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Special Home > Guide to the Thomas Carleton Cheney Papers, 1851-1889

Guide to the Thomas Carleton Cheney Papers, 1851-1889

Collection number: MC 173

Size: 3 boxes (1.0 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 Papers

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.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Thomas Carleton Cheney Papers, 1851-1889, MC 173, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated: Don Cheney, Waxahachie, TX (Accession number: 2000.14)

Collection Contents

Series I: Correspondence, 1861-1864

Subseries A: Correspondence from T.C. Cheney, 1861-1864

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 To Luther Cheney, brother, December 19, 1861 (See this item)
To Luther Cheney, January 10, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, brother-in-law, January 20, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, brother-in-law, January 27, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, brother-in-law, March 2, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, brother-in-law, April 28, 1862 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 2 To Luther, May 4, 1862 (See this item)
To Frederick Cheney, son, [enclosed with June 22, 1862 letter to Frederick Cheney from Rachel - see below], June 15, 1862 (See this item)
To Luther, June 24, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, July 11, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, September 5, 1862 (See this item)
To Melissa C. Paige, sister, September 10, 1862 (See this item)
To Luther, September 22, 1862 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, September 26, 1862 (See this item)
To Luther, November 9, 1862 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 3 To David S. Gilchrist, January 2, 1863 (See this item)
To Luther, January 8, 1863 (See this item)
To Lyman Cheney, father, February 24, 1863 (See this item)
To Melissa, April 5, 1863 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, May 9, 1863 (See this item)
To Melissa, May 18, 1863 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, May 29, 1863 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 4 To Luther, June 17, , July 22, 1863 (See this item) (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, July 30, 1863 (See this item)
To Melissa, August 10, 1863 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 5 To Melissa, September 24, 1863 (See this item)
To Lyman, September 27, 1863 (See this item)
To Luther, October 2, 1863 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, October 24, 1863 (See this item)
To Lyman, October 25, 1863 (See this item)
To Luther, November 5, 1863 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 6 To Lyman, January 14, 1864 (See this item)
To Luther, January 31, 1864 (See this item)
To Melissa, February 1, 1864, March 1, 1864 (See this item) (See this item)
To Luther, March 16, 1864 (See this item)
To Melissa, April 28 1864 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 7 To Luther, June 11, 1864 (See this item)
To David S. Gilchrist, June 23, 1864 (See this item)
To Luther, July 3, 1864 (See this item)
To Melissa, September 18, 1864 (See this item)
To Frederick, undated (See this item)
To Luther, partial letter, undated (See this item)

Subseries B: Correspondence to T.C. Cheney, 1851-1885

Box 1, Folder 8 From Lyman Cheney, father, July 16, 1851 (See this item)
From Rachel Cheney, wife, December 18, 1862 (See this item)
From Freddie Cheney, son, March 30, (See this item)
From Freddie Cheney, son, April 5, (See this item)
From Freddie Cheney, son, April 20, 1885 (See this item)
Box 1, Folder 9 From Freddie Cheney, June 16, 1885 (See this item)
From Freddie Cheney, June 28, 1885 (See this item)

Subseries C: Between other family members, 1851-1885

Box 1, Folder 10 From Freddie Cheney, son, to Aunt Emily J. Gilchrist, undated (See this item)
From Rachel Cheney to son Freddie, June 22, 1862 (See this item)
From Rachel Cheney to Freddie and Aunt Emily, July 13, 1862 (See this item)
From Emily Gilchrist to Rachel Cheney with enclosed from Freddie, undated (See this item)

Series II: Diaries, 1861-1864

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

Series III: Miscellaneous, 1861-1864

Box 1, Folder 15 Discharge papers, obituary, and G.A.R. chapter eulogy
Box 1, Folder 16 Postage Currency, Fractional Currency, a Confederate Bill, and a copy of an article entitled ‘How Fractional Currency Was Introduced’
Box 1, Folder 17 Envelopes, 1851-1889

Series IV: Photographs, 1861-1864

Box 1, Folder 18
Envelope 1 T.C. Cheney, September 11, 1891
Envelope 2 George A. Shepard, 1st N.H. Battery
Envelope 3 Luther Cheney, brother
Envelope 4 H. Bean, 1st N.H. Battery
Envelope 5 Nathaniel Varney, 1st N.H. Battery
Envelope 6 David McClure, brother-in-law
Envelope 7 Mrs. David McClure, sister, Aunt ‘Kittie’
Envelope 8 Frederick Cheney, son, age 17
Envelope 9 Helen A. Hormer, sister
Envelope 10 Tom Thumb and family
Box 1, Folder 19
Envelope 11 Alfred R. Crosby
Envelope 12 Emma Y. Pierce
Envelope 13 Mrs. C.C. Paige, sister, Aunt ‘Millie’
Envelope 14 Rachel Cheney, 1st wife
Envelope 15 Mary Maud Pierce
Envelope 16 Mrs. C.C. Paige, sister, Aunt ‘Millie’
Envelope 17 Lieut. Gen. U.S. Grant
Envelope 18 Abraham Lincoln

Series V: Artifacts, 1861-1864

Box 1, Folder 20
Envelope 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 abortive move to Texas
Box 2
Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 1

George Washington Commemorative Silver coin, 1776-1876

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 2

Item 1: ID coin with hole

Item 2: # 8 pin

Item 3: Grand Army of the Republic Button

Item 4: ‘vise’ pendant

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 3

1st NH Artillery pin

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 4

Medal: Dorchester 1630

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 5

Medal: July 27th 1864 List of battles

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 6

Medal: Dept. Mass. GAR ‘Beans”

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 7

Medal: ‘J.M. Wells Post’ and ‘Grand Army of the Republic’

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 8

Inlaid Cannon Pin (wood carving)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 9

Inlaid napkin ring (wood carving)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 10

Wooden pincher (wood carving – broken)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 11

Miniature pinchers (wood carving)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 12

Item 1: Minature ring (wood carving)

Item 2: Minature pinchers (wood carving)

Item 3: Ring (wood carving)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 13

Rings made from pieces of ‘Lady Washington’s Piano’ (wood carving)

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 14

Box 1: Empty

Box 2: A couple of broken rings

Box 2, Tray 1 Compartment 15

Unknown Object

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 1

Knife – Depression on base of blade caused by enemy bullet

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 2

Detachable spoon, knife and fork

(See this item)

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 3

Pocket knife

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 4

Gun Powder holder/dispenser

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 5

Unknown wooden piece

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 6

GAR Commemorative Medals – ‘New Hampshire’ and ‘Massachusetts’

Box 2, Tray 2 Compartment 7

Wood Carvings – carved pinchers (4″ length)

Box 2, Tray 3 Compartment 1

Item 1: Needle-book

Item 2: Calling cards

Box 2, Tray 3 Compartment 2

Three Wallets

Box 2, Tray 3 Compartment 3

Item 1: Wooden handle with rope attached, hook at the end of the rope

Item 2: Tool pouch with belt loops

Box 2, Tray 3 Compartment 4

Thirteen Buttons – cut from the uniforms of dead soldiers

Box 3
Box 3, Tray 1 Compartment 1

Machined Miniature Cannon (Used by Family on 4th of July)

(See this item)

Box 3, Tray 1 Compartment 2

Shaving Mirror

(See this item)

Box 3, Tray 1 Compartment 3

Rachel Cheney’s Holy Bible

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