DescriptionUnion Soldier's 1863 Diary Written by Private David L. Vandyke, Company A, 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteers. A small pocket diary bound in leather, 3.5" x 4.8". Organized at Kittanning, Pennsylvania, on September 7, 1861, the 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteers participated in several battles, including the siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Williamsport, and the Battle of Fair Oaks. In December 1862, the 103rd was ordered to New Berne, North Carolina until May, 1863, when it moved to Plymouth, North Carolina. From April 17 to April 20, 1864, Confederate forces attacked Plymouth and most of the 103rd regiment, including Vandyke, was captured. Those not captured and who survived the war were mustered out of service on June 25, 1865.
In his diary, purchased in New Berne, North Carolina, at the beginning of 1863, Vandyke provides a daily account of camp life and regiment activities from January 1 up through April 16, 1863, when he was stationed at New Berne. In his first entry, Vandyke bemoans the fact that rations were short and thus "we had little or no dinner on this first day of 1863." Many of Vandyke's entries refer to drills, reviews, dress parades, guard duties, writing and receiving letters, occasional visits to the town of New Berne, and the weather. On Friday, February 13, he records the arrival of Colonel Theodore F. Lehmann, "who has not been with us since we left Suffolk [Virginia]." The next day, he writes that "all the co. officers handed in their resignations on account of Lehman taking command of the regt."
Vandyke recorded a daily log of an expedition from New Berne to Mattamuskeet Lake that took place from March 7 to March 14, 1863: "This morning [March 7] we got marching orders to start at 12 o'clock so we got ready marched across the Trent river & got on board the Steamer Northerner and Sailed down the river about ten miles and anchored for the night...We lay on the boat all day [March 8] co. R. G. and B went a Shore to support the cavalry that ware out Scouting and about 9 o'clock at night we was aroused out of our beds to go on shore. So we got on board the Steamer escort. This morning [March 9] we got on Shore after getting on a flat and polling it to shore. We landed in hyde county N.C. and Started on an expedition around Mattimuskeet lake a distance of 65 mi. & traveld about 12 mile & stop for the night at a farm house. This morning [March 10] we again move our column forward. It rained all day. We went about 20 miles. Forage is plenty & we was allowed to take everything we could get-horses buggies & we captured some 30 prisoners. It is raining [March 11] & we again move forward & marched about 30 miles & arrived at Swan borough the County Seat of hyde county, N.C. the place from which we Started the morning previous. We captured in all some 65 prisoners and remained all night in the town. This morning [March 12] thare was a lot of infantry mounted on the captured horses & accompanied the cavalry on a Scout. Thare was some picketing done during the day so the Scouting hasty returned in the evening loaded with forage such as meat turkeys chickens etc....during this day and night [March 13] we all got on board to return to Newbern. The prisoners was all parolled except about 15 which we brought with us. This morning [March 14] the anchor is hoisted at an early hour and we Start for Newbern whare we arrive at 4 o'clock in the evening without the loss of a man and is informed that the rebbels had been throwing some shot & shell into our camp & that they ware expected to attack us."
For the period April 7-10, 1863, Vandyke recorded an account of another expedition, this one to provide relief for Union forces at Little Washington, North Carolina: "We was ordered [April 7] to be ready to march in ½ hour to go on an expedition to Washington, N.C. at 2 o'clock. We marched to the wharf got on board a barge & was towed across the river by the Allison & lay near the camp of the 12 N.Y. vol. that night. Troops are being shipped across all night. Remained here [April 8] to 2 o'clock PM when we started on the march with ten thousand infantry, 4 company of cavalry, three batteries of artillery the whole under Brig. Gen. Spinola. After going 8 miles on the main road we took off to the left went 5 miles and wading a swamp knee deep. We bivouked [sic] for the night in a corn field at 10 o'clock P. M. On the march at an early hour [April 9]. Went back to the main road & took to the right & after going 12 miles drove in the rebbel pickets near Blunt's Mills at 2 o'clock. After they retreated across the creek they tore up the bridge & was fortified on the opposite side. Artillery became engaged which lasted about one hour when we withdrew and came back about 11 miles....Start for Newbern this morning [April 10]. Arive [sic] at a fort at noon within 1 ½ mile of the landing whare we halt untill the troops are nearly all past and shipped across the river."
Between April 17 and June 12, diary entries, in pencil, appear to be in another hand and expense entries for 1864. Dates of June 15 through June 20 are taken up with the lyrics to the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." The pages dated June 22 through August 22, 1863 contain entries of a military nature for October 31 through December 1864, in the hand of an unknown individual, since the period of time covered by these entries occurred after the death of Vandyke. Entries from August 24 until October 7 appear to be for 1864 and are of a business nature. There are no entries from October 8 through October 27. Entries dated October 28 through December 19 are intermittent and clearly for the 1864 and cannot be those of Vandyke.
On the first memoranda page after December 31 there is a transcription in ink and in Vandyke's hand, of Brigadier General Hunt's congratulatory remarks to the 103rd Regiment that was delivered on January 8, 1863.
David L. Vandyke served as a private in Company A, 103rd Pennsylvania Volunteers. He mustered in on August 18, 1861. He was captured in Plymouth, North Carolina on April 20, 1864 and sent to Andersonville Prison in Georgia. He died at the prison on October 1, 1864, one of the approximately 13,000 Union soldiers to die at Andersonville.
Condition: Gentle wear to the front and back of the leather binding. The leather on the spines of the cover and closing flap is completely worn off. The majority of the diary is written in ink and is legible. The interior of the diary is in good condition with the pages generally clean.
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