Union Soldier's Diary With Entries up to Nine Days before His Death in Baton Rouge on June 1, 1863. Corporal William W. Wyman began the diary while still a civilian, but he records on April 2 that he "quit Shoe making. quit smoking!" Seven months later he had joined the Union army. His diary contains intermittent entries, interspersed with lists of names and financial records. An early page in the diary lists "Union & Rebel victories in 1861".

    William W. Wyman, a twenty-one-year-old resident of Waterville, Maine, began his diary on February 16, 1862. In the May 16-19 entries, Wyman, likely already thinking of joining the army, wrote four stanzas of the poem, "Mother is the Battle Over." On October 13, 1862, he enlisted as a corporal in Co. B, 21st Maine Infantry. In the September 4, 1861, entry, the young soldier struck through the date and replaced it with "January 1, 1863"; all dates thereafter are similarly changed. By that time, he had been a soldier for two months. Most of his entries as a soldier record his daily activities in camp, but on January 4, he wrote, "We expect to leave this week for the land of cotton." On January 12, he recorded more specifics, "The 24th Regt. left this morning at 8 a.m. for the Transport in N. York Harbor, we shall go soon. Orders have come for the 28 Regt. to go to morrow at 10 A.M. We next." His company left New York Harbor on January 24, and by February 6, they were "anchored outside the Mouth of the Miss." Four days later they boarded the steamer Brunswick and steamed up the river "for Baton Rouge", an important Union base. Several entries after their arrival, Wyman recorded characteristics of life in their new Louisiana camp. In one entry, he drew his tent. The corporal's final entry came on May 22, 1863: "On picket." He died nine days later, likely from wounds occurred during the siege of Port Hudson, which lasted from May 27 through June 14. In all, eighty-eight men from the 21st Maine were killed during that siege. The final pages of the diary contain more financial accounts and a list of several officers and soldiers of Co. B. Though worn, Wyman's diary is in good condition. His name is stenciled twice on the front endpaper and most entries are in pencil.

    Included with the diary is Company B's muster roll for January/ February 1863. In the roll, Wyman is listed as a "5th Sergeant". Next to his name is written in red ink, "Died in Hospital Baton Rouge La June 1, 1863." The muster roll is mildly stained and bears some separation at the folds. It has been repaired with tape. Also included is Wyman's appointment as fifth sergeant, dated December 1862 and signed by the regiment's commanding officer, Col. E. D. Johnson. Wyman's pocket New Testament, which was issued by the New York Bible Society in October 1862, is also included. Wyman likely received this Bible when he enlisted in October 1862.

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    June, 2010
    26th Saturday
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