IRA RUSSELL LETTERS
Correspondence and Report, 1862-1863
Manuscript Collection MC 581
Dr. Ira Russell (1815-1888) was a Union Army surgeon stationed in
Fayetteville, Arkansas, in late 1862 and early 1863. A New
Hampshire native, Russell received his education at Dartmouth and
the University of New York, graduating with an M.D. from the
latter in 1844. Also in that year he married Rowena Greenwood,
and the couple afterwards made their home in Winchendon and
Natick, Massachusetts. They had at least three children prior to
the outbreak of the Civil War, Fred, Jennie, and Erwin. In 1861,
Russell was commissioned surgeon of the Eleventh Massachusetts
Volunteers but was eventually assigned duty west of the
Mississippi, first at St. Louis, and later, in December, 1862, at
Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he assumed the directorship of the
hospitals of the Army of the Frontier. Russell may have viewed
his war service as a medical study rather than a military duty
because he took his two sons, Fred and Erwin, along with him to
Fayetteville. Fred Russell served as a clerk for his father, and
four of the five items in this collection were written by him.
Fred and Erwin may have been with their father serving medical
apprenticeships at this time as well. After the war, Russell
returned to Massachusetts and civilian practice. He published
several medical papers in the Medical and Surgical History of
the War of the Rebellion and other medical journals in the
latter part of the nineteenth century.
For more biographical information on Ira Russell, see William B.
Atkinson, ed., Physicians and Surgeons of the United
States (Philadelphia: Charles Robson, 1878) pp. 310-311.
(Photocopy available in accession file.)
Letters and report from Dr. Ira Russell and Fred Russell were
purchased by Special Collections from Charles Apfelbaum Rare
Books and Collections, Valley Stream, New York, on March 13,
Processed by Kim A. Scott, June 1987. Special Collections
Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville,
- December 29, 1862. Fred Russell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to
"Mother" [Rowena Greenwood Russell, Natick, Massachusetts] Letter
describing casualty figures at the Battle of Prairie Grove,
mismanagement of hospitals in Fayetteville, and surgical
- December 31, 1862. [Ira Russell, author; handwritten by Fred
Russell] (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to "Sir" [Robert C. Wood,
Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C.] Unsigned
copy of an official report on the disposition of hospitals in
Fayetteville, probably handwritten by Fred Russell.
- January 9, 1863. Ira Russell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to
"Wife" [Rowena Greenwood Russell, Natick, Massachusetts] Letter
describing the "boy's" activities, Fayetteville area, and local
- January 17, 1863. Fred Russell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to
Jennie Russell (Natick, Massachusetts) Letter describing weather,
troop movements in northwest Arkansas, Brigadier General James
Blunt, Major General John Schofield, and Fayetteville residents
Steven Bedford, Mary Bedford, and William Price.
- February 5, 1863. Fred Russell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to
Jennie Russell (Natick, Massachusetts) Letter describing military
occupation activities around Fayetteville, orders received for
removal of convalescents to St. Louis, Fayetteville resident
Catherine Bedford, and abolitionist sentiments.
- Dr. Ira Russell, ca. 1880s. Photographic print of an engraved
portrait of Russell from an original held by the Massachusetts
Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, Vol. 13, p. 544,
and the United States Military History Institute.
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