Edward Everett Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US TxAM-C C000024

Level of description



Edward Everett Papers


  • 1846-1906 (Creation)


2 boxes

Name of creator


Biographical history

Edward Everett, soldier, military clerk, illustrator, and cartographer (also nephew and namesake of the Unitarian Minister and Gettysburg orator Edward Everett), was born in London, England March 31, 1818. In 1840, his father, Charles Everett, a successful import/export dealer in London, relocated the family to Quincy, Illinois. By his twenties, Edward Everett had already shown an exemplary aptitude for drawing, mechanics, chemistry, and engineering.

In 1843, with his brother, Charles Everett, Jr., Edward Everett joined the famed Quincy Riflemen, led by James Morgan, to challenge the growing Mormon stronghold in the Illinois area. He and his brother fought in the battle of Nauvoo, the last anti-Mormon armed conflict. A few days after war was declared against Mexico (1846) the Everett brothers, along with others of the Quincy Riflemen, which had been mustered out of state service, joined the United States service and were transferred to the Texas-Mexico border.

As a soldier for the U. S. Army in the Mexican War, Edward Everett served as a peace-keeper and member of Company A, First Illinois Volunteers. Soon after arriving in South Texas, however, after a forced march of 150 miles from outside New Orleans, to reach San Antonio de Bexar in order to guard stores left there, Everett was severely wounded. On September 11, 1846, while acting in his role as sergeant of the patrol guard, to arrest a man inciting a riot in the town, Everett was shot in the knee, a wound that eventually left him crippled. Unable to continue on with his regiment under Brigadier General John E. Wool to Saltillo, Everett was confined to the military tent hospital in San Antonio, and thereafter declared permanently disabled from active military service.

Everett began writing about Texas and Mexico in letters to his brother Samuel W. Everett back home in Illinois, and in his journals, while he was recuperating from his wound. Everett continued recording his observations after being re-assigned as Assistant Quartermaster for Captain James Harvey Ralston, a position Everett held during the remainder of the war. Everett notes that, in his role as a clerk, furloughed from active duties as a soldier, he had a unique vantage point from which to observe the culture and events around him, and ample opportunity to employ his innate ability to communicate with words and illustrations. As an accountant for the quartermaster, Everett also wrote many official reports, and his skill in presenting a clear narrative is evident in the papers.

During this period, Everett produced many fine illustrations of the Spanish mission buildings in the area, including the Alamo Mission buildings. The memoir included in the papers gives a particularly immediate account of the Alamo buildings' decay and attempts in the spring of 1847 at renovating them for an army store depot and officers' workshops. For example, Everett also illustrated his account with a lively pen and ink vignette of a bat hanging onto whatever it could find, after being so disturbed.

Edward Everett married Mary A. Billings of Quincy, Ill. October 7, 1857, the sister of a Unitarian minister. After his retirement in 1859 from active duty in the military, Everett worked as chief clerk in Washington, and later, during the Civil War, became Illinois Assistant Quartermaster, earning the rank of Major. In his later life, he apparently also illustrated several articles on Hawaii and other places to which he and his wife traveled. He died July 24, 1903, in Roxbury, Mass., and is buried in Boston, Mass. in Forest Hills Cemetery.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection dating from 1846 to 1906 (bulk: 1846-1847) consists chiefly of handwritten letters, journal entries, a memoir, a proof copy of a report from the U. S. Secretary of War on Army operations in Texas and on the Rio Grande during the Mexican War (1846-1848), as well as plans, maps and nine hand-colored copies of lithographic engravings drawn by Everett, which vividly chronicle southwest Texas cultural as well as military history during the late1840s.

Series 1, Letters (1847-1863), mainly handwritten in ink by Edward Everett to his brother, Samuel W. Everett, from 1846-1847, while Everett was serving in San Antonio de Bexar with the U. S. Army during the Mexican War. A few letters from other correspondents pertain to Everett's disability and eventual official discharge from the Army. Three letters written in the period 1852-1863 are about business or from family members.

Series 2, Journal and Memoir (1846-1899) contains three sets of journal entries for Sept. 1846-Jan. 1847. All are handwritten in ink on loose sheets of paper. The memoir, also handwritten in ink, on machine-ruled paper measuring about 8 x 5 inches, covers the years 1846-1848, with additional material added and dated, on at least one page, with 1899. This memoir is edited in pencil by Everett, evidently for publication, since one note suggests that the memoir was donated in 1899 to the Quincy Historical Society, later known as The Illinois Historical Society. The memoir was actually published, at least part, or possibly all of it, under the title "Military Experience," in Transactions of the Illinois Historical Society for 1905.

Series 3, Engravings, Maps, and Plans (ca. 1846-1849) includes nine copies of lithographed illustrations drawn by Edward Everett and engraved by C. B Graham Lithographers in Washington, D.C. The engravings were to be published in a report on U.S. Army operations in Texas during the Mexican War. A proof copy of this 67-page report, titled Report of the Secretary of War, communicating ... the Operations of the Army of the United States in Texas and the Adjacent Mexican states on the Rio Grande (31st Congress, 1st Session, Senate. Executive Document 32), published in 1850, is annotated throughout by Everett in pencil. For this publication Everett was at least responsible for eight illustrations: seven engravings of the San Antonio de Bexar area, including the Alamo church, as well as locations in Mexico; a plan of the ruined Alamo as it was in 1846, before being renovated according to Everett's direction, as a U. S. Army supply depot and workshops.

