03 June 2007 by Published in: General musings 11 comments

The primary source material from the Civil War that continues to surface never ceases to amaze me. It also makes me wonder what else like it remains out there, unknown and languishing….

As you may recall, I posted three consecutive posts on the significance of the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 1-3, commemorating the anniversary of the battle. The third and final post discussed the similarities between the Battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and suggested that nobody can ever truly understand the Battle of Gettysburg without having a solid understanding of the Battle of Chancellorsville. The last comment received on that post, which was posted on May 22, was by a fellow named J. Wistar “Pete” Huey, III. Pete wrote, “I`ve got a file cabinet full of great grandfather Pennock`s papers, correspondence, etc.. One of these days I hope to get it all in some semblance of order and donate it to the Chester County Historical Society.”

Needless to say, that got my attention. I chronicled the charge of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville in my book The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 in detail, and I’d done a great deal of research into the charge. Pennock Huey wrote a small volume on the charge that was published in 1885 (I own a first edition as well as a replica reprint of the second edition), but I was completely unaware of any colleciton of Huey’s papers anywhere. I recognized that locating a set of Huey papers was a significant find, as Huey was breveted to brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign. Any papers would be useful for J. D.’s and my forthcoming three-volume study of cavalry operations during the Gettysburg Campaign.

I wrote to Pete, and we’ve engaged in an exchange of e-mails. Here’s how Pete described what he’s got: “Most of what I have is correspondence relating to his book, to and from various participants in the ‘Charge’ before the book was published, while he was working on it. I`ve also got a fair amount of his military paper work and four gold coins he kept sewn into the hem of his trousers while a POW at Roper Military Prison in Charleston. After the war he had them made into cufflinks, which I wear from time to time when I don my ‘formal’ kilt getup. I`ve also got his ‘excommunication papers’ from the Society of Friends, who took issue with his taking up arms, and other stuff I`d have to actually examine to describe. As mentioned, it about fills a file cabinet and is in no order at all. Quite a bit is in the form of packets of letters tied in ribbon, some of which I haven`t read.”

Wow. Talk about a find….

Biographical information on Huey is almost impossible to find. I’ve tried, and I wasn’t able to find much of anything of any substance. I had no idea that he was a Quaker until I read Pete’s e-mail to me.

The upshot is that I’ve asked Pete to give me a couple of paragraphs of biographical information on Huey, and then I will do one of my “forgotten cavalrymen” profiles of him here once I get that material. I’m also re-visiting the Chancellorsville episode. J. D. and I are going to update my prior work by including some of Pete’s stuff (with his permission, of course) for an article for one of the magazines, and pertinent information will be incorporated into our three-volume study of the cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign. So far as I can tell, I will be the first person outside the family to even see any of this material, which is just mind-boggling. I’m looking forward to it.

So, if this stuff is out there, what else is lurking in attics and basements?

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Sun 03rd Jun 2007 at 9:51 pm

    I guess this, added to the banjo tunes and badly sung 19th century songs I`ve uploaded on “YouTube” might qualify me for a full half-hour of fame, fifteen minutes for each…..

    “Pete” Huey

  2. Steve Basic
    Sun 03rd Jun 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Eric,

    I truly believe there are papers out there that have yet to surface. Have tended to believe that those who have those papers and such in hand, really don’t have a clue as to their importance.

    I do hope I am right, and stuff like what Pete has continues to find their way to the surface. I look forward to hearing more about this and reading about it when the trilogy eventually comes out.

    Hope all is well.

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve

  3. Sun 03rd Jun 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Pete,

    LOL. If Andy Warhol was right, then is your fifteen minutes. 🙂

    Eric

  4. Sun 03rd Jun 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Steve,

    I’m quite certain you’re right. The question is when and where the stuf will turn up.

    Eric

  5. Dave Powell
    Mon 04th Jun 2007 at 7:05 am

    Pete,

    I urge you to do something sooner, rather than later.

    Two years ago a lady contacted me. She had over 100 letters from a soldier in the 84th Illinois. While not spectacular (not like he fought at Gettysburg or anything) they were good content on army life, leaders, and battles. Lots of worries about his wife back home on the farm, and problems with an Irish tenant. Several pieces of good advice about how to deal with Irish tenants, which were at this remove, quite funny.

    They were a perfect fit for a similar collection in the Newberry library in Chicago. The Newberry had a collection from a guy that knew this guy (same company) and both letters sets referred to each other.

    The lady had typescripts, had the originals preserved, etc. She took care of them nicely. I discussed options with her and put her in touch with the aquisitions people at Newberry. She was going to donate them, I think, but she was reluctant to let them go. Still, there are now transcripts in the world, so another letters set saved…

    There are two holy grails for Chickamauga. The first is the material solicited by George Dolton, a St. Louis businessman who after the war collected a huge amount of material on Horseshoe Ridge. Dolton wrote extensively in National Tribune, American Tribune, etc. about the war. He was a surveyor, and he surveyed all of Horseshoe Ridge. He marked battle positions by tree damage, etc.

