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Corydon E. Fuller journals, 1856-1859

416 pages (2 volumes)

Corydon Fuller's journals document the travels of a young bookseller (from the Northern Midwest) in Arkansas, bordering areas in Louisiana, and in Mississippi in the years preceding the Civil War.

Corydon Fuller's intriguing journals (marked "Vol. 6th" and "Vol. 7") follow the path of the young itinerant bookseller in a fascinating series of situations and places. A college graduate, Fuller wrote both well and copiously, recording the events and his impressions with impressive clarity and depth.

As a man prone to some reflection on the political and social issues of his day, Fuller's journals are a valuable resource for study of the hardening sectional lines in the Trans-Mississippi South. By 1857, Fuller believed that an impasse had been reached, reflected both in his reporting of adamant Southern views on slavery and states' rights, and in his own hot-tempered opinions on moral right versus wrong.


John H. Graham journals, 1861-1864 (majority within 1861-1862)

160 pages (2 volumes)

The John H. Graham journals record Graham's experiences as a student at the University of Mississippi as the Civil War began, as well as Graham's service with the 11th Mississippi Infantry in 1862.

The Graham journals cover two non-continuous periods. The first contains an excellent record of the first months of 1861, when Graham was a sophomore at the University of Mississippi. Unusually literate and passionate, Graham depicts himself very much in the image of the southern gentleman whose personal honor is at stake in the war. He is moral and religious, but not strongly moralizing, and he writes with a style and intensity that make excellent reading. Though covering only a brief four months, the journal provides an excellent sense of how the University community became caught up in the emotions of the early secession, forming not only the University Grays, but the Lamar Rifles and other militia units. The standard high jinks of student life in the 19th century seem to have been somewhat accentuated by the political tensions.

Graham's second journal includes an account of his service from the winter doldrums of 1861-62 through the unrelenting summer campaigns of 1862. The entries are brief, but occasionally very informative, and he includes useful accounts of the Battles of Fair Oaks, Mechanicsville, Gaines Mills, Malvern Hill, and skirmishes in the 2nd Bull Run Campaign. His descriptions of forced marches through miserable conditions provide a soldier's perspective on just how much the average soldier endured in achieving the efficiency and mobility for which the Army of Northern Virginia was known. Graham's description of the regiment's camps are somewhat limited, but there is a pervasive sense of the support that Confederate troops felt in northern Virginia in his accounts of wandering away from camp into the fields and homes of Virginians. The journal ends in mid-September, 1862, shortly before Antietam. A note dated January, 1863, indicates that Graham returned to the life of a bachelor on his plantation in Clarke County, but a small number of entries dated between August, 1863, and January, 1864, indicates that he had returned to active mounted service. The journal also includes several pages of quotations and notes on Shakespearian plays made at a later time.


Thomas Dwight Witherspoon papers, 1861-1871 (majority within 1861-1864)

32 items

Chaplain Thomas D. Witherspoon wrote these letters to members of the Witherspoon and Rascoe families during his Civil War service in the 2nd, 11th, and 42nd Mississippi Infantry Regiments.

The surviving letters of Thomas D. Witherspoon, most addressed to members of the Rascoe family, include a small number of insightful Confederate letters. There are, unfortunately, large gaps in the correspondence, most notably between July, 1862, and 1870, interrupted by only one letter from Witherspoon, January 7, 1864, and this lacuna conceals the entirety of Witherspoon's imprisonment, the end of the war, his departure from the service, and his adjustment to civilian life and Reconstruction. The surviving correspondence, however, forms an interesting and surprisingly fleshed-out portrayal of one man's service as a Confederate chaplain during the earliest stages of the war.

