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Joseph Jermain Slocum Letters

Identifier: MSS-4295

Scope and Contents

The Joseph Jermain Slocum Letters comprise five letters that Slocum wrote between March 26 and June 1, 1862, while he was serving in the US Army in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama. The letters describe his life as a captain in the US Volunteers Commissary Department Infantry Regiment. He signs his letters as J. J. Slocum.

He wrote the first letter to his father-in-law, S. S. L’Hommedieu in Cincinatti, Ohio, where his wife and children seemed to be staying with her family. Written directly to his wife, the remaining four letters contain more personal messages to her and their children, Bertie and Tiny (an infant). Slocum wrote the first letter on March 26, 1862, when he first arrived in Nashville--which he sardonically called “Gnashville”--from Bowling Green where Union forces had taken control from the Confederates. He talks about people on the train with him who were “somewhat anxious about being captured by [General John Hunt] Morgan.”

His letters to Sallie show that he was in some measure sympathetic to the plight of Southerners and did not always take advantage of his position as an officer in an invading army. One finds evidence of this in his letters that recount giving horses back to their Southern owners. In fact, he tells Sallie that “our army is behaving badly about taking horses . . .” and in another letter says that “the people here suffer from friend and foe--both armies have robbed them of nearly everything.” Towards the end of his March 30th letter he tells Sallie that “there is one thing I want to impress upon your mind & that is that I am willing to resign when you say so.”


  • March 26 - June 1, 1862

Condition Description


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Biographical / Historical

Joseph Jermain Slocum was born in 1833, the son of Joseph J. Slocum (1795-1863), a pioneer settler of Syracuse, New York. Joseph Slocum was a successful businessman in Syracuse until the Panic of 1837, after which he engaged in various unsuccessful enterprises and eventually found work overseas in Russia and England. By 1849 he was elected to the New York State Assembly.

Joseph Jermain Slocum married Sallie S. L’Hommedieu (1833-1895) on June 8, 1854, in Hamilton County, Ohio. They had at least three children: Herbert J. Slocum (1855-1928), Margaret Olivia Slocum Flint (1870-1946), and a child they referred to as Tiny in 1862 letters. His draft registration records indicate that he was a farmer in Iowa at the beginning of the Civil War. He enlisted on February 19, 1862 and was commissioned as a captain in the US Volunteers Commissary Department Infantry Regiment that day. He was promoted to brevet major on March 13, 1865, and colonel on October 23, 1865. He mustered out on July 6, 1866.

After the war Slocum went into business in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1878, the Slocums moved to New York and joined his sister Margaret and her husband, financier Russell Sage. Margaret Slocum Sage later inherited a significant fortune from her husband and gained notoriety for her philanthropy. Joseph Jermain Slocum inherited $8,000,000 from his sister at her death in 1918.

Herbert Slocumb, referred to as Bertie in the letters in this collection, later served in the US Army and as colonel led the 13th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Columbus in 1916 against Pancho Villa and his troops.


.1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Five letters written by this Union officer serving in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama.

Condition Description



Guide to the Joseph Jermain Slocum Letters
Donnelly Walton
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266