Born in Ireland in 1840, Daniel M. Nettleton moved with his parents to Paw Paw, Lee County, Ill., at age four. In 1861, he enlisted at Earlville, LaSalle County, and served as a non-commissioned officer in Co. I, 4th Ill. Vol. Cav. until 1864. He fought at Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth, and in numerous minor skirmishes in the Western theater.
In July 1864, Nettleton was wounded at Natchez. He received a medical discharge later that year. In 1872, he moved to Clay County, Nebr. There over the next 50 years he built his reputation as a farmer and a Republican state legislator, serving in 1907 as Speaker of the House.
The collection contains photocopies of 41 unusually literate letters, Sept. 1861 to Sept. 1864, from Nettleton to his mother and his brothers Nate, Orin, Bill, and Ben. He wrote about his battle experiences, the rigors of military life, Union camps at Cairo, Ill., and at Memphis, Trenton, Colliersville, and Natchez, Tenn., and about Morgan's Raid, Gen. William T. Sherman, the New York Draft Riots, and African Americans in the military. Also included are photocopies of company muster rolls, 1861-64.
Mr. J. E. Shrigley, of York, Nebr., donated the collection to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1978. In 2009, the Society gave the collection to the University of Illinois Library.