University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Henry Van Sellar and Sallie Pattison Correspondence (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Henry Van Sellar and Sallie Pattison Correspondence consists of letters written in 1863 and 1865 between Sallie Pattison and Henry Van Sellar.

Henry Van Sellar lived in Edgar County, Illinois, as a teacher before enlisting in the 12th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in 1861. There he served as Captain for about a year. He was then assigned to the staff of the Fourth Division of the 15th Army Corps, later commissioned to Lt. Colonel in 1864. He was discharged on July 10th, 1865. After the war, Henry moved to Paris, Illinois, and became a lawyer. Sallie Pattison was living in Paris, Illinois while writing to Henry. Their relationship began through correspondence. The two married in February 1864 and continued to write to each other until Henry came back from war in August 1865.

The digitized content contains 44 letters between Henry Van Sellar and Sallie Pattison from 1863 and 1865. During this time, Sallie was living at home in Paris, Illinois and Henry was in the 12th Illinois Infantry. These letters detail the effects of war not only on the front lines, but also on the home front. Earlier letters (1863) establish the love between Henry and Sallie, while later letters (1865) detail the anxieties and cruelties of conflict, reactions to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and hopes for life after war.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Henry Van Sellar and Sallie Pattison Correspondence (MS 360). The collection was partially digitized in 2020. For more information, contact an archivist at