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General Orlando M. Poe collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 1986_087

The collection, donated to the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections in 1986 by Poe’s family, consists of 80 cabinet card portraits of military officers, most dating from the Civil War era; one Civil War-era stereocard; one cabinet card of Thomas Nast; three mounted albumen prints; one engraved portrait of W.T. Sherman; two 5 x 8 inch glass plate negatives of General Poe; a list of “delinquencies and demerits” accrued by Poe while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1854-1855; an account book of Poe’s expenses while a West Point cadet (1852-1856); Poe’s picture of the hook used by Sherman’s Army; the Register of the officers of the Army of the United States, dated August 1836; Eleanore Poe’s visiting list “Washington, March 1869-” and diary with household accounts and references of personal correspondence (1863-1870); and letters from Poe’s son, Charles (“C.C. Poe”), written to his parents and brother Orlando Warner "Winnie" Poe, the bulk of which dates from 1884-1887. The photographic material is in Photographic Archives and the manuscript material is in Rare Books.

Two of the three mounted prints and the stereocard are of Poe with fellow soldiers and officers; one mounted print is of Poe with his West Point classmates. The 80 cabinet cards of generals are likely from the same set. All the cards have cream-colored fronts, no photographer’s stamp or name, and they all have a small, beveled, reddish gold edge. Seven of the generals are identified as CSA (Confederate States of America) and the rest are USA (Union generals). Many include “Corps of Engineers” or “Corps of Topographical Engineers.”


  • 1861-1890


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to the University of Louisville; please consult a reference archivist for more information.


1 linear foot (1 manuscript box, 2 flat photographic materials boxes)

Biographical / Historical

Orlando Metcalfe Poe was born on the family farm in Navarre, Ohio on March 7, 1832. He attended several public schools and two years in Canton Academy in Canton, Ohio before ultimately attaining his dream – attending the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Poe excelled particularly in mathematics and graduated sixth in his class of 1856. He married Eleanor Carroll Brent in 1861.They had three sons.

Poe sought to put his engineering skills to work for the military. He moved to Detroit to join the Topographical Engineers (merged into Corps of Engineers in 1863). Wartime duties for topographical engineers included surveying positions of the army and its enemy, sketching routes of the enemy and preparing maps of battlefields. In peacetime, they surveyed and charted the nation’s rivers and lakes.

During the Civil War Poe was known for his bravery, intelligence, and athleticism. Because of his successful command of a number of significant battles, he was selected by General William Sherman to be his chief engineer. Poe oversaw the burning of Atlanta and continued as engineer for Sherman’s March to the Sea. After the war, Poe once again served as engineer to General Sherman. Poe distinguished himself with his lighthouse design on Lake Huron and is responsible for many lighthouses, canals, and locks on the Great Lakes in Michigan. His work on the locks at Sault Ste. Marie opened up the shipping industry in the area and assisted in the creation of the U. S. steel industry. He died October 2, 1895, as a result of multiple broken bones he suffered while inspecting the Soo Locks in Michigan.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections Repository

Ekstrom Library, Lower Level Room 17
Louisville KY 40292
502 852-6752