Local History Collections

Collection ID: LH-14
Location: LH-14

(Description ID: 594572)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

The General J. B. McPherson Collection
of Wilfred S. Foerster


Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

The Foerster Collection was donated to the Center by the Wilfred S. Foerster Family. In addition to the collection, the James Birdseye McPherson Collection, the Stem Family Collection, the Thaddeus B. Hurd Collection, the Sardis Birchard Collection, the Lydia Chase Slocum Correspondence, and numerous Biographical and Local History Files provide additional correspondence of and information about Major General James Birdseye McPherson. Selected items may be viewed online at www.sandusky-county-scrapbook-net.

Biographical Sketch
Born in 1828 near Clyde, Ohio, James Birdseye McPherson was the eldest son of William and Cynthia McPherson. Following his father's death, McPherson clerked in the store and boarded with the family of Robert Smith of Stemtown (Green Springs, Ohio). Noting his exceptional intelligence, his employer assisted him in gaining admission to the Norwalk Academy. With the backing of Sardis Birchard and other prominent Sandusky Countians, McPherson received an appointment to the United States Military Academy from Congressman Rudolphus Dickinson. Despite his deficient early education, McPherson graduated first in the class of 1853. Educated as an engineer, McPherson developed and oversaw the construction of the U.S. Army's defensive fortifications in New York City's harbor, Pea Island, and Alacatraz Island. At the outbreak of the Civil War, McPherson requested transfer to the east. Receiving an appointment to Halleck's staff, he reported to St. Louis where he met General William T. Sherman. Halleck ordered McPherson to act as chief engineer for General Ulysses S. Grant. McPherson joined Grant before Forts Donelson and Henry. He later served in the same capacity at the Battle of Shiloh. Following the Battle of Shiloh, McPherson was promoted to Brigadier-General of Volunteers and Military Superintendent of Railroads. McPherson commanded the 17th Corps of the Army of the Tennessee throughout the Vicksburg Campaign and the Siege of Vicksburg. In 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant commander of all of the Union forces. Sherman succeeded Grant as head of the western army and McPherson was appointed major general of the Department of the Army of the Tennessee. McPherson joined Sherman in the drive for Atlanta. On 22 July 1864, McPherson was killed during the opening moments of the Battle of Atlanta. He was the youngest and the highest ranking Union officer killed in the civil War. His body was returned to Clyde, Ohio for burial in the McPherson Cemetery in Sandusky County, Ohio.

Scope and Content
In an effort to gather materials for a proposed biography of Major General James Birdseye McPherson, William S. Foerster compiled an extensive collection of notes and photocopies of primary and secondary sources on the general over a ten-year period. Foerster's work covers McPherson's personal life as well as his career as a professional soldier (1828-1864), including original documents, transcripts, and correspondence at the United States Military Academy, the Library of Congress, the Sutro Library, the Chicago Public Library, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Cincinnati Historical Society, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, and material held by McPherson family descendants. The collection also includes reproductions of original photographs and photocopies of published material about McPherson from publications of veterans' organizations, newspapers, books, military biographies, etc. The collection provides a comprehensive overview of the personal life, academic achievements, and military career of Major General James Birdseye McPherson, including his participation in the Civil War and the circumstances surrounding his death. The files that are arranged follow a chronological order.

2½ linear feet
Ac. 4416

Box 1 (fldrs. 1-18)
1 Family and local history, notes and photocopies
2 Foerster correspondence concerning McPherson
3 Foerster, miscellaneous notes on sources for McPherson study
4 Foerster, miscellaneous notes on McPherson
5 Transcripts, selected letters, McPherson Papers, Library of Congress
6 Photocopies, selected letters, McPherson Papers, Library of Congress
7 Transcripts, Enoch Moore Statsenberg Papers, Sutro Library
8 Photocopies, Statsenberg Papers, Sutro Library
9 Transcripts and photocopies, McPherson Papers, Chicago Public Library
10 Transcripts and photocopies, McPherson File, Illinois State Historical Society
11 Transcripts and photocopies, Henry W. Halleck and George G. Pride Papers, Missouri Historical
     Society, St. Louis, MO
12 Transcripts and photocopies, various files, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
13 Transcripts, Andrew Hickenlooper Papers, Cincinnati Historical Society
14 Photocopies, Andrew Hickenlooper Papers, Cincinnati Historical Society
15 Transcripts and photocopies, selected McPherson Papers, R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont,
16 Transcripts, selected Stem Papers, R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, OH
17 Photocopies, selected Stem Papers, R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, OH
18 Transcripts, selected Birdseye Papers, R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, OH

