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William Henry Ewell
Papers, 1862-1961; bulk, 1862-1867


Quantity: 1 box (.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift of Susan Alden, Webster, N.Y., July 2016
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, September 2016

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Biographical Note:

William Henry Ewell, the son of Rev. Henry Bancroft Ewell (1811-1884) and Amelia Sarah Dix (1818-1843), was born June 27, 1843, in Pavilion, Genesee County, New York. His mother passed away when he was only 5 months old, leaving his father a widower with two young children. Rev. Ewell remarried in 1845 and several half siblings followed. Rev. Ewell was the pastor of the Baptist Church in Pavilion, New York, for nearly half a century. 

William, not 18 when the Civil War broke out with the firing on Fort Sumter, was working as a clerk in Pavilion. In August of 1862, at the age of 19, William enlisted in the 129th New York Regiment of Infantry as a private. Subsequently, the regiment was transferred to the 8th New York Regiment of Heavy Artillery. William was promoted to corporal, then sergeant, and then sergeant-major in Company "I".  He was discharged in June of 1865.

William married Anna Mary Burt (1847-1903) of Covington, New York, on December 13, 1865. In 1870 the couple was living in Batavia, New York, where William was a dry goods clerk.  They had a daughter, Eva Irene Ewell (1867-1944), and two sons, Frank Burt Ewell (1870-1936), and Henry Bancroft Ewell (1877-1938), named after William's father. According  to the 1880 census, William and family were living in Pavilion and his occupation was listed as farmer.

In the early 1880s, William moved his family to Rochester, New York, where he held various jobs as a clerk. In 1901, William moved to Albany, New York; Anna joined him there in 1902.  William died in Rochester on April 5, 1902, and was buried in the Pavilion Cemetery, along with his father and mother. Anna died from smallpox in Albany less than a year later and was buried in Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, New York. 

Scope and Content Note:

This small collection mainly documents the Civil War career of William H. Ewell. There are certificates recording his promotions and discharge, General Orders, his service record, a bounty claim letter, a photograph of William in uniform, and a Confederate $10 bill.

Of particular interest are the two letters William Ewell wrote from Baltimore, Maryland, in the early days of his life in the military. One, to his younger sister, Nellie, reported to her about his trip to Baltimore, the situation in the camp there, his equipment and the nearby presence of Rebel soldiers, as well as noting that a major proportion of the population was black. He called Baltimore the "plug ugly city of the south." The second letter is unique because it is four full pages, written on oversize paper (11" x 16").  It was sent to his future wife, Anna Burt, and reported first on his near bout with "camp fever," and on his discomfort at having to guard Rebel prisoners. Mainly it is a personal letter to "his girl," with news of his camp, the family and thanking her for the "Valentine" she had sent him.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Letter: William H. Ewell, Baltimore [Maryland] to sister Nellie Ewell, August 25, 1862, two days after his regiment left New York State. (4 p.)
1 2 Letter: William H. Ewell, Fort Federal Hill, Baltimore, Maryland, to Anna Burt, February 14, 1863 (4 p.)
1 3 Individual Record of Officers and Enlisted Men for William H. Ewell of the 8th Regiment, New York Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Company "I", with details of his service record, September 15, 1864 (1 item)
1 4 General Orders No. 44 from Headquarters, Second Army Corps, transferring command to Major General A[ndrew] A. Humphreys, signed by Winfield S. Hancock, Major General, Volunteers, November 26, 1864 (2½ p.)
1 5 General Orders No. 36 from Headquarters, 8th New York Heavy Artillery, to the officers and soldiers of the regiment releasing them from service, signed by Colonel J.B. Baker, June 5, 1865 (3 p.)
1 6 Certificates of promotion for William H. Ewell (3 items):
  1. Promotion to corporal in Company "I" of the 8th Regiment of New York Heavy Artillery, as of February 25, 1864, signed by J.B. Baker, Major, December 25, 1864
  2. Promotion to sergeant in Company "I" of the 8th Regiment of New York Heavy Artillery, as of September 4, 1864,signed by J.B. Baker, Major, December 25, 1864
  3. Promotion to sergeant-major in Company [blank] of the 8th Regiment of New York Heavy Artillery, as of April 15, 1865, signed by J.B. Baker, Colonel, April 25, 1865
1 7 Certificate of Discharge for William H. Ewell, signed by J.B. Baker, Colonel, June 5, 1865 (1 item)
1 8 William H. Ewell Military Records (2 items):
  1. Letter: Lt. Col. J.E. Lee, Washington, D.C., to William H. Ewell, Covington Center, New York, verifying discharge and claim for bounty, March 25, 1867
  2. Adjutant-General's Office statement of the service record of William H. Ewell, n.d.
1 9 Miscellaneous Items (9 items):
  1. Carte de visite photograph of William H. Ewell in Civil War uniform, taken ca. 1862, at the age of 18
  2. Confederate States of America $10 bill, dated 1864
  3. Two black-and-white photographs, one of the gravestone of William H. Ewell and one of the gravestone of Rev. H.B. Ewell and Amelia, his wife, parents of William H. Ewell, dated June 1961
  4. Affidavit of William H. Ewell of residency and military service prior to the election of November 8, 1864, dated October 13, 1864
  5. Letter from J.R. Cooper, Rochester, New York, certifying the military service of William H. Ewell, June 27, 1890
  6. Two Civil War Union Army envelopes, empty, n.d.
  7. A handwritten poem which appears to deal with the land given to veterans and the assessments on those lands, n.d.   (includes a copy for better readability)
Last Updated: March 23, 2022