Charles L. Hagar
Papers, 1862-1895

SC22915

Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift: David Greene, Auburn, N.H., September 2006
Processed By: Jasmine Bumpers, Student Assistant, Manuscripts and Special Collections, July 2011

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Biographical Note:

Charles L. Hagar was born on June 29, 1819, in Vermont. He lived in Plattsburgh, New York, with his wife Elizabeth A. Hagar (1820-1888), whom he married on November 20, 1839, in Saratoga, New York.  The couple had four children who survived infancy: Sara Maria (1841-1874), James (1844-1893), Mary Emily “Emma” (1846-?), and Charles W. (1848-1942).  Another daughter, Elizabeth, died at the age of nine months in 1843.

Hagar served as a Methodist minister before enlisting as a chaplain into the United States Army on August 21, 1862, in New York City, and serving in the 118th New York Infantry Regiment, which was commonly referred to as the Adirondack Regiment. Hagar was commissioned as an officer on September 2, 1862, and mustered out on June 13, 1865, in Richmond, Virginia. After the war Charles Hagar returned to New York and died on August 28, 1890, in Essex County, at the age of 71.

Scope and Content Note:

The collection is comprised mostly of letters written by Hagar while serving as a chaplain for the 118th New York Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Many of these letters are addressed his wife, Elizabeth, although he also wrote a number of letters to his four children, in particular his older son, James, and younger daughter, Emma. 

Hagar discusses a wide array of topics in his letters to his family, including providing detailed accounts of life in army camps where he was stationed during the war, most of which were located in Virginia, and describing flora, fauna, and weather conditions. He also mentions his duties as chaplain: holding prayer services, conducting funerals, and visiting hospitals. In addition, Hagar provides details of the battles and campaigns in which the 118th Regiment participated: the attack on Fort Darling, the capture of Vicksburg, and the Battle of Fair Oaks, even giving the number of casualties.

As an army chaplain and Methodist minister, his Christian faith was important to Hagar and he often talks about God and sin, telling Emma to make sure she prays and reads the Bible everyday and reminding Charles about how awful sin is and how “we must try and be cleaned from it and be made pure for a pure and holy Heaven.”

Hagar also inquires about the interests and activities of his family, often asking Maria about her painting and Emma about singing. He instructs James on how to handle the money he is sending him and advises Elizabeth on difficult decisions she is forced to make in his absence, such as whether or not to move the family out of town.

The first folder of this collection primarily contains Hagar’s undated letters to his children.  Folders 2-5 contain letters written almost entirely to Elizabeth. Folders 5 and 6 contain letters written by family members (mainly Emma) to Elizabeth and Hagar, empty envelopes addressed to family members, a printed poem, a signed family temperance pledge, and other miscellaneous items.

Folder and Item List:


