Special Collections & Archives holds a wealth of manuscript materials of interest to researchers studying the Civil War, including both large and small collections, as well as books, pamphlets, maps and other items. Most are related to Bowdoin alumni who served in the Union Army (and one in the Confederate Army), primarily with Maine units. These, and other collections not specifically related to the conflict, also include correspondence and documents from the Civil War era that could be of use to those studying life on the home front; letters to and from the women left at home are especially interesting.
This site outlines the collections that contain extensive information; the collections that, although not directly describing the war, relate to its study; and small caches of material or individual items that could be of interest to researchers.
The lists are updated as new items are identified or acquired.
There are many excellent Civil War sites on the World Wide Web. The United States Civil War Center at Louisiana State University provides links to many of these sites, including those to other manuscript repositories.
General Information on Locating Resources
Although this list of Civil War resources will give readers a general idea of the material available for research use, it will not list all the officers, soldiers, politicians, and civilians whose letters are held by Special Collections. In order to determine if there is correspondence with a particular individual, please contact the Special Collections & Archives staff.
The Civil War at Bowdoin:
For information on Bowdoin College during the Civil War, read Chapter 6 of Charles Calhoun's A Small College in Maine; for lists of alumni who served in the war, go to Patrick Rael's Web resource, Bowdoin Alumni in the Civil War and Alpheus S. Packard's Bowdoin in the War (1867); check the Archival holdings, including the administrative papers of President Leonard Woods, the Records of the Executive Government and the Class Records, 1861-1869; or consult with the staff.
For information on holdings related to slavery in America, consult Antislavery Materials at Bowdoin College : A Finding Aid, edited by Angela M. Leonard; check the on-line catalog; or consult with the staff.
Bowdoin Alumni in the War:
For information on specific Bowdoin graduates who served in the war, begin with the General Catalogue of Bowdoin College ... 1794-1950 , where any military service would be listed, then consult the biographical files of individual alumni.
Photographs and Images:
For information on images of Civil War soldiers please consult with the Special Collections & Archives staff.
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Manuscript Collections Containing Civil War Material
Citations: "Warner's Generals in Blue" refers to: Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, by Ezra J. Warner. [Baton Rouge]: Louisiana State University Press .
- Jonathan M. Ballard files (M194 box 1):
- 5 folders of material, 1842-1906, with one folder of Civil War era letters, 1862-65, mostly to Ballard. Many are letters from Alfred C. Holmes, Acting Gunner on the Ordnance Schooner "B.C. Scribner," concerning ordnance issues at Stone Inlet, S.C. Ballard was a Gunner in the U.S. Navy, serving, in 1865, on the Ordnance Barque "Paramount" off Morris Island, S.C. His naval service dated from 1838 to 1885.
- Bridge-Maurice Papers (M19):
- The 0.25 linear foot collection includes nine letters from the Civil War period, including two from Horatio Bridge to his wife Charlotte; two from Samuel Francis Du Pont to Bridge, written during the blockade of Port Royal, S.C.; four from admiral David D. Porter to Bridge; and one from Sophia Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife.
Although trained as a lawyer, Horatio Bridge (1806-1893) joined the U.S. Navy in 1838 and served as Paymaster-General and Chief of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing during the Civil War. He retired in 1868 with the rank of Commodore.
- Alexander Simms Buchanan Civil War Collection (M209):
- Contains documents and realia pertaining to the Civil War, including an album containing a signed photograph of Abraham Lincoln, original military documents, clippings, and ephemera. Also included in the collection is a signed photograph of General Ulysses S. Grant and a whiskey glass used by Grant, and Buchanan's buttons and spurs.
- Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Collection (M27):
- 3.25 linear feet of correspondence, addresses, lectures, diaries and clippings relating to the life and career of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Bowdoin 1852), including information on his service in the U.S. Army (1862-1865), as governor of Maine (1867-1870), and as president of Bowdoin College (1871-1883).
For a selection of items that have been digitally reproduced, see the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Bowdoin College Digital Archive.
See Warner's Generals in Blue for a summary of Chamberlain's Civil War career, and the Chamberlain resource guide for further information.
