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The Colin J. McRae Papers

Paperwork for beef order, dated October 16, 1861

Paperwork for beef order, dated October 16, 1861

The newly discovered Colin J. McRae Papers contains over 2500 documents, of which approximately 1000 documents relate directly to the Civil War. This exciting collection belonged to Colin J. McRae, the Confederacy’s chief financial agent in Europe during the second half of the Civil War. The documents, primarily invoices used for Confederate purchases, were used to investigate Caleb Huse, a previous purchasing agent, for corruption. McRae's investigation cleared Huse, allowing Confederate purchasing agents to continue their business with European contractors. The information contained in these documents sheds new light on the little understood importance of English imports to the Confederate war effort.

Currently, Civil War research lacks an understanding of the impact that imported foreign arms and munitions made on the ability to conduct the war and equip the Confederate soldier in the field. The main reason for this lack of knowledge has been the almost complete absence of primary source material. The undisturbed and intact papers of McRae are one of the greatest collections of primary source Confederate materials discovered in the last one hundred years because they help fill this void.

The McRae Papers reveal the story of the Confederacy’s lifeline to England, the involvement of South Carolina’s business community in financing the war effort, as well as the types and amounts of English good that were reaching the Confederate soldiers on the battlefield.

For information about research requests and the papers, see the McRae Collection Access Policy (PDF).