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James Farson Civil War narrative and slave bill of sale

Collection number: ahc.MSS725f

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a three-part narrative of Farson’s service in the United States Army during the Civil War as well as a slave bill of sale. Part One of Farson’s narrative includes his account of the creation of his company, his service in Louisiana and Mississippi, his promotion and transfer to the Army of Virginia, and a record of his military service up to the Battle of Chancellorsville. Part Two picks up Farson’s narrative at Chancellorsville and provides an account of his service in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia, until his resignation in 1864. Part Three contains a summary of his engagements, and includes his transcription of several testimonials, letters, and military documents related to his narrative. The slave bill of sale was drafted in New Orleans in 1851, it lists the sale of Wiley for seven hundred dollars to Denis F. Donovan from Cyrus Chism. Within the deed Chism's unnamed wife releases her rights to her property, presumably Wiley.


  • 1851, 1904, undated


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Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.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.

Administrative/Biographical History

James Farson (1823-1909) was born in Merrimack, New Hampshire, to Samuel Farson (1791-1850) and Hannah Sargent (1794-1833). Following the death of his mother and two of his siblings, he and his father moved to Lowell, Massachusetts. Farson worked as a painter and married Louisa Boyd Doe (1830-1910) in 1851. The couple had three children: Robert (1852-1928), Charles (1856-1922), and Bertha (1862-1947). On September 6, 1861, Farson joined the 30th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a first lieutenant. He served in the Army of the Gulf under General Butler during the capture of Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On May 27, 1862, Farson was superseded in rank and mustered out at New Orleans, but later successfully petitioned for his promotion to the rank of captain. On August 8, 1862, Farson was transferred to the Army of Virginia in the 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Farson fought at the Battle of Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. When he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland in 1863, he served at Chattanooga, at Lookout Mountain, and at Resaca. He resigned his commission on September 26, 1864, near Nashville, Tennessee. After the war, Farson and his family moved to Chicago.


4 folder(s)