Engravings include nine copies of the lithographed prints. Notations made in ink on the separate prints, and on p. [4] of the proof copy of the published government report, indicate that: illustrations numbered for publication 2, 3-6 were engraved from original drawings made by Everett; those numbered 1, 7-8 were engraved from drawings made by Everett based on pencil sketches by other individuals, particularly no. 1 titled "Watch Tower Near Monclova," which was drawn by Everett from a sketch by Lieutenant McDowell of the U.S. Army.

Everett's proofs of the lithographic prints have all been exquisitely hand-tinted, in contrast to the severe black-and-white reproductions in the printed report. Of the nine hand-colored prints, two are duplicates of two illustrations, one titled "Church Near Monclova," and the other "Watch Tower Near Monclova." These identical prints are each hand-colored in two versions, apparently to represent the depicted buildings' appearances during the daytime, as well as at dusk or sunset.

Maps include one copy of a published map, possibly also by Everett, though it has been attributed to Josiah Gregg, which also appeared in the 1850 Army Operations report, titled "Map Showing the Route of the Arkansas Regiment from Shreveport La. to San Antonio de Bexar Texas," which is annotated with a penciled in route drawn from San Antonio to Austin, and a town location labeled "New Braunsfels." Also included are two manuscript versions of a map by Edward Everett, one copy titled "Plan of the Vicinity of Austin and San Antonio, Texas."

Plans are represented by two copies of an illustration drawn by Everett for the 1849 Army operations report showing plans of the Alamo before the renovation, titled "Plans of the Ruins of the Alamo near San Antonio De Bexar, 1846." Also present is one manuscript plan, titled "Plan of San Antonio de Bexar, Texas, 1848," which is labeled as "Drawn from recollection by E. E." The legend states that locations number 1-5 on the plan show, for instance, the spot near the Plaza in town where Everett received his disabling gunshot wound in the leg, the Hospital where he convalesced, and the Quartermaster's Office, to which he was assigned to work after being declared disabled from active service in the field.

A handwritten loose-leaf page kept with the proof copy of the report is titled "Index to Col. Hughes Report," and lists subject divisions and page numbers, though these divisions are not present in the published report by Hughes.

Thus Everett's accounts of frontline actions in the Mexican War mainly rely on reports from occasional volunteer soldiers or scouts, or Mexican nationals, returning back to Texas from the front lines of battle in Mexico. As much as he is able, however, Everett produces very detailed accounts of the various battles and skirmishes in and around the Texas-Mexico border, including battles at Monterrey, Saltillo, San Luis, Camargo, Buena Vista, Vera Cruz, and Tampico, recording a large number of casualties on both sides.

Of particular interest is Everett's extensive first-hand description of the ruins of the Alamo, and how it was converted for U.S. Army use as a military headquarters, according to plans drawn up by Everett. He deplores the vandalism already wreaked by relic seekers and stressed the respect shown to the mission church by the U. S. Army restorers, who refused to plunder it for building stone but instead merely cleaned away the debris. In the process, skeletons were uncovered, which Everett assumes to be from the time of the siege and Battle of the Alamo in 1836. Everett's accounts of frontier life in the rather rambunctious confines of San Antonio, complete with ambushes, shootouts, rough and ready court trials, and various local characters are often riveting.

Everett also pictures the moods and attitudes of the soldiers toward a variety of issues. Everett describes their arduous marches, unsavory living conditions, often dire medical care, and the cruel climate tormenting them. Having been left behind in San Antonio with all the stores rejected by the army, which had proceeded on into Mexico, Everett's men were faced with nursing broken down mules and horses back to usefulness, salvaging wagon parts from several damaged ones to make a serviceable one, and generally, trying to make do with what could be had in the vicinity, or easily transported from the Quartermaster at New Orleans.

According to Everett, communications on the Texas frontier often proceeded through "solitary express riders." He describes Mexican culture co-existing with "the Indians" and their horse-stealing. He also gives an excellent but pejorative account of the Texas Rangers and their activities, calling them desperados. Everett describes Mexican Generals Santa Anna, Torrejón, and Woll, the exceedingly unpopular U. S. Army Colonel Churchill, officers George W. Hughes, 1st Lieutenant W. B. Franklin, 2nd Lieutenant F. T. Bryan, General Zachary Taylor ("Old Rough and Ready"), General Winfield Scott, and General James Morgan, Captain J. H. Prentiss, Brigadier General John E. Wool, Major General Worth, Captain James Harvey Ralston, Captain L. Sitgreaves, as well as Edward Everett's own two brothers Charles Everett and Samuel W. Everett (Sam).

Full of absorbing narrative and elusive details often lost in larger historical works, the content of Everett's narratives and letters may be summed up in his own words from the handwritten memoir: "Mine is not a tale of battles, or of the movements of great armies, but the details will show some of the hardships and vicissitudes of a soldier's life, the exposure to which causes a greater sacrifice of life than that ensuing from wounds of death received from the enemy."

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged chronologically and is organized into the following five series:
Series 1, Letters, 1847-1863
Series 2, Journal and Memoir, 1846-1899
Series 3, Engravings, Maps, and Plans, 1846-1849; Undated
Series 4, Miscellaneous Letters, Memos, and Clippings, 1848 - [circa 1906]
Series 5, Transcripts, Undated

Items that have been separated from the main body of the Edward Everett Papers include:
Series 3. Engravings, Maps, and Plans. "Map Showing the Route of the Arkansas Regiment from Shreveport La. to San Antonio de Bexar, Texas" [Box/Folder 1/5]. Housed separately in the repository with oversize materials.

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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Related archival materials

Two original watercolors by Edward Everett: "Interior View of the Church of the Alamo," and "View of the Alamo Church" both dated 1847, held in the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

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© Copyright 2019 Cushing Library. All rights reserved.

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