Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 85,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World through the end of the twentieth century.

Collection of George Wortham [Decimalized .01-.56]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02233 Author/Creator: Place Written: Various Type: Header Record Date: 1831-1864 Pagination: 63 items Order a Copy

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence and other documents directed to Captain George "Granville Greys" Wortham from other military personnel. These materials discuss recruitment of personnel and unrest within the Confederate army, court martial proceedings and punishment for crimes such as desertion and theft, and day-to-day movements and communications of the army. The collection also includes documents signed by Wortham, including letters to his father. Some materials lend particular insight into Confederate views of African-Americans. One correspondent writes of his preference for enslaved people to be hung or shot over "falling into the hands of the Yankees" (GLC02233.39). Another writes of the search for African-Americans in hiding (GLC02233.41).

George Wortham (circa 1823-1883), the son of a Granville County, North Carolina physician, was a University of North Carolina-educated attorney. In May of 1861, after the North Carolina Volunteers were organized into a regiment, Wortham was made captain of Company 2, the Granville Greys. He was commissioned as a major in the 50th Regiment of North Carolina on 15 April 1862, and promoted to lieutenant on 01 December 1862, then to colonel on 10 November 1863. Wortham was placed in command at Plymouth, North Carolina after its recapture (May-October 1864). In late 1864, Wortham's regiment was ordered to assist in the defense of Savannah. They subsequently fought at River's Bridge, Averasborough and Bentonville. (In the latter battle, Wortham, is said to have "shown the white feather," fleeing to the rear to "report the disaster." Meeting a brigade courier en route, he described the battlefield deaths of Colonel William Hardy and several other officers, all of whom were subsequently found alive, though bloodied. See Nathaniel Hughes's Bentonville: The Final Battle of Sherman and Johnston, UNC Press, 200, p. 148.) Wortham was paroled on 01 May 1865 in Greensboro, North Carolina and returned to the practice of law.
Complete transcripts of most of the letters in this archive are available.

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