- Chandler Family Papers (M29):
- The collection includes the Civil War correspondence (63 letters) and journal entries (May 22 through June 14, 1861) of Charles Peleg Chandler (Bowdoin 1854).
Chandler entered the war in 1861 as Major of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteers and died in service June 30, 1862 at Malvern Hill, Virginia.
- Civil War Miscellany (M131):
- Miscellaneous Civil War material from various sources, including correspondence, diaries, photographs and printed material.
Please note that some items from this collection are mentioned later in this guide.
- Elisha Coan Collection (M36):
- There are 9 Civil War era letters from Elisha Coan (Med. Sch. 1870) to his family in the is 0.25 linear foot collection, as well as his reminiscences in manuscript. With this is an account of the action at Gettysburg by Colonel William C. Oates of the 15th Alabama.
Coan joined the 20th Maine in 1862 and served in the Signal Corps from 1863 to 1865.
- Edwin Emery Diaries and Memoir (M288):
- Five pocket diaries, 1863-1865, kept by Edwin Emery (Bowdoin 1861), and four pages transcribed from an 1864 diary. Emery participated in a number of Civil War battles, including the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, and the capture of Petersburg. Also included is an undated memoir by Emery about the Battle of the Wilderness.
- Augustus Bowman Farnham Papers (M57):
- Correspondence, diaries and documents (lists of equipage, dead and wounded, etc.) make up the Civil War portion of this collection (0.25 linear feet).
Farnham was a member of the 16th Maine.
- Fessenden Collection (M59) :
- Approximately 6 linear feet of material (letters, documents, addresses, ephemera, etc.), 1801-1908, including ca. 1300 letters from William Pitt Fessenden (Bowdoin 1823), who served as Senator from Maine (1854-1869) and as Secretary of the Treasury (1864-1865); and ca. 450 letters to or from his sons, Francis Fessenden (Bowdoin 1858), James Deering Fessenden (Bowdoin 1852) and Samuel Fessenden (Bowdoin 1861). Francis Fessenden's album of carte-de-visite photographs of uniformed officers is also part of the collection.
See Warner's Generals in Blue for a summary of Francis Fessenden's and James D. Fessenden's Civil War careers; Samuel Fessenden was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Manassas.
- Charles Henry Howard Collection (M90):
- 1 linear foot of letters, articles and addresses and other ephemera, 1852-1907; containing ca. 150 Civil War era letters. Howard's service included the 3rd Maine (1861) and the 61st New York (1862-1864). He was Colonel of the 128th U.S. Colored Troops; and rose to Bvt. Brigadier General in 1865. Howard also served as an assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau.
- Oliver Otis Howard Papers (M91):
- 60 linear feet of material of material, of which 1.5 linear feet is Civil War era correspondence, concerning the life and career of Oliver Otis Howard (Bowdoin 1850). Also included are articles and addresses, many on Civil War events and individuals, and a volume of copies of his outgoing correspondence, daily action reports, orders, etc. (1861-1865). Some of the items of greatest interest to researchers are post-1865.
See Warner's Generals in Blue for a summary of Howard's career in the Civil War and as commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau.
- Hubbard Family Papers (M95):
- Approximately 26 linear feet of correspondence, diaries, addresses, clippings, etc., 1789 to 1917. Included are Civil War letters, a letter-book (Jan-Jun 1863), a Special Orders volume (Oct 1862-Feb 1864) and indices, all by John Barrett Hubbard (Bowd. 1857); Civil War letters and journals (Nov 29, 1863 - Mar 31, 1864; Mar 15-Jun 18, 1865), and reports and brigade files of Thomas Hamlin Hubbard (Bowdoin 1857). Their correspondence and that of other family members, including Albert Reed Barrett, is also of interest.
John B. Hubbard rose to Captain and Asst. Adjutant General in the 1st Maine Battery, and died in service May 27, 1863 at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Thomas H. Hubbard served with the 25th Maine, the 30th Maine and the 1st Brigade, rising to Bvt. Brigadier General by 1865. Albert R. Barrett was with the 7th New York (1861) and the 1st Sharpshooters (1862-1864) and with the Quartermasters Department (1864); he rose to the rank of Lieutenant.
