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Anderson-Reavis Correspondence

 Collection
Identifier: MSN/CW 5004

Scope and Contents

The Anderson-Reavis correspondence includes nine letters and three undated postscripts written in 1861-63 by Gainesville, Alabama physician Leroy Hammond Anderson to Mary S. Reavis. Mary Reavis was the second wife of Turner Reavis (1811-1872), a prominent Sumter County, Alabama lawyer and judge who served in the state senate during the war. The Reavises were friends and near neighbors of Dr. Anderson and his mother. Two of Anderson's letters were written from Richmond, one (28 May 1861) just after his arrival to join the Confederate army and one (1-2 January 1862) just prior to the army's acceptance of his resignation. The remaining letters and fragments were written from Aiken, South Carolina from September 1862 to August 1863. Also in the collection are two ink sketches by Anderson, of prospective gravestone designs for his mother; a printed obituary of Hannah Anderson; a prewar letter written by Turner Reavis to his wife Mary (which mentions the Andersons); and a receipt. Anderson's letters include casual personal news, with frequent inquiries after members of the Reavis family — especially Mary's two daughters, Lucy (b. 1842) and Mittie (b. 1848). They also include discussions of his own, and Mary's, health (she too seems to have been consumptive); and war hearsay. In this latter regard Anderson is generally optimistic about Confederate military prospects (as in the letter of 18-19 March 1863) but less assured of the capabilities of the politicians, especially Jefferson Davis. Of his own military service little mention is made, perhaps due to the lack of surviving correspondence from the months in question. The greater purpose of Anderson's letters, however, was the management in absentia of his affairs in Gainesville. For this he relied in no small part on Mary Reavis; Anderson had no family in Sumter County, and Judge Reavis spent much of his time at Montgomery. Some of this involved the shipping of personal items from Gainesville to Aiken, as Dr. Anderson's stay in South Carolina assumed an increasing air of permanency. And though nothing in the letters indicates that Anderson planted cotton or other cash crops, there was still much to attend to on his "lot," not least with regard to his slaves. The wartime disposition of these household slaves (or "servants") is a frequent concern of the letters. The doctor was not a major slave holder by Sumter County standards (where the average holding was twenty slaves, and where by 1860 the slave population outnumbered the white population by three to one). Still, his protracted absence meant that his slaves had to be situated elsewhere, or sent to join him at Aiken, or sold. Each of these options was debated and probably acted upon in individual instances, through the agency of the Reavises.

Dates

  • 1857-1863
  • Majority of material found in 1862-1863

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Leroy Hammond Anderson, M.D., was born in Richmond, Virginia on 29 April 1814, the son of Leroy Anderson and Hannah Wright Southgate. Like his brother, the noted physician William Henry Anderson (1820-1887), he was educated in Virginia and received medical instruction both in the United States and in Europe. In 1836 Anderson's parents moved west to Mobile, Alabama, where the elder Leroy Anderson died in 1837. By 1840 L. H. Anderson and his mother had settled in Sumter County, in the cotton growing Black Belt in west-central Alabama. Anderson resided in Sumter County, in Sumterville and subsequently in Gainesville, until the war, practicing medicine and making at least one significant contribution to the literature on Alabama's infectious diseases (a differential diagnosis of typhoid and malarial fever, published in the 1852 Transactions of the State Medical Association). Business interests included speculation in the burgeoning East Tennessee copper industry. The 1860 census values Anderson's personal estate at $50,000, and the family real estate (most of which is listed as the property of his mother, who died that July) at an additional $25,000. The 1860 slave census indicates that Dr. Anderson held eight slaves, of whom only two were above the age of fourteen. In May 1861 Anderson traveled to Richmond "to take a share in what is going on;" his military records show him to have been enlisted in the Confederate army from 9 July 1861 to 2 January 1862, when his resignation was accepted. For at least part of that time he served as surgeon of the 9th Alabama Infantry. The letters leave no doubt that Anderson resigned because of his health; he was a self-described "pulmonary invalid" who appears to have suffered from tuberculosis. In August 1862 he left Richmond for the reputedly healthful resort town of Aiken, South Carolina. He was married at Aiken in the summer of 1863, to Charlotte Whitsitt, but died on 3 October.

Extent

15 folders.

Overview

A small Civil War manuscript group consisting mostly of personal letters written home to Alabama by civilian medical doctor Leroy Hammond Anderson.

Arrangement

Items are arranged chronologically, generally one per folder.
Title
Anderson-Reavis Correspondence
Status
Completed
Author
George Rugg
Date
2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

Contact:
102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556
574-631-0290