William Derbyshire
Letters, 1864-1882; bulk, 1964

SC23345

Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift: Laura Jean Gibson, Centennial, Colorado, September 2015
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts & Special Collections, September 2015

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Biographical Note:

William Derbyshire was born about 1837 near Manchester, England, according to his enlistment record. It appears that he emigrated to the United States with his family about 1845 and was married to Mary J. Fenwick shortly before enlisting for military service on February 9, 1864, in Brooklyn, New York, for three years’ service with Company K of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment.  He was killed in action, May 19, 1864, at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia.  Within a year after his death, his wife gave birth to a son, William H. Derbyshire.

Mary J. (Fenwick) Derbyshire was born about 1847 in New York, the daughter of Irish immigrants.  Her brother, William Fenwick (ca. 1832-1892), was married to Mary Ann Derbyshire, the sister of William Derbyshire. Mary Ann (Derbyshire) Fenwick was born about March 1839 in England and had come to the United States in 1845. She and her husband had at least two sons: Alfred W. (b. 1870) and John D. (b. 1882).

Scope and Content Note:

This series of letters relates chiefly to William Derbyshire’s military service during the Civil War. The letters were addressed to his wife and sister, both of whom were residing at 135 Seventh Avenue in New York City at the time. There are a total of twenty items arranged chronologically with most being accompanied by the original envelope in which it was posted.

These letters reveal that Derbyshire was not engaged in any serious combat activity until the final days of his life. Thus, the letters detail the routine experiences of life in army camps as well as personal and family matters.

The collection includes a single letter that appears to have been written by Mary Derbyshire to her son, William, from Brooklyn, New York, on July 26, 1882. The envelope indicates William was in Abbotts Corner, Quebec, at the time. The letter concerns personal and family matters. 

Related Collections:

More extensive information relative to the experience of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery during the Civil War is found in the letters of Elijah Penny (Penny Family Papers: SC11836), which are also housed in this repository.

Box and Folder List:


Box Folder Description
1 1 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire and Sister [Mary Ann Fenwick], Riker's Island, [ N.Y.], February 10, [1864]
1 2 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Riker's Island, [ N.Y.], February 15, [1864]
1 3 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington, Va.], February 29, 1864; reference to 4th New York Heavy Artillery, Co. K
1 4 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington, Va.], March 3, 1864
1 5 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington, Va.], March 6, 1864
1 6 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington], Va., March 11,1864; clipping with poem enclosed:  “Love’s Devotion,” by Finley Johnson
1 7 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, Arlington, Va., March 15, 1864; clipping with poem enclosed:  “I Pray for Thee, Beloved,” by Eliza F. Moriarty
1 8 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington], Va., March 18, 1864
1 9 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington, Va.], March 23 1864
1 9 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Fort Ethan Allen, [Arlington, Va.], March 24, 1864.
1 10 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Brandy Station, Va., March 29 1864; second and concluding sheet written at Washington, D.C.;  reference to 4th New York Heavy Artillery, Co. K
1 11 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Stevensburg, Va., April 10, 1864
1 12 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Culpepper, Va., April 15, 1864 (3 sheets)
1 13 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Culpepper, Va., April 21, 1864
1 14 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Culpepper, Va., May 1, 1864
1 15 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Spotsylvania Court House, Va., May 15, 1864
1 15 William Derbyshire to Mrs. William (Mary) Derbyshire, Spotsylvania, Va., May 17, 1864
1 16 Mother [Mary J. Derbyshire] to William Derbyshire, Brooklyn, [N.Y.], July 26, 1882, Envelope addressed to Derbyshire at Abbotts Corner, Canada East P.Q. (Quebec)
Last Updated: March 28, 2017