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Manuscript Group 95
.5 cu. ft.

Daniel Musser, 1843-1916, was a resident of Lebanon, in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Little is known of Musser himself. He kept a number of scrapbooks, which consisted of newspaper clippings and other historical materials pertaining to Central Pennsylvania during the mid- to late-19th century.

During the Civil War, Musser kept a running correspondence with a number of Lebanon County soldiers who fought in the Federal Army. The Daniel Musser Collection contains nearly 170 of such letters from many different camps and battlefields. The letters were sent primarily to Daniel Musser himself, but a few are also addressed to his brother John and his sister Kate. The soldiers wrote often in response to letters sent by one of the three aforementioned. Among the primary writers are Cyrus Beamenderfer (Company A, 84th PA Volunteers), John Borry (Company I, 107th PA Volunteers), and Charles Urban (Company H, 42nd PA Volunteers and 13th Reserves), each of whom wrote at least ten letters. Many are written on ruled paper with colorful pro-union patriotic letterheads, pictorial engravings, or US Christian Commission or Sanitary Commission letterhead. Occasionally, items such as poems, songs, newspaper clippings, and original envelopes with stamps accompany the letters. Several references in some of them indicate they were going to be published in the local newspaper, "The Lebanon Advertiser." The letters were apparently mounted in albums at one time. A few are written in nineteenth century German script and Fraktur (an outdated German print), attesting to the heavy Pennsylvania German population around Lebanon County.

The collection documents the actions of units such as the 42nd (Bucktails), 84th, 93rd and 107th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments in various skirmishes and battles especially in Virginia and Maryland, including Fredericksburg, Locust Grove, Manassas, and Antietam, as well as significant action around Petersburg and Gettysburg. Many writings contain rich information about the everyday lives of the ordinary soldier, including descriptions of winter quarters, mention of disease such as the "clap", missing home life and female companionship, and vivid descriptions and listings of the battles in which they took part. Observations on the political issues of the day include George McClellan's 1864 presidential campaign; mention of "Copperheads"; and the possibility of seeing Lincoln review troops. Charles Urban depicts especially poignant commentary on viewing unburied dead on the Bull Run Battlefield in 1863; unequal treatment of negro regiments; encounters with black families; and witnessing the execution of deserters from 42nd PA. Some letters are written from hospitals such as Satterlee Hospital in Philadelphia, Wolfe Street Hospital in Alexandria, VA, and Finley Hospital in Washington D.C., giving insight into a soldier's life after being wounded in duty. Besides army life the exchange of newspapers and the involvement of the Musser family in the printing industry are recurring topics. One folder of miscellaneous items such as news clippings and broadsides is filed at the end of the letters. Also included with the collection is an undated day book (one volume, ca. 1890), used by Gustav Oscar Charles Fuhst (b. 1851). Handwritten inside are hymns and biblical quotations written in German script, with occasional English titles and phrases. Some are partly in Greek, Latin, and other languages. Pasted on the inside front cover is a photomechanical print of a group of people, possibly a Salvation Army band. Written in pencil inside the second page is "Presented to Daniel Musser by Capt. Gustav Fuhst Scenery Artist." It is possible that Fuhst was a local leader in the Salvation Army.

The Musser Collection was apparently given to the Division of Public Records sometime in the 1930s, and also included baptismal fonts now housed in the State Museum of Pennsylvania (Accession 63.19). Additionally, a number of scrapbooks compiled by Musser on Central Pennsylvania nineteenth century history and life were transferred to the State Library in 1960. The letters are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent. There is a collection inventory prepared in 2004 giving the name of the correspondent, date, recipient, place, unit and a brief summary of the contents. English translations of the seven German letters are also available.

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