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    Civil War Archive of Correspondence and Documents of Hazard Stevens, 79th New York Volunteer Infantry, and His Family. The archive consists of 20 letters, including 11 letters from Hazard Stevens to his Aunt Mary Hazard of Newport, Rhode Island; 4 copies of letters, 1 Typed Letter Signed, and 1 copy of a TLS from fellow soldiers and family members relating to Stevens' military career and family activities. Ten letters from Stevens to his Aunt Mary, dating from July 27, 1862 to October 17, 1863, cover his Civil War service. Overall, the archive contains approximately 70 letters and documents, with many relating to Stevens and his family's activities. These include, in addition to the letters from Stevens to his Aunt Mary, letters and copies of letters relating to Stevens' Medal of Honor award; a clipping from an unidentified Newport, Rhode Island Island, newspaper concerning the capture of Fort Huger at Suffolk, Virginia, under command of Captain Stevens on April 19, 1863, an album, 7" x 5.25", of 9 sepia photographs of the exterior and interior of what is presumably the Stevens Family home in Newport, Rhode Island; and a lock of Stevens' hair.

    Stevens' first Civil War letter is written to his aunt Mary [Mary W. Hazard] from Newport News, Virginia, dated July 27, 1862, in which he describes Big Bethel, Virginia, with hand drawn map, the place where the Union forces under General Benjamin Butler were soundly defeated on June 10. "I rode over to Big Bethel, the place where Butler was defeated with such slaughter, and Maj. [Theodore] Winthrop was killed in the beginning of the war....The rebel earthworks are all there, and the most formidable set of works they are too, owing to the ground....But Butler went marching along, until he came to the open field, when the three batteries on this side...blazed away and killed his men by dozens. They all took to their heels. So much for Big Bethel." By January 1863, Stevens received an appointment as Inspector General on General George W. Getty's staff, 3rd Division of the Ninth Corps. Army of the Potomac. He mentioned this and the recent Union defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in a January 16 letter to his Aunt Mary. "When I first came to Washington [DC], I was weak enough to think that I might obtain an increase of rank, but after seeing several members of Halleck's [Henry Halleck] staff, (Halleck himself I could not see) and others, I was glad to receive an order to report to [General Ambrose] Burnside....I hung around Burnside's Headquarters for a week, when Gen. G. W. Getty, an old artillery officer and a good one, applied for me. I accepted his invitation with alacrity, for by this time, I was glad to take any position. I have been on his staff as Inspector General ever since....Our division was engaged during the battle of Fredericksburg and I was under fire with them, but was not hurt. We lost the battle not from bad plans, not from the strength of the enemy's position, but from the delay, indecision, inactivity and general incompetency of Commanding Generals."

    Stevens led a successful assault on Fort Huger during the Battle of Suffolk at Hill's Point, Virginia, on April 19, 1863. In the archive is a retained copy of a letter from Brigadier General Getty to General Lorenzo Thomas, dated April 22, 1863, requesting that Stevens be "promoted to the rank of Major in the Adjutant General's Dept...for gallant and distinguished service in the assault upon the enemy's Battery at Hill's Point in the afternoon of the 19th inst." By the middle of June 1863, Stevens and his unit were in Portsmouth, Virginia, erecting fortifications along branches of the Elizabeth River. He describes how these fortifications are built, with drawings, in a June 13 letter to his aunt Mary. "The way in which a line is fortified is this. At every important point, such as roads, open country etc., strong forts are erected, and other forts are thrown up at many as may be required so there shall be a strong work every half mile. These forts are all connected by lines of rifle pits." A month later, July 13, writing to his aunt from Hampton, Virginia, Stevens bemoans the slow progress his division is making in its attempt to capture Richmond. "We are now awaiting Steamers to transport the troops to Portsmouth. This Division is to garrison Portsmouth the remainder of the summer. [General Michael] Corcoran and his Patricks will be sent to Washington where I hope they will smell gun powder in right good earnest. Thus the best, most effective, fighting Division, in the whole Department of Va. is left to rust in idleness, while a rabble like Corcoran's legion is sent to disgrace us on the Battle field." The remainder of Stevens' Civil War letters were written from camp in Portsmouth, Virginia, where this division continued strengthening Union fortifications.

