Library & Archives
Samuel T. Sleeper (1822-1864)
Papers, 1862 - 1867
Barbara Carver Smith
Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728
DESCRIPTION OF COLLECTION
Provenance: This collection of papers was presented to Mrs. Bayard D. Stout, President of the Monmouth County Historical Association Library in Freehold on May 30, 1970. Mrs. Luella Bradshaw of Red Bank made the presentation on behalf of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Whitney K. Munson of Pompano Beach, Florida, formerly of Red Bank and Rumson, New Jersey.
Mrs. Munson found the collection of papers in the attic of a house located at 800 Broad St, Shrewsbury, New Jersey. This house, today a professional office, then belonged to Mrs. Munson's husband and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Bradshaw. Samuel T. Sleeper lived in the same house with his family at the time he joined the army during the Civil War. His family continued to live in their Broad Street home after Samuel left for the war. It is not certain how long Sleeper's family remained in the house after he died. However, his wife, who survived him, was still living in Shrewsbury when she died on May 29, 1917. She is buried in Shrewsbury's Christ Church Cemetery.
Size of Collection: Approx. 149 items
Samuel T. Sleeper was born in 1822. He and Abigail White were married at Christ Church in Shrewsbury, New Jersey on January 25, 1848, by Rev. Harry Finch. The couple had three children. J. Howard Sleeper died September 20, 1862, one month after Samuel Sleeper left for the war. Annie Virginia Sleeper, born in 1849, and Lyttleton White Sleeper, born in 1851, survived both parents.
The Civil War was already sixteen months old when Samuel Sleeper answered the country's call for volunteers in 1862. That summer, he helped raise part of an infantry company at Shrewsbury. That unit eventually became part of Company I, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers. Sleeper and his new company mustered in at Camp Olden, Trenton, New Jersey on August 6. Governor Charles Olden approved Sleeper's appointment as First Lieutenant of his company the next day.
Sleeper's regiment left Trenton for Washington, DC on August 25, where it performed duty within the defenses of the capital. It was subsequently attached to the First Brigade, Second Division, Third Army Corps, Army of the Potomac. While so assigned, Sleeper and his unit participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg, VA (December 12-15, 1862) and the famous "Mud March" (January 20 - 24, 1863).
Just before the Battle of Chancellorsville, VA (May 1-5), Lieutenant Sleeper found himself in command of his company. The company's original commander, Captain John T. Hill, was promoted and transferred to the Twelfth New Jersey Infantry on April 17. On that date, Sleeper became the acting commander of Company I. He officially held that position after June 2, 1862, when Governor Joel Parker commissioned him as Captain. For a brief moment, Sleeper was also in charge of the whole regiment. During the Battle of Gettysburg, PA (July 1 - 3, 1863) several officers became casualties and Sleeper was temporarily the senior officer.
Captain Sleeper continued to lead his company in the campaigns of Bristoe, VA (October 9 - 22, 1863), Mine Run, VA (November 26 - December 2, 1863), and Wilderness, VA (May 5 - 7, 1864). He left his post only once during a winter encampment. Christmas 1863 found Sleeper at home on a ten-day furlough. That was the last time his family ever saw him.
The following spring, the Army of the Potomac launched a very determined offensive against the Confederate Army in Virginia. The Eleventh New Jersey was part of this big push. For Sleeper, the campaign ended at the Battle of Spotsylvania. In a charge on May 12, 1864, he was killed by a gunshot to the chest.
After the battle, the Eleventh's Chaplain, E. Clark Cline, recovered Sleeper's body along with those of two other officers also killed in the battle. Chaplain Cline tried, but failed, to get the three bodies back to New Jersey. With all the available wagons busy carrying wounded soldiers to hospitals, Cline had no way to transport the three dead officers from the battlefield. The entire army was preparing to move again, so the chaplain hurried them into graves near the Third Division's field hospital.
Upon learning of Samuel's death, Abby Sleeper sought Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's help in retrieving her husband's body. Evidently the grave site was not well recorded, as the War Department soon apologized that, "under existing circumstances it would be impracticable to recover the body." After the war, the government attempted to locate and consolidate as many soldiers' graves as it could. The Quartermaster General's burial inventory shows that a large number of graves were found near Spotsulvania Court House and were removed to Fredericksburg National Cemetery. Undoubtedly, Sleeper and his two fellow officers lie in three of the 12,601 "Unknown" graves at Fredericksburg, VA.
Description of the Collection
Samuel Sleeper's papers consist mostly of military reports and correspondence. As a company commander, Sleeper was required to make monthly and quarterly reports on the condition of his unit.
This collection consists mostly of copies of his reports on Company I, Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers while he commanded it. The accounts include statements on strength, clothing, equipment, and ordinance. They provide insight to the size and condition of a well-fought, Civil War infantry company. Sleeper's records paint a detailed picture of a unit that fought its first battle with obsolete, "worthless" weapons. Unit strength, clothing issues, and camp locations are other examples of the information given.
