John Simpson Crocker Papers, 1862-1890

Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research.
Acquisition: Collation of single accession 13820 and collection SC18227; see provenance note for details
Processed by: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, February 2012

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Background Note:

John Simpson Crocker, attorney, politician, and army officer, was born March 4, 1820, in Cambridge, Washington County, New York. He was educated at Cambridge Academy and took up the study of law in the office of Luther Howe of Cambridge. After gaining admission to the bar in 1843, he set up his own law practice in the town. He served one term (1856) in the New York State Assembly. Crocker married Harriette Sipperley of Schagticoke, Rensselaer County, New York, in July 1843. According to federal census information, the couple had at least four children: John Senderling, Ellen V., Irving M., and Willis Francis.

Crocker became active in the local militia as a young man and rose in rank to colonel of the 30th Regiment New York State Militia. When the Civil War broke out, he organized a regiment, which he named the Morgan Rifles in honor of his friend, New York State Governor Edwin D. Morgan. Known officially as the Ninety-third New York, the regiment was made up of a number of volunteer militia companies comprised of recruits from Washington and surrounding counties. Crocker was appointed colonel of this regiment, which was part of the Army of the Potomac. In April 1862, he was captured by Confederate troops during the siege at Yorktown, and taken prisoner; he was confined first at Libby Prison in Richmond and then at Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. After four months, he was released in a prisoner exchange and returned to command of the 93rd New York Volunteers. He served until mustered out in September 1864 on a surgeon's certificate of disability. For distinguished service, he was brevetted a brigadier general of the United States Volunteers on March 13, 1865.

After the war, he settled in Washington, D.C., and in 1869 he was appointed warden of the District of Columbia Prison, a post he held until his death. The most notorious criminal held under his watch was Charles Guiteau, assassin of James Garfield. Crocker died September 14, 1890.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists chiefly of letters and documents related to John Simpson Crocker’s military service during the Civil War and includes several letters he wrote to his wife, Harriette, while he was stationed at a camp near Falmouth, Virginia, during the winter of 1862-1863. The letters discuss the plight of the Union Army in the aftermath of the defeat at Fredericksburg as well as details of his troops being charged primarily with the responsibility of guarding the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac at Falmouth. However, he also writes of personal and family matters.

Included are two letters he received from his wife regarding news about the battles at Chancellorsville in May 1863 and the Wilderness in May 1864; a letter he received from Col. Nathan L. Johnson of the 115th New York Infantry detailing the Union Army capture of Fort Fisher in January 1865; biographical sketches of John Crocker; and materials related to Crocker family history and genealogy. Also included are copies of speeches he had given, one being remarks he had made upon presentation of a sword to Granville O. Haller on behalf of the 93rd New York Regiment. A memorandum and orders regarding the presentation are also included along with notes on the remarks by Haller.

Provenance Note

The John S. Crocker Papers originally consisted of 18 manuscript letters and documents purchased by this repository from Peter F. Hoag of Gillmanton, New Hampshire, in December 1956. This group was accessioned in June 1965 as collection number 13820, and now comprises folders 1-5 of this collection. A second series of documents, consisting chiefly of biographical sketches, reminiscences, and genealogical research materials was purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, a dealer in archival and manuscript materials, in June 1984. The latter series was accessioned as SC18227, and comprises folders 6-9 of this collection. The two separate accessions were collated in July 1995.

Box and Folder List

Box Folder Description
1 1 Letters: John S. Crocker to Harriette "Hattie" Crocker,  1862-1863
  1. Camp near Fredericksburg, Va., December 21, 1862 (6 p.)
  2. Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 2, 1863 (4 p.)
  3. Camp near Potomac Creek, January 4, 1863 (6 p.)
  4. Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 15, 1863 (2 p.)
  5. Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 22, 1863 (4 p.)
  6. Camp near Falmouth, Va., January 24, 1862 [sic, very likely 1863] (5 p.)
  7. Camp near Falmouth, Va., February 7, 1863 (4 p.)
  8. Camp near Falmouth, Va., February 16, 1863 (2 p.)
  9. Camp near Falmouth, Va., February 20, 1863 (2 p.)
  10. Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 12, 1863 (4 p.)
  11. Camp near Falmouth, Va., April 25, 1663 (4 p.)
1 2 Letters: Hattie Crocker to John S. Crocker, 1863-1864
  1. Cambridge, [N.Y.], May 10, 1863 (4 p.)
  2. Cambridge, [N.Y.], May 14, 1863 (3 p.)
  3. Cambridge, [N.Y.], May 29, 1864 (4 p.)
1 3 Letter (A.L.S.): Col. A.J. Johnson, H.Q. 3rd Brigade, A.C., Fort Fishier, N.C., to Col. John S. Crocker, White Creek, N.Y., January 30, 1865 (4 p.)
1 4 Speeches, etc., 1863
  1. Remarks of Col. John S. Crocker on presenting a sword to Maj. G.O. Haller, U.S.A., on behalf of the officers of the 93rd New York Volunteers at the general headquarters of the Army of the Potomac near Falmouth, Va., January 8, 1863 (6 p.)
  2. Memorandum in regards to the presentation of sword to Maj. G. O. Haller, 7th U.S.A., by officers of the 93rdNew York Volunteers, January 8, 1863 (3 p.)
1 5 Remarks of [Granville] O. Haller upon receiving the sword presented to him by the officers of the 93rd New York Volunteers, January 8, 1863 (4 p.)
1 6 Speeches, etc
  1. Rough draft of a speech on civil rights and equality for all people under the Constitution; appears to have been delivered on the eve of Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration as president, 1869 (10 p.)
  2. Speech delivered at the reunion of veterans of the 93rd New York Volunteers, Fort Edward, Washington County, New York, September 19, 1889; reminiscences of the battles and campaigns of the 93rd Regiment during the Civil War. (23 p.)
1 7 Biographical sketches
  1. Biographical sketch of Col. John S. Crocker, written on "93rd Regiment N.Y.S.V." stationery, ca. 1870; contains family history information and details of his career up to 1863 (14 p.)
  2. "Biographical sketch of Col. John S. Crocker," n.d.; rough draft covering his life before the Civil War (8 p.)
  3. Biographical sketch of Col. John S. Crocker, ca. late 1880s; covers almost his entire life, n.d. (25 p.)
  4. Brief sketch of the life of Col. John S. Crocker, compiled by William Calvin Crocker, ca. 1890 (2 p.)
1 8 Genealogy and family history
  1. History of English Crocker ancestry from 1066 to Sir John Crocker in 1530 and genealogical record onward to John Simpson Crocker (23 p.)
  2. Biographical information on the siblings of John S. Crocker and their families, ca. 1880s (19 p.)
1 9 Genealogical research notes (6 items)


Last Updated: May 24, 2021