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    Union diaries with descriptions of Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Kennessaw Mountain and Peachtree Creek

    Union Soldier's Diaries (3) kept by Isaac Jelliff of the 143rd New York Volunteers with entries for the period beginning on July 7, 1863 and ending in September 1864. Together with a carte de visite of Jelliff, and a handwritten pass issued in July 1864, by a surgeon granting permission for Jelliff to fall to rear on account of fatigue.

    Jelliff enlisted in August 1862, and the diaries offered here begin in July 1863, shortly after completing duty protecting the capital. In September of 1863, the 143rd was ordered to Tennessee. The first diary covers the period from July 7, 1863 through October 2, 1863. He uses a small notebook measuring 3" x 4.25", and most of the entries are in pencil. The entries vary in length, from a few lines to filling more than a page. He reports on his daily activities, and includes a description of a railroad accident that occurs as they arrive in Tennessee: "Sept 30th Wednesday warm - On RR going to Nashville. Arrived at 3 ock pm. Boys all tired... Oct 1st Tuesday. Rainy at Tullahoma a small new town on the RR between Murfreesborough and Stevenson. Cars wait for a long time for cars on the road. Boys badly tired out... 8 miles from there on toward Bridgeport, while going around a short curve in a deep cut our train met one coming up. The engine was backing up tender ahead. Which was thrown entirely upon our engine all run back down the hill 10 rods - some men jumped from the cars. Two were slightly injured."

    The second diary covers the period of time between October 3 1863 through April 18, 1864. Jelliff uses a small leather bound note book measuring 3" x 5.75". All of his entries are long, and overall the content good; most notably a gripping account of the Battles of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. He writes: "Nov 23d Monday Cloudy - Near Chattanooga. Rebels in heavy force in sight of us. This side of Missionary Ridge which runs S.W. & N.E. Lookout Mts also in sight But not so close as it was... Heard the rebels running cars all night. Went to Picket Lines got tent poles etc. At about 1P.M. corps formed into Brigades. Regts into columns by Division. And First Div. - 14th A.C. moved forward and drove in the Rebel Pickets with rapid firing - our heavy guns from Fort wood played briskly. But they rebs did not reply - soon came 4 prisoners - then wounded - at 2 ½ P.M. the Ball opened. The 11 a.c. advanced to left oblique Took position in woods. Some Regts skirmishing heavily - Coming down across field met 150 prisoners - artillery played over our head from both sides - some shell burst among us - firing ceased at dark slept in line of Battle. Line of Battle before Chattanooga. Nov 24. Tuesday. Raining. Fighting commenced on Picket line at daylight. During las night our men slashed wood in front. Soon after daylight, we threw up breastwork of limbs and logs. Then covered it with dirt - built an abattis in front. Yesterday and this a.m. Rebels seen moving to the left - Loud cheering - what is it? 60 rebels running into our lines. They turn and fire a volley into their own ranks - Rebs open Batteries on them &c. Sherman is reported to be coming up on the S.E. of M. Ridge with but little resistance. The 2nd Div 11 a.c. gone to the left to connect with him. Lookout Mt. attacked and taken. Intense cheering all along the line. Gen Hooker on N. & Thomas on S. side of Lookout mts. From A.M. to after dark terrible fighting with Thomas' corps in valley. They drive the Rebels army all in good spirits for fight. ('Hector going to catch dem on fishhooks') No Rations issued. Men about out. Two men at a time go back to make coffee..." Jelliff's description continues to cover another day of skirmishing and filling three more pages.

    The third diary is kept is kept in a "Pocket Diary for 1863", but he does not conform to the printed dates, and simply records his thoughts much as he has in the two earlier diaries. The front portion is used to log his expenses. His entries begin on the page with printed date of April 19, and he begins at the bottom, crossing out 21, and making the entry for Tuesday, April 19. He writes in the date of all of his subsequent entries. This diary has fantastic content throughout, but best of all there are detailed descriptions covering the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Peachtree Creek.

    The diaries are accompanied by a carte de visite of Jelliff, a studio portrait with a John Goldin backstamp. The image is identified on the verso in modern ink. There is a pass written on a small scrap of paper, signed by Jelliff as Lieutenant Commanding; although written to be used in the month July, it is generically issued to "The Bearer" and the day is left blank. The scrap measures 3.5" x 2" with uneven edges, as though torn from a larger sheet for immediate use.

    Condition: All three diaries have wear to their covers, but all are intact. A note made at the back of the second diary suggests that Jelliff would send his diaries home for safekeeping, thus sparing them from the hardship of being in the field. The carte de visite is near pristine with only gentle toning and sharp edges. It has a cancelled revenue stamp on verso.