Box 2 (fldrs. 19-27)
19 Transcripts, selected McPherson Family Papers, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Toledo, OH
20 Photocopies, selected McPherson Family Papers, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Toledo, OH
21 Transcripts of letters in and notes concerning: Elizabeth J. Whaley, Forgotten Hero: General James B.
     McPherson (NY: Consolidated Book Producers, Inc., 1955)
22 Transcripts of letters and documents in printed sources (arranged by date)
23 Photocopies, booklets, and manuals concerning McPherson (filed by sources)
24 Newspapers (unarranged)
25 Engravings and printings (arranged)
26 Photographs (unarranged)
27 Maps (unarranged)

Box 3 (fldrs. 28-30)
28 Printed Sources -- articles pertaining to McPherson (unarranged)
29 Printed Sources -- articles concerning the Civil War in general (unarranged)
30 Printed Sources -- articles in M.O.L.L.U.S. publications (Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the
     United States), (unarranged)

Box 4 (fldrs. 31-36)
31 Foerster Notes -- bibliographic key to sources used in Foerster's notes
32 Foerster Notes -- biographical notes, filed alphabetically
33 Foerster Notes -- miscellaneous notes on Civil War topics (unarranged)
34 Foerster Notes -- notes on McPherson and Civil War, 1860 - May 18, 1863
35 Foerster Notes -- notes on McPherson and Civil War, May 19, 1863 - May 25, 1864
36 Foerster Notes -- notes on McPherson and Civil War, May 26, 1864 - 1865

Box 5(printed materials)
Civil War Times Illustrated, May - August, October - December, 1975; January, February and April, 1976; The Campaign for Atlanta; The Common Soldier of the Civil War; and Gettysburg!

Bearss, Edwin C. The Fall of Fort Henry, Tennessee (Reprinted from The West Tennessee Historical Society, Vol. XVII, 1963). 30pp.

Cullen, Joseph P. Where a Hundred Thousand Fell: The Battles of Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House. National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 39. Washington, DC, 1966

Dillahunty, Albert. Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee. National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 10. Washington, DC, 1955 (reprint 1961)

Eason, Nicholas J. Shiloh Environmental Trail: Hiker's Guidebook. Shiloh Military Trail, Inc., 1969

Everhart, William C. Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi. National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 21. Washington, DC, 1954 (reprint 1961)

Grim, Herbert L. and Roy, Paul L. Human Interest Stories of the Three Days' Battles at Gettysburg. Gettysburg, PA: Times and News Publishing Co., 1969

[Hollister, John L.]. Vicksburgon Your Own: An Illustrated Guide to the Battlefield. Battlefield Guide Publishers, 1971

[Hollister, John L.]. Shilohon Your Own: An Illustrated Guide to the Battlefield. Battlefield Guide Publishers, 1973

Kurtz, Wilbur G. The Atlanta Cyclorama: The Story of the Famed Battle of Atlanta. Atlanta: The City of Atlanta, Georgia, 1974

Motheral, J. G. Fort Point: "Gibraltar of the Pacific." Fort Point Museum Association, 1971

Price, William H. The Civil War Handbook. Fairfax, VA: Prince Lithograph Co., Inc., 1961

Storrick, W. C. The Battle of Gettysburg: The Country, the Contestand, the Results. Harrisburg, PA: The McFarland Co., 1972


National Archives and Records Service. Civil War Maps in the National Archives. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1964

Printed materials transferred to the Library of the R. B. Hayes Presidential Center:

Goode, James M. The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, DC: A Comprehensive Historical Guide. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974

Goode, W. A. M. With Sampson through the War: Being an Account of the Naval Operations of the North Atlantic Squadron during the Spanish American War of 1898. New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1899

Green Springs, Ohio Centennial. Green Springs, OH: The Green Springs Echo, 1972

Official Souvenir Book of the Norwalk [Ohio] Sesquicentennial. Norwalk,OH, 1967

Wright, Adeline. Pioneers' Progress: The First 25 Years of Lyme Township and Strongs Ridge.

The Historic Lyme Church Association, 1972