- Charles O. Hunt Letters and Personal Recollections (M241):
- Holograph transcriptions (2 vols.) of correspondence and memoirs of Charles O. Hunt, dated Portland [Me.], December 28, 1898, documenting Hunt's participation in the Civil War. He joined the Union Army upon his graduation in 1861, serving as a sergeant in the 5th Maine Battery, and was made lieutenant in 1863. His service included the second battle of Manassas, the Wilderness Campaign, and Gettysburg, as well as internment as a prisoner of war at Hilton Head, S.C., and Danville, Va. Principal correspondents include his mother and brother, Henry Hastings Hunt, and other Maine acquaintances; and also General Johnson Hagood with whom Hunt carried on a post-bellum correspondence concerning his internment under Hagood's command. Pasted in are various photographs, currency notes, signed orders and other documents, and brochures concerning a memorial at Gettysburg battle field.
- Henry Hastings Hunt Papers (M195):
- 30 letters (August 25, 1862 - April 11, 1865) from Henry Hastings Hunt (Bowdoin 1862) to his mother and sister, and three diaries (January 6, 1863 - July 11, 1865).
Hunt served in the 1st Maine Battery and fought in many battles, including Second Bull Run and Gettysburg.
- Thomas W. Hyde Family Papers (M199):
- The correspondence (ca. 35 letters) is mainly between Thomas W. Hyde and Annie Hayden. Many of the letters pre-date their marriage and were written by Hayden to Hyde during the Civil War.
Hyde raised a company for the Seventh Maine Infantry and was elected major. He was present with his regiment at the Siege of Yorktown, the battles of Williamsburg and Mechanicsville, and all of the seven-day battles in front of Richmond. He commanded the regiment at Second Bull Run, Crampton's Gap and Antietam, and was appointed Acting Inspector General of the Left Division, Army of the Potomac. He was with General Sedgwick at Gettysburg and all the battles following in which the Sixth Corps was engaged, was promoted to lieutenant-colonel, and remained with the Sixth Corps until his three years expired, when he was commissioned colonel of the First Maine Veteran Volunteers. He was present at Sailor's Creek and at the surrender of Lee, and was made brigadier general in 1865.
- Needler R. Jennings Papers (M97):
- Five letters (1861-63) relating to Jennings and his service in the Confederate Army. Three are letters from Pierre Soulé, two of them introducing Jennings to Edward Everett and P.G.T. Beauregard. Jennings, originally from New Orleans, served to Major in the CSA.
- Lee Family Papers (M106):
- Photograph album, owner unknown, which includes thirty-three images of Union officers, from lieutenant to general.
- McArthur Family Papers (M116):
- 10.6 linear feet of material (1790-1890) relating to this Limington, Maine, family, including the Civil War letters of Arthur McArthur, Jr. (Bowdoin 1850) and his brother William McArthur (Bowdoin 1853). Also within the papers are records of the 8th Maine, containing muster rolls, payrolls, discharges, enlistments, courts martial, special orders, military maps, quarter reports, adjutant reports, and other related material (ca. 500 items). The 19th century pension records for the Limington area, kept by William and his father, Arthur McArthur, Sr., fill a further 6 linear feet.
William served with the 8th Maine, ending the war with the rank of Bvt. Brigadier General. Arthur served as Captain of the 6th Louisiana (C.S.A.) and died in service on May 25, 1862 at Winchester, Virginia.
- Holman Melcher Papers (M127):
- 0.25 linear feet of correspondence, military records and clippings related to Holman Melcher, including 85 wartime letters to his brother, Nathaniel Melcher (Bowdoin 1864).
Holman Melcher served in the 20th Maine and the 5th Corps.
- Mellen Family Papers (M129):
- Box 1, Mellen Family Material: 0.25 linear feet of material (1856-1940) relating to the William P. Mellen and the Mellen Family, including approx. 50 Civil War era letters. Of special interest is the correspondence between W.P. Mellen and Salmon P. Chase and a letter from Gen. U.S. Grant (1863 Aug. 1) concerning the cotton trade.
