The McHarg Family Papers (1 box, 0.5 linear feet) contain some fifty substantial Civil War letters, dated 1861 to 1864, including a few penned by Union officer Horace Porter, exchanged among members of the McHarg family, in addition to five remarkable baseball letters, dated 1864, with lengthy discussion and even three detailed box scores concerning an amateur baseball club in Albany, New York. A small number of manuscripts, printed matter, and letters written after the Civil War rounds out the collection, which provides primary source documentation of two important episodes in American history: the Civil War and the development of the national pastime, baseball.
The Civil War letters trace the experiences of several men in the McHarg family. Twelve of the letters were sent from near Falls Church, Virginia, in 1861 and 1862, describing skirmishes and the early stages of the war. One letter dated January 31, 1862, includes a lengthy excerpt describing Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. The Peninsular Campaign is covered, the siege of Yorktown, Virginia, in particular. Later developments brought some of the McHarg soldiers to Frederick, Maryland, from which a handful of these letters were sent. Letters from Horace Porter to his brother-in-law Henry McHarg discuss action in Port Royal, South Carolina; Fort Pulaski, Georgia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and the 1864 Union army drive to Richmond. Many Civil War leaders; such as Daniel Butterfield, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, John Henry Martindale, George B. McClellan, and Fitz-John Porter; and battles; such as Bull Run, Chattanooga, Fort Pulaski, and Yorktown; and Union regiments are mentioned in this collection.
Five handwritten letters about the early days of baseball written during the Civil War between September 26, 1864, and November 16, 1864, were sent from C.D. Sheldon to Henry McHarg. Sheldon, a boy writing from Albany, New York, enthusiastically describes the season of his amateur team, the Hiawathas, to his friend, the young thirteen-year-old Henry McHarg at Walnut Hill School in Geneva, New York, some 200 miles away. Clearly, Sheldon is engrossed by the game of baseball, and these letters shed light on the early development of the game. Providing game recaps, play-by-play accounts, and even detailed box scores, these letters provide significant documentary evidence on baseball clubs in New York state during the Civil War. The letters also demonstrate that Henry McHarg was a baseball enthusiast long before he made a name for himself in the world of business.
Other items of special interest include a few letters written by Horace Porter as U.S. Ambassador to France (1897-1905), a typed biographical sketch of Porter's life, and a typed manuscript recounting John McHarg's Civil War experiences. The Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division preserves two collections closely related to the McHarg Family Papers: The Byington Family Papers; which document the lives of four generations of Byingtons, including noted Civil War correspondent A. Homer Byington; and the Horace Porter Collection; which consists largely of honorific muniments of this significant Civil War leader who married into the McHarg family.
ABBREVIATIONS: AC - Autograph Card. ALS - Autograph Letter Signed. ANS - Autograph Note Signed. TL - Typed Letter.