Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Confederate Private John F. Carpenter, 19th Virginia Infantry, Diary. A small diary, 3.75" x 6", circa September 23 1862 to January 4, 1863. The front cover and first half of the diary are missing, with the remaining pages 199-324 present. Private John F. Carpenter enlisted in the Confederate Army on March 14, 1862, and was soon mustered into Company E. Unfortunately, not much is known about Carpenter's military career, as he was listed as Missing in Action at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

    The 19th Virginia was organized in May 1861 at Manassas Junction. It fought under General Philip Cocke at the Battle of First Manassas before being assigned to duty under Generals Pickett, Garnett, and Hunton. The 19th Virginia saw action at key battles such as Seven Days Battle, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Sailor's Creek. On June 3, 1863, the 19th Virginia took part in Pickett's Charge, placed in the center of Garnett's Brigade, which was considered to be a vital and prestigious position. Some of the men made it to the Angle, but were soundly beaten back. Their lines were severely diminished, which is likely when Carpenter was lost.

    In one of his earliest entries, dated September 25, 1862, writes about the losses his unit saw at the Battle of Sharpsburg, detailing: "I was indeed very sorry when I heard that our Col was killed, for he was indeed a noble and never fearing man...about the time he was wounded, our men fell back for a short distance and therefore he had to fall into the hands of the enemy, but from what I can learn, the enemy showed a great deal of sympathy towards him - which in many instances, they treat our men that die in their hands very badly; our Col was mortally wounded in the Battle of Sharpsburgh [ sic] on the 14th of Sept 1862...in the Battle before that at Bull Run on the 29 & 30th Aug 1862 our Company went into the fight with 23 men and only came out with 9 unhurt...I was in neither of those engagements as I was at that time sick at Home with the Fever..."

    Carpenter also had great praise for his old commander, writing on October 9, 1862: "On this Review our old Division commander was out on the field Major General Longstreet. And I do think he was one of the Bravest looking men I ever saw, he was indeed a noble looking man; and was indeed a good looking man also." After Robert E. Lee took command of the army when General Johnston was wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines, he reorganized the army into what would be known as the Army of Northern Virginia. He split the army into two "wings", with Longstreet leading the Right Wing and Jackson leading the Left Wing.

    One month later, Carpenter describes a review held, where he saw a number of notable figures, including General Lee and infamous spy Belle Boyd. The entry reads: "I was glad to behold our great General on the field that evening (Genl Lee)' I do sincerely think he was one of the bravest looking men I ever did cast mine eyes upon; but I think he was getting pretty well up in age, his head was very grey and his beard also, but he certainly has a noble appearance. And I do surely feel proud, to think, I have such a commander as he is...he also appeared to be quite active and rode around in reviewing as well as any young man...There also appeared on the Field one of the great southern spies her name is Miss Bell [ sic] Boyd...she was some distance standing on the Field from us where we passed along, and therefore we could not see her appearance..." Earlier in the war, some had dubbed Lee "Granny Lee", for his age and alleged timid leadership, but his bold attacks on McClellan soon gained him the love of his men and the respect of both his peers and his foes.

    At the end of November, the 19th Virginia moved into camp in and around Fredericksburg. With the Union forces camped just across the river, the two armies had a number of close interactions before any fighting actually took place. Carpenter records one such instance in his entry dated November 27, 1862, writing: "The following conversation took place between one of our pickets and one of the enemys whilst they were upon the Banks of the Rappahannock River, the enemy on the north Bank and our force on the South bank...One of the enemys pickets hallowed across the River...he wanted to know if we had a corporal that we wanted to exchange for their Genl Mcdowel and our man replied to him and told him yes he had one to trade...we had one over here that had been in the Guard House for six months for getting drunk..."

    The friendly communications didn't last long, as the battle for the town of Fredericksburg soon began. An entry from December 11, 1862 reads: "The Great Battle Commenced At Fredericksburgh [ sic] ...was ordered to march in quick time in the direction of Town when we heard the cannonading we knew then that we was not going to any camp that day, but expected to be soon engaged with the enemy, but we did not get into an engagement that day...the reason why we did not go nearer to the Battle Field that is to Fredericksburgh was because there was a great many troops in advance of us and as there was no musketry going on of any consequence therefore there was not much need of Infantry...the Enemy were trying to cross the River, we heard they attempted to cross the Rappahannock at three different points - Rail Road Bridge at the Town; Knox's Mill and deep Run...At the two former places they were repulsed with great slaughter by our sharp shooters, who from the defenses of their Rifle Pits, poured a galling fire into the Ranks of the Enemy...Our Loss that day was reported to be 5 killed and 75 wounded and that nearly all the Loss was in Longstreet's Corps..."

    The next day brought about further fighting, which Carpenter described thusly: "About 12 oclock M at that time there was a constant roar of musketry and cannonading on both sides. We could not see our forces and the enemy fighting on our left but we could see very distinctly those on our right, Genl Jackson's forces and the Enemy...Jackson had his men secreted along the Border of this beautiful plain in a large body of woods, and as soon as the Yankees advanced about half way our men met them and there I beheld one of the most desperate conflicts that I ever witnessed, after fighting for a short time, our men made a most desperate charge upon the enemy which caused them to scatter...Our men run them for at least one mile at the point of the Bayonet...I was not close enough to see the dead upon that Field, but there was some few of our Regt that did see the dead upon the Field, that is the dead on both sides, they said there was at least five of the Enemy killed to where there was only one of ours..."

    The number of casualties, particularly on the Union side, were staggering. Carpenter writes on December 14: "the enemy sent in a flag of Truce to bury their dead, but when they came upon the Field, they commenced removing the wounded; and our men shelled them, because they did not want us to Parole them from where we was we could very distinctly see several long trains of ambulances moving up the River..." The following day he continued: " everything appeared more quiet than for two or three days past...the enemy was nowhere to be found upon this side, except their almost numberless dead and a great many wounded and prisoners as we our forces had succeeded in capturing several hundred from the enemy's demoralized ranks. Their dead upon the Field in some places were lieing as thick as five crossed one another. Those that visited the Battle Field where the fighting had been going on, said there must have been the greatest slaughter since the war commenced, the enemy were several days in burying their dead and taking care of their wounded..."

    At the back of the diary are some random notes and account tables. There are a few smaller sheets and additional pages of varying colors sewn into the diary.

    Condition: As mentioned, the diary is missing the front cover and first half of its pages. Pages 199 to 228 have separated from the rest of the book. Dampstaining, soiling, ink stains, toning, and foxing throughout the diary. Edge and corner chipping and tearing. Paper loss to some of the front pages. Ink is faded in places, making some entries difficult to read.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2020
    22nd Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 513

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 38 days left to consign to the 2020 September 13 - 14 Luxury Accessories Signature Auction - New York !

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    AZ
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search