Box Folder Item Description
      Letters of Charles Hagar, undated.
1 1 1 To Emma, James, and Charles W., Saturday Morning, [n.d. 1862?]. Individual notes written to his children Emma, James, and Charles
1 1 2 To family, Saturday morning/Monday morning, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar describes (among other things) a young artillery man’s burial.
1 1 To family, Sunday evening, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar details activities and movements of his regiment.
1 1 4 To Emma, Monday evening, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar writes about a gift he bought her and how he will send something to Maria and James soon.
1 1 5 To James, [n.d., 1862?]. Hagar discusses oyster fishing in a boat.
1 1 6 To unknown recipient, [n.d. 1862?]. In this short note to one of his children, Hagar writes that he has sent money and to be careful that it not be lost or stolen.
1 1 7 To James, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar tells his son to call on John Bailey and retrieve the things he sent to the family in the trunk of Capt. Bailey.
1 1 8 To Maria, Emma, James and Charles W., Thursday Evening, 9:00 pm, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar talks about the rain and living in a tent. He also mentions finally obtaining boxes that were sent to him, containing such things as cake, gloves, and a bottle of honey to help with his cold.
1 1 9 Letters to James, Emma and Charles W. [n.d. 1862?]. Individual notes written to three of his children.  
1 1 10 To Elizabeth, Sunday afternoon, [n.d. 1862?]. In this note Hagar talks about how he is happy that Maria is returning home and how he hopes it will be a comfort to Elizabeth. He also mentions how he led service and is disappointed that she does not write to him more often.
1 1 11 To James, Sunday afternoon, [n.d. 1862?]. A short letter to James sent along with one Hagar wrote to Elizabeth.
1 1 12 To Emma and Charles W., Friday Evening, 6:00 pm, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar tells his two youngest children how much he loves them and to be kind and attentive to their mother.
1 1 13 To Emma and Charles W., [n.d. 1862?]. Individual notes to Emma and Charles. Hagar tells Charles about pictures he sent to his mother from a book and about how he finds his son's letters very interesting. He tells Emma that he is trying to take care of himself but will also "try and do his duty."
1 1 14 To family, Sunday afternoon, 4:00/Monday morning, [n.d. 1862?].  Individual notes to Elizabeth, Maria, Emma and Charles. He asks Maria about her paintings and tells Emma he is happy she likes school and to pray and read the Bible everyday. He talks to Charles about how awful sin is and how "we must try and be cleaned from it and be made pure for a pure and holy Heaven."
1 1 15 To Elizabeth, Sunday evening, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar describes some of his clerical activities.
1 1 16 To Emma and Charles W., Monday evening, [n.d. 1862?]. In these individual notes, Hagar thanks Emma for a present and tells her that he’s glad she had a nice Christmas and to not sit in school with “wet feet.” He proceeds to talk to Charles about his birthday and how he hopes he will be permitted to see him soon but does not want to make any promises on when that will be on the chance that things might not go according to plan.
1 1 17 To family, Monday morning, [n.d. 1862?].  Hagar talks about an inspection, a prayer meeting, and how though he longs to be with them believes his work as an army chaplain will financially benefit the family more than if he were at home.
1 1 18 To James [n.d. 1862?]. Hager talks about McClellan and crossing the Potomac to attack the Rebels and shares his concerns about James possibly being drafted as a solider now that he is eighteen.
1 1 19 To children, Saturday evening/Sunday morning, [n.d. 1862?]. Short individual notes addressed to Maria, Emma and his sons.
1 1 20 To children, Saturday morning, [n.d. 1862?]. Short individual notes addressed to James, Charles and Emma. His letter to Emma contains a p.s. to James.
1 1 21 To Maria and Emma, [n.d. 1862?]. In this letter addressed to his daughters, Maria and Emma, Hagar discusses, among other topics, how camp life is not as full of sin as they may have heard.
1 1 22 To Emma, Wednesday morning, chaplain’s tent, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar describes to Emma the weather and natural scenery in an unstated geographical location.
