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Eugene A. Kozlay Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: 1967

Biographical History

Eugene Arthur Kozlay (1828?-1883) was an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. A Hungarian by birth, he served as a captain in the Hungarian army, emigrated to the United States, and eventually reached the rank of brigadier-general.

Evidence suggests that Kozlay lived briefly in New Orleans and that prior to the Civil War he was employed at the Customs House in New York City. At the outbreak of the war he helped to recruit the 54th New York Volunteers regiment, was commissioned as colonel in the Union Army and placed in command. The regiment was assigned to General Louis Blenker's division, but for some reason Kozlay refused the order and offered his resignation. However, his friends helped to reconcile with him Blenker and he finally joined his regiment. It appears that Blenker's division, including Kozlay's regiment, made up primarily of German and Austrian immigrants. They were sent with General John C. Fremont into West Virginia in 1862.

In 1862 Kozlay returned to New York in order to deal with some legal problems relating to fraud in recruiting or supply (it is not clear which), and remained there for about a year while the matters were being prosecuted. He then returned to his regiment, which had been assigned to participate in the siege of Charleston, South Carolina. During 1863 and 1864 he had command of Folly's Island and engaged in a number of skirmishes with the Confederate forces.

After the war, he served with the occupation forces in South Carolina and was assigned to supervise an office of the Freedmen's Bureau. At this time he was commissioned a brigadier general.

Kozlay was married and had at least two children. He died in 1883.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Eugene A. Kozlay Papers consists of a letterbook, 1860-1878, of incoming letters arranged in a rough chronological order. Included are letters which relate to requests for appointment of officers' posts in Kozlay's regiment, the incident of Kozlay's refusal to serve under General Blenker, legal problems involving what seems to be fraud in recruiting or in payment of regimental debts, administrative and personal problems in the regiment, requests from wives for information about their soldier husbands, Kozlay's attempts to be commissioned brigadier general, administrative matters in the post-war Freedmen's Bureau, and requests from soldiers who served in Kozlay's regiment for documents certifying their service so as to enable them to collect their pensions. Also included are a series of orders which reflect Kozlay's activities during the siege of Charleston, South Carolina, when he was in command of Folly's Island. Some of the orders contain detailed instructions for battle and one gives instructions regarding the transfer of prisoners.

Of particular interest are the letters from the grandfather of a young lieutenant to whom Adm. Kozlay had granted a commission and who had been court-martialed for some unidentifiable misconduct, 1864; letters which contain comments on the Democratic presidential candidates George B. McClellan and Pendleton and the Democratic platform, 1864; a letter dated September 23, 1863 in which a soldier describes his forced enlistment; and two letters from an officer in Kozlay's regiment describing the fighting quality of the black troops and relating an incident in which Kozlay was almost drowned, 1864. A number of the letters in this letterbook are written in German or Hungarian and have not been translated. Among the important and/or frequent correspondents are General C. H. Howard, Governor E. D. Morgan, F. W. Seward, General Daniel E. Sickles, Hiram Barney, Thomas H. Hay, Charles H. Meeker, A. D. Munson, F. A. Witthaus, and J. Pistas.

Since the letters are bound in chronological order, the inventory below also provides an alphabetical index of correspondents, with dates.

Arrangement of the Collection

Chronological order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Barney, Hiram.
Kozlay, Eugene A. -- Archives.
Seward, Frederick William, 1830-1915.
Witthaus, R. A. (Rudolph August), 1846-1915.

Corporate Bodies

United States. Army -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
United States. Army -- Officers.
United States. Army. New York Volunteers, 54th.


Soldiers, United States.


United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Military, To 1900 -- Sources.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Eugene A. Kozlay Papers
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Index to correspondence


Index to correspondence