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Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon papers

Call Number: WA MSS S-1308

Scope and Contents

The Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon Papers contain correspondence and documents pertaining to Dimon's military career, particularly his recruitment of "Galvanized Yankees" in Maryland and Virginia and his subsequent command of Fort Rice in Dakota Territory. The papers cover the period from 1864 to 1907, but the bulk of material dates from 1864 and 1865.

The papers are arranged in three series. Series I, Correspondence, is contained in Boxes 1 and 2. Boxes 3 to 6 house Series II, Military Papers, and Box 7 holds Series III, Other Papers. Oversize material is located in Box 8.

Series I, Correspondence , contains chronologically arranged correspondence covering a variety of military and family subjects. In addition to Dimon, correspondents include General Benjamin Butler, General John Pope, General Alfred Sully, and Captain Benjamin Dimon, Charles's younger brother. The recruitment of Confederate prisoners of war for the United States Army and the establishment of the 1st United States Volunteer Infantry are discussed in Dimon's early correspondence. In a letter of March 19, 1864 to General Butler, Dimon suggested designating the recruited prisoners' regiment as Infantry to encourage more enlistments. General Butler complied with Dimon's request and established the regiment under Dimon's command. Dimon also discussed the defense of Norfolk-Portsmouth, the dangers of smallpox, scurvy, and scarlet fever.

In later letters Dimon described the transporting of troops to Fort Rice, a desolate outpost, located in the driest part of Dakota territory. Scurvy, due to lack of fresh vegetables, was rampant and Dimon also wrote about health problems caused by extreme cold weather. In correspondence with General Sully, official policies concerning friendly and hostile Indians are discussed. Dimon was ordered to protect friendly Indians, to encourage trade, and to deliver swift retribution in case of attack. Dimon discussed the use of Indian scouts for mail and reconnaissance. Other topics addressed include the sale of whiskey and ordnance to the Indians, attack by hostile Indians, ongoing peace negotiations, and fights among various Indian tribes.

As commander of Fort Rice, Dimon was responsible for ordnance supplies, and his letters frequently refer to discrepancies between his records and those of the War Department. He mentioned court-martial proceedings, specifically the execution of a deserter, Private William Dowdy. Dimon also touched on such issues as the breadth of martial law at Fort Rice, the condition of neighboring forts, and steamship traffic along the Missouri River.

Dimon's correspondence with his family and fiancée, Sarah Braden, covers the social life of Salem and Lowell, Massachusetts, the death of their friend Captain Wheeler, and the end of Dimon's engagement to Sarah Braden. Dimon and his brother, Benjamin, who was stationed at Fort Berthold, Dakota Territory, discussed the poor conditions of that fort, peace negotiations with the Indians, and the maintenance of peaceful and lawful trade.

Series II, Military Papers , contains a variety of official papers covering Dimon's service in Virginia and North Dakota in 1864 and 1865. Papers concerning the court-martial of Enoch A. Adams include charges, specifications, and minutes of proceedings; Adams, editor of the Frontier Scout at Fort Rice, was charged with slandering Dimon, encouraging soldiers to desert, and frequenting a house of "ill-fame." Also included are charges, specifications, and minutes of Private Dowdy's court-martial. The depositions provide additional information relating to court-martials. A mutilated issue of Frontier Scout, Vol. I [No. 2], is included.

The maps detail winter routes between Fort Rice and Fort Sully and distances between other Dakota Territory forts. The map of Nebraska, Dakota Territory, and Montana marks the locations of United States military posts. Also included are ground and building plans for Fort Rice.

Dimon's memorandum books contain lists of steamship arrivals and departures, notations on mail delivery, and a handful of daily entries. The muster rolls list members of companies B, C, D, E, H, and K of the 1st United States Volunteer Infantry for 1864 and 1865. The forms indicate enlistment date, location of enlistment, years in service, and last day of pay.

General and special orders document the purpose and intent of the military presence in Dakota Territory. Orders from the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, Department of Norfolk-Portsmouth, Department of the North West, and printed orders from the United States War Department are included. Internal regimental orders issued by Dimon also appear. Ordnance records are found in a variety of forms, including abstracts, inventories, invoices, quarterly returns, receipts, and requisitions. Together these records provide information on the ordering and shipping of supplies, supplies held in store, and procedures for distribution and return of supplies. The records include documentation from Norfolk, Virginia, and Fort Rice. Dimon maintained a journal and kept some cryptic notes on a raid he led outside Norfolk, Virginia. Also included in the series are quartermaster store records and miscellaneous receipts from Norfolk and Fort Rice.

Series III, Other Papers , is arranged alphabetically by material type and spans the dates 1864-1907. Dimon's commission as brevet brigadier general and his official discharge are filed here. An unsigned essay, "Disloyal Preaching," chastises ministers who did not uphold constitutional principles. A copy of the Journal of the Military Service Institute, 1907, contains an obituary of Thomas Howard Ruger. Dimon's lecture, "Army life Among the Hostile Indians in Dakota Territory, 1864-1865," includes reminiscences of his Fort Rice command. A memorandum, prepared after Dimon's death, provides a detailed biography of Dimon's military and civilian careers. Also present are two works by Enoch G. Adams, "Wilderness [Expressions]," and an untitled poem.


  • 1863-1907


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased from Robert Black in 1959 on the William Robertson Coe Fund for Western Americana.


4.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence and military papers documenting the military career of Charles Dimon in 1864-65.


Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon was born in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1841 and moved to Salem, Massachusetts in 1859. He joined the Massachusetts volunteer militia in April 1861, was mustered out in August, and enlisted at Lowell, Massachusetts in September as adjutant of the 30th Massachusetts Infantry. During 1861 and 1862 Dimon saw action in several battles, including the bombardment of Fort Jackson and St. Philip and the capture of New Orleans.

Dimon was promoted to major in the 2nd Louisiana Infantry United States Volunteers, but resigned due to poor health in June 1863. In 1864 he re-enlisted at Point Lookout, Maryland. While serving there and at Norfolk, Virginia, Dimon organized and commanded a volunteer regiment of former Confederate soldiers popularly known as the "Galvanized Yankees." On his recommendation and to encourage rebel prisoners to enlist, the regiment became the 1st United States Volunteer Infantry.

After successfully completing raids out of Norfolk, Dimon was promoted to colonel in August 1864. On orders from General Grant, he traveled with the 1st United States Volunteer Infantry to Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, in the fall of 1864. He commanded Fort Rice for one year with orders to suppress hostile Indians and encourage peaceful trade. Difficulties were encountered with the Blackfoot, Yanktonai, and Onkpapas Indians, who threatened attacks and stole horses, but Dimon was able to secure a general peace.

In July 1865, Dimon became afflicted with chronic laryngitis and left Fort Rice on doctor's orders. After he recovered he was assigned to Lawrence, Kansas, with orders to control mutinous troops. On August 10, 1865, Dimon received a commission as brevet brigadier general and in November 1865 was mustered out of service at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

In 1866, Dimon became the military chief of police in Mobile, Alabama, and in 1869 he married Kate Thompson of Morristown, New Jersey. Returning to Lowell, Massachusetts, he served as alderman and then mayor for two years. He died in Lowell in 1902.

Guide to the Charles Augustus Ropes Dimon Papers
Under Revision
by Heather L. Holeman
December 1986
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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