Charles Smith Hamilton was born in Oneida, Co., N.Y., in 1822, and graduated from West Point in 1843. He served in the Mexican War and was farming in Fond Du Lac, Wis., at the outbreak of the Civil War. He organized the 3rd Wis. Vol. Inf. and served as colonel. In 1863, he was commissioned major general which provoked a dispute over rank and led to his resignation.
A majority of the collection is correspondence dealing with Hamilton's command of troops at the siege of Yorktown; the Shenandoah campaign; at the battles of Iuka and Corinth, Miss.; and in the District of West Tennessee. A rough draft of his letter of resignation to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, as well as the acceptance of his resignation, are also included in the collection, along with various orders from commanding officers. In addition, the collection includes a few letters before and after the Civil War, three maps including Iuka, and correspondence relating to a patent issued to Hamilton in 1864 for parts for grain elevators and distributors.
Catherine Hamilton Kappauf of Champaign, Ill., great-granddaughter of Hamilton, donated the collection to the Library in 1969.