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Emery Washburn Frost Letters

Identifier: Ms-1993-005

Scope and Contents

This collection contains three letters from Emery Washburn Frost, a private in the 14th Battery, Massachusetts Light Artillery, at the end of the American Civil War. Two of the letters are addressed to Frost's brother Eli; the third, to his mother. Writing from camp between City Point and Petersburg, Virginia, on April 14, 1865, Frost describes in detail the military defenses of Petersburg and the conditions in the city following the Confederate evacuation. He also discusses the purchasing of Confederate currency by souvenir hunters. On April 27, Frost writes of refusing a furlough, because it would cost him a hundred dollars, the soldiers will soon be returning home, and in the meantime, he has a "soft job." Frost also mentions the killing of a wild boar and adds to his previous description of conditions in Petersburg. In a letter to his mother, written at Alexandria, Virginia, on May 28, Frost discusses the Grand Review of troops, describes Ulysses S. Grant's demeanor, and complains of the lack and quality of the soldiers' rations. ("They don't feed us half so well as they did at Petersburg[.] We thought then that the rations were small enough but here they don't even give us vinegar to kill the taste of their stinking meat.")


  • 1865

Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical / Historical

Emery Washburn Frost, son of Seth F. and Mehitable Bean Chamberlain Frost, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 31, 1847. He enlisted in the 14th Battery, Massashusetts Light Artillery on February 19, 1864, and was mustered into service three days later. The battery was assigned to the IX Corps and joined the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6. Washburn Frost was discharged on June 15, 1865. Returning to Massachusetts after his service, Frost married Mary Annette Hall (1849-1910); the couple had four children. By 1880 (according to the federal census for that year), the Frosts were living in Grayson County, Texas, where Washburn Frost engaged in farming. The 1900 census lists the Frosts as residents of Boston, with Washburn employed as a laborer. Emery Washburn Frost died at the Soldier's Home in Chelsea (Suffolk County), Massachusetts, on June 12, 1915, and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Boston.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Three letters from Emery Washburn Frost, a soldier in the 14th Massachusetts Light Artillery Battery, describing conditions and activities in Petersburg, City Point, and Alexandria, Virginia, at the end of the American Civil War.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Emery Washburn Frost Letters were acquired by Special Collections and University Archives prior to 1994.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Emery Washburn Frost Letters by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (


This collection had been accessioned and originally cataloged as "Civil War Union Soldier's Letters," but research during the course of processing revealed that the writer was Emery Washburn Frost. Rosters of the 14th Massachusetts Light Battery, cited by the letter-writer as his unit, contain no soldiers with Washburn as a first or last name. They do, however, include Emery W. Frost, whose middle name was Washburn. Emery W. Frost had a brother named Eli, as did the writer of these letters. The letter-writer also makes a joking reference to "Private Frost."

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Emery Washburn Frost Letters commenced and was completed in October, 2023.

Emery Washburn Frost Letters, 1865
John M. Jackson
2023 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-09-21: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US