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Fascination for Flutes

Capt. Tilton C. Reynolds, a member of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers (also known as the Wild Cat Regiment), left behind an extraordinary look into the lives of a Union soldier and his family in the more than 150 letters he wrote during his time of service for the Union Army.

Photographic Print of Tilton C. Reynolds, undated. From Frederick Douglass Papers (Clippings) (Series: Subject File), Manuscript Division.

"A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment" is a new presentation from the American Memory Web site. The correspondence, photographs and other materials from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers span the years of the Civil War (1861-1865). Transcriptions of 46 of the most significant letters are also available.

The 105th Regiment was raised primarily in Pennsylvania's Jefferson and Clarion counties, which were then part of the same congressional district as Venango County. Venango County was the seat of the early oil industry at Titusville. Men who struck out on their own in search of oil were termed "wildcatters." As the search for oil spread through the district, oil wells were drilled in almost every backyard. These "wildcat" operations were not often successful, but the entire area soon became known as the Wild Cat district. The name Wild Cat can also be attributed to the number of wildcats that were prevalent in the wilderness region of Jefferson County, Pa.

This online collection offers a unique perspective on the lives of a Union soldier and his family. The selected letters lend insight into the wartime dynamics of the Reynolds family, and their words reveal how family members in Reynolds' regiment looked after him, announced his capture and gave advice. The letters also describe the daily life of a Union soldier, touching on such topics as food, clothing, shelter, health and punishment. Soldiers' feelings, views on slavery and the election of 1864, as well as Reynolds' account of seeing President and Mrs. Lincoln can all be found in this collection.

"A Civil War Soldier in the Wild Cat Regiment" also features two Special Presentations: "Timeline: History of the 105th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865" and another on the Reynolds family.

American Memory, the Library of Congress Web site of more than 8.5 million items, is particularly rich with materials relating to the Civil War. In "The African-American Odyssey" there is a Special Presentation on "A Quest for Full Citizenship, which has sections on "Abolition," "The Civil War" and "Reconstruction."

A rich selection of images from this era are in "Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society," "Selected Civil War Photographs" from the studio of Mathew Brady and others, and "America's First Look into the Camera."

An excellent method to study troop activities and fortifications during the Civil War is by going to "Civil War Maps." And if you want to experience the music of the times, "Band Music from the Civil War Era" is for you.

The spoken or written word often provides perhaps the most personal account. "The Frederick Douglass Papers" demonstrate how Douglass risked his freedom by becoming an outspoken abolitionist. Walt Whitman chronicled his experiences in his notebooks, four of which are online. In "Voices from the Days of Slavery," you can listen to interviews of former slaves, and in "Born in Slavery" transcripts of interviews are available.

Finally, the complete papers of Abraham Lincoln, the man who led the nation through one of its worst crises, can be read, including his draft of the Emancipation Proclamation; his March 4, 1865, draft of his second Inaugural Address; and his August 23, 1864, memorandum expressing his expectation of being defeated for reelection in the upcoming presidential contest.


A. Photographic Print of Tilton C. Reynolds, undated. Manuscript Division. Reproduction information: Call No.: MMC-3678: Printed Matter (Undated 1 of 2); Digital ID: mreynolds-020001,

B. From Frederick Douglass Papers (Clippings) (Series: Subject File), Manuscript Division.

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