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Edgar Knapp Letters

Identifier: Ms-2002-015

Scope and Content

The Edgar Knapp Letters span the years 1862-1864 and are comprised of 40 letters received by Edgar Knapp while he was working as a hospital steward at the U.S. military hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. They are divided into Family Correspondence and Hospital Correspondence. The collection also contains two invitations to Masonic functions in Baltimore, Baltimore Commandery No. 2.

The Family Correspondence series date from 1862 to 1863. It contains 16 letters from Edgar Knapp's brother H. Knapp and one from his sister, both of whom were living in Adrian, Michigan, during the war. Like Edgar, H. Knapp was a medical man. He avidly followed war news and related political events and kept Edgar informed about work and family life in Adrian. Both H. Knapp and his sister were civilian supporters of the Union who did not (during this correspondence) support radical abolitionists. H. Knapp is an unusually capable correspondent who animates every topic he discusses, from the family's horses (e.g. "He is black (and) sleek as a mole...tough as a knob, got a good swingel (and) bollox.," to the feared loss of their brother Randolph at Gettysburg. Two letters relay news from the front 16 and 17 July: "Ran went into Battle of the 3d July (and) charged on the left flank of Genl Lee, where they had the Infantry to deal with." Additional details extend over three closely written pages.

Hospital Correspondence contains letters Knapp received from soldiers for whom he was responsible when they were recuperating in Annapolis. It also includes letters from deceased soldiers' parents, who wrote to Knapp requesting that he send specified personal effects, their son's body, or information regarding their child's final days. Letters in this series date from 1862 to 1864. Together with his letters from home, in which the battlefield loss of a brother figures prominently, this correspondence provides insight into the news and daily concerns that passed through the mind of a military hospital steward during the Civil War.


  • 1862 - 1864


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for 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 Note

Lieutenant Edgar R. Knapp (ca. 1836-?) of Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan, was a steward at the United States military hospital in Annapolis, Maryland from 1862-1864. His brother H. Knapp was probably Henry Knapp (1813-1893), who is listed in the 1860 census as a doctor in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan. Randolph Knapp, whose death is the subject of some of the correspondence, was born in 1840 in Michigan and died at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sources: 1860 Michigan Federal Census, page 383; Gravestone Records of Lenawee County, Michigan, collected by Harriet Cole Clark (Adrian, Michigan: 1933), 34.


0.25 Cubic Feet (1 box)


This collection includes correspondence received by Edgar R. Knapp while he was a steward at the U.S. military hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. Sixteen letters from his brother at home in Michigan, one from his sister, and eighteen from hospital patients or their parents.

Source of Acquisition

The Edgar Knapp Letters were purchased by Special Collections in April 2002.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

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

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the Edgar Knapp Letters was completed in May 2002.

Edgar Knapp Letters, 1862-1864
Sara Eye, Student Assistant, and Catherine G. OBrion, Manuscript Curator
2002 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Original 2002 web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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