“A Battle without a Plan: The Battle of Williamsburg Exhibit

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“A Battle without a Plan: The Battle of Williamsburg Exhibit
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Image by W&M Libraries
Shown here is an image from the exhibit "A Battle without a Plan": The Battle of Williamsburg ," on display in the the Special Collections Research Center Lobby on the first floor of Swem Library at the College of William & Mary. This exhibit is part of "From Fights to Rights: The Long Road to a More Perfect Union," Swem Library’s project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibit is on display from March 21, 2012 through October 15, 2012.

The following is a transcription of the label text presented in this case:

William P. Allcot, Camp, 25 miles from Williamsburg on the road to Richmond, to “Ma”
11 May 1862

Allcot was a soldier in the 62nd New York Infantry who wrote saying, “although we was in the thickest of the Fight we came out of it with the loss of 3 killed & 5 wounded. Dear Ma, it is nothing to go into battle but after the battle it is orfull [awful] to look around and see so many dead lying in all shapes [w]ho a few hours before was full of life and as active as I am but such is War.”

William P. Allcot Papers, Mss. 86 A11

Photograph of Thomas Nast’s Sketch of Wagon Trains between Yorktown and Williamsburg

Thomas Nast is best known for his depiction of Santa Claus, but he also was a Civil War illustrator. This sketch shows the extreme weather conditions of mud and rain with which the Union forces had to contend.

Civil War Collection, Mss. 39.1 C76

Map by Robert Knox Sneden

Sneden served on Heintzelman’s staff as a map draftsman. After the war, he compiled many watercolors and maps probably intending to publish a memoir. His work was sold by descendants to the Virginia Historical Society in 1994 and is available in the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. The map shows the route of the wagon train sketched by Thomas Nast.

Original owned by the Virginia Historical Society and contributed
to the Library of Congress American Memory Project

J. H. B. Jenkins, Cumberland Landing on Pamunkey River, 12 miles from West Point, Va. to Mary Benjamin, Smyrna, Delaware

Jenkins, by means of a sketch and words, described his unit’s activities near Fort Magruder during the Battle of Williamsburg. Fort Magruder is marked “E E” in the sketch. Jenkins bemoaned the lack of artillery protection and thought that there were 60,000 Confederates, far outnumbering the Union forces when, in reality, the opposite was true.

Henry C. Hoar Memorial Collection, Mss. Acc. 1992.46

Photograph of Alfred Waud’s Sketch of the Battle of

Born in England, Waud (1828 – 1891) first worked for the New York Illustrated News but at the time of the Peninsula Campaign was working as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly. At a time when photographic processes were cumbersome and slow, artists drew sketches which were carved onto wooden blocks, transferred to metal plates and printed. Waud and his brother William were two of the best-known artists of the war. Alfred Waud followed the Army of the Potomac from First Manassas to Petersburg.

Civil War Collection, Mss. 39.1 C76

Minié Balls

Minié balls were first used in the Crimean War (1853-1856). The addition of grooves allowed them to be fired more accurately and at longer distances than traditional musket balls. At least one of these minié balls was found at Fort Magruder.

Manuscripts Artifact Collection, Mss 39.1C76.A10c

Diary of Maximilian Hartman

One of two diaries of Hartman who served in the 93rd Pennsylvania Regiment. Civil War soldier’s diaries are typically small enough to be carried easily on the march and often written in pencil. This one delineated the travels and military actions of the 93rd Regiment from Pennsylvania as it passed through Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and included a description of the Battle of Williamsburg. The first few pages of the earlier diary were written in German and Hartman may have found the diary and continued it. Many Union soldiers were first generation German or Irish.

Maximilian Hartman Diaries, Mss. Acc. 2007.79

B[enjamin] S[toddert] Ewell to [Richard Manning] Bucktrout, 7 May 1862

Two days after the battle, Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, president of William & Mary, commander of the 32nd Virginia Infantry and staff officer to John B. Magruder, wrote to Bucktrout in lieu of his brother William Stoddert to ask for a coffin to bury a soldier from the 11th Mississippi Infantry. Ewell’s brother Stoddert was a Presbyterian minister and chaplain. (Stoddert had dropped the Ewell surname in deference to his mother’s wishes to carry on the Stoddert name.) Bucktrout was a cabinet-maker and undertaker.

Richard Manning Bucktrout Daybook and Ledger, Mss. Acc. 1997.15

From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. See swem.wm.edu/scrc/ for further information and assistance.

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