1 1 23 To Elizabeth, Saturday evening, [n.d. 1862?]. A few lines from Hager to his wife.
1 1 24 To Emma, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar thanks Emma for the flowers she sent him and briefly describes the flora around his fort and adds to the letter a couple of lines addressed to James and Charles.
1 1 25 To Elizabeth, Wednesday Evening, [n.d. 1862?]. In this letter addressed to Elizabeth, Hagar tells her about his Thanksgiving dinner and expresses his thoughts on the possible drafting of James.
1 1 26 To Emma, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar very briefly describes the previous day’s Sabbath.
1 1 27 To Emma or Maria, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar warns an unnamed daughter to stay out of debt.
1 1 28 To an unspecified child, [n.d. 1862?]. Short note to one of his children.
1 1 29 To Maria and Emma, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar tells Maria about paintings he has seen in General Robert E. Lee’s mansion and instructs both Maria and Emma on what they should send him.
1 1 30 To Elizabeth, [n.d. 1862?]. Hagar talks briefly about the burial service of a young man, a possible rebel revenge attack and more.
1 1 31 To Elizabeth, Thursday morning, [September 1862?]. Hagar writes about  the advantages and disadvantages of selling the family farm and moving into town.
      Letters of Charles Hagar, 1862
1 2 1 To James, January, 20, 1862.  Hagar tells James about his clerical duties.
1 2 2 To family, September 6, 1862, Maryland. Hagar writes about life outside of Baltimore, Maryland, describing the scenery, fruit and people he has encountered.
1 2 3 To Maria and Elizabeth, September 27, 1862/September 29, 1862. Hagar tells Maria that he has been mustered in as a chaplain for the U.S. Army.  In the note addressed to his wife Elizabeth, Hagar talks about life in Baltimore.
1 2 4 To James, November 12, 1862, Chain Bridge, Va. Hagar writes to James about pay for his regiment, the draft and duties he needs to take care of while he’s away from home. 
1 2 5 To Elizabeth, November 13, 1862. Hagar recounts his day for Elizabeth.
1 2 6 To children, November 26, 1862, Washington D.C. Hagar describes camp life in and around Washington D.C.
1 2 7 To family, December 11, 1862, Chain Bridge, Va. Hagar tells his family he has enclosed gifts for them all and discusses other topics.
1 2 8 To family, December 31, 1862/January 1, 1863, Washington D.C. Hagar talks about his first New Year’s holiday away from home.
      Letters of Charles Hagar, 1863
1 3 1 To Emma, January 9, 1863. Hagar critiques Emma’s spelling and tells her she can improve her composition through more letter writing.
1 3 2 To Elizabeth, January 11, 1863, James River, Va. Hagar describes the weather and talks about a hospital visit.
1 3 3 To Elizabeth, January 20, 1863. Hagar talks of missing letters, stoves, and urges Elizabeth to inform him of the children’s impertinence or disobedience should it occur.
1 3 4 To family, January 29, 1863, Virginia. Hagar talks about prayer meetings and how the men in his regiment had “great fun” throwing snowballs.
1 3 5 To family, February 13, 1863. Hagar describes his regiment’s move to Fort Ethan Allen.
1 3 6 To family, February 20, 1863, Washington D.C. Hagar gives his family an update on how he is and provides details as to what he has been doing.
1 3 7 To family, February 21, 1863. Hagar updates his family on camp life and expresses his wish for James to come down for a visit.
1 3 8 To Elizabeth, February 25, 1863, Washington, D.C. Hagar discusses camp locations and chapel tents.
1 3 9 To family, March 30, 1863. Hagar expresses how happy he is to have James with him and recounts his day.
1 3 10 To Elizabeth, April 11, 1863, Washington D.C. Hagar tells his wife about a horse he purchased, typhoid fever, and other things.
1 3 11 To family, April 27, 1863, Suffolk, Va.
1 3 12 To family, May 4, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 13 To Elizabeth, May 10, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 14 To family, May 17, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 15 To family, May 21, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 16 To Emma, May 24, 1863, Suffolk, Va. Hagar talks about music and his encounters with blacks.
1 3 17 To Elizabeth, May 25, 1863, Suffolk, Va.
