Dr. Edwin Crawford Hewett served as the president of Illinois State Normal University, 1877-90. These letters were written to Hewett during the Civil War by former students, including Joshua Bailey, Co. B, 73rd Ill. Vol. Inf.; Charles M. Clarke, 8th Ill. Vol. Inf.; Richard A. Huxtable, Co. H, 77th Ill. Vol. Inf.; Logan H. Roots, 81st Ill. Vol. Inf.; and J. E. Willis, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 13th Army Corps. The letters discuss life in army camps, battles, political issues, and opinions of the war, with specific references to the Emancipation Proclamation, Copperheads, Vicksburg, traitors, and a review by Gen. Grant and Gen. Banks.
Dr. Edwin Hewett Reeder, Hewett's grandson, donated the letters to the Illinois Historical Survey in 1954.