Mellen was Supervising Agent of the Treasury Department and a Special Agent of the Post Office Department, stationed in Cincinnati.
- Horatio Fox Smith Civil War Journal and Letters (M131):
- 12 items, including an 1863 journal documenting a summer journey to Providence, R.I., to help recruit college students for a "college regiment" of artillery; and letters home during his 1864 service in the 31st Maine Infantry Regiment, in which he recounts camp life and describes military engagements in Virginia, including the Wilderness Campaign.
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Manuscript Collections Related to the Civil War
- John J. Pullen Papers (M153):
- Notes and manuscripts for Pullen's books The Twentieth Maine and A Shower of Stars, 5 linear feet. Both manuscripts are accompanied by the photographs, maps, and sketches used as illustrations for the works.
- Stowe Collection (M172):
- 0.25 linear feet of material relating to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Calvin Ellis Stowe (Bowdoin 1824 and faculty); together with a large collection of editions of Uncle Tom's Cabin; The Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, and other works by the Stowes.
- Tucker Shipping Papers (M177):
- The papers of this Wiscasset shipping family include 0.5 linear feet of correspondence (including one letter press volume), 1861-1866, which deal with the effects of the war on shipping. The collection also contains the records of the individual ships.
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Individual Civil War Manuscripts
- Jonathan Edwards Adams (Bowdoin 1853): Notes of two months service in 1863 with the U.S. Christian Commission 1 v. (M194 .A3367)
- William F. Allison: Als, Camp Brightwood [Washington, D.C.] November 18, 1861, describing camp life, 2 p. Allison served in the 2nd Rhode Island. (M194 box 1)
- George M. Atwood: Military letterbook of the 24th Maine, 1862-1863. Atwood was the regiment's Colonel. (M194 .A896 Folio)
- Autograph album: Includes signatures of the officers of the 108th U.S .Colored Infantry. Owner unknown. (M131)
- Isaac Winslow Case (Bowdoin 1848): Diary, October 21, 1862- July 6, 1863. Case was Captain of the 22nd Maine. (M194 .C374)
- Isaac Somes Cushman (Bowdoin 1844): Als to "Sister", Lookout Valley, April 1, 1864, discussing religious activities at the front and the action of the army, 8 p. Cushman was chaplain of the 33rd Massachusetts in 1864 and Assistant Surgeon of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry in late 1864 and 1865. (1.3.1, box 18).
- Jefferson Davis (Bowdoin hon. 1858): Als to Joseph Williamson, July 3, 1889, 2 p. Davis thanks the College for having kept his name on the rolls of honorary graduates. (M131)
- Owen Warren Davis, Jr. (Bowdoin 1864): Ts. copy of a diary, June 17- September 27, 1862. Davis served with the 7th Rhode Island Cavalry. (M194 .D38569)
- John Deering, Jr. (Bowdoin non-grad. 1864): Journal January 29, 1861-September 6, 1862. Deering enlisted in the 13th Maine in December 1861 and was medically discharged in July 1862. (1.3.3 v.171)
- Diary, owned by a succession of soldiers: "S.W. Croft Co E 1st Regt. Excelsior Brigade USV"; "Lieut. A.M. Riddle Louisiana Guard Artillery"; "Capt.. C.H. Small Co D 5th Maine Vols"; "picked up on the battlefield at raperhanock [sic] Station Nov. 7th 1863 by Sewall C. Smith Co D 5th Maine Vols."; laid into the volume were a pledge of loyalty to the C.S.A. signed by Riddle and a C.S.A. military pass. Entries are in several hands. (M131)
- Diaries: Washington D.C. 1861 and 1864, civilian owner unknown. Brief entries, some on events in the city. (M131)
- Anna Dickinson: "The Assault on Fort Wagner," an 18 page essay on the actions of the 54th Massachusetts, commanded by Robert Gould Shaw. The volume appears to be an exercise book, and is tentatively identified as the work of orator and author Anna Dickinson (1842-1932). (M194 box 2)
