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Arthur McKinstry Civil War Correspondence

Identifier: USGPL-AMc

Scope and Content

The Arthur McKinstry Civil War correspondence collection consists of 50 total pieces of correspondence. 37 of these pieces were written by Athur McKinstry, a private in the New York State Volunteers 72nd Regiment Co. D during the American Civil War, to various family members. The other 13 pieces consist of correspondence surrounding the death and burial of Arthur McKinstry. The bulk of the material spans 1861-1862, with additional correspondence from 1900 and 1988, respectively, concerning McKinstry's burial at Yorktown. Each piece in the collection was flattened and stored in an acid-free folder. Most letters were in their original envelopes which are included in the folder with their respective letter. Some pieces have a modern adhesive label that was attached by a former owner. Precaution was taken in the storage of such documents to assure that the modern ink or adhesive does not damage any other part of the document. The dated material is organized chronologically with undated material following in alphabetical order by title.

The bulk of the material covers the military service of Arthur McKinstry. Important and significant topics covered in the material are: Military: Artillery, Battle of Williamsburg, camp life, battle formations, battery emplacements, rifles, command structure, rank structure, pay issues, uniforms, food, pickets, ships, Merimac, Monitor, New York State Volunteers Co. D. 72 Regiment, Co. D. Taylor's 3rd Regiment, Steamer Elm City, Fortress Monrow, maps, wounded and killed.

Geogrpahical locations: Yorktown, NY, Fredonia, NY, Richmond, VA, Charles County Maryland, U.S. Naval Academy, Washington DC, Chickamoxen, Maryland, and Dunkirk, NY. People of interest mentioned in the material: Mary Theodosia Frink McKinstry Chapin (Mother), Laura Jane McKinstry White "Jennie" (Sister), Willard McKinstry (Uncle), Perseus Archibald Winthrop McKinstry (Uncle), Willard and Winthrop (Uncles), and Eliza McKinstry (Aunt), General Hooker, Col. Nelson Taylor, General McClellan.

The collection of letters also includes two detailed maps which show Union and Confederate emplacements and units. The maps are incorporatd into the letters and do not stand alone. Also, the letters include descriptions of the freeing of slaves and their interaction with the Union Army.

Many of the letters also discuss money matters.


  • 1861 - 1988
  • Majority of material found within 1861 - 1862


Biographical Note

Arthur McKinstry was born in Chicopee, MA on November 2, 1839 to William and Mary Theodosia Frink McKinstry. William McKinstry died of consumption when Arthur was five years old, and his mother remarried soon after. Arthur had a sister, Laura Jane McKinstry, who was called Jennie. Arthur spent one year at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis from 1854 to 1855 when he was sixteen. Arthur enlisted as a private in the New York State Volunteers 72nd Regiment Co. D at Dunkirk, New York, at the age of 21 in late May of 1861. During his service Arthur wrote accounts from Co. D., 3d Excelsior, Sickle's Brigade, which were published by his uncles, Willard and Winthrop McKinstry. Arthur's letters provide a well written perspective to the life and experience of the average Civil War Soldier. Arthur McKinstry's regiment engaged the Confederate Army in four battles before McKinstry died in the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, 1862 at the age of 22. In a letter to his mother, Arthur's company commander explained that Arthur was KIA after being shot in the leg and groin. He cited Arthurs bravery under fire. He is buried in Yorktown, VA, grave #143. This biographical information was created by the donor.


0.5 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials




Arthur McKinstry Civil War Correspondence
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Ulysses S. Grant Collection Repository

P.O. Box 5408
Mississippi State MS 39762 United States