MS 163 - George Kryder Papers
|Title||MS 163 - George Kryder Papers|
The George Kryder Papers date from January 18, 1862 to December 2, 1865. The personal experiences that George Kryder disclosed to his wife Elizabeth Sweetland Kryder, are revealed in the over one hundred letters written by him while serving on military duty with the Third Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (3rd O.V.C.) in their many campaigns in the South during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
The transcripts of the letters were typed from the originals (in the possession of Mrs. Emma Kryder Hoffman) by Mrs. Julian Kryder who gave permission to her son, Stephen Kryder, to have them donated to the Center for Archival Collections. The register was prepared by Peter Wilhelm, graduate student in history at Bowling Green State University.
Four secondary sources were used as references in preparing this register. They are: Military History of Ohio (Toledo: Transcontinental Publishing Co., 1885); Frederick Dyer, Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (pp. 1474-1475); Harry Hansen, The Civil War (New York: Bonanza Books, 1971); Henry County, Ohio, A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories... (Napoleon, Ohio: Henry County Historical Society, 1976).
On the 25th of April 1834, Michael and Elizabeth Leininger Kryder welcomed the birth of the fourth of their seven children, a boy, whom they named George. His birthplace was a cabin in Franklin Township, Summit County, Ohio. Michael's father, John, had migrated to Summit County from the Cumberland Valley (Union County, Reading), Pennsylvania.
George's mother died when he was fifteen years old, in 1849. The following year his father married for a second time, a young woman named Sarah B. Hawkings. By 1853, Michael Kryder decided to migrate westward with his new family to Henry County, leaving the four older children of his first wife behind. They settled in the "Hanover Settlement," a few miles west of Napoleon in Freedom Township, Henry County, Ohio.
Young George Kryder, then nineteen years old, moved from Summit to Huron County, Ohio, to live near his sister Salome Kryder Coxley. At Chicago Junction, present-day Willard, George Kryder married Elizabeth Sweetland. In 1858 a daughter Lilie was born, followed by daughter Mary in 1860.
The call to arms of the American Civil War for the "preservation of the union," struck a responsive chord with George Kryder, who, along with his daring and bold brother-in-law, Henry Sweetland, joined the Third Ohio Volunteer Cavalry organized by Colonel Zahm in nearby Monroeville, Huron County, Ohio. By September of 1862, George and Henry experienced their first lessons of war at the hands of rebel Generals Morgan and Beauregard in the Kentucky and Tennessee theater of the War of the Rebellion. Both were attached to the Western Army.
The letters that George Kryder wrote to his wife during his four year enlistment and re- enlistment in the Union Army (1861-1865) provide first-hand accounts of the Civil War through the eyes of a soldier. The cavalry exposed George to most of the geography of the western and southern areas of the South. He endured many hardships and rigors of war, even a minor wound inflicted on him in January of 1863 near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in a fight with Morgan's shotgun-armed cavalry.
After the war, George brought his family (which eventually included 8 children) to Damascus Township, Henry County, Ohio (1869) and settled on land still in the family's possession at this writing. George oversaw the planting of a Centennial oak on July 4, 1876. In his later years, he spent winters in Florida and Alabama, which no doubt were areas he reconnoitered, as mentioned in his letters during the final campaigns against the Confederacy in the deep south. Eventually, he settled on a farm in Foley, Alabama, in the early 1920s until near the end of his life. George Kryder died at a Virginia Veterans Hospital on November 13, 1925, at the age of ninety-one years.
More information about the family can be found in Henry County, Ohio, published by the Henry County Historical Society in 1976.
|Scope and Content|
The George Kryder Papers are a collection of 102 letters written by George Kryder to his wife, Elizabeth Sweetland Kryder, from 1862 through 1865 (one not dated), documenting his experiences as a Union soldier during the Civil War. Also included in the collection are miscellaneous letters: one letter written by George Kryder to a claim agent (December 2, 1865); a letter from J. S. Kryder to his sister-in-law, Elizabeth (April 4, 1863); a letter from brother Henry to Elizabeth (December 6, 1864); and an unsigned poem. Additionally, duplicate copies of the letters (both originals and transcribed copies) from the collection held by Norman D. Bowers at Northwest State Community College are part of this collection. The original letters collection is housed in the McDougle Center for Maumee Valley Heritage within the Northwest State Community College Library. The collection is available to view upon request by contacting Kristi Rotroff, Director of Library Services, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This collection of personal Civil War correspondence of a regular rank and file cavalry enlisted man in the Union army has significant meaning for the interested reader, and educational relevance for various academic disciplines which would be greatly enriched from serious study of these letters. A biographical sketch of the life of George Kryder is included in this register. However, some basic historical facts about him and the Third Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (3rd O.V.C.) of which he was a member for the duration of the war, will be of service to the researcher.
George Kryder enlisted as a volunteer in Company I of the the 3rd O.V.C. when it was formed under the leadership of Colonel Zahm in Monroeville, Huron County, Ohio, on November 20, 1861. He was one of the 400 in January of 1864 "still fit for service" out of the original 1151 who enlisted in November of 1861. The fact that he remained in the same regiment throughout the duration of the war is a basic strength of this collection, especially for the historian interested in researching and analyzing the history of this unit and perhaps even the sociological effects of a basic corps of men sharing life and death experiences for four years of their lives. The relative completeness of these letters as well as their chronological sequence makes it easier to follow the major battles and campaigns as they appear and are compared in official regimental histories of the Civil War.