    Of course, his papers have disappeared. In 2002, a descendent surfaced with his letters and diary from the wartime period, which he annotated and published. The wartime stuff is excellent – Dolton was a very literate guy. However, the descendent had no clue about Dolton’s post-war papers. The fact that his wartime stuff survived in one branch of the family gives me hope that the rest is out there too.

    The second grail are the Archibald Gracie papers. Not the CSA General, but his son. Gracie Jr visited the battlefield around the turn of the century, and disagreed with the park interpretation. So he wrote a book: “the Truth About Chickamuaga,” to blow the lid off this whole Yankee conspiracy thing.

    He intended to write to books. The first, which got published, was told from the Union perspective (it is very hard to read, BTW, extremely disjointed.) The second was going to tell the story from the Confed side. Like Dolton, Gracie corresponded with 100s of veterans. His letters to the vets can be found in all sorts of other collections. Excerpts from these narratives were quoted extensively in his book.

    But alas, Gracie went down on the Titanic. He went into the water, was rescued, and survived long enough to testify at the hearings and write a book on the experience. Then he died, his second Chickamauga book unwritten. No one has been able to find his papers. It is possible that they went down on the titanic too, but somewhat doubtful. Why would he bring all his working papers on vacation, after he had finished his first book?

    Finding either of those two hoards would be like finding the Batchelder collection in miniature.

    Dave Powell

  6. Mon 04th Jun 2007 at 8:19 am

    Pete:

    Most of my family in the Civil War was Quaker as well. I have always wondered how this was handled.

    Your papers should put some good insight into this.

    Chris

  7. Mon 04th Jun 2007 at 9:35 am

    Pete,

    Eric and I are excited and humbled to be able to work with the papers – and we look forward to being able to tell the FULL story of Huey and the 8th PA at Chancellorsville. I’m going to be sending you a large work I did on Alf Pleasonton’s career and history (had a busy weekend, including losing our electric for a full day, and it’s on my computer at home). The work goes into detail about Pleasonton’s BS regarding his role and Chancellorsville.

    Quakers who took up arms were summarily excommunicated by the Society of Friends. Several dozen were booted out for fighting in the Revolutionary War, and of course hundreds (if not more) for taking part in the Civil War. Needless to say, the situation, in which many families and friendship were thus torn apart, is an interesting sidelight to the larger division caused by the war. That will be another interesting part of Huey’s story.

    I look forward to the bio info, Eric. Like you, I’ve found previous little about Huey – now his story will be told fuller, which is exactly what a good soldier like Huey deserves after all these years.

    J.D.

  8. Steve Basic
    Mon 04th Jun 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Eric,

    Am not a regular watcher of this program, but my Mom is and she always mentions folks bringing in CW artifacts and papers to of all places the PBS show “Antiques Roadshow”. The sad thing to me about that is those who do bring in CW stuff like that are more concerned as to the value of it for them than the value historically they are.

    That’s why I applaud folks like Pete, as he get’s it. Money isn’t everything.

    Hope all is well.

    Steve

  9. Tue 19th Jun 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Not that it`s of great consequence at this point but I gave you some incorrect biographical information.
    Elizabeth Waln Wistar was Pennock`s first, not second, wife. After her death he married Louisa Gerhardt who also predeceased him, along with a child of that marriage.
    Eric and J.D., I`m looking forward to seeing you Saturday at Westminster. I`ll have some copies of letters, documents, etc. as well as a couple of CDs of war diaries and so forth.

    Cheers,

    Pete

  10. J. Wistar ("Pete") Huey III
    Wed 27th Feb 2013 at 5:50 pm

    You might be interested in a project begun by Baltimore`s Enoch Pratt Library, “The Civil War in Your Attic”. They borrow and scan Civil War related documents, photos, etc. and put the results on line for all to see. I contacted them awhile back and quite a few of Pennock Huey`s, as well as his wife`s (Elizabeth Wistar) and brother in law`s (Major Joseph Wistar, 8th PA Cav.) are available for review. Just “Google” “The Civil War in Your Attic” and have a look.
    Cheers,
    Pete

  11. Sun 12th Apr 2015 at 11:24 am

    This is for Peter Huey. My great Uncle was an antique dealer in Marshallton, PA- near Kennett square. He gave me a Horstman sword that he got from a widow in kennett. He said her husband conscripted a unit of men and took them to the war. I only dimly remember that he said the man was a captain grey. I tried to find this man Grey, and could not. I did find Pennock Huey and wonder if this could be his sword. I’m trying to find if there are any horstman sales records.

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