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Collection of Henry Clay Merriam Materials

Identifier: CAMS MERRIAM-1

Scope and Contents

The collection contains letters, documents, and photographs of Merriam and his family, especially the post-Civil War period.


  • 1862 - 1912

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials to be used on site during regular Special Collections hours or by appointment. Photocopying or scanning may be possible at discretion of staff for nominal fee. Digital cameras are permitted. Materials may be protected by copyright.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Clay Merriam (1837-1912) was born in Houlton in 1837 and entered Waterville College(now Colby College) in 1860. He enlisted in the 20th Maine Regiment in the spring of 1862 and served under Joshua Chamberlain. After the Union Army decided to allow black troops to fight, Maine men were solicited to lead black units. Merriam was one of those willing to do so and in March 1863, he was made commander of the Third Colored Infantry of Louisiana. The 3rd Infantry, later the 73rd Infantry Corps d'Afrique, was considered an excellent fighting unit under Merriam's leadership.

Merriam led his black troops on a dangerous first assault on Fort Blakely in Alabama, causing the fort to surrender and enabling the Union Army's advance into Mobile. He was made full Colonel and awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. He was offered other commands but preferred to stay with his unit until the end of the war.

After the war he returned to Maine briefly but reenlisted in the army for a long career in the West. Merriam served during the Mexican revolution of 1868, various Indian conflicts including the last battle with Sitting Buill, and in the Spanish American War in 1898. He retired in 1901 to spend his last years in Portland.


1.5 Linear Feet


The collection contains letters, documents, and photographs of Merriam and his family, especially the post-Civil War period.


Materials arranged in two series: Correspondence and Personal documents.

Custodial History

Materials acquired via gift or purchase.

Finding Aid to the Collection of Henry Clay Merriam Materials
Colby College Special Collections, Waterville, Maine
June 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Colby College Archives Repository

Special Collections & Archives (SC&A), located in Miller Library, is the college’s repository for historically and culturally -significant materials, including the college archives. Our fabulous materials range in date from the 12th to the 21st centuries and represent a wide range of formats. We fully support Colby’s academic program and innovative pedagogies through aspirational collection development, faculty and student engagement, teaching and exhibition.