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Civil War Narratives

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This database brings together diaries, letters, military records and photographs from seven archival and special collections that capture life during the Civil War and Reconstruction as it was experienced by soldiers and their families. These documents form personal narratives that give researchers unique insight into this critical time in America's history.

View each collection by clicking the collection name.

John M. Sell Civil War Collection, 1861-1865

John M. Sell of Erie, Pennsylvania enlisted in the 83rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers July 29, 1861. He was commissioned First Lieutenant on August 27 and promoted to Captain on September 4 the following year. Captain Sell was struck in the left leg by a solid shot at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, and died from effects of amputation the next day. The collection consists of correspondence between Captain John Sell and his parents, brothers William and Charles, and sister Sarah during his service in the American Civil War, 1861-1863. It also includes family photographs, cartes de visites of military personnel, and a copy of A.M. Judson's History of the Eighty-Third Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Erie, PA, B.F.H. Lynn, [1865].

Frank A. Irvin Papers, 1862-1914

Frank A. Irvin was a First Lieutenant in the 7th Iowa Infantry during the US Civil War. He was assigned to the US Signal Corps, and served as Aide-de-Camp to General Franklin's Staff. He participated in the Vicksburg and Red River campaigns of 1863 and 1864. The collection consists of military dispatch books and individual dispatches from 1862-1864, personal military records and orders from 1862-1865, and testimonials dated 1870-1915. Of note is the association of Frank A. Irvin to Stiles E. Forsha, whose collection is also represented here.

Stiles E. Forsha Civil War Correspondence Collection, 1862

The collection consists of items related to the attempted resignation of Union Soldier Stiles E. Forsha from his position as the Regimental Quartermaster of the 7th Regiment, Iowa Infantry in 1862. Materials in the collection include Forsha’s letter of resignation, an attached document forwarding and disapproving his request signed by five Union generals, and photographs of those generals.

Read more about the Stiles E. Forsha Collection.

George H. Young Diaries, 1861-1886

George H. Young was a U.S. Civil War volunteer, and relative of Amos C. Young. Following the war, he migrated to and settled in Yuba County, California. The diaries he authored document his time fighting in the Civil War, and the years immediately following the war, including his westward travel and settlement in Yuba County.

James F. Dargan Civil War Diary and Scrapbook, 1862-1863

James F. Dargan served as a Union solder in the US Civil War. Between September 17, 1862 and August 27, 1863 he kept a diary which includes descriptions of his enlistment, camp life, gossip about fellow soldiers, military discipline, and other aspects of his service. Scattered throughout the diary are lines of verse, original sketches, clippings from various sources, pressed flowers, ribbons, cards, and other ephemera.

Charles H. Peterson Pocket Diary Collection, 1863-1865

During the US Civil War, Charles H. Peterson participated in the Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Petersburg campaigns. He kept these diaries from 1863 to 1865. He tucked notes, correspondence, currency, and newspaper clippings between the pages.

Nelson Stauffer Civil War Diary, 1862-1865

Nelson Stauffer enlisted in Co. A, 63rd Regiment, Illinois Infantry during the US Civil War. He kept a diary from 1862-1865. In it, he writes of his enlistment, training, troop movements, interactions with other soldiers, daily work assignments, patrolling, and a brief illness. He also describes the actions of some African-Americans he encountered while marching in the South, battlefield conditions, and the burning of Columbia, South Carolina.

View Civil War Diary Catalog Record

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