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Thomas Carleton Cheney, 1831-1900

Papers (1851-1889)

MC 173

3 boxes (1 cu.ft.)

About Thomas Carleton Cheney

Thomas C. Cheney was born in Derry, New Hampshire on September 11, 1831 to Sally and Lyman King Cheney. For many years he lived in Manchester, New Hampshire and it was there that he became an active member of the First Free Baptist Church when he was 25 years old. He married twice (Rachel Tomkins, on May 4, 1853, and Jennie Ham) and had two children, Frederick and Clinton.

In 1861, at the age of 28, Cheney enlisted as a private in the First N.H. Volunteer Light Battery commanded by Captain George A. Gerrish. The company at the time consisted of a six-gun battery of rifled brass pieces, 155 men, and 115 horses, “finely equipped with uniforms and great provisions.” Throughout the Civil War Cheney’s unit was combined with others, and consequently it came under the command of many different officers. Cheney’s unit was in virtually every major battle of the Army of the Potomac – Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the Virginia Campaign of 1864. He received a slight flesh wound in May 1864 at Po River, Virginia and mustered out September 25 that same year.

In 1879, he set up residence in Dorchester, Massachusetts, working as a machinist and spending his non-working hours at the Free Baptist Church in Boston. He died in Dorchester on May 30, 1900, aged 68.

About the Thomas Carleton Cheney Collection

The Thomas Carleton Cheney collection consists of 55 letters written between 1851-1885, with the bulk of them being between 1861 and 1664, four diaries from 1861 to 1864, a small number of photographs, Cheney’s mess kit, and several small items Cheney made to pass the time, such as wooden rings and several pairs of wooden pliers, some of them carved at the front. Also among the items in the collection is a scale model brass cannon, which Cheney made after the war, and a knife that he carried in his backpack, which bears the unmistakable imprint of a spent musket ball. This knife probably saved his life.

Each of the letters has been transcribed, and links have been provided from the listing below to the transcriptions.

Folder Listing:

  1. Correspondence
    1. From T.C. Cheney, 1861-1864
    2. To T.C. Cheney, 1851-1885
    3. Between other family members
  2. Diaries, 1861-1864
  3. Miscellaneous
  4. Photographs
  5. Artifacts

I. Correspondence

A. From T.C. Cheney, 1861-1864

f.1 To Luther Cheney, brother, December 19, 1861.
To Luther, January 10, 1862.

To David S. Gilchrist, brother-in-law, January 20, January 27, March 2, and April 28, 1862.

f.2 To Luther, May 4, 1862.

To Frederick Cheney, son, June 15, 1862 [enclosed with June 22, 1862 letter to Frederick Cheney from Rachel - see below].
To Luther, June 24, 1862.

To David S. Gilchrist, July 11, September 5, 1862.
To Melissa C. Paige, sister, September 10, 1862.

To Luther, September 22, 1862.
To David S. Gilchrist, September 26, 1862.
To Luther, November 9, 1862.

f.3 To David S. Gilchrist, January 2, 1863.
To Luther, January 8, 1863.
To Lyman Cheney, father, February 24, 1863.

To Melissa, April 5, 1863.
To David S. Gilchrist, May 9, 1863.
To Melissa, May 18, 1863.

To David S. Gilchrist, May 29, 1863.

f.4 To Luther, June 17, July 22, 1863.

To David S. Gilchrist, July 30, 1863.
To Melissa, August 10, 1863.

f.5 To Melissa, September 24, 1863.

To Lyman, September 27, 1863.
To Luther, October 2, 1863.
To David S. Gilchrist, October 24, 1863.

To Lyman, October 25, 1863.
To Luther, November 5, 1863.

f.6 To Lyman, January 14, 1864.

To Luther, January 31, 1864.
To Melissa, February 1, March 1, 1864.
To Luther, March 16, 1864.

To Melissa, April 28 1864.

f.7 To Luther, June 11, 1864.
To David S. Gilchrist, June 23, 1864.

To Luther, July 3, 1864.
To Melissa, September 18, 1864.
To Frederick, undated.

