Atwater (Dorence) Papers, 1863-1913 (RG 069:177)

RG 069:177, Dorence Atwater Papers Inventory

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview of the Collection

Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Container List

Papers 1863-1913


RG 069:177, Dorence Atwater Papers

Inventory

Finding aid prepared by Barbara Austen.

Copyright 2017 by the Connecticut State Library


Overview of the Collection

Repository: Connecticut State Library
Creator: Atwater, Dorence, 1845-1910
Title: Dorence Atwater papers
Dates: 1863-1913
Quantity: 1 cubic foot
Abstract: Dorence Atwater served in the first squadron of Connecticut Cavalry (Harris Light Cavalry) which was attached to the 2nd New York Cavalry. Dorence was captured by the Confederates near Hagerstown, Maryland, in July 1863 and was incarcerated at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He was selected to maintain the death register for Union soldiers. As a precaution, he made a copy for himself and turned it over to the United States government upon his release. He later would request a copy of it repeatedly but was denied. Dorence with the aid of Clara Barton procured permission to erect wooden markers for the dead at Andersonville using the death register which he then took home. Atwater for taking the register home was convicted in a court martial and sentenced to hard labor, from which he was eventually pardoned. In 1868 he was named consul to the Seychelles Island and later to Tahiti where he married Princess Moetia Simon in 1875. Richard Atwater, Dorence's brother, assembled the collection to document the career of and to right the miscarriage of justice experienced by his brother. A former officer in Dorence's unit, Edward W. Whitaker, assisted Richard in gathering information and artifacts. The bulk of the collection consists of letters between Richard and individuals including Edward Whitaker, Clara Barton, Moetia Atwater, Jason Fenn, George Godard, and others.
Identification: RG069_177
Accession: T003310
Language: The records are in English.

Biographical Note

Dorence Atwater, the son of Henry and Catherine Fenn Atwater, was born in Plymouth, Conn., February 3, 1845. Although under age, in 1862 he successfully enlisted in the first squadron of Connecticut Cavalry (Harris Light Cavalry) which was attached to the 2nd New York Cavalry. He was captured by the Confederates near Hagerstown, Maryland, in July 1863 and was moved among several prisons before his final incarceration at Andersonville Prison in Georgia. After a stay in the hospital, he was selected to maintain the death register for Union soldiers. As a precaution, he made a copy for himself, which he carried in his bag when he was released on February 1, 1865, for exchange one month later.

The War Department learned of this unauthorized copy of the death register and demanded it be turned over to the government. Atwater frequently requested a copy for himself but was repeatedly denied. With the aid of Clara Barton, he procured permission to erect wooden markers for the dead at Andersonville, and while he had the death register in his possession, he took it home with him. Atwater was convicted in a court martial and sentenced to hard labor, from which he was eventually pardoned. In 1868 he was named consul to the Seychelles Island and later to Tahiti where he married Princess Moetia Simon in 1875. Atwater died November 26, 1910, in San Francisco and was buried two years later in Tahiti.

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Scope and Content

Richard Atwater, Dorence's brother, assembled the collection to document the career of and to right the miscarriage of justice experienced by his brother. A former officer in Dorence's unit, Edward W. Whitaker, assisted Richard in gathering information and artifacts. The bulk of the collection consists of letters between Richard and individuals including Edward Whitaker, Clara Barton, Moetia Atwater, and others. There are also letters between Jason Fenn and Richard about a memorial statue for Dorence in Terryville. In addition, the collection includes personal documents including letters written by Dorence; his discharge papers; printed proceedings from his court martial and his hearing before the U.S. Congress; resolutions of the Connecticut General Assembly; correspondence of Connecticut State Librarian George Godard about the collection Richard was assembling; newspaper clippings; photographs of the family; a pocket mirror carried by Dorence; and Richard's historical sketches of the Atwater family, Dorence's military service, and essays related to various aspects of Dorence's life.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged in roughly chronological order.

