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Ira Spaulding
Letters, 1862-1863


Quantity: 1 folder (11 items)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchased from N. Flayderman and Co., New Milford, Connecticut, January 1985
Processed By: Kayleigh Paster, Student Assistant, University at Albany, for Manuscripts and Special Collections, March 2014

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Biographical Note:

Ira Spaulding, Civil War soldier and officer, was born about 1818 in Vernon, New York. He enlisted for service on August 5, 1861, at Niagara Falls, New York, and subsequently mustered into Company E of the 50th New York Infantry Regiment. In October 1861 the regiment was designated the 50th N.Y. Regiment of Engineers, and generally was known as the 50th N.Y Volunteer Engineers. The troops under the command of Spaulding were responsible for building and maintaining bridges and railroads for the movement of troops and supplies to the battlefront in Virginia.

Spaulding mustered out with his regiment on June 14, 1865. After the war Spaulding worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad as a divisional chief engineer. At some point after the war Spaulding married Clara Anne Roser (1835-1912) of Savannah, Georgia. Spaulding died October 2, 1875, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Accounts of his death differ, but what is known is that he died suddenly, possibly of a heart attack, while en route to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers consist chiefly of letters Ira Spaulding sent to John and Elizabeth Dunklee of Niagara Falls, Canada, between April 1862 and June 1863. The correspondence focuses on his experiences with the 50th Engineers. In many of his letters Spaulding discusses directing his men in the building and removal of bridges and the maintenance of railroads as well as details the movement of his regiment throughout Virginia and military plans of action. His letters also discuss the regiment's role in the Battle of Fredericksburg, as well as the efforts of the 50th Engineers during the peninsular campaign. Some of his letters list the number of casualties that his regiment suffered and changes that occurred in the military chain of command. His personal sentiments about the war are also mentioned frequently.

In addition to letters, there are two general orders relative to the 15th and 50th New York Volunteer Engineers. The first was issued by Spaulding himself and defines the conduct expected of the men in the regiments. The second was issued by General Henry W. Benham, and pertains to Spaulding's achievements while commanding the 50th Engineers.

Item List:

Folder Item Description
1 1 Letter to [John] Dunklee, Camp Woodbury, nine miles south of Manassas, [Va.], April 6, 1862; portions were possibly written on August 9, 1862
1 2 Letter to [John Dunklee], On board steamer Louisiana [U.S.S. Louisiana], at Alexandria, [Va.], April 9, 1862
1 3 Letter to [John] Dunklee, Camp near New Bridge, Va., May 31, 1862; portions of the letter were written at later dates through June 6, 1862 and possibly August 7, 1862.
1 4 Letter to [John] Dunklee, Engineers' Camp, near Anacostia River, Washington, D.C., September 16, 1862
1 5 Letter to Mrs. [Elizabeth] Dunklee, Engineers' Camp, Harper's Ferry, Va., October 2, 1862; letter is missing the final page
1 6 Letter to [John] Dunklee, Head Quarters Detachment 50th N.Y. Engineers, Opposite Fredericksburg, [Va.], December 16, 1862
1 7 General Order, Head Quarters Detachment, 15th and 50th N.Y.V. Engineers, near Falmouth, Va., April 14, 1863
1 8 Letter to Mrs. [Elizabeth] Dunklee, Head Quarters Detachment, 15th and 50th N.Y. Engineers, near Falmouth, Va., April 15, 1863
1 9 Letter to [John] Dunklee, Head Quarters Detachment, Engineers' Brigade, near Falmouth, Va., April 22, 1863
1 10 Letter to [John] Dunklee, [?] 50th N.Y.V. Engineers, near Washington, D.C., June 24, 1863
1 11 General Order, Head Quarters Engineer Brigade, October 28, 1863
Last Updated: January 10, 2022