Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 75,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Phelps, Diton (fl. 1861-1864) to Edith M. Phelps

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03523.49.04 Author/Creator: Phelps, Diton (fl. 1861-1864) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Autograph letter Date: 11 August 1861 Pagination: 4 p. ; 20.5 x 25.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Writes to his sister from Camp Gibson. Says that they are placing a masked battery about a mile from camp. Writes that they are clearing an area of trees that is about a mile in width. Says that 14 men out of his company were chopping down trees yesterday and today. Reports that they are about nine miles from Fairfax Court House where there is a rebel camp. They have picket guards in place between them and the rebel camp with the bridge being heavily guarded. Describes an impending battle that General [Winfield] Scott is planning. He is preparing a masked battery to relieve the picket guards from the bridge and allowing the Confederates to cross. The battle is expected to be near the camp which is about nine miles from Washington, up the Potomac River. Comments that he and the boys are anxious to engage the enemy. Speaks of another man named Eugene and his regiment arriving to camp. Says that Eugene and his regiment had a little skirmish in Piedmont, Virginia where they killed eight Virginian horsemen. Writes of camp life and how they have some "mean" men. Tells of an incident involving a slave and a few of the men. A slave was sent into town to sell some apples for his master when their men ran into the slave. They grabbed the bag of apples and dumped them out and ate them all. Written on paper depicting the capitol and the words, "UNITED STATES CAPITOL."

Background Information: Diton Phelps enlisted as a private on 15 May 1861. He mustered into "F" Co. PA 35th Infantry. He was mustered out on 11 June 1864 at Harrisburg, PA.

People: Phelps, Diton, fl. 1861-1864
Phelps, Edith M., fl. 1861

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarMilitary HistoryUnion ForcesSoldier's LetterUnion Soldier's LetterFortificationMilitary CampArtilleryConfederate States of AmericaBattleInfrastructureDeathCavalrySlaveryAfrican American HistoryCommerceDiet and nutritionWartime Pillaging and DestructionWashington, D.C.ArchitecturePatriotic StationeryUnion General

Sub Era: The American Civil War

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources