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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, 1986.

Processed by Kim A. Scott, June 1987. Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Contents of Collection (1 folder)

  1. 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 operations.
  2. 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.
  3. January 9, 1863. Ira Russell (Fayetteville, Arkansas) to "Wife" [Rowena Greenwood Russell, Natick, Massachusetts] Letter describing the "boy's" activities, Fayetteville area, and local inhabitants.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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