1 3 18 To family, May 27, 1863, Suffolk, Va. Hagar briefly discusses the capture of Vicksburg and about his regiment's move to Norfolk.
1 3 19 To Elizabeth and Emma, June 11, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 20 To family, June 13, 1863, Suffolk, Va. Hagar describes his camp in Suffolk and provides a picture of headquarters. 
1 3 21 To family, June 17, 1863, Suffolk, Va. 
1 3 22 To Elizabeth, June 19, 1863, Yorktown, Va. Hagar mentions briefly his regiment’s move from Suffolk to Yorktown, describes the conditions of his current camp location and how he believes that “great events are about [to take] place in the history of this war.”
1 3 23 To family, June 26, 1863, Pamunky River, Va. Hagar describes his regiment’s early morning departure from Yorktown.  
1 3 24 To Elizabeth, August 14, 1863. 
1 3 25 To Elizabeth, August 26, 1863.
1 3 26 To Elizabeth, October 11, 1863, Norfolk, Va. 
1 3 27 To Elizabeth, October 17, 1863, Norfolk, Va. Hagar expresses his thoughts about selling the farm and moving into town
1 3 28 To Elizabeth, October 24, 1863, Norfolk, Va. 
1 3 29 To Elizabeth, November 10, 1863, Portsmouth, Va. Hagar continues the discussion about Elizabeth wanting to move into town, James and the draft, money and other topics.
1 3 30 To family, November 14, 1863, Portsmouth, Va. Hagar talks about the Indian summer he is experiencing and recounts for his family the details of a day that took place earlier in the week.
1 3 31 To Elizabeth and Emma, November 24, 1863, Portsmouth, Va. Hagar tells Elizabeth that he has been busy with meetings and funerals and asks her or the children to look over his old sermons and write some of them out for a lieutenant in his regiment.  Hagar tells Emma about the wonderful singing he heard at a school concert.
1 3 32 To James, December 8, 1863, Portsmouth, Va. Hagar writes about the possibility of James being drafted into the Union army.
1 3 33 To Elizabeth, December 14, 1863, Newport News, Va. 
1 3 34 To Elizabeth and family, December 24, 1863. In a Christmas letter home from an encampment in Virginia, he writes: “I have been lying by my stove in the dark, thinking of home, and of former scenes.  How often have we seen your little stockings hung up in a row, and old Santa Claus would manage to put something into each of them...Probably Santa Claus is so much occupied with business in Dixie, this year that he will not visit our home...”  Later in the same letter he writes, “Merry Christmas to you all...I can imagine how you all Look around the table eating from cakes.  Hope to enjoy a Christmas some future time with you all.”
      Letters of Charles Hagar, 1864
1 4 1 To James, January 2, 1864. 
1 4 2 To Elizabeth, January 16, 1864, Newport News, Va. 
1 4 3 To James, January 27, 1864, Williamsburgh, Va. 
1 4 4 To Elizabeth, February 13, 1864, Yorktown, Va.
1 4 5 To family, February 15, 1864, Norfolk, Va. 
1 4 6 To James, March 8, 1864. Hagar tells James how he is doing and talks about his son’s plans for the summer. 
1 4 7 To family, April 11, 1864. Hagar describes to his wife and children some of the fighting that has taken place between the Rebels and his and other Union regiments.
1 4 8 To family, April 18, 1864, Bower’s Hill, Va.
1 4 9 To Elizabeth, May 8, 1864, Petersburgh, Va. 
1 4 10 To James, May 14, 1864, Bower’s Hill, Va. 
1 4 11 To James, May 16, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va. Hagar describes the fighting and deaths that took place at Fort Darling (Drewry’s Bluff).
1 4 12 To James, June 7, 1864. Hagar talks about the continuous fighting occurring between the Confederates and his unit and how the Rebels were throwing shells into his regiment’s tents.
1 4 13 To Elizabeth, June 13, 1864, White House, Va. Hagar talks about how the 118th has lost a lot of men and his regiment’s move to White House.
1 4 14 To Emma, June 25, 1864, Petersburgh, Va. Hagar tells Emma about an exchange of fire between his regiment and the Rebels.
1 4 15 To Elizabeth, July 4, 1864.
1 4 16 To Emma or Maria, July 10, 1864, Petersburgh, Va.
1 4 17 To Emma, July 12, 1864. 
1 4 18 To James, July 24, 1864, Petersburgh, Va. 
1 4 19 To James, August 6, 1864, Petersburgh, Va. 
1 4 20 To Elizabeth, August 7, 1864. 
1 4 21 To Elizabeth, September 1, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 4 22 To James, September 14, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va. Hagar writes that he is beginning to regain his appetite after being sick and instructs James on what to do with the money he enclosed along with the letter.
