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Thomas Williams correspondence

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 6769

Scope and Contents note

Collection includes letters written to Mary Neosho Bailey or "Moddie", Williams' wife, during the Utah War. Williams was a member of Johnston's Army from 1858-1859 during the Utah War. Mainly, Williams was stationed in and around Fort Leavenworth, a fort located in Kansas Territory. He was also stationed with Johnston's Army at Cheyenne Pass for weeks. While traveling, Williams and his company usually camped in Kansas and Nebraska territory. His letters begin in his family's hometown of Detroit, Michigan in 1858 and follow him until 1859.


  • 1858-1859


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Thomas Williams correspondence must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Thomas Williams (1815-1862) was a career artillery officer ot the US Army.

Thomas Williams (1815-1862) was a career artillery officer of the regular US Army whose active, distinguished service was almost entirely on the frontiers of the Old Northwest, Florida, and the Far West until the last year of his life, during which he assumed general responsibilities as a brigadier commanding volunteer troops of combined arms. He died of a gunshot wound at age forty-seven in 1862 while leading his brigade in the Union Army's successful defense of Baton Rouge, Louisiana against a Confederate counterattack.

Williams was literally a child of the War of 1812, having been born in Albany, New York to which his family had temporarily revived in the wake of the British capture of Detroit, where his father had served as a senior officer of American militia troops. Thereafter Thomas Williams fought in every major American conflict preceding the Civil War, including Illinois' Black Hawk War (1832), in which he accompanied his father's Michigan troops as a teenaged private; the Second Seminole War (1835-1842); the Mexican War (1846-1848); and the Utah War (1857-1858). During the late 1850s, when Thomas Williams wrote most of the letters in this collection, he was a captain in the Fourth U.S. Artillery, the regiment in which he had served since graduating from the U.S. Military Academy two decades earlier, standing twelfth in the Class of 1837. In addition, he held the rank of major by brevet, reflecting his receipt of two brevet promotions for gallant and meritorious conduct during the Mexican War battles of Contereras, Churubsco, and Capultepec. During a portion of that conflict, Williams served as an aide to General Winfield Scott as well as a battery commander. In May 1861, with the outbreak of the Civil War, Williams was promoted to the substantive grade of major and transferred to the Fifth U.S. Artillery, a new regular regiment in which his son, Thomas Williams, Jr., simultaneously received a direct commission as a first lieutenant. Notwithstanding the senior Williams' appointment, four months later as a brigadier general for volunteers and his departure from the Fifth for greater command responsibilities, that regiment and his continuing rank as its major defined Williams' regular army status at the time of death. Note: Biographical sketch written by Bill MacKinnon of Santa Barbara. Sketch was received by David Whittaker 5 March 2009. Full sketch by MacKinnon is available in collection.


1 box (0.5 linear feet)

Language of Materials



Correspondence includes letters written to Mary Neohso Bailey Williams or "Moddie", Williams' wife.

Custodial History note

Collection pulled from the LeRoy Hafen papers (MSS 1768) in 2009. Original collection donated by LeRoy Hafen in 1976.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; LeRoy Hafen; 1976.

Appraisal note

19th Century Western & Moromon Americana; 19th Century letters written by a member of Johnston's Army during the Utah War.

Related Archival Materials note

See also: Papers, 1820-1965 (MSS 1768; Harold B. Lee Library, Special Collections Department, Archival Manuscripts; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).

See also: Epilogue to the Utah War: impact and legacy by William P. MacKinnon (BX 8605.1 .J826 vo.29 no.2, Special Collections Department, Periodicals; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).

See also: Garry David Ryan, “Camp Walbach, Nebraska Territory, 1858-1859: The Military Post at Cheyenne Pass,” Annals of Wyoming 35 (April 1963): 5-20. (F 756 .A67, Periodicals; Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah).

Processing Information note

Processed; Lissa Bogart; 2009.

Register of Thomas Williams correspondence
Lissa Bogart
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States