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Horace Failes Civil War correspondence

 Collection — document-box: Civil War 1, Folder: 24, Folder: 1
Identifier: 2017-516-w-r

Content Description

This collection contains seven correspondence from Sgt. Horace Failes to his sister Elepsia Spencer during the American Civil War. Horace wrote about joining the service in defense of his country with the First Pennsylvania Reserve Cavalry, Company G. Later he mentions the sadness after the Battle of Fredericksburgh, and being held beyond his three years until the end of the war, and then his own reenlistment for another three years.

Of particular note is Sgt. Failes' reenlistment in February 1864. He describes the low pay for the first three years and not wanting to miss the higher pay that the new soldiers would receive. However, his motives are more set on the fact that two-thirds of his regiment reenlisted and he could not leave them behind until the war is over, he has "too much pride" for his country.

In April 1864, Sgt. Failes' letter mentions the guerillas near his camp in Virginia and the newspapers discouraging those at home, stating that the next Union loss would be the loss of the country. He dispels this and says the sun never shone on a better army, and "we must conquer those vile traters."

In June 1864, Sgt. Failes alludes to the horrors of war after fighting for thirty days and losing men. He also says he is encamped ten miles outside of Richmond, the Confederate capital. His final letter of March 1865 speaks of duty to fight, for his country and for God, and contains a very moving passage on God's will if he should fall.

The collection also contains one letter to a Mr. Brooke from a Mr. Clyde explaining the death of Mr. Brooke's son, and one letter from Failes' grandson Harold Failes with more information about the collection, dated 1972.


  • Majority of material found within 1861 September 3-1865 March 19
  • 1861 September 3-1972 February 17

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this material except where previously copyrighted material is concerned. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Sergeant Horace Failes, First Pennsylvania Reserve Cavalry, Company G was born around 1836 in either Pennsylvania or New York. According to the letter from Harold Fales, the grandson of Sgt. Failes, and, Horace was mostly from Pennsylvania and married Margaret Emaline Moore in 1870. Sgt. Failes enlisted in the three eleventh service and served his time, then enlisting on August 28, 1861 in the First Pennsylvania Cavalry according to the First Pennsylvania regimental history. He mentions in his letters that he fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, and approached Richmond. However, he was also involved in many if not all of the action that included the First Penn Cavalry including the Second Battle of Bull Run, Gettysburg, and the Appomattox surrender of General Robert E. Lee and his Army. According to the unit history, as found cited on, Sgt. Failes was promoted to Sergeant during that time and mustered out of service June20, 1865. He passed away in 1880 in Montgomery, PA.


.03 Linear Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



This collection contains correspondence from Sgt. Horace Failes to his sister Elepsia Spencer during the American Civil War.


This collection is arranged in chronological order, with corresponding transcriptions behind each letter.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Susan Peruzzi, on behalf of the Fales family.


Horace spells his name "Failes," the family later changed the name to "Fales."
Finding Aid for the Horace Failes Civil War correspondence
Andrew Harman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Center for American War Letters Archives Repository

Leatherby Libraries
Chapman University
Orange CA 92866 United States