
October 20, 1862
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
January 20, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
February 21, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
March 7, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
March 7, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
April 22, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
July 27, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
July 29, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 30 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
October 4, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
October 25, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 32 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
November 11, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
April 6, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Letter sent by D.L. Thompson to Elias A. Fairchild
June 3, 1865

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Series 3: Letters sent by David Ludlow Thompson addressed jointly to Keturah Sayre Thompson, Elias A. Fairchild, and other family members, 1863-1865

Scope and Contents note

Series 3 consists of letters addressed jointly to Keturah Sayre Thompson, Elias Fairchild, and occasionally other family members, including Thompson's sister. While Thompson again asks for news of home and describes the daily ritual of army life in these letters, he also describes his own bout with scurvy near the end of the war. Most notably, this series includes a letter written in August of 1863 from a military hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia describing his experiences there.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
March 19, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
April 28, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
June 7, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
June 23, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
July 12, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
August 14, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 41 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
September 9, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 42 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
October 5, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 43 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
November 5, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 44 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
December 9, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 45 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
December 31, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 46 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
January 20, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 47 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
March 22, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 48 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
May 24, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 49 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
May 7,1864
Box: 1 Folder : 50 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
May 15, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 51 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
June 8, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 52 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
August 29, 1864
Box: 1 Folder : 53 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
February 7, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 54 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
February 16, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 55 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
March 27, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 56 Joint letter sent by D.L. Thompson
April 26, 1865

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Series 4: Other correspondence pertaining to David Ludlow Thompson, 1862-1865

Scope and Contents note

Series 4 consists of the discharge papers of David Ludlow Thompson, two pieces of correspondence sent to Thompson, a letter sent to Elias A. Fairchild declaring Thompson to be a prisoner of war, and the fragments of several letters written by Thompson.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 57 Discharge papers of David Ludlow Thompson
June 6, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 58 Letter sent to Elias Fairchild
October 10, 1862
Box: 1 Folder : 59 Letter sent to D.L. Thompson
October 13, 1862
Box: 1 Folder : 60 Letter sent to D.L. Thompson
July 28, 1865
Box: 1 Folder : 61 Fragment of letter written by D.L. Thompson
September 1, 1862
Box: 1 Folder : 62 Fragment of letter written by D.L. Thompson
November 21, 1863
Box: 1 Folder : 63 Fragment of letter written by D.L. Thompson
June 17, 1864

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Series 5: Biographical and Genealogical Materials, 1961, undated

Scope and Contents note

Series 5 consists of biographical information about David Ludlow Thompson, including copies of articles he published about his experiences at Antietam and his obituary. This series also contains a 1961 letter from the U.S. Department of the Interior outlining his military record at the request of his grandson.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 64 Biographical Information
1961
Box: 1 Folder : 65 Copies of articles written by David Ludlow Thompson
Undated

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Series 6: Wooden spoon carved by David Ludlow Thompson, 1862

Scope and Contents note

Series 6 consists of a wooden spoon that was carved by David Ludlow Thompson while he was held prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia after the Battle of Antietam.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 2 Wooden spoon carved by D.L. Thompson
1862

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