- John Calvin Dodge (Bowdoin 1834): "Daily Records," diary of events, 1850 Jan 1 - 1866 Nov 8 in the John Calvin Dodge Papers. (M46.3 v.1)
- Simeon Adams Evans (Bowdoin 1860): Ms. volume of "Reminiscences" contains a large section on his experiences during the Civil War. Evans was a hospital steward for the 13th Maine in 1861, and became Assistant Surgeon of the 14th Maine in 1863. (M194 .E936)
- Frick Lincoln Autograph Album: An extra-illustrated copy of Carl Schurz's Lincoln: A Biographical Essay... , containing ten letters by Abraham Lincoln, members of his cabinet and prominent contemporaries, dated between 1849 and 1893. Once owned by Henry Clay Frick.(M67)
- John P. Handly: Diary, 1865; together with two tintypes, both in uniform, and Bible. Handly was a member of the 8th Maine. (M131)
- George Beaman Kenniston (Bowdoin 1861): Diary, TMs (copy), 1861 July 26 - 1862 Aug 16, recording time spent as a prisoner of war in Virginia, Alabama, and North Carolina subsequent to his capture at the Manassas Campaign (1st Battle of Bull Run). At the time, Kenniston served as 1st Lt., 5th Maine; he was released in August 1862. (1.3.1)
- D.P. Morse: Als to "My Dear Emeline", E. N[ew] York, November 29, 1862, 2 p. Morse was a member of a Maine regiment. (M131)
- Jesse J. Peacock: Letters, 1862 Aug-Dec, chiefly to his wife, Addie. (15 items; transcriptions and photocopies only). Source of originals unknown. (M131)
- Roster: Records of soldiers' services and musters, unit unknown. (M131)
- Sarah Sampson and the 3rd Maine Regiment: Transcriptions of letters by Sampson, a nurse with the regiment, most from the Oliver Otis Howard Papers, some from other sources, 1 v.
- Samuel Beal Shea: Als, Gettysburg, July 4, 1863, deathbed letter; with note from Jesse Mitchell, Gettysburg, July 10, 1863, concerning Shea's death from wounds received in battle. Shea and Mitchell were members of the 19th Maine. (M131)
- Horatio B. Soule: Als to "Brother Frank", Sharpsburg Md., September 24, 1862. Soule's unit is not known. (M131)
- Visitor's pass: U.S. Army, April 14, 1864. (M131)
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Other Related Holdings -- General Descriptions
- Newspapers and Periodicals: Several Louisiana newspapers of the Confederate era were sent to the Hubbard family of Hallowell, Maine, by John Barrett Hubbard, Captain and Assistant Adjutant in General Weitzel's brigade, then in New Orleans. They include La Sentinelle de Thibodaux (Louisiana), October 25, 1862, printed on wallpaper and Natchitoches Union (Louisiana), April 2 and 4, 1864, printed on ledger sheets. Also Mississippi issue; Richmond (recent gift); Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vols. 20-32, 1859-60 - 1865-66; and the Atlantic Monthly, vols. 5-16, 1860 - 1865.
- Broadsides: The broadside collection includes several ante-bellum anti-slavery and political broadsides, among them "The Slave's Dream", "The Constitution of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society", Drury Lane Theatre's advertisement for "Uncle Tom's Cabin" "Democratic Platform Illustrated" from 1856; together with the "Soldier's Memorial - Co. B 25th Maine Volunteers", a colored broadside bearing the names of all the members of the regiment.
- Atlases, etc.: Several miscellaneous maps, printed and manuscript, of the battles and operations. Among them are "Military Map of United States and its Territories", "Line Operations of the Army of the Ohio" dated 1862, the route of Sherman's March to the Sea showing the path of each division, the Battle of Shiloh, the area around Brandy Station, and maps in the Hubbard Papers (Pleasant Hill, Sabine Cross Roads, Cane River) and the Pullen Papers (maps used as illustrations for the book). Atlases include Atlas of the Battlefield of Antietam ... , 1904; Atlas of the Battlefields of Chickamaugua and Chattanooga, 1901; and The Middle Tennessee and Chattanooga Campaigns..., 1891.
