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    Union Soldier's 1861 Diary Written By Private Alexander Russell, Co. E, 38th New York Volunteers. A good early war-date Union volunteer's diary kept by Pvt. Alexander Russell, Co. E, 38th New York Volunteers, beginning with his enlistment on April 29, 1861 (including his participation in the war's first major battle of First Bull Run) through the battle of Seven Pines, Va. on June 1, 1862. In part: "...[April 29, 1861]...volunteered with the 38th Rgt. (2nd S. L. Guard) in Co. E, Capt. O. A. Tilden at Mt. Vernon, N. York...[May 4] ...I was sworn in the State service at 497 Broadway N. Y. by U.S. officer, name unknown...[June 3]...sworn in U. S. service...for the period of 2 years...[June 15]...we got our uniforms at East New York...[June 17]...went to N. Rochelle, returned in the evening to East N. York...[June 19]...left East N. York came by cars...down Broadway to Courtland...took cars for Harrisburgh...[June 20]...took cars for Washington. Arrived at midnight. Put up in church...[June 21]...I had my picture taken and sent it home...[July 4]...paraded through Washington and was reviewed by the President & Major General Winfield Scott in front of the President's House...[July 7]...left camp at Washington. Marched to boat. Went to the Arsenal received our new muskets. Crossed the river to Alexandria encamped near Fort Ellsworth...[July 16]...started from camp for Fairfax. Marched all day...started early next morning till 3 o'clock, came to Fairfax Station remained there that night. The enemy left before we got there...[July 18]...started for Centreville at 3...we arrived at dusk. Remained there until Sunday morning 2 o'clock...[July 21]...left Centreville for Bull Run. Marched until about 11 o'clock. Halted for to eat 5 minutes. Marched to the battle field, fought 4 hours, retreated to Alexandria a distance of 45 [miles]...[July 22] ...went to Washington where I remanded until Wednesday returning to camp with Capt. Alison..."

    Following the battle of First Bull Run, Russell ceased recording events for 1861 except for one or two entries. He then used the first six months of the book for 1862. These entries are intertwined with his 1861 entries and read, in part: "...[Jan 1, 1862] ...I spent the day in camp on the Old Fairfax road near Alexandria...we were ordered to hold ourselves in readiness in case of an attack...[Feb. 10]...capture of Roanoke Island with 2,000 800 prisoners. O. G. Wise was wounded and died the day after...[Feb. 12] 22nd birth day. I was at Camp Scott near Alexandria...went to the theater in evening...[Feb. 17]...surrender of Fort Donelson with 15,000 prisoners, 2 Gens Pillow & Buckner, 1000 of the enemy killed. Gen. Grant & Com. Foote in com. [of] our troops...[March 25]...left camp Hamilton near Fortress Monroe, crossed the river, encamped back of the village of Hampton...[May 5]...battle of Wms.Burgh was fought, 3 killed in my company and 8 wounded...[May 7]...was on provost guard in Wms. burgh...[May 31]...battle of White Oak Swamp near New bridge commenced at 1 o'clock, lasted till dark. We lay on our arms all night in field...[June 1]...battle commenced again...lasted till about 2 o'clock. Loss heavy on both sides. On our side lost 4 thousand killed, wounded & missing..." Russell adds several lists for clothing, equipment and members of his company at the back of the book while boldly signing the inside front cover: "Alexdr. Russell, Co. E. 38th N. Y. S. V." The diary measures 3" x 4" and exhibits the usual wear; heavy rubbing and several loose pages. The back cover of the diary has been ripped and a tintype of young woman in a striped dress is stored there.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2015
    12th Saturday
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