American foot-soldiers during the Yorktown campaign, 1781. From a water-color drawing in the diary of Jean Baptiste Antoine de Verger.
The most famous manuscript in the Military Collection is the diary kept by Jean Bapiste Antoine de Verger, an officer in Rochambeau's army during the American campaigns of 1780-81. This was transcribed by Mrs. Brown and incorporated in her book, The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army. The diary is especially prized for its water-color sketches of native Americans, ships, dragoons, and four soldiers of the Continental Army depicted above, including one of the earliest depictions of an African-American soldier. Two other diaries in the collection record the experiences of a young British officer in the Second Sikh War of 1848, and an American soldier in the Boxer Rebellion and the Phillipine Insurrection of 1900-01.
Two large bound manuscript volumes deal with the art of fortification and may be the work of Marechal de Vauban, Louis XIV's chief engineer. Fine detailed water-color plans and sections complete this work. Other bound manuscripts include several British army lists.
There is a small number of letters from the American Civil War including a drawing of a soldier in bed attended by a doctor, and another written in German with water-color marginal illustrations of various uniforms including a depiction of 2nd Rhode Island Regiment. A manuscript of 1761 describes the organization of a militia unit in New Jersey for service in the French and Indian War. There are several letters and documents written by during the Napoleonic Wars acquired for their wonderful water-color depictions of French uniformed figures. A small selection of World War One and Two letters can also be found in the collection.
Recent additions have included the papers of General Sir Archibald Hunter (1856-1936) describing his service in Sudan during the campaign of 1898, and his subsequent military career.