The individual interpretation of many of these campaigns and military encounters adds a personal touch to otherwise dry subject matter. It is important to note that as the researcher reads through the 1862 and most of the 1863 letters, George Kryder intentionally plays down his role in any of the major battles or cavalry charges in which his unit participates. This is a conditioning process to which he gradually exposes his wife. He is basically "small dosing" his wife for what might inevitably, at any point, "shock" her into worse grief and pain than she already is enduring. The action must become heavier and more intense if the war is to be won.
As the reader approaches the end of the war, the letters take on a more serious tone. They are much more informative and reveal a growing weariness of the battles and constant carnage before him. His wife continually hears rumors of the worst kind and to abate her fears, he has no alternative but to tell her the truth. Examples of this are evident, for instance, in late 1862 when George Kryder and the 3rd O.V.C. waged a five-day battle at Stones River near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He describes very little detail of this encounter to his wife and even attempts to downplay his role in the fighting. However, he does moderately describe in the May and June letters some of the cavalry engagements against rebel Generals Wheeler and Bragg and the guerrilla band led by Morgan who actually captured 250 men of the 3rd O.V.C. but later paroles them after much harassment and humiliation. One can infer from the information he gives his wife concerning the Morgan engagement and capture that George Kryder and Henry Sweetland (Elizabeth's brother) were a few of those who escaped after capture. According to the regimental history of the 3rd O.V.C., heavy casualties occurred during a two-hour battle against General Wheeler's rebel cavalry. Nearly an entire company of the 3rd O.V.C. was wiped out.
There are times when correspondence to his wife is anywhere from four to eight weeks apart. These gaps in writing usually correspond to either heavy marching schedules of the 3rd O.V.C. or daily battles and skirmishes with the enemy. Many times the average distances per day range from thirty to fifty miles.
In late September through the end of October of 1863, George Kryder informs his wife of "skirmishes" against Generals Wheeler and Roddy around Chickamauga. In nearby Courtland, Georgia, the 3rd O.V.C. suffered heavy casualties in repeated cavalry charges that lasted two hours, according to the regimental history's reports.
In January of 1864, George Kryder reenlisted with the entire 3rd O.V.C. and was reassigned to the Army of the Cumberland which accompanied General Sherman through his devastating march to the sea. He participated in the siege of Atlanta, Georgia. On rapid and sustained day and night marches in the Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia borders, George Kryder spent most of his time in the saddle and engaged in combat.
The personal letters to his wife by mid- to late 1864 are very descriptive at times of the horror and reality of war. Kryder displays an astounding accuracy for dates and events as they occur, especially in the hard-fought campaigns in Eastern Tennessee. General Sherman's decision to attack General Johnston's rebel positions in the Kennesaw Mountains resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The Kennesaw campaign is vividly described in his June 1864 letters to Elizabeth. The campaigns against rebel Generals Hood and Forrest in northern Georgia and Alabama are mentioned in his September-November letters.
The spring of 1865 brought more battles, campaigns, and skirmishes, as the Confederacy was making its final stand. The western army was engaged in massive mop-up operations in Georgia and Alabama. George Kryder comments in the March-July letters that he is experiencing the roughest action yet. He explains that in the Selma and Montgomery, Alabama campaigns his unit covered 300 miles in twelve days. He was also involved in Winston's raid on Macon, Georgia, in March. He writes no letters from mid-March through mid-April during the Georgia campaigns.
On the 18th of May, Kryder informs his wife that he and his unit captured "Old Jeff" (Davis), the President of the Confederacy and that "the war is over." During the last two months of his service, he performs various official supervisory duties on the plantations and assists in gunboat errands to inventory government property in Florida and on the Gulf Coast.
George Kryder and the 3rd O.V.C. were mustered out at Edgefield, Tennessee, on August 4, 1865, with a total of 881 troops of the regimental strength of 1000. Some 600 new recruits had joined the remaining 400 veterans in March of 1864. Fifty-eight enlisted men and six officers had died by disease, making a total of 294 men who had died during regimental service in the war.
As an immense resource of research data, the George Kryder Papers would serve the scholar as well as the layman. An abundance of information relating to the numerous military engagements of the Civil War in which Kryder participated would be of value to the Civil War historian as well as to the layman who seeks a personal view of the war. The chronological arrangement of the letters makes it easy to compare Kryder's view of the war to the more detailed regimental histories.
Historians and sociologists alike would find value in Kryder's continuous remarks regarding the pro-Southern opinions of his father Michael Kryder, as well as his comments on the anti-war and anti-draft movements in the North, headed by Cletus Vallandingham of Ohio.
Sociologists probing many aspects of such social problems as war and its effect on culture and on the veteran will find suitable items of research in these letters, especially as the war begins to change the attitude and character of George Kryder, as time and battle leave their scars.
George Kryder recorded dozens of lists of the prices of a multitude of commodities that he purchased as he marched through the South. These price lists would interest economists desiring to compare prices past and present, and the effect of war on the economy of an embattled nation. Countless cures for illnesses as well as very descriptive notes on the illnesses themselves may be of interest to inquiring medical students or professionals studying diseases and their historical diagnosis and treatment.
Meteorologists will encounter almost daily weather reports for the years Kryder served. He mentions at times the effects of the weather conditions on certain illnesses suffered by the men. Genealogists or family historians will have the benefit of encountering dozens of names, especially those of Henry and Huron Counties in Ohio, as Kryder meets them or receives correspondence from them while serving in the Union Army.
Index of Names
Concerning military officers of the Union and Confederate Armies mentioned in the George Kryder Papers.
FamilyChildren of Michael and Elizabeth Leininger Kryder; the three sons all served in the Civil War.
CORRESPONDENCE - MISCELLANEOUS