    The archive includes a contemporary copy of a letter, dated December 15, 1864, written by General Getty to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, recommending Stevens "for the appointment of Colonel of one the regiments of your state. Major Hazard Stevens has served with me since Nov. '62. He has shown great bravery on many battle fields and zeal and efficiency at all times, and is well qualified to command a regiment." This letter includes a copy of an endorsement by General Horatio G. Wright, who states, "I have known Maj. Stevens, as an officer in the field since 1861 and have had frequent opportunities of witnessing his bravery zeal and efficiency in which qualities he is surpassed by few or none."

    On June 13, 1894, Stevens was awarded the Medal of Honor for his leadership in the capture of Fort Huger, Virginia, on April 19, 1863. Included in this archive are several letters (some copies) attesting to Stevens' courage and heroism. One is an ALS, dated December 13, 1893, from General George Getty to General Thomas W. Hyde, concerning his (Getty's) strong recommendation of Stevens for the medal. "I was an eye-witness to Stevens courage & daring in every Battle in which the Division I had the honor to command were engaged, from Fredericksburg to the closing scenes at Appomattox. There is no officer more deserving of a Medal of honor than he....There is no one living I would do more for than Hazard Stevens." Another letter (a copy of which in in the archive) in support of Stevens, dated January 12, 1894, was written by David Morrison, formerly Lieutenant Colonel in the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry, to Daniel Lamont, U.S. Secretary of War. "I respectfully beg leave to join in the recommendation, and to add my testimony that the medal could not be given to a more gallant and deserving soldier....Doubtless the recommendation of Genl. Getty will be sufficient, but I cannot refrain from giving my testimony. I know that I and every man of the 79th Highlanders and of the Division that knew Capt. Stevens will rejoice should a medal be given him." Another supporting letter (carbon copy) is from John A. Beckwith, formerly a corporal in Company D, 8th Connecticut Volunteers, dated April 26, 1894, to General Getty, in which Beckwith refers to Steven's heroism in capturing Fort Huger. "I helped in the surprise and capture of Fort Huger...and was one of the first to jump...into the river and rush ashore after the grounding of the steamer. I clearly remember of a Captain of your staff being already upon the bank at the time....He ordered us to charge the Fort, not waiting for line formation, and to carry it...and within ten minutes that Fort was ours. The slightest weakening in his action or courage must have resulted in either the capture or death of all concerned who went ashore, as there was no opening for retreat." Another letter, an undated letter, in the archive in support of Stevens' award is from Charles T. Andrews, formerly 1st Lieutenant of Company D, 8th Connecticut Volunteers, to General Getty, in which he states that "Capt. Stevens was one of the first to climb up the bank which was quite steep and called on the men to follow him and I am sure was one of the first men in the Fort."

    Hazard Stevens (1842-1918), born in Newport, Rhode Island, was an American military officer, mountaineer, politician, and writer. He was the son of Isaac Ingalls Stevens (1818-1862) and Margaret Hazard Stevens (1817-1913). Both father and son volunteered in the Union army during the Civil War and served in the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry. Hazard Stevens was a major and assistant adjutant general. Hazard was wounded and his father, by then a general, was killed in the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862. For his contribution to the capture of Fort Huger, Virginia, on April 19, 1863, Stevens received the Medal of Honor on June 13, 1894. Stevens was mustered out of the Union Army volunteers on September 19, 1865. On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Stevens for appointment to the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from April 2, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on March 12, 1866. Stevens and Philemon Beecher Van Trump made the first documented successful climb of Mount Rainier on August 17, 1870.

    The 79th New York Volunteer Infantry was originally created as a social club or as a Scottish American fraternity in New York City in the fall of 1858 with the help of the St. Andrews and Caledonian societies of New York and wealthy financial backers. Their original duty was to parade, train as heavy artillery, and also provided a guard for the Prince of Wales when he visited the United States and did the same for the Japanese ambassador. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the Highlanders were mobilized and new men were quickly recruited before they left New York City. The 79th New York was mustered into service for a three-year duration on 29 May 1861, and attached the Department of Washington. The regiment served in the defenses of the capital until the middle of July when it was attached to General Irvin McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia, for the advance on Manassas (Bull Run). The regiment participated in numerous engagements, including Bull Run, Secessionville, Second Bull Run, Centreville, Chantilly, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, the Wilderness Campaign, and the siege of Petersburg.

    Condition: The letters and documents have the usual folds; otherwise good.


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    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
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