MG-333. GEORGE WASHINGTON FENN PAPERS, 1829, 1861-1929 and undated.

Born in Litchfield, Connecticut, George Washington Fenn (1845-1866) was a long time Harrisburg resident and a partner in publishing the Upper Dauphin Register. In 1862 he enlisted as a private in Company A, 127th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, later served as a second lieutenant in Company I, 181st Regiment, and was eventually promoted to the rank of captain in Company C, 201st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. He saw action at Manassas Gap, Virginia, among other places, served as a judge advocate for military court martial cases, was captured in 1865 and later escaped. Fenn’s military papers include commissions, general and special orders, a journal of court martial cases, soldiers’ memorials, pension applications, and correspondence with his wife, Anna Rober Fenn. Also present are genealogical materials, a diary kept by Samuel K. Dietrich, 1862-1864, and photographs of various members of the Fenn family.


Orders, Special and General, Oct. 1864-June, 1865. Contains a copy of General Order No. 108 from General U. S. Grant that makes a general reference to slavery.

Journal of Courts Martial Cases, Alexandria, Va., November 18, 1864-February 27, 1865 (Fenn, Judge Advocate). Provides the names of soldiers who were court martialed, the date the case commenced, the date finished, and the date the result was sent to headquarters. Other information provided includes descriptions of the charges brought against each soldier and the decision of the court. Among those court martialed were several soldiers identified as "colored substitute," "colored recruit," or belonging to the United States Colored Troops (USCT). African Americans named include George Taylor, John W. Jacobs, George Austin, James Smith, and Henry Harris. The following men were also listed as members of the USCT but are not otherwise specifically designated as being African Americans: George White, Henry Dickson, George Batty, John Adams, and Sylvester Hill.


Correspondence, G. W. Fenn to wife, 1863-1865. In a letter dated October 16, 1864 from Manassas Gap Railroad, Virginia, Fenn wrote that he was "now in command of over 2000 niggers and whites."

C. NEWSPAPERS, 1861-1866

Upper Dauphin Register, Aug. 17- Oct. 12, 1865. Contains several articles on African Americans including the following:

• August 17-"A Convention of the Colored Men of Tennessee Is Being Held."

• August 24--"(A) Number of White Laborers Seeking Employment in the South." "Betsy Wilder, a colored woman, who was present at Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered, died recently in Richmond, Va., at the age of 108."

• "A colored man named Curry returned to Raleigh, N.C. . . . was violently attacked . . ."

• The position of ex-Senator A. O. P. Nicholson of Columbia, Tennessee on the right of Negroes to vote.

• A summary of a speech by General Thomas Francis Meagher before an Irish society in support of Negro suffrage.

• August 31-"Suffrage in Rhode Island" that deals with Rhode Island’s liberal suffrage laws with regard to African Americans.

• September 14-"Indictment against the Democratic Party" in which the unnamed author cites reasons Pennsylvania voters should turn against the Democratic Party, including the party’s opposition to "the enlistment of Negroes."

• September 21-A poem entitled "Laus Deo" pays tribute to the passing of the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.

• An article on the condition of Mt. Vernon after the war mentions Washington’s slaves.

• A notice of Robert Orrick becoming the first "colored man" to be awarded the position of mail carrier.

• September 28-"Honor to the Brave" mentions Negro suffrage as a factor in voter turnout at the election.

• October 5 - Article describes how the Copperheads put "an independent Negro-suffrage man on track" to defeat General Harry White in the senatorial district of Cambria County and Jefferson County, Indiana.

• October 12-Among the editorial news items is an announcement for "The Colored Odd Fellows" holding a parade in Baltimore. Another item concerns the First District Columbia Colored Regiment arriving in Washington, D.C. and in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

Return to Index | PHMC Home | State Archives |