Scope and arrangement
The Department of the Gulf Archives, 1862-1866, documents the Department’s supply distribution and relief efforts for soldiers and sailors along the Gulf Coast, and the interior of Louisiana, from its base in New Orleans. The Department of the Gulf material is arranged primarily by office or department, and consists of records for the Main Office, Special Relief Department, and Supply Department, as well as receipts and canceled checks, and miscellaneous documents.
Main Office records are primarily correspondence, and include copies of letters sent and received by department heads George A. Blake or Edward A. Crane, mostly regarding supplies needed and distributed throughout the Department’s area of operations—in Brownsville and nearby outposts on the Texas coast, in Pensacola and to forts in Southern Florida, and to troops involved in the Port Hudson and Red River campaigns in Louisiana. Main Office records also document departmental procedures, personnel assignments, finances, and some Special Relief activities.
Special Relief Department records detail the Department of the Gulf’s extensive relief work, centered around the Soldiers’ Home in New Orleans, which provided lodging, food, medical care, and claims services, mainly for discharged or furloughed soldiers. The USSC also assisted Union families, providing information about soldiers’ whereabouts and deaths, and returning personal effects. Special Relief activities are reflected in letters and reports received, as well as copies of letters sent. Soldiers’ Home records include reports, registers, hospital record books, a provision account book, and a cash book. The providing of claims services for soldiers is documented in the Special Relief Department’s back pay and bounty journals. Also included is a register for the Gulf’s Soldiers’ Rest at Brashear City, Louisiana, and a cash book for the Department.
Supply Department records are primarily volumes documenting supplies issued from the main warehouse in New Orleans, for distribution in the city and elsewhere. New Orleans issues include to hospitals, stationed regiments, naval ship, and prisons. Supplies were also issued to relief agents for use throughout the Gulf Coast and the interior of Louisiana, and to hospital ships carrying sick and wounded soldiers up the Mississippi River.
Department of the Gulf material also includes receipts (for items purchased and utilities, soldiers’ pay, soldiers’ effects, labor, shipping), supply receipts for items distributed, and canceled checks. Miscellaneous documents include various items that were randomly grouped together by the USSC, and loose documents removed from volumes.
Most documents in this record group were numbered by the USSC’s Archive Department; items range from 1-2110. See Archive Department register, New York volume 12 for the original inventory of numbered documents in one consecutive order.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Department of the Gulf archives are arranged in five series:
Records consist mostly of correspondence to or from Department of the Gulf heads George A. Blake and Edward A. Crane, who served in Blake's absence from March to July, 1864. Also included is a departmental cash book. The main office was located at 23 Carondelet Street, along with the Department's primary storehouse.
Most volumes are records of supplies issued from the main storehouse in New Orleans at 23 Carondelet Street; some volumes also contain entries for supplies received, on hand, or cash accounts. There is also one volume of supplies received and issued in the field by a departmental relief agent.
Recipients include New Orleans hospitals, stationed regiments, naval ships, prisons, hospital transport ships, convalescent camps, Union aid societies, and individuals. Supplies were also issued to relief agents for distribution elsewhere in the Department's field of operation.
Supply volumes for New Orleans storehouses are arranged in a rough chronological order reflecting sequence of use where possible.
Items 1650-1755, not in chronological order, include bills of lading, receipts for supplies issued, soldiers' discharge papers, salary reports for Soldiers' Home employees, requisitions, letters, accounts of stock in New Orleans storeroom, and Soldiers' Home hospital reports. Loose documents include items removed from volumes and a list of supply requisitions.