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    Civil War Diaries and Documents of Charles B. Wilson, 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters and 19th U. S. Colored Infantry. An extensive collection of diaries and official military documents relating to the service of Charles B. Wilson. It includes two diaries from 1864 and 1865 and approximately fifty documents dating from 1864 to 1866. It also contains a diary from 1866 detailing his final year in service when the 19th was primarily stationed in Brownsville, Texas. The final diary in the collection is from 1921.

    Charles Benjamin Wilson (1842-1928) mustered into Company F of the 2nd US Volunteer Sharpshooters on November 26, 1861, from Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. He served with them until he accepted a promotion as 2nd lieutenant in Company E of the 19th U.S. Colored Troops in August 1864. He remained with the 19th through the end of the war before finally discharging in early 1866.

    The 1864 diary is written in ink and pencil with every day filled, most in extensive detail. When the diary opens, Wilson is still with the 2nd Sharpshooters. Due to a hand injury, he was sent to guard the Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia in the spring of 1864. While at home on furlough on June 11th, he received word that a George Wilson had died at the Battle of the Wilderness. "Heard that George Wilson was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness Shot dead through the head..." Two days later, he attended the funeral of another friend who had been killed at the Battle. "I have been over to Royalstin to the funeral of Geo L. Chase. He was killed in the Battle of the Wilderness and was brought home to his Father I was to have been one of the bearers..."

    His August 16th entry mentions the Second Battle of Deep Bottom and the death of Confederate General John R. Chambliss (though Wilson mistakes him for Gen. Chalmers). "There has been hard fighting on the nigh today. The rebel Gen. Chalmers was killed and we have his body. We also took about 1000 prisoners...also a lot of ammunition...the firing is heavy." The following day, he writes about the flag of truce and his commission to the 19th. "...there is a flag of truce in to get the body of the Gen. that was killed yesterday. My commission came today. I am in the 19th USCT 9th A.C."

    Shortly after Wilson arrives, his entries from September 29 and 30th describe a fight, presumably the Battles of Poplar Grove Church and Chaffin's Farm. He writes, "...There is a big move going on now but I can't tell what it is yet. The whole army is under marching orders and are all packed up. There has been some firing on the left this afternoon / There is hard fighting going on at the left and the report is that Warren has advanced three miles. an official dispatch from the right says that Butler captured 15 pieces of artillery opposite Drury's Bluff..." A month later, on October 27, he describes the Battle of First Hatcher's Run. "The whole Army of the Potomac is here, there has been some hard fighting on the left of us, but we have kept out of it so far, we have built some heavy breastworks and are laying behind them. I have not heard what the result of the fighting has been."

    The 19th spent the winter encamped in Virginia, but his entries begin recording more fighting by late March and on March 30th he writes, "There was awful cannonading on the left last night the hardest I ever heard. I think there was a hard fight but cannot hear anything from it yet." However, just days later, the 19th was sent to the shelled ruins of Richmond. It was here that Wilson received word of Lee's surrender. On April 10th he wrote, "Official information was received this morning of the Surrender of Gen. Lee and his entire Army. Salutes have been fired all around in honor of it today..." Two days later, he writes, "The news is today that Gen Johnson has surrendered his Army to Gen. Sherman, so it seems as if this war is about ended."

    On April 17th Wilson writes of Lincoln's assassination, "This is a sad day for this nation for it has to mourn the greatest and best man that ever lived, & to think of him being murdered just on the verge of bringing the nation out of this wicked war. But he is gone and who will be able to supply the vacancy caused by his death."

    The 19th's service did not end with the conclusion of the war. He attempted to resign in May 1865 after the death of his father, but was denied. The regiment was barely halfway through their three-year enlistment, and so the government sent them to Texas to maintain the Mexican-American border. The rest of the 1865 diary, and the first two months of the 1866 diary, detail their time there. It was a problematic station with appalling living conditions, and Wilson elaborates on their daily schedule in detail. The February 10,1866 entry reads, "I hope my resignation will come back approved soon for I am tired of this sort of life and want to get out of the army." Wilson got his wish and started for home on February 17, 1866. The rest of the diary discusses his life back in New Hampshire after he married his sweetheart, Mary Holeman, and began building their house together.

    Wilson eventually moved to Chicago and then later Los Angeles. He worked as a farmer before going into real estate development. The archive also contains his 1913 marriage certificate to Hulda Melberg, his 1914 will, a pair of glasses, and his death certificate. They are all housed in a wooden lockbox measuring 10.25" x 7" x 5".

    Condition: Rear board of 1865 diary is absent. Diaries are lightly rubbed with a few pencil entries in the 1864 diary smudged. Overall, internally bright and clean with only minor soiling. Documents have some very minor areas of soiling.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2021
    6th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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