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New collection of Civil War letters now available

Detail of letter from Beard to his mother.

The William Wallace Beard Civil War Letters, donated to Atkins Library’s Special Collections and University Archives in December 2019, are available for research. The collection consists of  thirty-three letters that Beard wrote to his family in Mecklenburg County throughout the Civil War. 

Beard fought in the Mississippi 18th Regiment and participated in many of the war’s major battles, including Spotsylvania Courthouse, Fredericksburg, Sharpsburg and Chattanooga. Additionally, he was captured by the Union Army in 1863 and taken as a prisoner of war to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland. His letters discuss all of these events as well as elucidate his views into how the war is going and his opinions on slavery.

The letters were originally found in a Kodak photo box underneath the bed of Kate Ranson Cornue in her home in Huntersville. Kate’s daughter, Virginia Cornue, collaborated with historian William Trotter to create a book about the letters entitled So Much Blood: The Civil War Letters of CSA Private William Wallace Beard, 1861-1865. The book provides context for the battles discussed in the letters as well as additional information about the Beard family. 

An online guide to the collection is available and the letters themselves are available for research in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of J. Murrey Atkins Library (see hours).

-Andrew Pack