Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Researching a War of 1812 Correspondence

Sometimes you backtrack a little bit in researching primary documents. Sometimes you go in a complete circle... I spent a couple days trying to get hold of a certain transcription of letters from the War of 1812 published by the Ohio Historical and Philosophical Society as the Gano Papers. While searching for more references to a certain Lt. Madiss, I found this letter, from 2nd Artillery Lieutenant Alexander Meek:



Of course! It had been in a volume called "Annual Report of the Historical and Philosophical etc. etc." already in my Google books library. Despite the vast digitization of primary historical sources, a lot of things still get lost in the shuffle.

I wonder what Meek meant by "we had to put it to soak on its arrival..."? Did they soak the commission in wine, or is it a phrase for drinking for another's good fortune? Why for that matter did he have to hide the fact of his departure from his wife?

Edit: Oddly enough, Google Books seems to have one or two volumes of the Gano Papers, but not the third. Sometimes you need to go spelunking in the library stacks after all...