Discussion What's your favorite Civil War diary/memoir?

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lupaglupa

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
In the course of doing research for my family history, I've read a lot of diaries/memoirs written by CW soldiers. Some have short, factual entries written during the war, some have long narratives written well after the war was over. All give a glimpse not only of the events observed by the soldier but also of the personality of the writer. Nearly all are interesting but a few are special - just great accounts of one person's life that would be enjoyable to read even if you weren't a big fan of the Civil War era.

So - I'm curious. What's your favorite among the diaries and/or memoirs you've read?
 

Andersonh1

Major
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Jan 12, 2016
Location
South Carolina
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Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
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Columbus, OH
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Eric Wittenberg

1st Lieutenant
Keeper of the Scales
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Location
Columbus, OH
Although I've read a number of good Civil War books by participants I'd have to say my favorites are "Memoirs of a Volunteer " by John Beatty and "With Grant and Meade from the Wilderness to Appomattox" by Theodore Lyman.
It's very hard to argue with the choice of Lyman. He was a brilliant observer and commentator.
 
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lupaglupa

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
"The History of a Brigade of South Carolinians" by J. F. J. Caldwell. It's one of the first books I ever read when I became interested in Civil War history, and I like to re-read it every year.

I don't know that one - I will have to check it out!
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant
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lupaglupa

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
I didn't add my own yet - though it's hard to pick just one. I really like Anthony Keiley's Prisoner of War, or Five Months Among the Yankees. He has a sly way of telling the story that makes it very enjoyable, despite the tough (at times) subject matter.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
"The History of a Brigade of South Carolinians" by J. F. J. Caldwell. It's one of the first books I ever read when I became interested in Civil War history, and I like to re-read it every year.

Memoirs of the War of Secession, From the Original Manuscripts of Johnson Hagood, Brigadier General, CSA is a good one too.
 
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Lubliner

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
"The History of a Brigade of South Carolinians" by J. F. J. Caldwell. It's one of the first books I ever read when I became interested in Civil War history, and I like to re-read it every year.

This one particularly caught my eye. It was published in 1866 just one year after the war, and the Introduction (5 pages) is worthy of a Master's dissertation. No date to the Intro, so I am not positive, but do believe it was written before the publishment date. He mentions Governor Orr, who presided in that seat from 1865 to 1868.
Lubliner.
 

Tin cup

Captain
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Location
Texas
A western Federal who went through the whole war putting down a illegal rebelion...
Campaigning with Uncle Billy: The Civil War Memoirs of Sgt. Lyman S. Widney 34th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Edited by Robert I. Girardi

Kevin Dally
Lyman Summerfield Widney, 34th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.jpg
 
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eeric

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
There are so many and they are all amazing in their own way, I have read around 20 to date and have yet to find a bad one, they all make a valuable picture into the past, I re read them all every few years. Chesnut stands out as a very gifted and perceptive writer, as do Kate Stone and Sarah Morgan but they saw a much smaller picture, Chesnut was among Davis, Lee, Hood in a personal way, Grant memoirs, Lee's dispatches, its all good. And the small picture is just as valuable and is fascinating to read their small part in some major battle which they didn't get a larger understanding of what part they had played until sometimes decades later
 
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