1 4 23 To James, September 16, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va. A short note in which Hagar tells James to seek some additional funds from an uncle in order to pay off some debts.
1 4 24 To Emma, September 19, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 4 25 To James, September 26, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va. 
1 4 26 To James, October 2, 1864. 
1 4 27 To Elizabeth, October 8, 1864.
1 4 28 To Elizabeth, October 18, 1864.
1 4 29 To James, October 26, 1864. 
1 4 30 To family, October 28, 1864, Bermuda Hundred, Va. Hagar tells his family about the fighting that took place at Fair Oaks and how some of his regiment’s soldiers, sergeants and lieutenants were killed, severely wounded or taken prisoner. 
1 4 31 November 1864; Charles’s list of expenses to and from home.
1 4 32 To James, November 4, 1864, Washington, D.C. Hagar tells his son about his forthcoming trip home to Plattsburgh.
      Letters of Charles Hagar, 1865
1 5 1 To James, January 25, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 2 To James, February 13, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 To James, February 23, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 4 To James, March 3, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 5 To Elizabeth, March 15, 1865, Norfolk, Va. 
1 5 6 To Emma, March 17, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va. 
1 5 7 To James, March 22, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 8 To Elizabeth, March 25, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va. 
1 5 9 To Elizabeth, March 26, 1865. 
1 5 10 To James, March 27, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 11 To James, March 30, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 12 To Elizabeth, April 3, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 13 To James, April 7, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va. Hagar tells James about the fighting that could be heard off in the distance and the blood-soaked grounds of Petersburgh.
1 5 14 To Elizabeth, April 9, 1865.
1 5 15 To Elizabeth, April 15, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 16 To Elizabeth, April 23, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 17 To Elizabeth, May 7, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 18 To James, May 9, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 19 To Elizabeth, May 22, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 20 To Charles W., May 26, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 21 To Elizabeth, May 30, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Bermuda Hundred, Va.
1 5 22 To family?, June 2, 1865, Point of Rocks, Va.
1 5 23 To Charles W., June 3, 1865, Point of Rocks Hospital, Va.
1 5 24 To Charles W., June 4, 1865, Richmond, Va.
1 5 25 To Elizabeth, June 6, 1865, Richmond, Va.
1 5 26 To Elizabeth, June 8, 1865.
1 5 27 To Charles W., June 12, 1865, Richmond, Va.
1 5 28 To family, October 13, 1865, James River, Va.
1 5 29 To Maria, 1865.
1 5 30 To James, [n.d. 1865?], Bermuda Hundred, Va.
      Letters of Charles Hagar, 1866-1895
1 6 1 To Emma, Friday morning, January 20, 1865-66?
1 6 2 To Hagar from Emma, May 6, 1865, Saratoga, N.Y.
1 6 3 To Elizabeth from Emma, June 5, 1865, Saratoga, N.Y.
1 6 4 To Hagar from Elizabeth and Emma, June 1865, Cumberland Head, N.Y.
1 6 5 To Elizabeth from Emma, July 2, 1865, Saratoga, N.Y.
1 6 6 To James, December 20, 1866, Plattsburgh, N.Y.
1 6 7 To Hagar from Emma, 1866-67?
1 6 8 To Bessie, February 20, 1895, Gouverneur, N.Y.
1 6 9 To Mrs. York, Watertown, N.Y.
      Miscellaneous
1 7 1 Photograph of an unidentified woman lying down on a bed; most likely Elizabeth Hagar.
1 7 2 Poem written by Charles L. Hagar.
1 7 3 Family Temperance Pledge signed by Hagar, Elizabeth, Maria, James, Emma and Charles W. and dated on April 15, 1866.
1 7 4 Soldier’s package envelope forwarded by Harden’s Express to James from Hagar.
1 7 5 Empty yellow envelope addressed to James.
1 7 6 Empty white envelope addressed to Elizabeth.
1 7 7 Empty yellow envelope addressed to Maria.
1 7 8 Empty beige envelope addressed to Elizabeth.
1 7 9 Empty orange envelope addressed to James.
1 7 10 Empty light yellow envelope addressed to Elizabeth.
1 7 11 Empty beige envelope addressed to Elizabeth.
Last Updated: December 5, 2011