    More Information:

    Additional transcripts of entries in the second diary:

    In Rifle Pit In front


    Nov 25 Wednesday

    Clear and Pleasant

    Drew 2 days Rations to last 3 days or till Friday night. Skirmishing commenced early on the left. At 10 AM our men advanced on them. Heavy Artillery firing. At 10 A.M. our men advanced to the left. Moved in quick time to about 6 or 7 miles around the east end of Mt Rd. g - along the Atlanta R.R. Arrived at about 1 ½ P.M. a fierce engagement ongoing on all the lines with both artillery and musketry. Passed the ambulance Corps & Hospital Depot. Met many wounded coming out. Some walking others in ambulances others on stretchers. Among these a Brigadier General Coarse [John M. Corse] shot in leg. He raged with vengeance on the Rebels. Reports among soldiers that we passed say that Sherman took the Rebel depot. Their supplies and held R.R. No cars heard to whistle since A.M. yesterday. Also took today a battery from Rebels and drove them from one Ridge at about 2 ½ P.M. firing nearly ceased - for ½ hour, then commenced with vigor again - I feel first rate yet. Halted on a ridge about 1 ½ or 2 P.M. and put up another breastwork at about 4 P.M. Battle rages less fiercely - 4 ½ P.M. increases again. Boys got Breastwork done - Weather fast growing cold - Chilly - I eat lots of Hard Tacks. Bacon, and coffee - Boys all in good cheer, when signs are that we soon will be brought under fire some look a little wild.

    Transcripts from the third diary that covers the period from April 1864 through September 1864:

    July 20th Wednesday


    Marched forward at 7 A.M. Crossed Peach Tree creek & passed through the Breastwork put up last night by 2nd Div. Grary - Halted behind price of woods - artillery drill - took place for short time. No loss on our side. Marched little further & rested in woods - took dinner. Heavy picket firing in front all A.M. and about noon more rapid fire and charging - Four wounded carried by - 4 P.M. still lay in woods 2nd Div have passed by - 4 ½ heavy firing with musketry & cannon. Loud yelling - fight increases - We ordered forward in double quick. Went short distance in woods & formed line. E. & W. moved a little forward, down the slope from ridge - bushes thick. Rebels got close to us on right we thought another line of battle in front of us - thought the rebel firing was of our men. We ordered not to fire. Did not till after many of 143d - been killed or wounded. Rebels came close to our Regt. Our line moved about 8 rods back to the ridge and reformed. The fight became desperate. Firing rapid the 143d lost the most of their men on the first line -

    [The next two pages lists all the men of the 143rd that were lost and wounded.]

    [His entry for July 20, 1864 continues:]

    The rebels used many explosive balls - when they would strike a bone they would burst and tear a terrible hole in the part struck.

    In the engagement the 2nd Division was forced back to a line with 1st Div. The battle was hard along the center line. And loss heavy. 1st Div. held its ground. Many rebels were killed & many left on field. Three killed within 2 rods of our line. One of them hit by John Wales of Co. "A". Regt. behaved well. All feel deeply the loss of Ratcliff. He died at his post. A true soldier. A noble office.

    One Ball through the Flag Sergt. Morgan's carried it. His conduct was very commendable. - A perfect soldier. The right wing was heavily exposed & suffered most.

    Col. Mc[.] & Lt. Col Brown, both seriously wounded. Col. L[.] 141st N.Y. killed. Despatch came from Gen. & C, if he could hold his position 1 hour longer he would have Atlanta. 20000 rebels were trapped in front of our col.

    July 21 Thursday


    All quiet this A.M. Our pickets advanced - many dead rebels still laying in woods in front of us.

    Ratcliffs body is to be embalmed and sent home. Busy bringing dead. McWilliams Co. "A" died last night. Rec'd notice H.C. Lybolt Co. B. Entered Hospt. Genl. No General engagement today. Wrote home. The 31st Wisconsin joined our Brig. 750 strong.

    July 22nd Friday

    Hot. - good breeze -

    At about 7 A.M. we advanced toward Atlanta about 2 miles - passing through 4 lines of Rebel fortifications. The last a heavy one. Halted at 10 A.M. by a farm house. The old Farmer was home. Everything nice around him. Nice Peach orchard - &c -

    10 A.M. break skirmishing commenced in front of us. We on 2nd line of Battle.

    are in front of us

    14th A.C. took position on out right. We are now 3 miles from the center of the city of Atlanta.

    At 2 P.M. moved ½ mile forward - put up line of breastworks while we commenced working. Rebels began to shell us. Wounded Corp'l John Akers Co. "K" in head price shell - not thought serious. S. shooter killed 1 of 82nd Ill. At night made our breastworks strong.

    1 ½ mils from Atlanta.

    July 23rd Saturday

    Cloudy & cool pleasant.

    During A.M. occasional firing from skirmish line & Batteries. Rebels killed our Horse in Battery. Next . At about noon Rebs advanced their skirmishers. Commenced cheering & throwing shells. Heavy skirmishing fire. ours fell back. Advanced again - some thought rebels advancing in line of Battle. some excitement - one man of 31st Wisconsin (sergt) killed on. The movements of the enemy seem to indicate an attack -

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