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Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Restrictions on Use

See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.

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Index Terms

Organizations:

United States. Army. New York Cavalry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1865)
Andersonville Prison

Subjects:

Genealogy -- Connecticut -- Plymouth
United States -- History --Civil War, 1861-1865

Places:

Plymouth (Conn.)
San Francisco (Calif.)
Seychelles
Tahiti (French Polynesia : Island)
Terryville (Plymouth, Conn.)

Persons:

Atwater, Dorence, 1845-1910
Atwater, Moetia, 1848-1935
Atwater, Richard, 1853-1933
Barton, Clara, 1821-1912
Whitaker, Edward W., 1841-1922

Document Types:

Black-and-white photographs
Cased photographs
Clippings (Information artifacts)
Correspondence
Discharges
Genealogies (Histories)
Lists (Document genres)
Resolutions (Administrative records)
Trials

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Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by Richard Atwater to the Connecticut State Library in 1913.

Processing Information

Processed by Lizette Pelletier and Barbara Austen in 2017.

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Container List

Papers, 1863-1913
Box Folder
List of items received, 1913 1 1
General Order 33, 1863 2
Notes from prison to his father, 1864 3
Prison passes, 1864 4
Honorable discharge, with letter, 1865 5
Dishonorable discharge, 1865 6
Proposal to create grave markers, 1865 7
Typescript of court martial, with brother Richard's analysis, 1865, undated 8
Statement of innocence, 1865 9
Record of the case in the U.. House (2 copies), 1866 10
List of Union soldiers who died in Andersonville prison, 1866 11
Letters and telegram, 1867 12
William Allen letters about Dorence, 1867 13
E.W. Whitaker letter to Robert Hale, 1867 14
Resolutions, 1867, circa 1895 15
Scrapbook pages from E.W. Whitaker, circa 1866 16
Blank petition to Congress, annulment bill, and biographical information, undated, 1898, 1910 17
Article announcing his marriage, 1875 18
Letters to X.F. Granniss about a memorial to Dorence in Terryville, 1905 19
Richard Atwater incoming correspondence, 1905-1912 20
Clara Barton correspondence with Richard Atwater, booklet about First Aid Association, etc., 1905-1911 21
Jason Fenn correspondence with Richard Atwater, 1905-1907 22
E. W. Whitaker correspondence with Richard Atwater, 1905-1912 23
Printed information about E.W. Whitaker, undated 24
E.W. Whitaker calling cards, undated 25
Correspondence about Dorence's death and estate, 1906-1912 26
Atwater family correspondence, undated, 1907 27
George Godard correspondence about Dorence Atwater, 1906-1913 27
Newspaper clippings about Dorence Atwater, 1905 29
Newspaper clippings about the Dorence Atwater memorial and protests, 1905 2 1
Magazine article about Dorence Atwater, after 1907 2
Draft of a biographical sketch of Dorence Atwater by Richard Atwater, undated 3
Copy of above sketch, undated 4
Richard Atwater's writings about Dorence Atwater, undated 5
Richard Atwater's history of the Atwater family, undated 6
Richard Atwater marriage certificate, 1893 7
Filed separately on Main Vault 7, flat files.
Printed material related to Dorence Atwater, undated 8
Photographs related to Andersonville prison, circa 1865, 1866 3 1
Photographs of the Atwater Monument in Terryville, after 1905 2
Photographs of Dorence Atwater, 1860-1893 3
Photographs of the Atwater family, circa 1862-1880 4
Photographs from Seychelles Island, undated 5
Photographs from Tahiti, undated 6
Photographs of Dorence Atwater's funeral and gravesite in Tahiti, 1910-1912 7
Photograph of General E.D. Townsend, circa 1865 8
Piece of wood with Japanese writing and a wood-encased mirror Dorence Atwater carried in the Civil War, undated, circa 1864 9
Cased photographs, unidentified, circa 1860 10
Photostatic copies of documents in the collection, 1915 11