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Cyrus Foote Collection

Identifier: MS-2147

  • Staff Only

Cyrus Foote's letters deal primarily with descriptions of camp life. By and large, the men of the unit suffered through bad weather, incessant illness (including Typhoid Fever) and constant loneliness. Foote also thanks his brother for his letters, which bring news from home, and tells him that you must write soon and often to your Brother C. S. Foote.

The most interesting aspect of this collection is perhaps Foote's consideration of the issue of race. This discussion occurs in context of Foote's description of two church services that he attended in early 1863. He was not impressed with the first sermon, which was given by a white southern pastor who preached Hellfire + Brimstone. Indeed, this sermon reinforced Foote's poor opinion of Southern preachers in general, who he believes generally drink Whisky, play Cards + Swear. Foote also attended what he calls the Niger Meeting later on, which he was considerably more impressed with. After discussing the meeting proper, Foote says that he really has no right to call it a Niger Meeting, since I would defy any man to show the line between the Black + White or Rather between the Bond + the Free. He concludes that if Slavery was confined to the Color, Black, I am Shure Kentucky would not be troubled with more than half as many Slaves as it is now.


  • 1863-1864

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite and must be requested in advance. See for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.

Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection consists of two letters that Union soldier Cyrus Foote, who was then serving with Company D of the 112th Illinois Infantry Regiment, wrote to his brother William from Camp Ella Bishop, Kentucky, in 1863.

Biographical/Historical Note

Cyrus Foote was born on February 12, 1839 in Chardon, Ohio. He moved to Peoria County, Illinois in the fall of 1857 and converted to Christianity in the fall of 1859. He married Mary C. Potter on September 07, 1860, and the couple relocated to Henry County, Illinois, immediately afterward. Their only child was born sometime prior to Foote's enlistment with the 112th Illinois Infantry Regiment on August 15, 1862. The unit officially mustered in on September 20, 1862.

The 112th Illinois first saw battle in Southeastern Kentucky, where they participated in actions against Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John Pegram's forces in April and May of 1863. They were then relocated to East Tennessee, where they participated in a number of minor battles before taking part in the Knoxville Campaign (November 4-December 23). It was during this action (and specifically during the siege of Knoxville) that Foote died, killed in action by a cannonball on November 18, 1863 at the age of 24.


Collection consists of a single folder.

Acquisition Note

The University of Tennessee Libraries, Knoxville, Special Collections purchased this collection in February of 2004.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA