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Links to Letters & Diaries

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by johan_steele, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    I have read well in excess of 2000 with a concentration upon the men of the Western theatre. At one time I had well over 200 transcribed onto my computer. Then along came a lovely virus and rid me of my collection.


    I thought we might share online links on this thread. These are my favorites:


    http://www.brooks.lib.vt.us/journal.htm


    http://www.ioweb.com/civilwar/


    http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/digital/civil_war/diaries_journals/boardman/


    http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/mssfind/285/mallory.htm


    http://www.tennessee-scv.org/talley.html


    http://www.civilwarletters.com/index.html

    http://treasuresbeyondmeasure.hypermart.net/Booklets/civilwarpdf.html

    http://iagenweb.org/civilwar/regiment/index.html

    http://www.iagenweb.org/civilwar/other/bld.htm

    Has several links w/in to various diaries & letters
     

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  3. samgrant

    samgrant Captain Retired Moderator

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    Great post, Shane!
     
  4. Glorybound

    Glorybound Major Retired Moderator

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    bumped
     
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  5. hcheetham

    hcheetham Private

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    great post.some more great stories to add to my collection.thanks
     
  6. wilber6150

    wilber6150 Brigadier General Moderator

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    I will see if I can make this sticky.. great reference tool
     
  7. Karen Lips

    Karen Lips Sergeant Major

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    Thanks for sharing this infor. My favorite Civil War reading is diaries and letters
     
  8. Union_Buff

    Union_Buff Captain Forum Host

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    Thanks for sharing Johan - I love reading Civil War diaries and letters the most :smile:
     
  9. shanniereb

    shanniereb First Sergeant

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    Now this is the kind of reading I can chomp into! Love it!
     
  10. JWheeler331

    JWheeler331 First Sergeant

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    Very nice.
     
  11. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    A letter written by Thomas M. Bolton (my great grandfather) to his first wife from Franklin, Virginia 22 on April 1863. His regiment the 19th Virginia infantry had been fighting at Washington, NC when recalled to Suffolk, Virginia to re enforce Longstreet. My great grandfather thought the sudden recall had something to do fighting in the Suffolk area.

    April 22, 1863
    Camped near Franklin Sea port, Va.

    Dear Rebecca [first wife]

    I seat myself to drop you a few lines to let you hear from you me this leaves me well and hearty. I wrote you last week at Washington, NC and now here in Va. We left Washington last Sunday and now here now over two hundred miles. We marched to Tarboro about 19 miles in three days and took the cars there yesterday morning and got here this morning about 2:00 o’clock and got to start now in a few minutes to Suffolk Va.. there have been fighting there for four or five days and the yankees have whipped us and we got to reenforce Longstreet tomorrow morning. We will have to march all night and I am nearly broke down. My feet are very sore they are worn out from marching through the water and sand in NC. Sometimes we would have to march through swamps up to our knees for one or two miles at a time.

    Well, Rebecca, I can’t tell you all I want to write to you at this time. I must close we are ordered to fall in to start. Give my love to all one and all. Tell Mrs. Wood that Billy is well and sends his ? to all.

    Good by I remain your devoted husband till death. TM Bolton

    Direct your letters to Petersburg Va. Co. G 19th Va. Vol. Garnett Brigade Pickett division Longstreet Corps.

    Tell ? to write to me and tell Martha that I will write as soon as I see Tommy or hear from him. Kiss Lena [daughter] for me.
     
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  12. Diana9

    Diana9 2nd Lieutenant

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    I can't get over how vivid these journals and letters are. Voices, not dead, not ghosts, but still living, reaching us through time.

    The detail, the observations, the lack of hype and sentimentality are remarkable. Most that I've read are written in the clear, crisp, no-nonsense, style of a war correspondent, providing facts and details placing the reader right there on the scene.

    There is often some new bit of information, that I, at least, was not aware of. Such as local women selling soldiers poisoned fruits.

    From Philip H. Goode's journal (I believe he was an officer, and obviously well-educated): http://iagenweb.org/civilwar/regiment/infantry/15th/journalgoode.htm

    "I this morning learned that a soldier was poisoned by eating an orange which he had purchased of a huckster woman. He was taken sick immediately after eating it and died before they could get him to the hospital. The orange was examined and found to contain poison. There are hundreds of huckster women all through the barracks selling apples, oranges, cookies, pies but a man risks his life if he eats anything they sell. I wonder that the Commander allows them to come in at all.

    This morning a soldier picked up an apple on the sidewalk and was about to eat it when he discovered that it was plugged on one side the plug was drawn out and it was found that poison had been inserted. We will have to be very careful what we eat or will half of us be poisoned by this Secesh."

    Secesh=secessionist
     
  13. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    Having been in the military and knowing how fast rumors travel, I've got to wonder how much of the "poisoned fruit" story was true and what was BS. However, the rumors are almost as enlightening as the truth, as it tells us what the soldiers feared or thought might be happening around them.

