Butler-Gunsaulus Collection now available online

The autograph letters, documents, and engravings of the Butler-Gunsaulus Collection have been digitized and are available online via the collection’s finding aid. Presented to the University of Chicago Library in 1910 by Frank Wakeley Gunsaulus, a preeminent collector of rare books and manuscripts, the source material concerning historic persons and events was amassed primarily by Chicago businessman Edward Burgess Butler. Though a number of the papers are of European origin and date from the sixteenth century forward, most were produced in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Among the collection’s Civil War documents is, “Special Requisition of drugs and medicines for the use of the sick of the 2nd Regiment, Missouri Volunteers and of those of the other regiments remaining at the hospital, Boonville Fair Grounds, July 2, 1861,” shown here. Morphiae sulfatis and Aethiops antimonialis are but two of the drugs herein requested by Union Army surgeon Ernst Schmidt, medications needed to treat casualties of the First Battle of Boonville. During that engagement, which occurred two weeks earlier, seven of the Union forces were injured, and five were killed outright or mortally wounded. Confederate troops, moreover, sustained similar losses.

The requisition carries the signature of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon, whose victory in Boonville, at first glance, seemed insignificant. The aftermath, however, proved otherwise as Federal troops secured and retained control of the Missouri River, and supporters of secession were driven from the region.

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