To Luther, partial letter, no date.

B. To T.C. Cheney, 1851-1885

f.8 From Lyman Cheney, father, July 16, 1851.

From Rachel Cheney, wife, December 18, 1862.
From Freddie Cheney, son, March 30, April 5, April 20, 1885.

f.9 From Freddie Cheney, June 16, June 28, 1885.

C. Between other family members

f.10 From Freddie Cheney, son, to Aunt Emily J. Gilchrist, no date.
From Rachel Cheney to son Freddie, June 22, 1862.

From Rachel Cheney to Freddie and Aunt Emily, July 13, 1862.
From Emily Gilchrist to Rachel Cheney with enclosed from Freddie, undated.

II. Diaries

f.11 November 20, 1861-September 17, 1862.
f.12 September 18, 1862-October 18, 1863.
f.13 October 19 1863-May 29, 1864.
f.14 May 30, 1864-October 1, 1864.

III. Miscellaneous

f.15 Discharge papers, obituary, and G.A.R. chapter eulogy.
f.16 Postage Currency, Fractional Currency, a Confederate Bill, and a copy of an article entitled ‘How Fractional Currency Was Introduced.’
f.17 Envelopes, 1851-1889.

IV. Photographs

e.1 T.C. Cheney, September 11, 1891.
e.2 George A. Shepard, 1st N.H. Battery.
e.3 Luther Cheney, brother.
e.4 H. Bean, 1st N.H. Battery.
e.5 Nathaniel Varney, 1st N.H. Battery.
e.6 David McClure, brother-in-law.
e.7 Mrs. David McClure, sister, Aunt ‘Kittie.’
e.8 Frederick Cheney, son, age 17.
e.9 Helen A. Hormer, sister.
e.10 Tom Thumb and family.

e.11 Alfred R. Crosby.
e.12 Emma Y. Pierce.
e.13 Mrs. C.C. Paige, sister, Aunt ‘Millie.’
e.14 Rachel Cheney, 1st wife.
e.15 Mary Maud Pierce.
e.16 Mrs. C.C. Paige, sister, Aunt ‘Millie.’
e.17 Lieut. Gen. U.S. Grant.
e.18 Abraham Lincoln.

V. Artifacts

e.1 CD-ROM containing images of the letters of Thomas Carleton Cheney, 1861-1864, pictures of Civil War artifacts belonging to Cheney, and 1885 letters from Frederick Cheney re an aborted move to Texas.

tray 1
George Washington Commemorative Silver coin 1776-1876
a. ID coin with hole
b. # 8 pin
c. Grand Army of the Republic Button
d. ‘vise’ pendant
1st NH. Artillery pin
Dorchester 1630
July 27th 1864
List of battles
Dept. Mass. GAR
‘J.M. Wells Post’ & ‘Grand Army of the Republic’
Wood Carvings
Inlaid Cannon Pin
Wood Carvings
Inlaid napkin ring
Wood Carvings
Wooden pincher (broken)
Wood Carvings
Miniature pinchers
Wood Carvings
a. Miniature ring
b. Miniature pinchers
c. Ring
Wood Carvings
Rings made from pieces of ‘Lady Washington’s Piano’
2 boxes
1 -empty
1 -a couple of broken rings

Unknown object

tray 2
1. Knife – Depression on base of blade caused by enemy bullet.
2. Detachable spoon, knife & fork
3. Pocketknife
4. Gun Powder holder/dispenser
5. Unknown wooden piece
6. GAR Commemorative Medals – ‘New Hampshire’ & ‘Massachusetts’
7. Wood Carvings – carved pinchers (4″ length)

tray 3
1a. Needle-book
b. Calling Cards
2. Three Wallets
3a. Wooden handle with rope attached, hook at the end of the rope
b. Tool pouch with belt loops

4. Thirteen Buttons – cut from the uniforms of dead soldiers

Machined Miniature Cannon
(Used by Family on 4th of July)
1. Shaving Mirror
2. Rachel Cheney’s Holy Bible.

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