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A. S. Williams III Americana Manuscript Collections

Guide to the George Woodard and Gene Smith letters W.0112


University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35487-0266

August 2013


This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-11-15T16:25-0600

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Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Collection Title:

George Woodard and Gene Smith letters

Unit ID:



University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama


0.2 Linear feet (fifty-six letters)




The A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, The University of Alabama


Letters between Union soldier George Woodard, Company D, 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, and his fiancee Gene Smith, of Burnett, Wisconsin. Woodard served at the battle of Corinth and the Vicksburg Campaign. He died at a Memphis hospital in 1864.


Williams, A. S., III

Preferred Citation:

George Woodard and Gene Smith letters, A. S. Williams III Americana Collection, University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama

General note

Title on spine: Woodard Letters

Processing Information:

Processed by

Donnelly Walton, 2013

Acquisition Information:

Gift of A. S. Williams III, 2010.

Biographical/Historical note

George T. Woodard (sometimes documented or referred to as Woodward) enlisted in the Union Army on September 8, 1861, according to the Wisconsin Roster of Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. He enlisted in Company D, Eighth Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, at the rank of sergeant and was later promoted to first sergeant. His company was at times in Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee.

He died January 31, 1864, in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Gayosa Hospital after suffering from an illness. Two death notification letters, sent in February, were incorrectly dated as 1863.

Woodard was engaged to Gene E. Smith of Burnett, Wisconsin. Her name was presumably Eugenia; a few letters are addressed to "Miss E. E. Smith."

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains fifty-six letters; George Woodard wrote forty-four of them, all to his fiancee, Gene Smith. At times he addresses letters to Genie, and the envelopes are often addressed to E. E. Smith--her name was likely Eugenia. His letters show his love and devotion to Gene and allude to activities they shared during their courtship. He also discusses camp life and the campaigns he was involved in, including the battle of Corinth and the siege of Vicksburg. A letter written on April 26, 1863, includes a small, hand-drawn battle map of Vicksburg. Many of his letters discuss his love of the Union and his willingness to sacrifice his life for his country.

The collection includes six letters written from Gene to George; her letters are often humorous, but her handwriting is less legible than George's.

There are three letters written to Gene from three friends or family members: Olive Woodard (George's mother); Otis Woodard (most likely his brother); and Gus. She received these after George's death, in 1864 and 1865.

In addition, there are three death notification letters written in 1864, presumably received by Gene. The nurse who cared for him at the Gayoso Hotel hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, incorrectly dated her letter on predated letterhead as February 1, 1863. Her kind letter includes details of his death, which occurred the previous day. The hospital steward at Gayoso, Michael Cahill, wrote a letter, also incorrectly dated February 1, 1863, which discusses his death and the process through which his heirs could obtain his belongings and pay. His commanding officer and friend, Lieutenant S. C. McDowell, wrote her a kind and personal sympathy letter, correctly dated February 7, 1864.

Each letter includes a typewritten, brief summary. These were presumably supplied by the seller.

Access Restrictions:



Smith, Gene E. (local)

Williams, A. S., III (local)

Woodard, George T., -1864 (local)

Alabama--History--Civil War, 1861-1865 (lcsh)

Corinth, Battle of, Corinth, Miss., 1862 (lcsh)

Letters (correspondence) (aat)

Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865 (lcsh)

Mississippi--History--Civil War, 1861-1865 (lcsh)

Tennessee--History--Civil War, 1861-1865 (lcsh)

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals (lcsh)

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life (lcsh)

Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863 (lcsh)

George Woodard to Gene Smith, October 1861 - February 1862 Box W0112.01 Folder 1

George Woodard to Gene Smith, April - December 1862 Box W0112.01 Folder 2

George Woodard to Gene Smith, 1863 Box W0112.01 Folder 3

Gene Smith to George Woodard, 1861-1862 Box W0112.01 Folder 4

Letters to Gene Smith, 1864-1865 Box W0112.01 Folder 5

Empty envelopes Box W0112.01 Folder 6