- Books, monographs, etc.: The Special Collections stacks contain many works about and reminiscences of the Civil War, including Chamberlain's The Passing of the Armies and Bayonets Forward!; O.O. Howard's The Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard; U.S. Infantry Tactics ... 1861; and Augustus C. Hamlin's Martyria, or, Andersonville Prison. The College Archives and the Bowdoiniana collection include the College Roll of Honor, with biographical sketches of all graduates who served in the U.S. Army. U.S. Navy or U.S. Volunteers; the Provisional List of Students and Alumni ... , listing name and rank only; and Roll of Honor: List of Members of Bowdoin College ... , all serving alumni and undergraduates with name and rank only.
- Pamphlet collections: There are large uncataloged collections of Alumni Pamphlets (arranged alphabetically by author) and Miscellaneous Pamphlets (arranged by Library of Congress subject heading) both of which contain items relating to the Civil War. Binders with photocopies of the title pages are available for browsing by patrons.
- Images: Winslow Homer Harper's magazine woodcut illustrations collection; Anti-secessionist cartoon scrapbooks, 3 v. (M194: A585); Tin-types (see John P. Handly entry in Other Related Holdings - Individual Items above); Photos and Photo Albums (Alexander Simms Buchanan Civil War Collection, Fessenden Papers, Lee Family Papers, and John J. Pullen Papers).
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Other Related Holdings -- Individual Items
- Abbott Secession Cane: Carved by a rebel soldier, this cane has the names of 11 Confederate officers, at least 8 of them generals, twined along the shaft. The head of the cane, plainly added later, bears the stars and stripes and the Union eagle. From the Abbott Memorial Collection.
- Army Roll of Maine Volunteers 22nd & 26th regiments, 1862. From the Maine Collection (Politics and Government series, P1.9).
- John Marshall Brown (Bowdoin 1860): Bayonet.
- Confederate bonds: $1000.00 bonds, #s 280 and 1973-1976, dated February 17, 1864. The first $30.00 coupon of each sheet is lacking.
- Currency: $1.00 to $200.00 bills issued by the Confederate government, 1862-1864; together with Civil War era currency issued by the states of Georgia and Virginia; by banks in Richmond, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, and Charlottesville, Virginia; and by the Inferior Court of Elbert County, Georgia. With contemporary U.S. currency from a bank in Brandon, Vermont; 1862 postal currency; and a flyer for the "United States Counterfeit Detector for Instantaneous Detection of All Counterfeit Paper Money ... John F. Beazell".
- Flagstaff fragments: "Pieces of the flag staff at the Marshall House Alexandria, from which poor Coe Edsmith drew down the Secession flag the moment before his death: cut by me, August, 1861. C.P. Chandler, 1st Man [sic] Infantry." (M29.4)
- Inscription on book: The Gems of Sacred Poetry, with inscription dated New York, March 1863, "Dear Son, This book was a great favorite of your mothers [sic], & was used by her many years. I now transfer it to you. Jacob Abbott. [Inscribed to] Mr. Edward Abbott, Now with the Army of the Potomac, Falmouth, Virginia." From the Abbott Memorial Collection. Jacob Abbott was the author of the Rollo series of boys' books; Edward, later the editor of the Literary World, served with the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
- Inscription on book: Virgil's Aeneid, belonging to a rebel soldier, with inscription "Drifted ashore at Port Royal S.C. from a wrecked rebel gun boat in 1864."
- Lee Family: Photo album containing 35 images of men in uniform. Most are U.S. Army, three are U.S. Navy; almost all are unidentified.
- Abraham Lincoln: Hand print identified as Lincoln's by the donor of the Fessenden Papers, with which it was received; unauthenticated. See also the Frick Lincoln Autograph Album and Fessenden Papers for Lincoln manuscripts. (In Misc. Mass.)
- Tin-type: Four Maine soldiers (41/4 x 51/2 in oval frame) two seated and two standing; in the Beston Papers's (M12) collection photos.
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- Memorial Hall: This hall, which houses the College's Pickard Theater, was built as a memorial to those Bowdoin students and graduates who served in the U.S. Army or Navy during the Civil War. It houses a series of bronze plaques bearing their names; a separate plaque with the names of the Confederate alumni was added in the 20th century.