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Lewis A. Waterman letters

Call Number: RH MS 515


The Lewis A. Waterman Collection contains twenty-nine letters that were written by him from 1864 to 1865 while serving in the United States Signal Corps, stationed chiefly at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The collection also includes cartes de visites of Waterman's Signal Corps comrades at Fort Leavenworth.


  • Creation: 1864 - 1865


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Lewis A. Waterman

Lewis Anthony Waterman was born June 2, 1848 at Providence, Rhode Island. His parents were George Waterman and Britannia Franklin (Baxter) Waterman. His siblings included his brother Franklin Alonzo Waterman and sisters Emily Frances Waterman and Britannia Franklin Waterman. Following the death of her husband in 1850, Waterman's mother married William Patt of Providence. Lewis Williams Anthony was married to Waterman's sister Britannia from 1847 until her death in 1892. He married Waterman's sister Emily in 1894.

On April 29, 1864, at age sixteen, Lewis Waterman enlisted for a three-year tour of duty in the United States Signal Corps. He trained at Georgetown, D.C. in the spring of 1864 and in June of that year was assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In late June of 1865, he joined a military expedition to Julesburg, Colorado, returning to Fort Leavenworth on October 6, 1865. He was discharged later that year. Lewis Waterman died January 19, 1868.


.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection contains twenty-nine letters written from April 1864 to November 1865 by Lewis A. Waterman while serving in the United States Signal Corps, chiefly while posted at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Waterman's earliest letters of 1864 are written from Georgetown, D.C. during his training as a Signal Corps recruit. He recounts his trip to Kansas under siege of Missouri bushwhackers in June 1864 and activities and conditions of soldiers at Fort Leavenworth in 1864 and 1865. In his accounts of various incidents, Waterman describes a military engagement between Colonel Charles Jennison of Fort Leavenworth and William Quantrill's guerrillas, as well as incidents at the Fort in 1865 related to General Lee's surrender and President Lincoln's assassination. He also describes his adventures on the plains during his Julesburg, Colorado expedition, his anticipation of discharge, and his future prospects.

Waterman's letters are written to his family members at Providence, Rhode Island--his mother Britannia Franklin Patt, his sister Emily Frances Waterman, and his brother-in-law Lewis Williams Anthony (husband of Waterman's sister Britannia). One letter is written to his brother Frank, who served in the Rhode Island Light Artillery's First Regiment during much of Waterman's service in the Signal Corps.

Letter arrangement is chronological, with many of the letters accompanied by postmarked envelopes. Most letters and envelopes are embossed either with Signal Corps insignia or with the letters "L. A. W."

At RH MS-P 515 are twenty cartes de visites of Signal Corps soldiers who served at Fort Leavenworth during Waterman's tour of duty.

Physical Location

RH MS 515

Physical Location

RH MS-P 515

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, Branford Rare Books of Art Gallery, 1985.

Guide to the Lewis A. Waterman Collection
Lewis A. Waterman letters
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2004; Finding aid encoded 2004; revised by mh, 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Lewis A. Waterman Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 515 and RH MS-P 515, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States