John W. Geary letters
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John W. Geary letters

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Geary, John White, 1819-1873.
Title: John W. Geary letters
Dates: 1858-1865
Extent: 0.5 cubic feet (1 box)
Identification: MS 2030

Biographical/Historical Note

John W. Geary was a lawyer, politician and Union general in the Civil War (1861-1865). He was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania on 30 December 1819. After serving as a colonel in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War (1846-1848), Geary went to California for the 1849 gold rush. While in California, Geary became the first governor of San Francisco from 1850 to 1851 and was later governor of the Kansas Territory from 1856-1857. Following his term as governor, Geary returned to Pennsylvania and with the onset of the Civil War he joined the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry as a colonel. He was later promoted to brigadier general and saw action in many of the major battles of the war. Geary later was assigned to the Twelfth Army Corps as a division commander and went on to distinguish himself in command during the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, the entire Atlanta Campaign, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the Carolinas Campaign. He also oversaw the surrender of Savannah, Georgia in December 1864 and briefly served as the city's military governor. Following the end of the Civil War, Geary returned to Pennsylvania and served as its governor from 1867 to 1873. He died of a heart attack three weeks after the end of his term as governor on 8 February 1873 in Harrisburg.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains photocopies of the letters that John W. Geary wrote from 1858 to 1865. Majority of these letters are addressed to Geary's wife Mary and in which he describes his experiences in the Civil War, particularly the Atlanta campaign and the surrender of Savannah. Also included are letters from his son, Edward R. Geary who served in the 28th Pennsylvania Infantry and died in his father's arms at the Battle of Wauhatchie in Tennessee. The original letters are owned by Col. Richard M. Ludlow, a descendant of Geary, of St. Simons Island, Georgia.

Index Terms

Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
Geary, Edward Ratchford, 1845-1863.
Geary, John White, 1819-1873.
Geary, Mary Church Henderson.
Letters (correspondence)
Savannah (Ga.)--History--19th century.
Sherman's March to the Sea.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 28th (1861-1865)

Administrative Information

Processing Information

This collection is processed at the Basic Level (or collection level). There is no detailed inventory for this collection as it is not fully processed. To request that this collection be added to our priority list of collections to be fully processed as staffing and funding allow, please contact the Library and Archives staff.


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Encoding funded by a 2008 Archives-Basic Projects grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.