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McHarg Family Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS248

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

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.


  • 1861 - 1922
  • Majority of material found within 1861 - 1864

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Henry King McHarg (1851-1941) was a noted financier. Born in Albany, New York, he was the son of a wholesale dry goods merchant. His sister was the wife of General Horace Porter. Henry McHarg received schooling at the Albany academy, private schools, and Walnut Hill School, the boarding school of Reverend Thomas C. Reeds in Geneva, New York. At age fifteen he became a clerk in the banking firm of Lockwood & Company in New York City. In time, McHarg worked his way up the financial ladder. In 1872, he bought a seat in the New York stock exchange, selling it in 1927. Among other achievements, he formed the brokerage firm of Adams & McHarg, invested heavily in railroads, served as president of the Virginia Iron, Coal & Coke Company, and became a leading banker. (Source: "The National Cyclopedia of American Biography." Vol. 29. New York: James T. White, 1941, p. 14).

Union officer Horace Porter (1837-1921) is remembered as a staff officer and biographer of General Ulysses S. Grant. Born on April 15, 1837, in Huntington, Pennsylvania, the son of Governor David Rittenhouse Porter (1788-1867) and Josephine (McDermet) Porter, Horace Porter graduated from West Point in 1860. At the outset of the Civil War, Porter was a brevet second lieutenant in the ordnance department. Receiving promotions for his service, he advanced in the ordnance department, seeing duty on the South Carolina coast and then during the Peninsular Campaign. Later, during the battle of Chickamagua, as ordnance chief for the Army of the Cumberland, Porter regrouped a broken line and bought time for retreat. For that action he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1902. After impressing Grant during the Chattanooga Campaign, Porter joined Grant's staff as Aide de Camp on April 4, 1864. He was breveted for Fort Pulaski, the Wilderness, New Market Heights, and war service (Brigadier General). Porter remained in the army after the Civil War, continuing as an aide to Grant and General William T. Sherman until resigning in 1873. Entering civilian life, Porter pursued the career of railroad official. In 1897, his book "Campaigning With Grant" was published. From 1897 until 1905, Porter held the post of U.S. Ambassador to France.


Manuscript biographical sketch in McHarg Family Papers: Box 1 Folder 62.

Sifakas, Stewart. "Who Was Who in the Civil War." New York: Facts On File, 1988, p. 516.

Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. "The Civil War Dictionary." New York: McKay, 1988, p. 661-2.

See also: Mende, Elsie Porter. "An American Soldier and Diplomat." New York: Stokes, 1927

Porter, Horace. "Campaigning with Grant." New York: Century, 1897.

- McHarg Family Genealogy:

McHarg--Children of William McHarg (1778-1865) and Sophie (King) McHarg:

John McHarg (1813-1884), married Martha Whipple Patch.

Sophie Anne McHarg;

William Neil McHarg;

Rufus King McHarg;

Charles King McHarg.

McHarg--Children of John McHarg (1813-1884, son of William McHarg 1778-1865) and Martha Whipple (Patch) McHarg:

Sophie King McHarg (1840-1903), in 1863, married Horace Porter (1837-1921);

John William McHarg (1843-?);

Theodore McHarg (1845-1867);

Henry King McHarg (1851-1941), one of whose sons was Henry McHarg, Jr.

(Source: Information provided by donor).


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


McHarg Family Papers
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057