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Edgar McLean Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-McLean

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, writings, and official military documents of Civil War 1st Lieutenant Edgar McLean, 1859-1868.

All correspondence is incoming from relatives and friends to Edgar McLean. During this time Sarah F. McLean (and most of the other relatives) lived in Jersey and Macoupin counties in Illinois. There is some correspondence from McLean’s cousin, James S. Jennings, who served with the 137th Indiana Infantry. The correspondence mostly details local weddings and deaths and family news. Some of the correspondence deals with local military news (the gathering of Rebel prisoners, local actions towards the peace movement) as well as family financial matters, family and neighborhood sicknesses and outbreaks, and Sarah McLean’s interest in and respect for clairvoyants. There are also a few pieces of poetry and verse, as well as a number of official military documents that mostly detail the return of and accounting for equipment after the war.


  • Creation: 1859-1868



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Edgar McLean Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum, and items in each folder will be counted before and after delivery to the patron (Priority I).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Edgar McLean Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Edgar McLean

Civil War Union soldier and farmer.

Edgar McLean was born in Illinois and joined the war effort as a young man. Before leaving for the war with the local regiment (the 122nd Illinois Infantry) he fell in love with a young woman and was engaged. She promised to wait for him until after the war. In this state of affairs McLean was recruited for the 122nd, which was organized in August 1862. In the 122nd he started as a teamster and ended as a private. The 122nd participated in a number of Civil War duties: guarding supplies and railroads, battles with rebel forces near Huntington Tenn., at Tupelo Miss., and at Nashville, Tenn. However, McLean was promoted on December 16, 1863 to become a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Alabama Colored Infantry, which later became the 110th US Colored Infantry. The 110th took part in actions such as guarding railroads in northern Alabama and performing general guard duty in Tennessee until it was mustered out on February 6 1866.

After his Civil War Service McLean returned to his hometown of Kane, Ill. to find that the woman he had been engaged to was now married. McLean was depressed but eventually found a new girl, married her, and ran a successful farm. He was respected in the community, although some begrudged the fact that he had abandoned his local regiment to serve in a colored regiment. The record is unclear if the McLeans had any children, but it is clear that at one point the couple took in a young orphan girl. Edgar McLean also had a hobby of tinkering and applied for several patents, although it is unclear if any of them were actually approved. Edgar McLean died of cancer in 1920.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Correspondence, writings, and official military documents of 1st Lieutenant Edgar McLean. McLean fought for the Union in the Civil War with the 122nd Illinois Regiment, and then became a Lieutenant in the 110th U.S. Colored Infantry. Most correspondence was written by Edgar McLean’s mother and other relatives to him during his service.


Papers arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

1 41 2


Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum Rare Manuscripts & Archives, Apr. 2003.

Related Archival Materials note

See the Special Collections information file for related material about the regiments that McLean and some of his correspondents served in.

Processed by

Eric Raetz, 2003.

Inventory of the Edgar McLean Papers, 1859-1868
Eric Raetz
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States