Watts, Elijah S. (1836-1909) Papers, 1861-1907

Held by The Filson Historical Society

Creator: Watts, Elijah S., 1836-1909

Title: Papers, 1861-1907

Rights: For information regarding literary and copyright interest for this collection, contact the Curator of Special Collections.

Size of Collection: 0.66 cubic feet

Locator Number: Mss. A W349

Scope and Content

The collection consists of several letters and documents related to Watts’ experiences as a Union cavalry officer in the Civil War and his post-war political beliefs. The letters are primarily military correspondence, consisting of orders involving his unit, the 2 nd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment. There is a large group of General Orders issued by the War Department and various Union army headquarters, many of which are courts martial proceedings. Watts became an active member of the G.A.R. in Chicago, Ill., after the war and was called upon frequently to give patriotic and memorial speeches, of which a dozen or so are included in the collection. There is also a detailed history of the early months of his regiment, including its formation at Camp Holt, Indiana, and its activities in Kentucky in late 1861. Watts was an outspoken Republican and two documents relate to his strong political beliefs. Other items include a series of military maps of the Chickamauga campaign and muster rolls of his regiment

Biographical Note

Elijah S. Watts was born 16 Dec. 1836 in Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky. He was the fourth of eight children born to Elijah and Elizabeth Watts. His father was a tailor and a strong supporter of the Union. At the age of 24, Elijah S. joined the local company of the Home Guard (The Wickliffe Blues) in 1861. Shortly after the First Battle of Bull Run, Watts and 17 comrades left Nelson County to join the Union forces. He was appointed captain of Company A, 2 nd Ky. Cavalry Regt., which was formed at Camp Joe Holt in Jeffersonville, Ind. He was promoted to the rank of major in Feb. 1862 and to the rank of lieutenant colonel in Jan. 1863. His regiment saw action in the Battles of Perryville, Stones River and Chickamauga. After the war, he moved to Chicago, Ill., with his wife, Lucy, and established a business as a general commission agent in 1871. He was called upon to deliver patriotic and memorial speeches on numerous occasions in Oak Park, Ill., and was very active in veterans’ groups. He died 4 May 1909 in Louisville, Ky. Lucy Watts died 26 August 1909 in Louisville.

Folder List

Folder 1: Military correspondence, 1862-1863

Folder 2: Military correspondence, January – March 1864

Folder 3: Military correspondence, April- August, 1864; 24 May 1865

Folder 4: Military correspondence, 1888-1889

Folder 5: Printed military publications, 1861-1862

Folder 6: Printed military publications, 1863

Folder 7: Printed military publications, 1863

Folder 8: Printed military publications, 1864

Folder 9: Miscellaneous printed military documents

Folder 10: Memorial speeches by E.S. Watts, 1890-1895

Folder 11: Speeches, ‘The Kentucky Unionist’, by E.S. Watts, 1889-1895

Folder 12: Miscellaneous speeches, memoirs by E.S. Watts, 1887-1891

Folder 13: Miscellaneous papers written by E. S. Watts

Folder 14: Miscellaneous typewritten manuscripts, undated, anonymous

Folder 15: Miscellaneous items

Folder 16 (oversize): Military maps, Aug.-Sept., 1863, Chickamauga campaign

Subject Headings

Camp Joe Holt (Jeffersonville, Ind.)

Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863

Courts-martial and courts of inquiry – United States

Democratic Party (U.S.)

Early childhood education – United States


Grand Army of the Republic. Dept. of Illinois

Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872

Kentucky – History – Civil War, 1861-1865

Kentucky. State Guard

McCook, Alexander McDowell, 1831-1903

Memorial Day

Military pensions

Montessori method of education

Nelson County (Ky.) – History – Civil War, 1861-1865

Oak Park (Ill.) – History – 19th century

Patriotism – United States

Presidents – United States – Election – 20th century

Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )

Rousseau, Lovell Harrison, 1818-1869

Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891

Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862

Smith, Charles Ferguson, 1807-1862

Speed, James, 1812-1887

Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869

Tariff – Law and legislation – United States

Tennessee – History – Civil War, 1861-1865

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Claims

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Maps

United States – History – Civil War, 1861-1865 – Medical care

United States. Army – Appropriations and expenditures

United States. Army – Military life

United States. Army – Supplies and stores

United States. Army – Surgeons

United States. Army. Kentucky Cavalry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1865)

Watts, Elijah S., 1836-1909

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