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Edward Barker journals, 1855, 1865

296 pages (2 volumes)

Edward Barker's journals include documentation of Mr. Barker's 1855 emigration from England to America and his later Civil War service as chaplain in the 40th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

Barker's Civil War diary contains a unique record of the events leading up to the fall of Richmond. It is written, interestingly enough, in a ledger book taken from the Confederate Provost Marshal's office in Fredericksburg when the 40th Massachusetts occupied that town. The first six pages of the ledger contain brief medical records (little more than notes) on Confederate soldiers, apparently kept by a Confederate surgeon at Fredericksburg in February, 1865.

As a Chaplain, drawing comparatively high pay and being freed from many of the routine duties of other soldiers, Barker had far more opportunities to observe the area around Richmond and to visit different parts of Richmond than the average soldier. Barker's curiosity led him to visit several of the better-known sights, including Chimborazo Hospital, Hollywood Cemetery, the prison, and the area of town where the "F.F.V.'s" lived. Most interestingly, he often took the opportunity to speak with local inhabitants, both Union sympathizers and die-hard Confederates, other clergymen, and physicians. Barker writes clearly, intelligently, and with insight about the end of the war, and he provides vivid accounts of the first days of Union occupation in Richmond. The diary also includes a particularly valuable account of Fredericksburg when occupied by Union forces in February, 1865.

The diary that Barker kept during his passage from England to America in 1855 contains daily accounts of his activities from the first of the year through the time of his sea voyage and arrival in Monson. A few entries, most notably those at the beginning of the diary, during the days surrounding his departure, and those written immediately preceding and upon his arrival in Boston are very full, and contain unusually detailed accounts of the emotions and experiences of a young man emigrating to America for economic betterment, who is forced, albeit temporarily, to leave most of his family behind. Like his Civil War diary, it is marked with intelligent, though occasionally overly moralistic observations. Included at the end of the diary are 18 poems written by Barker during the voyage on various topics, including freedom in a slave-holding society, the ocean, his family, and emigration.


Robert Dayton Williams journal, 1870

1 volume

The Robert Dayton Williams journal recounts the author's voyage to Europe on the steamer Australia in September 1870. Williams described stormy weather, seasickness, daily activities, and navigation errors during the ship's passage from New York to Glasgow. The journal entries are accompanied by ink drawings.

The R. Dayton Williams journal (21 pages), entitled "Yankee Vandals Abroad, or Our Trip to Europe," is an account of the author's voyage from Albany, New York, to Glasgow, Scotland, from September 15, 1870-October 1, 1870.

The journal begins with a 2-page preface in which Williams pays tribute to the advances in nautical travel between the 1770s and 1870s and explains his reasons for visiting the British Isles. The account opens with the Williams' trip from Albany to New York, accompanied by family members, and their search for Anna's trunk on the day they were to set sail; a humorous poem recounts the latter episode. The preface and opening remarks are followed by daily entries dated September 17, 1870-October 1, 1870, during the Australia's time at sea. The opening lines of many entries, including the preface, are colored or otherwise illustrated. Illustrations (see list below) accompany most of the entries.

During the transatlantic journey, Williams commented on the food, the scenery, and his pastimes, which included games of quoits and backgammon with the captain and other passengers. Early in the voyage, the ship encountered stormy seas, which resulted in flooded passenger cabins, injuries to members of the ship's crew, and prolonged seasickness. Williams described cod fishermen along the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and compared the Anchor Line's ships with the faster vessels of the Cunard Line. Entries often report the distance the Australia had traveled and the remaining distance to Derry, Ireland, the ship's first destination. On September 29, Williams mentioned the captain's recent navigational error, which led to confusion about the ship's current position and course; the mishap resulted in a slight delay, though the course was later corrected. In his entry of September 30, Williams recalled the Hibernia, an Anchor Line steamer that had remained missing for four weeks after being blown to sea in a gale off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. The same day, the Australia reached Derry and soon left for Glasgow, where Williams and his wife disembarked on October 1. A printed drawing of the Australia and a newspaper clipping about the Williams' journey are pasted into the first page of regular entries, and the entry of September 30 contains a table of observed latitude and longitude for September 19, [1870]-September 28, [1870].

List of pen and ink drawings (excluding embellished text)
  • Two men searching for Anna Williams's trunk at the Wescott's Express freight office (page 7)
  • A man and a woman on the deck of the Australia (page 7)
  • Log floating at sea (page 8)
  • Australia and other ships engulfed by stormy seas (page 9)
  • The Williams' stateroom on the Australia (page 10)
  • A man "Before and After Sea Sickness" (page 11)
  • Codfish (page 11)
  • Rings and target from game of quoits (page 12)
  • "Cod Fishing on the New Foundland Banks" [sic] (page 13)
  • Driftwood board (page 13)
  • "Mr Brown's Circus Blanket," a colorful coat (page 14)
  • "Forecastle Passengers" (page 17)
  • Sounding line (page 19)
  • Map of British Isles and coast of Holland, Belgium, and France, showing the Australia's erroneous and corrected courses (page 20)