Scope and arrangement
The Western Department Archives, 1861-1865, primarily document the Department’s extensive supply distribution and relief efforts in the Western Theater, from its first base in Cleveland, Ohio (1861-1862) and later Louisville, Kentucky (1862-1865). Material is arranged by office or function and includes records for the Central Office, some agency offices, supply distribution, and Soldiers’ Homes.
Central Office records consist mainly of letters and telegrams received and sent, most to or from Associate Secretary John S. Newberry. Letters and telegrams received are primarily from branches and soldiers’ aid societies affiliated with the Western Department, departmental agencies in the field, and the USSC’s Washington and New York Offices. Most letters concern the need for and transport of supplies from branches to agencies and depots in the field. Numerous items also pertain to special relief activities, especially the operation of Soldiers’ Homes. Letters from USSC’s Washington and New York Offices mostly concern personnel issues and assignments, finances, meetings, and issues with Western Department branches.
Letters and telegrams sent are generally to Western Department branches and agencies, and to the USSC’s Washington and New York offices concerning supplies, special relief, personnel assignments, transportation and travel, and general departmental activities. Central Office records also contain some Western Department rosters.
Agency office records include material for Western Department agencies at Camp Nelson, Kentucky, and at Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, Tennessee. Material is mostly volumes containing records or copies of correspondence and inquiries regarding special relief activities (tracking soldiers’ whereabouts, disinterring and moving soldiers’ bodies, and recording patients and deaths in hospitals for the Louisville Hospital Directory), and supplies needed and distributed.
Records documenting the Western Department’s supply procurement and distribution network are primarily inventories of supplies received at and forwarded from the central depot at Louisville, and of supplies issued from various locations in the field in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas.
Soldiers’ Home records include registers for two of the Western Department’s Homes located at Jeffersonville, Indiana and Nashville, Tennessee, as well as one item for an unidentified location.
See also the Louisville Hospital Directory records in the USSC Hospital Directory archives, (MssCol 19877). The Special Relief Archives in the New York, New York Archives, Historical Bureau (MssCol 22263), contain some letters and reports that address Western Department activities.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Western Department archives are arranged in four series:
Many supply volumes document work at multiple locations, presumably they were kept or re-used by relief agents as they traveled with the Army.