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Library Digitizes Union Soldier’s Civil War Diary

22feb1865The latest addition to the University of Tennessee Libraries’ digital collections provides an intimate look into the daily life of a Civil War soldier. Three journals kept by Union soldier Henry Pippitt describe life in Company G of the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War.

The diaries are the property of the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville, Ohio, which graciously allowed the UT Libraries to digitize the journals and make them available online.

The Henry Pippitt collection is extremely unusual in that it covers a Civil War regiment’s entire term of service. Thus, it constitutes a history of the 104th Ohio as well as a glimpse into Henry Pippitt’s life as a soldier. Pippitt enlisted into the 104th in August of 1862 as a private and mustered out in June of 1865. During the intervening years he participated in military campaigns throughout the South. His journals describe battles, troop movements, and camp conditions. He also writes of foraging for food, his unit’s reception in towns that they pass, men wounded, and men taken prisoner.

Pippitt’s journals are no less poignant for their brief, straightforward reporting of daily events. They attest to both the horrific and the mundane aspects of war. For instance, the entry pictured here records Pippitt’s experiences on February 22, 1865 (spelling normalized for ease of reading):

“To day Colonel Jordan was appointed Provost-marshall of the City of Wilmington and the 104th to do Provost duty. We crossed Cape fear river and passed into the City. The Band struck up Yankee doodle. The Streets were crowded with citizens and drays. We went to the outskirts of town and went into barracks. There eight of our men prisoners here who starved to death & two who are just alive.”

Visit to view facsimiles of Pippitt’s journals.

There is an interesting backstory to the inclusion of the Pippitt diaries among the UT Libraries’ digital collections. Civil War materials are one of the strengths of our Special Collections; so, when the Pippitt materials appeared for sale on eBay a few years ago, the UT Libraries eagerly purchased the journals. However, unbeknownst to our library or to the bookseller who handled the sale, the journals had been stolen from the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum in Loudonville, Ohio, the city where Henry Pippitt settled after his discharge from the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The UT Libraries returned the purloined journals, the mortified bookseller refunded the purchase price to the UT Libraries, and the Cleo Redd Fisher Museum is once again in rightful possession of the diaries of a native son.

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