Davidson Family papers
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Davidson Family papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040. reference@atlantahistorycenter.com
Creator: Davidson family
Title: Davidson Family papers
Dates: 1851-1970, bulk 1861-1865
Quantity: 1.0 linear ft.
Quantity: (2 document cases)
Identification: ahc.MSS78

Biographical/Historical Note

John Mitchell Davidson (1829-1917) was born in Haywood County, North Carolina. He lived in Asheville before moving to Ducktown,Tennessee where he was a merchant. He also operated a store in Tunnell Hill, Georgia. On November 1, 1855 he married Julia Dunn (1836- 1890) a schoolteacher and Ashville native who had moved to Calhoun, Georgia with her parents earlier in the year. John commuted between his businesses in Ducktown and Tunnell Hill, and Julia’s home in Calhoun. The couple had three children between 1856 and 1862; two sons, Bascom and Charlie, and one daughter, Hattie. Another son, Willie, was born in 1865. On October 22, 1861, John Davidson volunteered for service in the Confederate Army. Julia’s parents moved to Atlanta before the Civil War, and bought her a house in the city following John’s departure for the army in 1862. In 1862, John was commissioned 1st Lieutenant, Company C, 39th North Carolina Regiment.

The 39th Regiment fought battles in Murfreesboro, Jackson, Chickamauga, Resaca, Allatoona, and New Hope Church. Davidson became disabled during the Atlanta Campaign and spent several months in hospitals. He was paroled at Salisbury, North Carolina on May 2, 1865 and moved to Calhoun where he eventually reunited with his family. John and Julia settled at Kingston, Georgia, where John was a depot agent for the Western and Atlantic Railroad until 1901.

Scope and Content Note

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence between John and Julia Davidson before and during the Civil War. The letters capture a sense of their courtship prior to their wedding in 1855, as well as the physical and spiritual challenges John faced as a soldier in the Confederate Army and those Julia endured in the besieged city of Atlanta. The collection contains several letters written by John Davidson to Julia’s parents who lived in Atlanta and were the proprietors of Washington Hall, a hotel in the city.

Also included are two documents originating from Davidson’s regiment, the 39th of North Carolina, a furlough request for a soldier, and a requisition for forage form. The collection also includes a typed abstract of an 1895 letter John Davidson wrote to his cousin, Theodore Davidson regarding his experience in the Confederate Army during the Atlanta Campaign.In his letters to Julia, John Davidson writes about his love for her and his consistent desire to return home to his family. He inquires about the health and well-being of their children and Julia’s parents, and talks about the discomforts of army life and the violence of war. He expresses his hopes for an end to the war and offers updates on the movements of his regiment, and their training routines in camp. He also passes on information to her regarding enemy troop movements. He writes her from locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Julia’s letters to John supply updates on the health and business of family and friends in Atlanta, and contain expressions of her desire to see him return home. During the siege of Atlanta, she provides some detail on the chaos resulting from the shelling of the city. Throughout her letters, she urges her husband to adhere to the principles of his Christian faith.


This collection is arranged chronologically.

Index Terms

Atlanta Campaign, 1864
Confederate States of America. Army. North Carolina Infantry Regiment, 39th.
Davidson family
Davidson, John Mitchell, 1829-1917
Davidson, Julia Dunn, 1836-1890
Dunn family
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Washington Hall (Atlanta, Ga.)

Location of Originals

Four original letters are represented by transcripts only. The originals were retained by the donor

Administrative Information

Other Formats

Transcriptions of letters contained in box 1, folders 1-15 are located in box 2, folders 1-15.

Preferred Citation

[identification of item(s)], Davidson Family Correspondence and Civil War Records, MSS 78, Kenan Research Center, Atlanta History Center.

Acquisition Information

Gift of John L. Davidson, 1976 (1976.164)

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2005


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Container List




11Original Correspondence, 1851 to 1855 View online.
2Original Correspondence, 1857 to 1861 View online.
3Original Correspondence, Jan 1862 to Jun 1862 View online.
4Original Correspondence, Jul 1862 to Oct 1862 View online.
5Original Correspondence, Nov 1862 to Dec 1862 View online.
6Original Correspondence, Jan 1863 to Feb 8, 1863 View online.
7Original Correspondence, Feb 14, 1863 to Apr 1863 View online.
8Original Correspondence, May 1863 to Jun 1863 View online.
9Original Correspondence, Jul 3, 1863 to Jul 22, 1863 View online.
10Original Correspondence, Jul 24, 1863 to Oct 21, 1863 View online.
11Original Correspondence, Oct 22, 1863 to Dec 27, 1863 View online.
12Original Correspondence, Feb 1864 to Apr 1864 View online.
13Original Correspondence, May 1864 to Jul 1864 View online.
14Original Correspondence, Aug 1864 to Oct 1864 View online.
15Original Correspondence, Nov 1864 to Dec 1864 View online.
16Duplicate Letters – Typed Copies Do Not Represent the Entire Collection, undated View online.
17Itemized Listing of Davidson Letters, undated View online.
18Letter to “Son” signed “Mother”, Jul 8, 1876 View online.
19Abstract of Letter Written May 1895 by John M. Davidson RE His Civil War Experiences, undated View online.
20Handwritten Form Showing the Language of A C.S.A. Furlough, 1863 View online.
21John L. Davidson Correspondences with Robert B. Barker, 1962 View online.
22Letter Ed W. to Charlie, undated View online.
23C.S.A. Requisition for Forage Form, Aug 1863 View online.
24Postcards, 1887, 1914, undated View online.



21Transcripts, 1851 to 1855 View online.
2Transcripts, 1857 to 1861 View online.
3Transcripts, Jan 1862 to Jun 1862 View online.
4Transcripts, Jul 1862 to Oct 1862 View online.
5Transcripts, Nov 1862 to Dec 1862 View online.
6Transcripts, Jan 1863 to Feb 8, 1863 View online.
7Transcripts, Feb 14, 1863 to Apr 1863 View online.
8Transcripts, May 1863 to Jun 1863 View online.
9Transcripts, Jul 3, 1863 to Jul 22, 1863 View online.
10Transcripts, Jul 24, 1863 to Oct 21, 1863 View online.
11Transcripts, Oct 22, 1863 to Dec 27, 1863 View online.
12Transcripts, Feb 1864 to Apr 1864 View online.
13Transcripts, May 1864 to Jul 1864 View online.
14Transcripts, 1864 to Oct 1864 View online.
15Transcripts, Nov 1864 to Dec 1864 View online.
16Correspondence John H. Spooner to John L. Davidson, Jul 25, 1970 View online.