Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, Newspapers

Thomas' Legion
Introduction & How to Use this Site
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
American Civil War Blog
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
HISTORY OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
HISTORY OF THE CHEROKEE INDIANS
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Native American Indian History
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers
Civil War History
Recommended American Civil War History
Civil War Video Games
American Civil War Store: Books, DVDs, etc.
Civil War Diaries, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers

Civil War Diaries, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers

In addition, each page includes information regarding related individuals, soldiers within the command, as well as Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR). The CMSR is considered a primary source and also includes some previously non-published material. (Bookmark for updates.)
With the scale and magnitude of the American Civil War, there is probably as much unpublished material in family hands, collectively, as there is published.
Our history defines us, and by preserving it we do it justice....If we forget or deny our history and heritage, we not only lose our identity but we are denying the uttermost core and the very essence of why we are who we are.

Recommended Reading: Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper (Hardcover). Description: Jack Hinson never planned to become a deadly sniper. A prosperous and influential Kentucky plantation owner in the 1850s, Hinson was devoted to raising his growing family and working his land. Yet by 1865, Hinson had likely killed more than one hundred men and had single-handedly taken down an armed Union transport in his one-man war against Grant's army and navy. By the end of the Civil War, the Union had committed infantry and cavalry from nine regiments and a specially equipped amphibious task force of marines to capture Hinson, who was by that time nearly sixty years old. They never caught him. Since then, the story of Jack Hinson has evaded astute historians, and until now, he has remained invisible in the history of sniper warfare. Continued below…

John S. "Old Jack" Hinson watched the start of the Civil War with impartial disinterest. A friend of Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate officers alike, Hinson was opposed to secession, focused instead on his personal affairs. After a unit of Union occupation troops moved in on his land and summarily captured, executed, and placed the decapitated heads of his sons on his gateposts, however, Hinson abandoned his quiet life for one of revenge. In this unprecedented and incredible biography, Lt. Col. Tom C. McKenney masterfully recounts Hinson's extraordinary feats as a lone Confederate sniper. Equipped with a rifle he had specially made for long-range accuracy, Hinson became a deadly gadfly to the occupying army. An exemplary piece of historical scholarship and the result of fifteen years of research, this definitive biography includes an amazing cast of characters including the Earp Brothers, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and Jesse James, the cousin of Hinson's wife. This breathtaking story was all but destroyed by the obliterating forces of history and is the only account in print chronicling this one man's impact on the Civil War.

From the Inside Flap: A quiet, unassuming, and wealthy plantation owner, Jack Hinson was focused on his family life and seasonal plantings when the Civil War started to permeate the isolated valleys of the Kentucky-Tennessee border area where he lived. He was uniquely neutral--friend to both Confederate and Uniongenerals--and his family exemplified the genteel, educated, gracious, and hardworking qualities highly valued in their society. By the winter of 1862, the Hinsons' happy way of life would change forever. Jack Hinson's neutrality was shattered the day Union patrols moved in on his land, captured two of his sons, accused them of being bushwhackers, and executed them on the roadside. The soldiers furthered the abuse by decapitating the Hinson boys and placing their heads on the gateposts of the family estate. The Civil War, now literally on Hinson's doorstep, had become painfully personal, and he could remain dispassionate no longer. He commissioned a special rifle, a heavy-barreled .50-caliber weapon designed for long-range accuracy. He said goodbye to his family, and he took to the wilderness seeking revenge. Hinson, nearly sixty years of age, alone, and without formal military training, soon became a deadly threat to theUnion. A Confederate sniper, he made history after single-handedly bringing down an armed Union transport and serving as a scout for Nathan Bedford Forrest. A tenacious and elusive figure, Hinson likely killed more than one hundred Union soldiers, recording the confirmed deaths on the barrel of his rifle with precision. Despite the numbers of men sent to kill him, Hinson evaded all capture, and like his footsteps through the Kentucky and Tennessee underbrush, his story has been shrouded in silence--until now. The result of fifteen years of research, this remarkable biography presents the never-before-told history of Jack Hinson, his savage war on his country, and the brutal cost of vengeance and war.

 
Editor's Pick: Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War. Description: Of the 120 men who enlisted in "Company H" (Or Co. Aytch as he calls it) in 1861, Sam Watkins was one of only seven alive when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in North Carolina in April, 1865. Of the 1,200 men who fought in the First Tennessee, only 65 were left to be paroled on that day. "Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War" is heralded by many historians as one of the best war memoirs written by a common soldier of the field. Sam R. Watkin's writing style in "Co Aytch" is quite engaging and skillfully captures the pride, misery, glory, and horror experienced by the common foot soldier. Continued below…

About the Author: Samuel "Sam" Rush Watkins (June 26, 1839 - July 20, 1901) was a noted Confederate soldier during the American Civil War. He is known today for his memoir Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show, often heralded as one of the best primary sources about the common soldier's Civil War experience. Watkins was born on June 26, 1839 near Columbia, Maury County, Tennessee, and received his formal education at Jackson College in Columbia. He originally enlisted in the "Bigby Greys" of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee, but transferred shortly thereafter to the First Tennessee Infantry, Company H (the "Maury Greys") in the spring of 1861. Watkins faithfully served throughout the duration of the War, participating in the battles of Shiloh,Corinth, Perryville, Murfreesboro (Stones River), Shelbyville, Chattanooga,Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Kennesaw Mountain(Cheatham Hill), New Hope ChurchZion ChurchKingston, Cassville, Atlanta,JonesboroFranklin, and Nashville. Of the 120 men who enlisted in "Company H" in 1861, Sam Watkins was one of only seven alive when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in North Carolina April, 1865. Of the 1,200 men who fought in the First Tennessee, only 65 were left to be paroled on that day. Soon after the war ended, Watkins began writing his memoir, entitled "Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show". It was originally serialized in the ColumbiaTennessee Herald newspaper. "Co. Aytch" was published in a first edition of 2,000 in book form in 1882. "Co. Aytch" is heralded by many historians as one of the best war memoirs written by a common soldier of the field. Sam's writing style is quite engaging and skillfully captures the pride, misery, glory, and horror experienced by the common foot soldier. Watkins is often featured and quoted in Ken Burns' 1990 documentary titled The Civil War. Watkins died on July 20, 1901 at the age of sixty-two in his home in the Ashwood Community. He was buried with full military honors by the members of the Leonidas Polk Bivouac, United Confederate Veterans, in the cemetery of the Zion Presbyterian Church near Mount PleasantTennessee.

 

Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below...

About Johnny Reb:

"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly

"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer

"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature

 

Recommended Reading: Rebel Private: Front and Rear: Memoirs of a Confederate Soldier. Description: First published in 1907, the memoirs of a former Confederate soldier who fought at Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Second Manassas, and Chickamauga reveal the ground-level perspective of a Civil War private. Continued below…

From Publishers Weekly: William Fletcher joined the Confederate Army in 1861. He served with the Army of Northern Virginia's elite Texas Brigade until the Battle of Chickamauga. Unable to march because of wounds, he transferred to the cavalry and finished the war with the Texas Rangers, then wrote his memoirs 40 years later. Most of the original copies were destroyed in a fire. The current edition presents unvarnished images of hard marches, short rations and battles in which being wounded could prove worse than being killed. Fletcher describes the horrors of being a Civil War casualty as vividly as any firsthand account from either side. The author emerges from these pages as fighting less for a cause than for his own pride in being a good soldier. His narrative does more than many learned monographs to explain the Confederacy's long endurance against overwhelming odds.

 
Recommended Reading: Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (488 pages) (Louisiana State University Press). Description: This fascinating social history reveals that while the Yanks and the Rebs fought for very different causes, the men on both sides were very much the same. "This wonderfully interesting book is the finest memorial the Union soldier is ever likely to have. . . . [Wiley] has written about the Northern troops with an admirable objectivity, with sympathy and understanding and profound respect for their fighting abilities. He has also written about them with fabulous learning and considerable pace and humor.

Recommended Reading: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover: 537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History (June 26, 2008). Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume. Continued below...
Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding source for genealogists.

 

Highly Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, spent 10 years conducting extensive Thomas Legion's research. Crow was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, and privately held diaries which add great depth to this rarely discussed Civil War legion. He explores and discusses the unit's formation, fighting history, and life of the legion's commander--Confederate colonel and Cherokee chief--William Holland Thomas. Continued below...

Numerous maps and photographs allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects discussed. It also contains rosters which is an added bonus for researchers and genealogists. Crow, furthermore, left no stone unturned while examining the many facets of the Thomas Legion and his research is conveyed on a level that scores with Civil War students and scholars alike.


Recommended Reading: Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor (Hardcover). Description: It is tantalizing to speculate about the role your ancestors may have played in the great national drama of the Civil War. But family records are often inaccurate, or provide precious few leads on where to begin the search. Now, experienced historian Bertram Hawthorne Groene shows you how easy it is to trace your forbearers' role in the war, where and how long they fought, whether they were Union or Rebel, soldier or sailor -- even with a minimum of information. Continued below...

Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor provides you with:

-- The names and addresses of all state archives.

-- Names and addresses of institutions that hold microfilmed service records from the national archives.

-- Names and publishers of useful regional Civil War reference books.

-- Names and publishers of sourcebooks for identifying Civil War weapons and accoutrements.

-- And much more.

Historians, genealogists, antique dealers, and collectors of Civil War artifacts will find this concise guidebook of great value. But most of all it is of inestimable practical value to family historians, North and South, who are discovering the pleasure and satisfaction of compiling an accurate family history.

 

Recommended Reading: Civil War Research Guide: A Guide for Researching Your Civil War Ancestor. Description: It has been over 40 years since the last comprehensive guide to tracing and researching Civil War ancestors was published. The "Civil War Research Guide" goes beyond, but does not exclude, such major national sources such as the National Archives in Washington, and features information on little-known publications, websites, auctions, memorabilia dealers, and patriotic organisations. The authors lay out a systematic procedure for performing research and recording the results in order to build a proper file on a Civil War soldier, making the experience both educational and entertaining. Continued below…

About the Authors: Stephen McManus resides in East Whiteland, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute and Delaware Law School. Donald Thompson resides in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and is a graduate of Rhode Island College. Thomas Churchill resides in Summerville, South Carolina, and is a graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.

Key Words: Civil War Diary Memoirs Letters Papers Soldier Army Confederate Battle Life of a Civil War Soldier Battle Experience Combat Account Civil War Infantry Regiment Officer Account Newspaper Report Record South North Union

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Return to top

Best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.

Site Meter