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    Description

    1863 Diary Belonging to Corporal John N. Collier of the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers. 3" x 6", pocket diary dating from January 1 to December 31, 1863. John N. Collier had been a clergyman before enlisting as a corporal in the Union Army in August of 1862. He was mustered into company "K" of the 43rd Massachusetts Infantry on September 16, 1862 and was mustered out the following year on July 30, 1863, as the 43rd Massachusetts only had nine months' service. They served in North Carolina, most notably during the Trenton expedition and the Battle of Little Washington. Collier's entries are detailed, and written in both ink and pencil, however they stop abruptly on July 8. There is also expanded entry for April in the memorandum section at the back of the diary. The pages not used as diary entries after July 8 appear to have been used to record payments as well as sermon notes. What follows is a sampling of his entries, all written during the year 1863:

    In part: "[Jan. 17] Reached Pollocksville at 5 ½. Very muddy roads. Cos. K A & C were rear guards... No enemy appeared. We had only 3 regiments of infantry and one of Cavalry & 8 pieces of artillery. [Jan. 18] Marched at 8 for Trentin. K & d advance gained. Remembered it was Sunday, but such a Sunday. We entered T at 2 ½ PM. The cavalry drove out 250 Rebs and burnt 2 bridges the chief object in going there. Encamped in a cornfield. Were not allowed to leave it. Very cold night. [Jan 19] Marched at 8 ½ for Pollocksville. Burnt a saw and grist mill on our evacuation. A rapid march brought us to P at noon. We ran four miles built shelters from the severe cold wind. - Had a good nights rest. Signs of Ston. Found some books and papers in an old stove. Saved some to send home. [Jan 20] We remained in camp at Pollocksville the Cavalry and 2 Regs of Infantry. Walked 8 miles to destroy a rail road bridge and some salt works. Rebs resisted. One Cavalry man killed 2 wounded - henceforth I was put on picket - had a nice day... [Feb 7] Pleasant. Went with Lieut Kimpton to the battle field of Newberne three miles below the city on the Beaufort Rail road. It was a wonder to us that the Rebels were driven out of their strong hold - but they were conquered as much by their fear as any thing... [Feb 8] ... Divine service by the chaplain at dawn... Attended the negro prayer meeting at Newberne. It was the most interesting scene I have witnessed for a long time. Intensely emotional in every feature - but many of those peculiar signs of the conflict of sense of decorum with the absurdities of abandonment to feeling [Feb 9] ... Spent the afternoon talking with uncle Wiley about the Mulatto Quadroon and Octoroon population of the South. He drew a fearful picture of the crimes of the slave holder... [Mar 31]... The Chaplain was arrested and brot in by the Guard for firing a musket toward the camp. He shot at a duck but the ball glanced and flew over our heads... [About the Siege of Little Washington:] [Apr 12] Awoke to find our boat still steaming in. Came up with the Gunboats lying below the blockade at 9 o'clock. The South field shelled the woods at 3 o'clock... [Apr 13] ... 2 little sloops laden with provisions are to run the blockade. No coffee no meat. Hard tack & cold water rather tame diet for fighting men. [Apr 14] Awoke at 12 last night to see the flashes of the guns from the Rebel batteries and hear the distant reports. The sloops run up in Jaftey& also the Steamer Escort with the SS Rhode Island Regt were put on board 3 schooners at 2 o'clock. Very much crowded. [Apr 15] ... At daylight the Escort ran the blockade and brought down Gen Foster. We were all taken out of the Schooners & sent to Newberne... [Apr 18] ... In Pamlico River at 9 AM. Found the forts on Hills Point evacuated and the gunboats all gone up to Washington. Arrived at Wash. at 12 Went to the Block House on the right of the defenses. East of the River & on the near bank. Do not know how long we shall stay. Took a stroll through town at night..."

    Collier expands on many of his April entries about the Battle of Little Washington at the back of the diary in the Memorandum section. He fills seven pages in cramped, but legible writing sharing his thoughts about the grisly events: "Relief at last came in the shape of the Escort. As I went on deck this morn I heard the report of a cannon. The rebel battery in hills front in full sight was firin upon a steamboat afloat... I lost sight of the boat once but it was to a fog she soon appeared. At 10 p she came down was and took 3 of the 4 companies aboard. She is all scared up the pilot was killed by a sharpshooter and a negro deck hand had his arms shot off..."

    Condition: Interior pages are clean with heavy wear to the leather cover, with small tears in the binding at the spine. The binding has started to separate from the lower half of the spine binding. One of the pages at the back of the book has been torn out, leaving only the lower quarter of the page intact.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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