This collection primarily consists of correspondence from Harvey "Will" Stewart to his future wife, Alta Elliott, while Steward was enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War.
A native of Olney, Illinois, Harvey William "Will" Stewart enlisted as a bugler in Company E of the 6th Illinois Cavalry on October 20, 1861. He rose through the ranks to become captain on March 17, 1865, and mustered out on November 5, 1865. Stewart later married Alta Elliott, also of Olney, Illinois.
The collection contains letters written by Harvey "Will" Stewart to his future wife, Alta Elliott, between June 1864 and November 1865. They mention the Collierville, Tennessee campaign, the mission to Germantown and Memphis, Tennessee, the skirmish at Columbia, Tennessee, and the Battle of Eastport, Mississippi. The correspondence includes descriptions of daily life in camp, as well as the fall of Richmond, Virginia, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The collection includes two subsequent letters from Stewart to his wife, written in 1869 and 1876.
The collection also contains a large broadside, titled Military Register, Company E, Sixth Illinois Veteran Volunteer Cavalry (lithographed by A. Hoen & Co. and published by F. A. Hanzsche, both of Baltimore, Maryland). The broadside includes vignettes of the regiment's experiences from its enlistment to its return home, a table of its engagements, and a list of its members, including Stewart as captain of the company.
Louise Jones of Urbana, Illinois, donated the collection to the Illinois Historical Survey, predecessor to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, in 1983.