Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 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.

West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) to Harriet Moore

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 #: GLC03836.86 Author/Creator: West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) Place Written: Aboard USS "Fernandina" at St. Catherine's, Georgia. Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 24 February 1865 Pagination: 4 p. : 24.8 x 19.6 cm.

References her letter of 28 January. Reports that he heard of the news of the fall of Charleston. Says that all the ports into the Confederacy are now closed and that Mexico is the only way to bring goods into the South now. Reports that "The rebel cavalry on the main land are hunting the negroes to drive up the country and have shot some of them. I carried off from the main, the other day a party of eighty of all ages and both sexes. There were some infants a week or two old and some very old people among them." Says he put them on a plantation on St. Catherine's Island and made a raid to give them corn, furniture, and farming and cooking utensils. Says he heard the people he robbed "had been trying to run the darkies up the country to sell, and moreover were so foolish as to run away and leave their houses." Says he was gratified to help the former slaves in this way. Says gunboats at other stations are also picking up the contrabands and bringing them to the sea islands for safety. Mentions seeing Sherman's order to provide for the former slaves and feels like he did the right thing taking some of them to the islands. Hopes to get home quickly as his 80 year old father's health is feeble.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources