Back to top

Search Constraints

Start Over You searched for: Subjects Petersburg (Va.)--History--Siege, 1864-1865. Remove constraint Subjects: Petersburg (Va.)--History--Siege, 1864-1865.
Number of results to display per page
View results as:

Search Results


Lewis Simonds journal, 1864

1 volume

The Lewis Simonds journal contains brief daily entries by Simonds, a baritone horn player with the band of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps for 1864. Included are brief descriptions of the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg, as well as accounts of rehearsing and practicing music with the band.

The Lewis Simonds journal contains brief entries, written almost daily and covering January 14-October 6, 1864, while Simonds was stationed in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia with the band of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. Early entries describe Simonds' daily life while at Camp Nelson in Jessamine County, Kentucky. He had a great deal of free time; the activities he recorded primarily consisted of reading, writing, "playing B[ack]gammon" (January 28, 1864), and rehearsing with the band. He also noted weather conditions, illnesses among his brigade, and other scattered activities.

Simonds frequently mentioned his musical pursuits and band-mates. In addition to fastidiously documenting his rehearsals, he wrote that the band performed at such occasions as a funeral (January 19, 1864), a dress parade (April 15, 1864), an inspection (August 14, 1864), and a flag raising (January 23, 1864). He also recorded the times when band members received new instruments or repaired existing ones. However, he did not provide the names of songs played.

He also wrote tersely about several battles, though as a band member, he frequently experienced them from a distance. On the Battle of the Wilderness, he wrote, "our Division got engaged.… Rebles broke our right line at six in evening we had to skedaddle…" (May 6, 1864). He also briefly described fighting at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse and noted that he helped pitch several hospital tents for the wounded (May 19, 1864). At the Battle of Cold Harbor, Simonds reported that "the Brigade went into the rifle pits," adding "the Band fell back to the teams as usual" (June 4, 1864). The brigade also experienced a great deal of fighting during the Siege of Petersburg, beginning in mid-June 1864, which he documented repeatedly as "heavy firing," without further comment. Although the diary does not provide much detail on military engagements, it sheds light on the daily life of an Army musician and many aspects of his service.


Samuel Ripley papers, 1864-1865

64 items

The Samuel Ripley papers contain correspondence from a soldier in the 36th Wisconsin Infantry, describing several months at Camp Randall, participation in the siege of Petersburg, and his feelings about the war.

The Samuel Ripley papers contain 60 letters, spanning February 1864-February 1865, two brief undated notes, and two photographs. Samuel Ripley wrote 58 of the letters between the commencement of his service in the 36th Wisconsin Infantry in February 1864, and his imprisonment at Salisbury Prison in August of the same year. The recipients were his wife Mary and his mother Abigail. Ripley's early letters, between February and mid-May 1864, describe life at Camp Randall near Madison, Wisconsin, including drilling, taking on the responsibilities of company clerk, and leisure activities. Several letters also mention attempts to visit Mary, as well as to bring her to Madison before his departure for the front.

Between June and August, Ripley wrote 37 long, richly-detailed letters, in which he discussed many aspects of the war: his opinions on its progress and how it was conducted, experiences participating in trench warfare during the Siege of Petersburg, attitudes toward fighting and the Union cause, and, to some extent, politics. He also frequently mentioned his ongoing rheumatism and digestive issues, but generally reported experiencing fair health. Correspondence from June 14-23, 1864, vividly depicts the siege of Petersburg, including being grazed by bullets and participating in an undermanned charge through an unprotected melon field (June 19, 1864). In a letter of June 20, 1864, Ripley described the variety of activity in the trenches: "any one fires from the trench who pleases and when they please, so some are firing some eating some cooking some hunting grey backs." Surprisingly, although an undated note in the collection states that Ripley was wounded on June 22, 1864, his letters do not mention such an event.

A strong believer in the Union and in the abolition of slavery, Ripley admitted to disliking warfare (June 27, 1864), but hoped that peace arbitrations would not succeed unless they ended slavery (July 25, 1864). In several other letters, he expressed distaste for "Copper-heads." He also frequently made predictions about movements and on the outcome of the war, which he believed had neared its end.

Ripley's later letters are particularly introspective and frank; on August 22, 1864, he wrote to his mother, describing his reasons for enlisting against the wishes and advice of friends, and alluded to his own shortcomings and disagreements with his deceased father. He also mentioned his distrust of some Union officers, whom he suspected of receiving bribes from Southerners and stealing packages from Union soldiers. In his last letter of August 28, 1864, Ripley notified his wife about his capture. Two letters from military officials, providing details on Ripley's imprisonment and death, close the correspondence.

The Miscellany Series contains lyrics to a Civil War song, a few biographical details, and two photographs of Ripley (one tintype and one carte-de-visite).


Thirza Finch diary and letter transcriptions, 1858-1870

480 pages

The Finch diary and letter transcriptions volume contains Thirza Finch's sporadic (or selected) diary entries from 1858-1870, plus copies of letters written to Thirza and other family members from her brothers who served in the Civil War.

The Finch diary and letter transcriptions contains Thirza Finch's sporadic (or selected) diary entries from 1858-1870, plus copies of letters written to Thirza and other family members from her brothers in the service. Unfortunately, in many cases the diary entries and letters appear to be extracts of the originals, rather than true transcriptions, and there is no way to know what has been omitted.

Except for a few entries written during the first year of the war, while Thirza was at Maple Valley, the diary entries are generally brief. These few entries, though, are a powerful record of the uncertainty felt by civilians caught in a war zone, and of the fear and suspicion surrounding the appearance of unknown persons, white or Black, soldier or civilian, northern or southern. The diary is at its best in the few days surrounding the 2nd Battle of Bull Run, when Thirza writes longer pieces, and when events take place at a very rapid pace and the tension reaches its peak. There are also several excellent entries relating her experiences nursing Union soldiers -- semi-voluntarily, it seems -- and hosting "deserters" from the Confederate Army.

Among the correspondence copied into the book, a few of the letters from Thirza's brothers are outstanding, though most are fairly routine, and many have been edited down during the copying process. Particularly noteworthy are a letter written by Richmond following the death of their father, in which he laments the fact that the family have drifted apart, and the series of letters written during the siege of Washington, N.C. Edwin's letters describing a spirited cavalry skirmish at Lacey Springs and the trenches at Petersburg three days before the fall are also excellent, as is his lengthy description of a huge snowball fight between members of three New York regiments and the 1st Vermont Cavalry.


William Boston diary (typescript), 1862-1865

96 pages

The William Boston diary is a bound typescript, which documents Mr. Boston's service in the 20th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. This volume, compiled by William's son, Orlan W. Boston, contains supplemental information and facsimiles of original documents related to William's service.

The diary consists of brief entries written almost daily during Boston's service. Early on in the war, Boston looked favorably upon the regiment's colonel, but was not as enamored of other officers, writing that "[t]he boys were glad to see him [Col. Williams] and cheered him lustily. Most of the officers looked sober" (1863 April 26). His comments on routine daily life tend to be very brief.

During his western service, Boston's diary is fairly thin, with perhaps longest and best description relating to a trip taken to some caverns in southern Kentucky (1863 May 27). The writing improves, however, following Boston's second tour in Virginia, and includes a good account of battles in the Petersburg Campaign from late August through November, 1864, as well as descriptions of life during the siege in the late fall 1864 through Spring, 1865. Boston's best description of an engagement is that for the desperate Confederate assault on Fort Stedman. His entries from the Appomattox Campaign are lengthier than average and provide a very good account of the regiment's activities.