Skip to main content

Henry C. Merriam papers, 1865-1907; bulk 1865-1877

Identifier: 1500-001-23

Scope and Contents

Handwritten letters by Colonel Henry C. Merriam, both personal and official correspondence, in a lined manuscript notebook, dating from Apr 1865 to Jun 1877. Topics addressed include: the capture of Fort Blakely, Alabama and the colored troops therein; an Indian skirmish near the Arkansas River; military plan of mobile detachments to fight Indians in preference to establishment of a permanent sub-post; requests for aid of Mexican military in the capture of marauding cattle thieves; matters pertaining to his personal military career; and domestic matters. Press cuttings are also tipped in or pasted in.

Also newspaper clippings discussing the murder of Idaho Governor Steunenberg and subsequent trial. Merriam played a role in events leading to Steunenber's murder.


  • 1865 - 1907
  • Majority of material found within 1865 - 1877



These materials are in English.


This material is open for research use by any registered reader.

Use and Copyright

This material is owned by the University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections. Unpublished manuscripts are under copyright. Therefore, permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from both the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Clay Merriam (1837-1912) was born in Houlton, Maine. He left school in 1862 to join the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment as a captain. He participated in the Battle of Antietam and was brevetted to lieutenant colonel. In Louisiana in 1863 he recruited African American troops and was placed in command of the 1st Louisiana Native Guard. He led this regiment at the Siege of Port Hudson on May 27, 1863. Two years later, after the unit had been re-organized as the 73rd Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Troops, he led an attack on Confederate positions at Fort Blakely in Baldwin County, Alabama, on April 9, 1865. For these actions, he was brevetted colonel and, several decades later on June 28, 1894, awarded the Medal of Honor. His official Medal of Honor citation reads: "Volunteered to attack the enemy's works in advance of orders and, upon permission being given, made a most gallant assault."

After being mustered out of the Army on October 24, 1865, Merriam began studying law. Less than a year later, on July 28, 1866, he returned to the military as a major in the 38th Infantry Regiment. He served with this unit during expeditions against Native Americans in Kansas in 1867. While in commanded of Fort McIntosh on the Texas–Mexico border in 1876, he bombarded Mexican forces which had committed "outrages" against Americans and he crossed the border to rescue a kidnapped U.S. commercial agent. After being promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Regiment on June 10, 1876, he was sent to the northwestern U.S. during the Nez Perce War. In Idaho and Washington, he managed Native American tribes and was commended by his superiors for his success in gathering the Indians on reservations and opening land for white settlers.

On July 10, 1885, Merriam was promoted to colonel of the 7th Infantry Regiment and commanded Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the next four years. After being re-stationed in Fort Logan, Colorado, he led troops along the Cheyenne River in South Dakota during the Sioux uprising which followed the death of Sitting Bull.

Appointed brigadier general on June 30, 1897, Merriam was transferred to the Department of the Columbia, which covered the northwestern United States. During this time, he organized a rescue mission to save miners in Alaska who had been trapped by mid-winter weather. At the outset of the Spanish–American War, he was named major general of volunteers and placed in command of the entire U.S. Pacific coast, including Hawaii. His duties included equipping, training, and transporting units bound for the ensuing Philippine–American War. In January 1899, he left his western post and took command of the Departments of the Colorado and the Missouri. He retired from the Army in 1901, having reached the mandatory retirement age.

By a special act of Congress on February 5, 1903, he was promoted in retirement to major general. He was the inventor of the "Merriam Pack" which was used by infantry soldiers. He married Una MacPherson at Fort Brown, Texas, in 1874 and had three sons and two daughters.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box.)

Physical Location

Collection shelved on the 3rd floor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Provenance unknown.
Henry C. Merriam papers, 1865-1907; bulk 1865-1877
Kay Calkins
2010 July
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections & University Archives Repository

McFarlin Library
University of Tulsa
2933 E. 6th St
Tulsa 74104-3123 US US
918-631-5022 (Fax)