As an educated, clear-thinking, and utterly committed man, Witherspoon is an ideal correspondent. His letters are filled with emotion, driven by a sense of purpose in his military service, and ordered by a strongly held code of morality. His religious leanings and training make him particularly sensitive to the moral state of the Confederate army, and somewhat prone to viewing the conflict as an almost Manichean struggle between southern Good and northern Evil. The scattered letters written during the late spring and summer, 1864, include additional comments on organized "Christian" relief during the war, including a particularly interesting comment from Witherspoon that the (northern) Christian Commission does more to crush the rebellion than the entire Army of the Potomac through their intrigues and trickery in getting sick and wounded men to take the oath of allegiance (1864 January 7).

After the war, Rev. Witherspoon settled in Memphis, Tennessee, and published at least two works: Children of the Covenant (Richmond, Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1873) and The Appeal of the South to its Educated Men (Memphis: The Association, 1867). He also contributed an essay, "The doctrinal contents of the confession" to the Presbyterian Church's Memorial volume of the Westminster assembly, 1647-1897 (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1897).

Witherspoon was also author of "Prison Life at Fort McHenry." Southern Historical Society Papers 8 (1880): pp. 77-82, 111-119, 163-68.


William and Isaac Seymour collection, 1825-1869

27 items

The Seymour papers contain materials relating primarily to the Civil War service of Col. Isaac G. Seymour (6th Louisiana Infantry) and his son, William J., both residents of New Orleans.

The Seymour papers contain materials relating primarily to the Civil War service of Col. Isaac G. Seymour (6th Louisiana Infantry) and his son, William J., both residents of New Orleans. The most important items in the collection are the two journals kept by William Seymour describing his experiences in the defense of New Orleans, 1862, and as Assistant Adjutant General in the 1st Louisiana Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia. The first of these "journals" was begun by Col. Isaac Seymour as a manuscript drill manual for his regiment (55 pp.), but it appears to have been taken up by William following Isaac's death. This volume is arranged in four sections and includes a record of William Seymour's experiences from March, 1862 through May, 1864. The second volume is organized in a similar manner, but covers the period from April, 1863 through October, 1864, terminating in the middle of a description of the Battle of Cedar Creek. Both of William's "journals" are post-war memoirs drawn extensively from original diaries and notes, with some polishing and embellishment.

William Seymour's "journals" contain outstanding descriptions of life in the Confederate Army and are one of the premier sources for the Confederate side of the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. His journals also contain very important accounts for Chancellorsville, 2nd Winchester, Gettysburg (Cemetery Hill), Mine Run, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania (the Bloody Angle), but almost as important are the descriptions of camp life, and the morale and emotions of the troops. Seymour is an observant, critical, and knowledgeable writer who was placed in a position where he had access to information on fairly high level command decisions. Yet while his journal is focused on the military aspects of the war, he includes a number of brief personal sketches of officers and soldiers, and vignettes of life in the army, ranging from accounts of Union soldiers bolstered in their courage by whiskey, to the courage of an officer's wife stopping a deserter and the Knights of the Golden Circle surfacing in Pennsylvania during the Confederate invasion.

The remainder of the collection includes three Civil War-date letters relating to Isaac Seymour, one written from Camp Bienville near Manassas, Va. (1861 September 2), one from the Shenandoah River (1862 May 2), and the third a letter relaying news of Seymour's death at Gaines Mills. The letter of May 1862 is a powerful, despairing one, and includes Isaac Seymour's thoughts on the Confederate loss of New Orleans and severe criticism for Jefferson Davis, a "man of small caliber, with mind perhaps enough, but without those qualities which go to make up the great and good man." At this moment, Seymour reported that he was disappointed in the quality of his officers, and regretted that he had not resigned his commission upon his son's enlistment, and further, he felt that the Confederacy was being held together only tenuously, due solely to the "the righteousness of our cause, and the innate, deep rooted mendicable hatred to the Yankee race." The remainder of the correspondence consists primarily of documents, but includes an interesting Seminole War letter of Isaac to Eulalia Whitlock and a letter from "Sister Régis" to Isaac, as editor of the New Orleans Bulletin, begging the aid of the press on behalf of the Female Orphan Asylum.