Also in the collection are some officers' training manuals that Sleeper undoubtedly studied. These pamphlets would have been an important part of a new officer's library.
One important item in this collection actually seems out of place. This is a business card-sized note written and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
The balance of the collection contains a Monmouth Plank Road toll ticket, two small ledger books, and a group of letters to Samuel Sleeper's son Lyttleton. One of these is an intimate father to son letter. The remainder are post-war letters to Lyttleton from a sweetheart and friends.
For a detailed description of the container contents, please see the hard-copy finding aid located in the Librarian's office.
1 / Envelope 1 / Note from Lincoln; original removed from collection
1 / Envelope 2 / Monmouth County Plank Road toll ticket
1 / Envelope 3 / Pamphlet: "Instructions for Officers on Outpost and Patrol Duty," 1862. 2 copies
1 / Envelope 4 / Pamphlet: "A system of Target Practice for Use of Troops When Armed with the Musket, Rifled Musket, Rifle, or Carbine," 1862.
1 / Envelope 5 / Ledger: "S.T. Sleeper, 1st Lieut. Co I 11 R N J V," 1863
1 / Envelope 6 / Account Books, n.d. 2 items
1 / 1 / Muster In Roll, n.d. (probably 1862 June - August).
1 / 2 / Muster Roll, 1862 August 11 - 31.
1 / 3 / Muster Roll, 1862 August 11 - October 31
1 / 4 / Muster Roll, 1862 October 31 - December 31
1 / 5 / Muster Roll, 1862 October 31 - 1863 February 28
1 / 6 / Muster Roll, 1863 February 28 - April 13
1 / 7 / Muster Roll, 1863 February 28 - April 30
1 / 8 / Muster Roll, 1863 April 30 - June 30
1 / 9 / Muster Roll, 1863 June 30 - August 31
1 / 10 / Bounty Receipt Rolls, 1862 October 15, n.d. 3 items
1 / 11 / Ordinance Reports, 2nd Quarter 1863. 7 items
1 / 12 / Ordinance Reports, 3rd Quarter 1863. 11 items
1 / 13 / Ordinance Reports, 4th Quarter 1863. 11 items
1 / 14 / Ordinance Reports, 1st Quarter 1864. 12 items
1 / 15 / Clothing and Equipment Reports, 2nd Quarter 1863. 13 items
1 / 16 / Clothing and Equipment Reports, 1863 July and September. 9 items
1 / 17 / Clothing and Equipment Reports, 4th Quarter 1863. 13 items
1 / 18 / Clothing and Equipment Reports, 1st Quarter 1864. 20 items
1 / 19 / Clothing and Equipment Reports, 1864 April - July. 16 items
1 / 20 / Miscellaneous Letters, 1864 - 1867. 6 items
Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. Des Moines, 1908
Marbaker, Thomas B. History of the Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers. Trenton: MacCrellish & Quigley, 1898
Quartermaster General. Roll of Honor. Vol. XXV. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870
Stryker, William S. Record of Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Civil War 1861 - 1865. Trenton: Murphy Steam Book and Job Printer, 1876
Military and Pension files of Samuel T. Sleeper, Company I. Eleventh New Jersey Volunteers, National Archives, Washington, DC
Red Bank Register, 1917 June 6
ADDITIONS TO COLL. 62 SAMUEL T. SLEEPER PAPERS
Added to Folder 20; removed from SA98 Miscellaneous Letters:
[186?] March From Samuel to Father and Mother, written from "Camp near Falmouth VA"
1864 May 24 From Addie E. White, Shrewsbury to Mr. Sleeper. Regarding the death of uncle, Samuel Sleeper
1864 June 8 From E. Clarke Clive [Chaplain] headquarters of the 11th Regiment, to Rev. Joseph J. Sleeper. Regarding burial location of his son and the events surrounding his death
1864 Oct 18 From E. Clarke Clive, Chaplain 11th Regiment, to Abby Sleeper. Regarding the procurement of the remains of her husband, Samuel
1864 Nov 25 From James A. Hardie, War Dept. Washington, DC, to Abbey Sleeper. Regarding the unlikely procurement of her husband's remains
Items added to Coll. 62, removed from SA26 Civil War Collection:
Members of Company I of the 11th Regiment of New Jersey received by Johnathan Cook, Trenton, amount of money received to be delivered to the following persons free of charge, n.d.
Members of Company I of the 11th Reghiment, amount of money received to be delivered to the following named persons, free of charge, 1863 May 18
Items added to Coll. 62, removed from SA31:
Samuel T. Sleeper commissioned Captain, Shrewsbury Union Guard of the ____ Battalion, Second Reg. of the Monmouth and Ocean Brigade of the Militia of New Jersey, 1862 Jan 23
Samuel T. Sleeper appointed First Lieutenant of Co. ____ of the Eleventh Reg of NJ Volunteers, 1862 Aug 6
Samuel T. Sleeper appointed Captain of Co. ____ of the Eleventh Reg of NJ Volunteers, 1863 Jun 8
This page last updated 21 July 2008.