Appointment of Francis A. Osbourn as a Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, October 7, 1863.
Appointment of Francis A. Osbourn as a Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, October 7, 1863.

Guide to the Francis A. Osbourn Papers, 1862-1866 and 1900

MS 329

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1997)

December 2008

Descriptive Summary

Purchase. Accession No. unknown.
.5 linear inches.
Access to the Francis A. Osbourn Papers is unrestricted.
The Francis A. Osbourn Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Francis A. Osbourn Papers, MS 329
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

Francis A. Osbourn was born on March 1, 1845 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Osbourn joined the Union effort, serving in the Twentieth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. Along with his regiment, Osbourn saw action at Fort Hatteras in 1861, and while encamped at Newport News, Virginia, witnessed the Battle of Hampton Roads and the engagement between the ironclads U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) on March 9, 1862. Two months later, he participated in the capture of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. After his regiment was transferred to the Army of the Potomac, Osbourn took part in the Battle of Seven Pines, as well as the Battle of Oak Grove outside Richmond, Virginia on June 25, 1862, during which he sustained a gunshot wound resulting in the amputation of his left arm below the shoulder.

After returning to his home in Philadelphia, Osbourn received an appointment as a Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment, United States Colored Troops. During his time with the Sixth Regiment, Osbourn took part in cavalry expeditions of General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and the siege of Petersburg. On March 13, 1865, Osbourn was temporarily promoted to the rank of Captain of the United States Volunteers, and closed out his service as a company commander of the Sixth Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps.

After the war, Osbourn studied law, and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1869. In 1876, he was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly as a Representative. After a six year term as Assistant City Solicitor of Philadelphia, Osbourn was again elected to the General Assembly as Senator in 1884. Osbourn continued to serve as State Senator until his death on January 20, 1901.

Scope and Content Note

The Francis Osbourn Papers, comprising .5 inches of documentation, primarily span Osbourn's career in the Twentieth Regiment Indiana Volunteers and the Sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops, from 1862 to 1866. The papers, mostly letters, focus on Osbourn's duties, experiences and observations, and requests for items from home.

The collection is composed primarily of letters sent by Osbourn to his mother, father, and brother, Jim, as well as several letters received, an order, an appointment, and an advertising brochure.

The Osbourn Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single series with no subdivisions. The letters written by Osbourn while serving with the Twentieth Regiment Indiana Volunteers include descriptions of Confederate encampments, reaction of the citizens of Norfolk towards the Union Army, the amputation of his left arm, and most prominently, the Battle of Hampton Roads between the ironclads U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack). The final letter sent from this portion of Osbourn's career serves as a summary of his previous two years of service. Letters written by Osbourn while with the Sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops include description of the capture of Confederates outside Yorktown, Virginia, life at the Sherburne Barracks in Washington, DC, and frequent discussions of a possible trip to Boston with his mother. Many of the letters also include requests for certain personal items to be purchased for him, such as a valise. The collection also includes two letters received by Osbourn. The first, dating from the Civil War, was written by a friend informing Osbourn of his recent relief from duty, and the second, dating from Osbourn's time as a Pennsylvania State Senator, is an invitation to dinner at the Metropolitan Club with several United States Senators. The remainder of the collection is composed of an order attaching Osbourn to the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, his appointment as a Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops, and a pamphlet advertising the publications of McCowat-Mercer Press.

In addition to biographical and genealogical studies of Francis A. Osbourn, research interests served by the Osbourn Papers include the Battle of Hampton Roads, civilian attitudes towards the Union Army, and the nature and treatment of battlefield injuries, as well as the operational histories of the Twentieth Regiment Indiana Volunteers and the Sixth Regiment U.S. Colored Troops.

Arrangement Note

The Osbourn Papers have been digitized in their entirety. In addition to following the links in the Container List below, the materials can be accessed through the Nimitz Library Digital Collections.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Advertising Brochure, undated

For McCowat-Mercer Press, entitled "Pusonal Greetins at the Yuletide from Two Old Cotton-Pickin' Rebels."

2 Appointment - Second Lieutenant, October 7, 1863

Appointment for service in the Sixth Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops.

3 Letters Received, December 31, 1862

Correspondent's relief of present duty.

4 Letters Received, December 6, 1900

Invitation to dinner at the Metropolitan Club, Washington, DC.

5 Letters Sent, March 1 - April 26, 1862

Camp Butler, New Port News, VA. Description of Confederate camps across the James River (March 1), battle between the Monitor and Merrimack at Hampton Roads (March 21 and 24), Army of the Potomac marching on Yorktown (April 4), as well as constant orders to send extra clothing and supplies home.

6 Letters Sent, May 15 and June 30, 1862

Norfolk, VA and Mount Pleasant Hospital, Washington, DC. March to and reaction of residents in Norfolk (May 15), and amputation of Osbourn's left arm (June 30).

7 Letters Sent, August 9 and December 17, 1863

Philadelphia, PA and Yorktown, VA. Account of the previous two years of service (August 9), capture of 95 Confederates near Charles City courthouse, participation in courts martial, and destruction of the Yorktown arsenal (December 17).

8 Letters Sent, April 3 - November 18, 1864

Camp of the 6th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops, Fort Farnsworth, VA and Sherburne Barracks, Washington, DC. Running a mess and possibilities of bringing a "colored" boy back home to Philadelphia (April 3), taking command of Fort Farnsworth (September 25), and conditions at Sherburne Barracks (November 18).

9 Letters Sent, April 24 - October 5, 1865

Harrisburg, PA. Duties as Post Adjutant, death of Abraham Lincoln (April 24), and potential trip to Boston (August 26 and October 5).

10 Special Order No. 40, March 22, 1866

From the War Department's Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, ordering Osbourn to duty in said bureau at New Orleans, LA.