Scope and arrangement
The Army of the Potomac Archives, 1862-1865, document the Sanitary Commission's relief work in support of Union armies on campaign in Virginia, from the winter of 1862-1863 to the closing of the USSC’s base at City Point in June, 1865. The establishment of the USSC’s Field Relief Corps and Auxiliary Relief Corps, and USSC operations during Grant’s Overland Campaign and the siege of Petersburg and Richmond are especially well represented. Earlier relief work at Harrison’s Landing during the 1862 Peninsular Campaign is also documented. This record group comprises four series: letters and reports, letters sent, journals and station records.
Letters and reports, 1863-1865, consist of a set of letters, telegrams, reports and other items, arranged and numbered by the USSC’s Archive Department (#1-4456), and a small group of unnumbered miscellaneous documents. Most numbered documents are addressed to supervisors of the Field Relief Corps and Auxiliary Relief Corps and inspectors, as well as USSC executive officers working in the field; correspondents include USSC staff reporting on the progress of work at their stationed post, army officers, soldiers, and civilians. Documents typically concern daily operations, supply matters, and inquiries from soldiers and their family members. Also present is a notable oversize plan of Army hospitals, USSC quarters and other locations at City Point as of August 1, 1864 (#4047). The set of numbered documents concludes with a group of letters and reports (#4247-4456), 1864-1865, addressed mostly to John H. Douglas and supervisors of the Field Relief Corps and Auxiliary Relief Corps regarding the daily work of relief agents and supervisors. The majority are from relief agents and supervisors of the Field Relief Corps and Auxiliary Relief Corps as well as USSC executive officers in Washington and New York; also included are testimonials by Army personnel about the USSC, and supply documentation.
Letters sent, 1863-1865, are copies of letters sent by USSC personnel, including John A. Anderson, Alexander McDonald, Isaac Harris, J. Foster Jenkins, J. Warner Johnson, Joseph Parrish, Lewis H. Steiner and others. Recipients include USSC staff in Washington and New York, relief agents, army officers, soldiers, and civilians. Letters generally concern the distribution of supplies to various locations and other relief activities, financial accounts, inquiries regarding individual soldiers, and requests for passes to the front from Army Provost Marshals.
Journals, 1863-1865, comprise a notable set of operational journals providing a detailed record of USSC activities at its bases at Belle Plain, White House, and City Point while on campaign with the Army of the Potomac and later the Army of the James, 1864 May-1865 Jun; also, several journals maintained by individual USSC staff members, 1863-1864, and journals of USSC inspections of regiments in the field, 1863.
Station records, 1862-1865 and undated, document the USSC’s relief work at various locations in Virginia: Aquia Creek, Bealton Station and Culpepper Court House, Belle Plain and Falmouth (late 1862-1863); and Brandy Station, City Point, Deep Bottom and Richmond, Norfolk, Petersburg and Portsmouth (1864-1865). Harrison’s Landing records, consisting of a hospital transport patient register and supply record, date from the earlier 1862 Peninsular Campaign. The bulk of the materials are volumes recording supplies received by USSC depots and ships and issued to military units and hospitals, as well as for special and individual relief. Special relief services at lodges at Aquia Creek, City Point, Deep Bottom and Richmond, Petersburg, and Portsmouth are documented in registers listing soldiers in transit, many of them discharged or furloughed and unwell, who were assisted with lodging, meals, and clothing. Other services include the forwarding of soldiers’ baggage, money and personal effects to the north. Cash accounts are found in a number of station records.
Station records are most numerous for City Point, documenting activities of Office staff, the Auxiliary and Field Relief Corps, and Supply staff. In addition to supply and special relief materials mentioned above, City Point documentation includes a record of Hospital Directory inquiries, USSC employment records, morning reports for field hospitals, and burial records (White House, City Point, Fort Ethan Allen). A small number of Field Relief Corps volumes chiefly concern relief work with the Army of the James. Supply records also document the USSC’s extensive use of barges and ships at City Point. An early USSC Archive Department register, circa 1866, is also included.
In the USSC Archive Department’s initial arrangement of USSC records, station records formed distinct record groups (e.g., City Point Archives); ultimately the Archive Department combined these and other materials into one record group called the Army of the Potomac Archives.
Additional financial records of USSC activities in this area can be found in the USSC Accounts and Vouchers record group.
The United States Sanitary Commission records. Army of the Potomac archives are arranged in four series:
Financial and supply documents (requisitions, invoices and accounts of stock) which had been arranged in bulk groups are now arranged separately by station or multiple location use; others remain interspersed in numerical sequence.
See Archive Department register, USSC New York, N.Y. Archives volume 12 for the complete original inventory of numbered documents in this record group. Archive Department register USSC New York, N.Y. Archives volume 11 only includes items #1-4286.
Steiner letters are written in his capacity as Chief Inspector of the Army of the Potomac and later for the Armies in Eastern Virginia and Maryland. Steiner letterpress copybooks each contain an additional index prepared by the USSC’s Archive Department. Additional Steiner letterpress copybooks are found in the USSC Washington, D.C. Archives record group.
A set of USSC operational journals document activities from 1864 May 10-1865 Jun 24. Entries typically cover the daily work and observations of USSC staff, including details about shipments and transportation of supplies, staffing changes, military activities and war rumors, and the weather. Starting June 6, 1864, two versions of the journals are found: the bound "quarto journal" (originally several paginated volumes, later rebound together as "Journals in the field"), and a separate, edited copy on loose sheets (see Journal at White House and City Point below). While the bound volumes are generally more comprehensive, the loose sheets contain communications not found in the volumes, and were apparently created for reporting purposes. The titles, "journals in the field" and "journal at White House and City Point," are retained from the USSC’s 19th century arrangements; the June 6, 1864 entry in both versions bears the title, "Journal. U.S. Sanitary Commission work with the Army of the Potomac." Journals kept by individual USSC staff members and journals of USSC inspections are also present.
Records are in alphabetical order by location, with the exception of Culpeper Court House (see Bealton Station) and Richmond (see Deep Bottom). Records documenting activities at multiple and unidentified locations are grouped together at end.