Homer S. Curtis Papers

Homer Sackett Curtis (or Curtiss - both letters and official documents use both spellings indiscriminately) was born in 1841 in Warren, Connecticut. In the summer of 1862 he volunteered for service in the 19th Connecticut Infantry. A year later the 19th was reorganized as an artillery regiment, but they never received their cannons and spent the war fighting as an infantry unit. The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, as they were later known, was not committed to battle until June, 1864 at Cold Harbor, Va., when it seized and held Confederate positions under withering fire for 36 hours. The 2nd was eventually forced to retreat with heavy losses. It was later involved in the Valley and Appomattox campaigns.

Homer Curtis was promoted to sergeant early in his career and then to lieutenant about a year later. He spent considerable time detached from his regiment, whether in hospital for illness or serving in other capacities, rejoining them shortly after their defeat at Cold Harbor. He largely remained with the 2nd until the end of the war, remaining in Washington D.C. through the summer of 1865 as the enlisted men were slowly discharged from the regiment and returned home.

The Curtis papers include about 275 letters written between Homer and his family in Connecticut and Illinois. Approximately 60% of the correspondence is from Homer to his mother and sisters. He writes extensively of camp life, politics, the progress of the war, and difficulties at home. The letters from home provide an intimate portrait of everyday struggles and engagement with the larger news of the day in the 1860s.

After the war, Homer worked as a bank clerk in Bridgeport, Connecticut, but he suffered from persistent ill health. He died in 1875 from what appears to be tuberculosis. He left behind an extensive record of his life, including nearly 200 letters now housed at Yale University, a diary in the Connecticut Historical Society, and four diaries at the Warren Historical Society.