John White Geary letters
Scope and Content
These papers consist mainly of photocopies (and some transcriptions) of letters written by John W. Geary to his second wife, Mary Geary, while he served in the Union Army during the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Some letters predate the war, and others are written by John's son, Edward R. Geary, and sent to his stepmother Mary. The collection also includes an index of correspondence and information on the corps that Geary led.
- 1858-1865, 1977, undated
- Majority of material found within 1858 - 1865
- Geary, John White, 1819-1873 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.
John White Geary (1819-1873) was born near Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, the son of Richard and Margaret Geary. In 1843, he married Margaret Ann Logan; the couple had 3 children, John White, Edward Ratchford (1845-1863), and William Logan. Between 1846 and 1848, John served as a lieutenant colonel (and later colonel) in the Mexican-American War. The Geary family moved to San Francisco in 1849 when President Polk appointed Geary postmaster of the city; later he served as Alcalade (a sheriff/probate judge), the first elected mayor, and the chairman of the Territorial Democratic Committee. Margaret Logan Geary died in 1853. Between 1855 and 1856, Geary was the territorial governor of Kansas. In 1858, he married Mary Church Henderson, and they had four children, Mary, Margaret, Eva Louise, and John Washington.
Geary became colonel of the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry in 1861; his company occupied Leesburg, Virginia after it was evacuated in March 1862, and fought at Harper’s Ferry later in September. As a brigadier general, Geary fought at Cedar Mountain in August 1862. Then in 1863, he fought at the Battle of Chancellorsville in April and May, at the battle of Gettysburg in July, in Wauhatchie, Tennessee in October, and in the Chattanooga-Ringgold campaign in November. In 1864, he fought in the Atlanta Campaign, in the “March to the Sea” that ended in Savannah Georgia in December, and in the Carolinas campaign until July 18, 1865. Geary acted as military governor of Savannah and was promoted to brevetted major general. Edward Geary, John's oldest son, left Jefferson College at age sixteen to serve in the Union army as a lietuenant; he fought alongside his father in the battle of Wauhatchie and died in battle. In 1865, Geary served as a judge in the Andersonville Trial. He was later elected governor of Pennsylvania as the Republican nominee in 1867 and 1870, then in 1872 lost the republican presidential nomination to Ulysses S. Grant. Geary died on February 27, 1873.
0.417 linear ft. (1 document case)
System of Arrangement
This collection begins with an inventory of letters, and is then arranged alphabetically according to titles supplied by staff.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, 1967 with subsequent additions
Existence and Location of Originals
The original letters are held at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania under the title the Geary Family Papers, collection number 2062. The Kenan Research Center owns copies only.
This collection was re-processed in 2015.
- Atlanta (Ga.) -- History
- Atlanta Campaign, 1864
- Geary, Edward Ratchford, 1845-1863
- Sherman's March to the Sea
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives
- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental Histories
- United States. Army of the Cumberland
- United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 28th (1861-1865)
- United States. Army. Pennsylvania Light Artillery. Battery E (1861-1865)
- John White Geary letters
- Leah Lefkowitz
- December 2015
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.