    I really enjoy reading letters, too, but I'm sure many of the letters were self-censored by the soldiers. Many more young men wrote their mothers about attending services, reading their Bibles and touring historic sites nearby than about gambling, drinking, and enjoying--how was is put?--"horizontal refreshments" in town, although we know that a lot of that sort of activity was occuring. While many soldiers were willing to grumble in their letters about the hard life of soldiering and describe the fears and horrors of battle, others probably avoided saying too much so as not to worry their poor old mothers or wifes, and thus the pictures can be skewed a bit.

    Still, if read with an understanding that they can be biased, self-censored or misinformed, the letters and diaries are a great window into the heads of our ancestors and their comrades.
     
  14. ole

    ole Brev. Brig. Gen'l Retired Moderator

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    Let's not go there.
     
  15. Diana9

    Diana9 2nd Lieutenant

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    I haven't been able to find any confirmation from medical staff that poisoning occurred as the journal described. So you're right to point out that this could have been a rumor, although it was rather convincing the way it was written.
     
  16. Diana9

    Diana9 2nd Lieutenant

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    From Spencer Talley, a confederate soldier's war remembrances: http://www.tennessee-scv.org/talleyF.html

    "We took the white men as prisoners but the negroes were taken as livestock or other property. The separation of these white officers from their Negro commands was as interesting as well as a sickening scene to our Southern boys. The white officers in bidding farewell with their colored men showed in no uncertain way their love and devotion to the colored race. Their hearty handshakes and expressions of sorrow over their separation will never be forgotten."

    No comment.
     
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  17. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    No comment needed.
     
  18. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    The best rumors are the ones that sound plausible and are based on some truth. Perhaps some soldier ate something bad along with the orange, got sick with samonella or e. coli or something similar, and soon died at the hospital. The story gets told around, the death goes from "died at the hospital" to "died before getting to the hospital" and the cause goes from "gee, I wonder if the orange could have been poisoned" to "the orange was definitely poisoned." A soldier then finds a bad apple with rancid juice dripping from it and through the story telling it becomes a poisoned apple. Now, with two "urban legends" making the rounds, the "huckster women" become sinister and the camp commander is an oaf for not preventing these dire threats from entering camp. This sounds similar to the stories of wells being poisoned along a line of march. It all stems from a distrust of the confederate-leaning people in the occupied areas, who show their disdain for the Union troops and might be supporting guerilla activity.

    Of course, rumors go the opposite way. On the homefront, depredations of Union troops against the local southern populace are sometimes exaggerated. With lots of actual foraging and confiscations, mixed with some stealing and assaults, the local folks expect the worst of their enemy and are willing to believe and spread stories that might be very exaggerated.

    I still enjoy reading the diaries and letters, but I take what they say with a grain of salt. I tend to believe personal experiences, although they might be skewed a bit based on the writer's viewpoint or desire to present a particular image (brave and upright, or perhaps fed-up and angry). The second or third-hand stories passed along in the papers, however, I suspect and don't give as much credence. They are great, however, for showing the mindset of the writer and what he is willing to believe.

    Overall, they provide some flesh to the bones of the other, tactically-oriented war stories and are very enjoyable to read, but cannot be considered 100% factual.
     
  19. CSA Today

    CSA Today Major

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    When enemy foragers don’t find meat in you smokehouse and then show their pique by digging up the salt saturated floor and dumping it in the family’s water well there is no exaggeration -- the well is ruined.

    "If they had behaved differently; if they had come against us observing strict discipline, protecting women and children, respecting private property and proclaiming as their only object the putting down of armed resistance to the Federal Government, we should have found it perhaps more difficult to prevail against them. But they could not help showing their cruelty and rapacity, they could not dissemble their true nature, which is the real cause of this war. If they had been capable of acting otherwise, they would not have been Yankees, and we should never have quarrelled with them."

    Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of War
     
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  20. ExNavyPilot

    ExNavyPilot 2nd Lieutenant

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    Roger that. As I said, "sometimes" the stories were exaggerated, especially if they came second or third person. If someone says enemy foragers dumped salt down their well, I'd believe them with no hesitation. If someone says "I heard that over in Simpson County, enemy troops burned all the houses and ravished all the women," I would tend to believe that the stories were exaggerated a bit. Regarding the thread topic, letters and diaries are great resources, but just because they're primary sources doesn't mean that they don't contain inaccuracies. They're written by people, people are fallible, ergo letters and diaries are fallible.
     
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  21. johan_steele

    johan_steele Lt. Colonel Retired Moderator

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    CSA Today where do you stand on the practice of retreating CS troops poisoning Kentucky wells? I suspect you consider that just fine. It's fine so long as it happens to the US soldier or pro Union civilian but to a CS... To be blunt if it comes from your screen name I find it suspect, I've already asked you in the past to provide the source for a manufactured quote... it never appeared. I'll take the letters & diaries of those who were actually there & I take those w/ a grain of salt unless I can verify it w/ 2-3 other sources.

    As to the poisoning of US troops by evil women it happened. How often is a matter easily debatable. I've read a variety of accounts of similar incidents. Poison a man or his comrades, expect no sympathy from him as your house burns down around your ears.
     
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