MS - 074: Thomas B. McGaffick, Co. F, 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

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MS - 074: Thomas B. McGaffick, Co. F, 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

Inclusive Dates: 1861-1863

Processed by: Christopher Gwinn
June 2006

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF

Provenance Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, 2005

Biography

Thomas B. McGaffick was born and raised in Industry, PA in the county of Beaver to Jesse and Elizabeth McGaffick. Previous to service in the union army he was employed as a farmer. He enlisted in Company F of the 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on November 9, 1861 and was soon elevated to the rank of corporal. With the 101st Pennsylvania McGaffick participated in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign which included the Siege of Yorktown as well as the Battles of Williamsburg, Seven Pines and Malvern Hill, all of which the 101st was engaged in.

After service on the Peninsula the 101st along with McGaffick was transferred to North Carolina. While stationed a New Berne the unit participated in a number of engagements including the battles of Kingston and Goldsboro. McGaffick had long been suffering from ill health and as a result often found himself in the U.S. General Hospital at Annapolis. Three letters bear the Annapolis address, the first on May 27th, 1862 and the last on August 6th of that year. This puts into question just how much of the Peninsula Campaign McGaffick was witness to.  He will serve the remainder of his time in the army in the New Berne North Carolina area, receiving a discharge for sickness on February 5th, 1863. McGaffick died a short time later, on July 5th, 1863, most likely as a result of the sickness contracted while a soldier in the Union army.

Scope and Content

The letters of Thomas B. McGaffick, a corporal in Company F of the 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry range in date from January 19th, 1861 to February 11, 1863. The collection contains twenty two pieces of correspondence, including two fragments of letters along with a number of official documents relating to McGaffick’s discharge from the army. The letters are all addressed to members of Thomas’s family, including his sisters Belle and Mary, his brother Benjamin and his parents. The letters address a variety of subjects ranging from the rigors of army life to McGaffick’s constant battle with his own health. Thomas rarely received enough correspondence to keep him satisfied and was constantly after family members to write more. He described his thoughts on General McClellan, his desire to return home and the various women to whom he wrote during the conflict. Also of interest is McGaffick’s view towards the African Americans he encountered while in the south.  “If I thought I was fighting to free the niggers I would go home and let and let Lincoln fight it out himself.”

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF