Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to Colonel Cyrus Burnet Smith U.S. Civil War papers, 1856-1958, bulk 1856-1896 MS 411

creator Smith, Cyrus
Title: Colonel Cyrus Burnet Smith U.S. Civil War papers
Dates: 1856-1958
Abstract: Dr. Cyrus Smith served as a surgeon in the U.S. Civil War. His papers include his diary, military passes, induction and discharge papers, correspondence, photographs, hospital reports, bills of lading relating to the cotton trade in 1850's and Smith's thesis from Medical School.
Identification: MS 411
Quantity: 1.25 linear ft. (3 boxes)
Repository: Woodson Research Center

Biographical Note

Cyrus Burnet Smith was born in 1839 in South Hadley, Massachusetts, the son of Cyrus Smith Senior and Julie Warner.

He attended medical school at Berkshire Medical School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, graduating in 1858.

Dr. Smith joined the 34th Massachusetts Volunteers in 1862 as Assistant Surgeon. On March 15, 1865, he accepted a commission as Surgeon in the 11th Massachusetts Volunteers, spending most of the Civil War in hospitals in Virginia and the Maryland/D. C. area. He was discharged in Washington D. C. July 31, 1865.

After his first wife Mary Hulbert died, shortly after the end of the Civil War, he married Louisa J. Aldrich in 1869. They were the parents of two children. Their son Cyrus Smith was born in 1872 and died in 1892 from hemorrhaging of the lungs. Mary was born in 1873 and graduated from Smith College in 1896. She was a prominent teacher of English and the head of the English Department at Punchard High School in Andover, Massachusetts.

Dr. Smith lived in Granby, Massachusetts for many years and was considered one of the leading citizens of the town. As his obituary states: Dr. Smith was not simply a friend of a favored few, but was as fully alive to the interest of the poor and lowly, the class upon which society too frequently frowns as to those who esteem themselves higher in the social scale. Dr. Smith died in a fire in 1879, as the result of his house being struck by lightening. He was just 40 years of age and in the prime of his life. His wife Louise Aldrich Smith died in 1923 at the age of 84 years old.

Scope and Contents

The Cyrus B. Smith Civil War papers include Smith's diary, military passes, induction and discharge papers, correspondence, photographs, hospital reports, bills of lading relating to the cotton trade in 1850's and Smith's thesis from Medical School.


The collection is divided into five series:
Series I: Personal, 1856-1955, 5 linear inches
Series II: Correspondence, 1856-1958, 5 linear inches
Series III: Military, 1862-1875, 11.75 linear inches
Series IV: Photographs, 1862-1896, 0.25 linear inches
Series V: Oversize Certificates, 1864-1896


Access Restrictions

No access restrictions; this material is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Col. Cyrus B. Smith U.S. Civil War papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Smith, Cyrus
Smith, Louise
Smith, Mary Hulbert
American Civil War (1861-1865)
Cotton growing
Cotton textile industry
Slave trade

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Colonel Cyrus B. Smith Papers, 1856-1958, MS 411, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

The papers were a gift of Bruce and Merrill Aldrich, distant relatives of Cyrus B. Smith.

Processing Information

Prepared by Lois Morris 1995

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box Folder
1 1-7 Series I: Personal (Genealogy, Literary, Memorabilia), 1857-1955
Scope and Contents note
This series contains genealogy information on the Smith and Aldrich families dating back to the early 17th century in America, in the form of charts, correspondence and a book on the early residents of Hadley, Massachusetts. The family obituaries give us a glimpse into the high regard held by the people in the community for Dr. Smith and his son Cyrus Smith, Jr. There is also a diary written by Mary Hulbert Smith, the first wife of Dr. Smith and an autograph book owned by Mary Smith, daughter of Dr. Smith. This series also contains Dr. Smith's Thesis from Medical School and some interesting memorabilia.
1 Correspondence (genealogy), 1857-1955
2 Family Genealogy Charts
3 Obituaries, n.d.
4 History of Hadley (genealogy), 1863
5 Thesis (Medical School), 1858
6 Diary of Dr. Smith's First Wife, 1856
7 General Memorabilia (see Series V for additional memorabilia)

Box Folder
2 1-5 Series II: Correspondence, 1875-1930
Scope and Contents note
Although there are only two letters from family in the Correspondence Series, we get a glimpse into the feelings that Dr. Cyrus Smith held for his family, by reading the poem that is included in his letter to his brother Samuel Smith.
The business correspondence includes two interesting letters addressed to a Cotton Brokerage firm in South Carolina pertaining to the purchase of the slave Edward and his safe travel to his new "owner." The business correspondence also includes Bills of Lading dated 1856 from the same Cotton Brokerage firm.
Letters written from Mary Smith while traveling in China to her friend Caroline Davis are also included.
1 From Mother to Cyrus Smith, 1875
2 Cyrus Smith to Samuel Smith (Brother), 1877
3 Mary Smith to Caroline Davis, 1925-1930
4 Mitchell Cotton Co. (including Bills of Lading), 1856
5 General Correspondence, 1859-1958

Box Folder
2 6-17 Series III: Military, 1862-1875
Scope and Contents note
This is one of the most interesting and perhaps most important series in the collection. This series contains the personal diary of Dr. Smith written while awaiting his discharge at the end of the Civil War, military passes, some of Dr. Smith's enlistment and discharge papers, hospital orders and a list of medical supplies.
There is also a folder of interesting correspondence written during the war, along with a box of buttons from a Civil War uniform, which may have come from the uniform of Dr. Smith.
6 Correspondence, 1862-1865
7 General Orders, 1863
8 Receipts for Supplies and Arms, 1863-1865
9 Memorabilia including buttons from Civil War Uniform (vault storage - see Archivist for access), 1863-1875
10 Medical Disability Requests, 1864
11 Report of Number of Sick, 1864
12 Military Passes, (see archivist for original) 1862-63; 1864
13 Hospital Orders, 1864-1865
14 Diary of Dr. Cyrus Smith (original and transcribed), 1865
15 Enlistment and Discharge Papers (see Series V for additional papers), 1865
16 Affidavit of Enlistment, 1865
17 Requisition for Horses, n. d.

Box Folder
2 18-29 Series IV: Photos, Family and General, 1862-1896
Scope and Contents note
The photographs are from the Smith family. They range from pictures of Dr. Smith in his Civil War uniform to photos of Dr. Smith later in life. There are also photos of Louise Smith by herself and some of her taken with her two children. Some of the more interesting pictures are of Mary Smith taken while on a years' trip to China.
18 Cyrus Smith in Civil War Uniform, 1862, 1865
19 Cyrus Smith "In Later Years", n. d.
20 Louisa Aldrich Smith, 1877
21 Louisa Aldrich Smith, n. d.
22 Louisa, Cyrus Jr. and Mary Smith, n. d.
23 Mary Smith, 1889, 1896
24 Mary Smith with Cousin, 1889
25 Mary Smith in China, n. d.
26 Cyrus Jr. and Mary Smith as children, n. d.
27 Uncle Alfred Ray, 1883
28 Uncle Alfred Ray, n. d.
29 Medical Office of Dr. Cyrus Smith, n. d.

Box Folder
2 29 Series V: Oversize Certificates 1864-1896
Scope and Contents note
This series contains oversize material that will not fit into standard archival boxes. Among the items found in this series are certificates from Dr. Smith's enlistment in the Civil War, and Mary Smith's diploma from Smith College.
29 Enlistment in Army, 1864
Box Folder
Small mss OV - Diploma (Mary Smith from Smith College), 1896
Box Folder
3 1 Box of buttons from uniform coat of Col. Smith (14 large and 7 small)