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Collection Overview

Badeau, Adam, 1831-1895
Civil War Letters of Adam Badeau
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of 79 autograph letters from Adam Badeau to Union general James Harrison Wilson, dated 1862 to 1865, most of which were written while Badeau was General Ulysses S. Grant's military secretary in the Civil War.

Collection Description & Creator Information


This collection documents Adam Badeau's career as Grant's secretary during the war, as well as a diplomat and Grant's biographer after it. Researchers interested in the particulars of Badeau's career should consult the Ulysses S. Grant Association newsletter in folder 69 in order to establish details of the beginning of his career, his rise in the military administration, and his relationship with Grant.

Badeau's letters offer a lot of insight into the military events he experienced. He met regularly not only with Grant, but with William Tecumseh Sherman, Horace Porter, Richard Busteed, George Henry Thomas, Orville Babcock, Ely Parker, John Rawlins, and others. His relationships with these individuals are described in his correspondence with James Harrison Wilson, which comprises most of this collection. There's also some interesting information on Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes, who is considered by some to be the greatest American actor of all time. In these letters, Badeau provides some meaningful commentary on these figures as well as the general discussion topics of the time: the fate of slavery, reconstruction, etc.

In 1863 he spends months in New York and New Port with little company besides his caretakers and surgeons (including Edwin Booth, who becomes a dear friend of Badeau) and he writes to Wilson regularly. In this period of perpetual physical pain and loneliness, his close relationship to Wilson becomes apparent.

He mostly reports on military affairs, politics, and his convalescence, and these letters show much insight, especially regarding the future of the South. In addition, these letters demonstrate his friendship with Wilson. Badeau engages in a witty and at times flirty banter regarding their correspondence and intimacy. In these letters he divulges how meaningful their friendship is. In 1864, a breach in their friendship arises, which is not fully explained because Wilson's letters are not part of this collection. Eventurally, they do become friends again, and Badeau returns to writing about the generals he serves, and the war, and the aftermath of the war.

The collection consists of 79 autograph letters from Adam Badeau to Union general James Harrison Wilson, dated 1862 to 1865, most of which were written while Badeau was General Ulysses S. Grant's military secretary in the Civil War. One letter describes the Confederate surrender at Appomattox and the meeting between Generals Lee and Grant. Also included is a letter (1909) by Wilson and a few newspaper clippings about him.


Arranged chronologically, undated first.

Collection Creator Biography:

Badeau, Adam, 1831-1895

A volunteer in the U.S. military service at the outset of the Civil War, Adam Badeau worked as an aide on the staff of General Thomas W. Sherman until he was wounded in May 1863. He spent some months recovering in Jamaica, New York and at Fillmore House in Newport. In March 1864, Badeau was appointed military secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant, with the rank, first of lieutenant-colonel and afterward of colonel. On this duty, he accompanied the general in the Wilderness and Appomattox campaigns, and remained on his staff until March 1869, when he was retired from the army with the full rank of captain. In later years, Badeau held various diplomatic service posts.

Collection History


Various accessions.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a departmental practice of combining into one collection manuscript material of various accessions relating to a particular author.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Folder inventory added by Hilde Creager '15 in 2013.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Civil War Letters of Adam Badeau; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1