Tag Archives: Diaries

1854 (Arguing for Justice) Moncure Conway

Moncure Conway (House Divided)

Though his family connections alone guaranteed a bright legal future, the young Moncure Conway was an indifferent law student. Despite the urging of his numerous cousins to take up his place as an active defender of the South, he was already having significant problems justifying his beloved Virginia’s maintenance of slavery. Despite this, he served in 1850 as the secretary of the Southern Rights Association in Warrenton, and seemed in his momentary embracing of the recently published racial theories of Louis Agassiz to be searching for any justification for human bondage. Despairing of the law, he pleased his parents at last when on his nineteenth birthday he became a Methodist circuit rider preacher, assigned to the Rockville, Maryland area. During … Read the rest

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1861 (Arguing for Justice) Kate Stone

Kate Stone (Louisiana State University)

Kate Stone was twenty-years-old when Fort Sumter fell to Confederate forces. She was thrilled. Stone was an ardent southern nationalist from Louisiana who lived on a large plantation (Brokenburn) with many slaves and an extended family, including at least two brother who would die in the Confederate army. Within a month after Sumter, Stone began a diary the she kept for seven years. The material was full of biting insights and wise comments. Stone lived through Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign in 1863 and feared the arrival of black troops into the region. She and her family fled to Texas in 1863 and lived there until the end of the war. The young plantation mistress was suitably unimpressed by Texans and … Read the rest

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1861 (Compromising for Union) Horatio Nelson Taft

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Summary – “document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. Now located in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, the diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft’s connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft’s description of Lincoln’s assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford’s Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, on April 14, 1865.” – Text from Library of Congress

See diary entries on June 29th 1863 and Oct 5th 1863 for comments related to the … Read the rest

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1862 (Arguing for Justice) Cornelia Peake McDonald

Winchester, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley was arguably the most contested town of the Civil War. Depending on how you count, the community changed hands over seventy times during four years. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a hero at Winchester at a major battle in 1862. The town was also part of the Gettysburg Campaign in 1863. And in the fall of 1864, Union General Philip Sheridan won a bloody but brutally effective victory there that contributed to Lincoln’s reelection effort. Winchester offers a dramatic window into the sacrifices of southern families during the war. Secretary of State William Seward visited in 1862 during a period of Union occupation and reportedly said: “”the men are all in the army, & the women are the devils.” … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Francis A. Donaldson

Francis A. Donaldson

The best source on Donaldson is J. Gregory Acken’s Inside the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Experience of Captain Francis Adams Donaldson (1998). For more information on the regiments that Donaldson served in, see History of the Corn Exchange Regiment: 118th Pennsylvania Volunteers (1888) and Antietam to Appomattox with 118th Penna. Vols (1892). In addition, you can learn more about other soldiers’ experiences in the Charles S. Swain collection at the University of Michigan, which has a scrapbook of material related to Swain’s service in the 118th Pennsylvania.

Places to Visit
The 118th Pennsylvania Infantry’s monument at Gettysburg National Military Park was built in 1889 and is located on Sickles Avenue. See this page to learn more about this … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Julius Leinbach

Julius Leinbach (A Johnny Reb Band from Salem)

Julius Leinbach was part of a Moravian regimental band that traveled with the 26th North Carolina.  They actually played on the battlefield at Gettysburg, an event recorded by Leinbach in his diary.

Donald McCorkle edited Leinbach’s diary and published it in Regiment Band of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina (1958). Important secondary sources on the 26th North Carolina include Archie K. Davis’ Boy Colonel of the Confederacy: The Life and Times of Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. (1985), Rod Gragg’s Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at Gettysburg (2000), and Earl J. Hess’ Lee’s Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade (2002). Also see Steven Cornelius’ Music of the Civil War Era (2004).

Places to Visit
The … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) N. Claiborne Wilson

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About N. Claiborne Wilson – “During the Civil War he served as a Major in the 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment. He was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.”

About Collection – “Of the N.C. Wilson portion of the collection, the most significant item is a diary-account book fragment which includes entries (July 25th-July 3, the day of his death) from Pennsylvania and the battlefield at Gettysburg.”

Diary from June 25 – July 3, 1863 – see page images of Wilson’s diary and read the transcript.

Learn more about the other materials in this collection here, as VMI does own a few other letters from Wilson to his father. Note that … Read the rest

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1863 (Fighting for Liberty) Taylor Brothers

Taylor Brothers (National Park Service)

On July 2, 1863 at 5:40AM Isaac Taylor recorded in his diary that his regiment, the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, had arrived at Gettysburg. “Order from Gen. [John] Gibbon read to us in which he says this is to be the great battle of the war & that any soldier leaving ranks without leave will be instantly put to death,” as Taylor noted. By the end of the day 215 of the 262 soldiers in the regiment had been killed or wounded. While Isaac had died, his brother, Patrick Henry Taylor, apparently made it out of the battle without injury. Patrick added the final entry to the diary, which explained that Isaac had been “killed by a shell … Read the rest

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