Guide to the Papers of Lieutenant Colonel John I. Nevin, 1858-1894 (bulk 1862-1863)

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
John I. Nevin Papers
Collection Number
MSS.64
Date
1858-1894
Extent
0.25 cubic feet (1 box)
Abstract
John I. Nevin was a Pittsburgh newspaper editor and served as a Major for the 93rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers during the United States Civil War. This collection consists of biographical material, a diary, sketch book, correspondence, army commission documents, and other sundry items, primarily documenting Nevin's service during the Civil War. Of primary note is Nevin's diary, kept from May to December of 1863, which describes his daily activities and those of the 93rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment.

Preferred Citation note

John I. Nevin Papers, 1858-1930 (bulk 1862-1863), MSS 64, Detre Library & Archives, Sen. John Heinz History Center

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Biographical/Historical note

John I. Nevin was a Pittsburgh newspaper editor and served as a Major for the 93rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers during the United States Civil War. Nevin was born on August 22, 1837 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania to Reverend Daniel E. and Margaret Nevin. He studied in Sewickley, Pennsylvania and graduated from Jefferson College. Nevin worked as a teacher for two years until the Civil War broke out in 1861. He enlisted in the Union Army and was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Company G of the 28th Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment under General Geary. After being captured by Confederate soldiers near Harper's Ferry on February 29, 1862, he became a prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia and later Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. Nevin was released as part of a prisoner exchange six months later and recruited and led the Independent Battery H, also known as John I. Nevin's Battery, under General Morrell. After resigning his commission in February of 1863, Nevin was promoted to Major of the 93rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment in April of 1863 under General Hooker and commanded the Regiment at the Battle of Gettysburg. Nevin's last commission was as Lieutenant-Colonel of the 93rd Regiment in 1864, earned in large part as a result of his bravery at the Battle of Cedar Creek. In 1864, he was wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. Upon the completion of the war, Nevin spent three years in Utah and Montana, then came back east to become the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1868 and of the Pittsburgh Leader in 1870. Nevin was elected president of the Leader and served in that capacity until his death. In 1873, he married Eleanor H. Hawes and had two sons and two daughters. Nevin died in his home in Sewickley on January 5, 1884.

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Scope and Contents note

The John I. Nevin Papers are housed in two archival boxes and are arranged alphabetically by folder title. The papers consist of biographical material, a diary, sketch book, correspondence, army commission documents, and other sundry items, primarily documenting Nevin's service during the Civil War. Of primary note is Nevin's diary, kept from May to December of 1863. The diary describes his daily activities and those of the 93rd Pennsylvania Volunteers Regiment. Nevin wrote relatively lengthy records of his activities through the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863) but afterwards, wrote shorter accounts of his activities. Nevin's papers also include a sketch book, kept by Nevin during his tenure as a prisoner at Libby Prison. The sketch book contains records of chess games, song lyrics, and his personal account of his capture and time in prison. The Correspondence is sketchy and provides little documentation of any one aspect of his life. Nevin's June 2, 1863 letter to his sister examines his opinions on why Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania will probably be a target for the Confederate's summer campaigns. Material documenting the Pennsylvania Volunteers includes Nevin's personal commissions and quartermaster lists for the infantry units he led when he was a captain, 1862-1863. Biographical material include newspaper clippings and historical material gathered and written by Nevin's widow, Eleanor. Newspaper clippings include a lengthy obituary of Nevin published in the Pittsburgh Leader, and letters published in the Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle during the war when Nevin was a correspondent for that newspaper. Also included is a letter to the editor of the Post-Gazette by Eleanor concerning her search for information on Libby Prison and, particularly, the whereabouts of a chessboard at the prison used by Nevin while he was a prisoner. There is relatively little material documenting either Nevin's life outside the military or his journalism career.

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Arrangement note

The John I. Nevin Papers are housed in one archival box and are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center, April 5, 1994

1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA, 15222
412-454-6364
library@heinzhistorycenter.org

Revision Description

 Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Jennifer Marshall. June 17, 1999

Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

These materials were received in one accession.

Acc# 1952.2 -- Gift of Mrs. Daniel E. Nevin, (Papers).

Processing Information note

Original inventory by Historical Society Staff created c. 1952. Papers rearranged and inventory rewritten by Craig Moore in April 5, 1994.

Existence and Location of Copies

A digital reproduction of Nevin’s diary is available online.

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Related Materials

Separated Materials note

To the Photographic Collection, one folder of photographs has been separately arranged as MSQ# 64. These photographs primarily include tintypes, cartes de visite and an ambrotype taken of Nevin and his fellow officers during the Civil War. Photographs of note include the officers of Nevin's Battery (Independent Battery H) and a sketch of Nevin drawn by a fellow prisoner at Libby Prison. Also included are Nevin's press credentials for the centennial exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876.

To the Newspaper Collections, one copy of the April 15, 1865 Pittsburgh Evening Chronicle has been added to the collection. The newspaper has the accounts of President Lincoln's assassination and a list of Pennsylvania soldiers who died at Andersonville (Ga.) Prison between March 1864 to March 24, 1865.

To the Museum Programs Division, one chess set and other Civil War miscellany was separately cataloged and housed. This chess set was carved by hand (possibly by Nevin) while he was a prisoner at Libby Prison. Records of chess games are found in the sketch book.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Libby Prison
  • United States -- Army -- Pennsylvania Artillery -- Independent Battery H
  • United States -- Army -- Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 28th
  • United States -- Army -- Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 93rd (1861-1865)

Geographic Name(s)

  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Journalists
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- War work -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865, Prisoners and Prisons

Subject(s)

  • Chess--Virginia--Richmond.
  • Gettysburg (Pa.), Battle of, 1863.

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Collection Inventory

  BoxFolder
Biographical Materials, 1862-1930 11

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  Folder
Correspondence, 1853-1870 2

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  Folder
Diary (Original), 1863 3
Online

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  Folder
Diary (Transcript), 1863 4

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  BoxFolder
Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1864 21

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  Folder
Sketch Book (Original), 1862 2

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  Folder
Sketch Book (Photocopy), 1862 3

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