Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Union Soldier Diary Written in a Captured Confederate Notebook Kept by Rollin Neale Corlew of the 33rd Massachusetts. Approximately forty unbound 4.75" x 7.25" lined pages, written almost entirely in pencil, dating from February 12 to June 5, 1865. On the front of is written, "Captured in South Carolina on February 12, 1865", noting when and where Corlew obtained the notebook. While the diary does not provide a full view of Corlew's service, it does detail the last two months of the Civil War while he was serving in Sherman's army. There are many short, yet detailed entries about the surrender of Johnston's army, seeing the burnt city of Richmond, and the general toll that the war had taken on both Northern and Southern troops and civilians.

    In one of his early entries, written on March 17 during the Battle of Bentonville, Corlew wrote of the Union army's chase of the Confederates: "Marched 5 miles: Could not go any farther without capturing the Rebel hospital train, which was something that we did not wish to do. The enemy burned a part of their supply train."

    Despite their victories, life in the Union Army was still very rough. The entry from March 24 details the occupation of Goldsboro, North Carolina and how the soldiers had to forage for new clothes: "Arrived at Goldsboro today and commenced to build quarters. We have very cool nights. Expect a mail in a day or two. A great many of our troops are dressed in rebel clothes as their own are all worn out."

    Approximately one month later, the army got news of the surrender at Appomattox Court House. Corlew wrote on April 12, "While passing through Smithfield news came to us of the surrender of Lee with his whole army. Sherman gives Johnston the same conditions on which Lee surrendered to Grant. Hope he will do so." Corlew's hope came to fruition as on April 28 his journal reads, "Started from Raleigh again. On our way back it was officially reported that Johnston had surrendered. Our fight is over. Arrived at camp at 11 oclock."

    He visited the Insane Asylum on April 14, and noted, "there are some mere boys and girls in here perfectly insane." With the war over and the return of General Sherman to camp, many were in very high spirits. However, dark times were still to come. The entry from April 29 reads, "Firing a salute for the death of our country's best friend Abraham Lincoln. May his murderers be avenged." Moreover, as the army marched north, Corlew noted the horrors that were still visible: "...In passing over a portion of the Spotsylvania battlefield, as we were obliged to do, we saw skulls and even a whole skeleton of some poor boys who were never buried." As predicted by his diary, Corlew was mustered out of service on June 11, 1865.

    Condition: The pages of the diary are unbound, with the string stitching having been removed. There is some light toning and soiling at the edges. The corners are chipped in places, and there is a small tear at the upper left corner of the front few pages. Overall, very fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 500

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

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

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    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
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 June 7 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The resulting auction of my property overwhelmed me. I want to thank Tom Slater and the Heritage team for a very satisfactory experience and profitable result with my historical consignment.
    Henry L.,
    Lexington, KY
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424