PAIR OF DIARIES IDENTIFIED TO 15TH CONNECTICUT SOLDIER

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This pair of diaries was kept by Private Henry Denton Pardew of Company F, 15th Connecticut Volunteers. The first diary covers 1864 and the second 1865. Most entries are in period ink and are several sentences long while some of the entries near the end are in pencil.

Each diary meas. approx. 3.00 x 5.00 inches and covers an entire year. The exterior of each is covered in thin leather and has a flap and keeper to hold them shut. Each flap has “DIARY” stamped in gold along with the year it covers.

The diary for 1864 is in very nice condition. The exterior shows only light surface dirt. It is well bound and every date has an entry in period ink. These are only a few lines in each but there are several longer entries. On the inside first page in period ink is “HENRY PERDEW, WEST MERIDEN, CONNECTICUT.” Turning the page one can see the outline of a removed gem type photo. The following pages are a calendar and almanac for 1864.

The 1865 diary has moderate exterior surface wear. The flap is worn and the spine is chipped but the binding is still very good. The first page shows the impression of another removed image and carefully written in period ink on the back of the page is “HENRY D. PARDEW CO. F, 15TH CONN. VOLS. NEW BERN, N.C. JANY 1ST 1865.” The pages following are a calendar and list of eclipses for 1865. Entries run through Pardew’s discharge into July ending at the 21st. There is a gap in mid-August before he picks up the diary in September and makes entries through the rest of the year.

Henry D. Pardew was born January 16, 1840 in Connecticut. He was living in the town of Meriden when he enlisted in Company F, 15th Connecticut Volunteers for 3 years’ service on August 25, 1862. He was promoted to corporal on May 1, 1864 and was mustered out on June 27, 1865.

Pardew’s regiment, the 15th Connecticut, served in the defenses of Washington until December of 1862 when it was transferred to the 9th Corps. In April of 1863 it became part of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina where it remained through the rest of the war serving with first the 18th Corps before moving to the district of Beaufort in March of 1865.

During its service the 15th was present at Fredericksburg, Suffolk, Plymouth, Petersburg and Kinston. Their losses were slight and they were not heavily engaged in a battle until Kinston on March 8, 1865. There the regiment lost 25 killed, 47 wounded, 456 captured and 3 missing.

It should be noted that Private Pardew was not well educated. He spelled phonetically and did not use punctuation. Each entry starts with the weather and most discuss things like dress parade, cleaning his weapon, who he got letters from and who he wrote to. When marching he will mention distances and delays such as bad roads or low tides if on a ship. He does not elaborate much but he does tell you enough to get an idea of what life was like for him as a typical Union soldier. He does mention some comrades by name which will provide the new owner with some interesting research.

Some of the more interesting entries are:

January 16, 1864 –Very pleasant. Got a pass and went to Portsmouth + had a good time. Had my hair cut. Today is my birthday am 24 years old. Emma Knapp gave me a collar a birthday present.

January 20- Wind blew but clear. Came from Portsmouth and got paid off. Sent home $20 by express. Had orders to be ready to march at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning. Billy Fery and Pillion got out of the guard house.

January 30 – Warm and pleasant. Got up out of bed at 3 in the morning. Marched and broke a Reb camp. Got lots of goods. Chased the Rebs until noon… Rebs fired on us but hurt no one.

February 28th – Warm and pleasant. Came off picket and went to visit some Rebs outside the lines.

March 18th – Warm and pleasant. Came off picket. Played ball in the afternoon. Washed me all over. The boys caught a beef and killed it. Went very good for a change. Got a letter from Mary.

Throughout most of April Pardew talks about being in the breastworks around Plymouth. His regiment would enter the breastworks in the morning and stay until relived in the afternoon. He mentions the 17th Mass coming under fire and losing one man but his regiment was never engaged.

May 26th – A serious accident. Torpedoes exploded killed 40 + wounded17

August 29th – Warm + pleasant. Went to hear the band play at general Parmers(?). The R Railroad trck torn up between Morehead & this city by Guerillas.

From late September through most of October Pardew was sick with Yellow Fever.

November 8th – Drilled in the afternoon. Voted for President.

1865

January 2nd- Came off duty. The colored people celebrated in honor of Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation…

January 19th - …right wing got back from Little Washington. Were fired in to Col. McChesner wounded in leg.

February 25th – On Provost. 61 Reb deserters come in, a Major, Lieut…

March 2nd – Orders to march. Started at 1 ½ went to Batchelor’s Creek on cars from there marched until 6. Bivouac for the night. Sent my dress coat home. Rained very hard.

March 7th – Broke camp at 1. At 6 were fired on. Our Company went on picket the rest went on skirmish line. Cold. No fires.

March 8th – All morning on picket. Rebs shelled at first. About noon they flanked us and drove us. The most of our Regt. Killed or captured. Fell back and fortified and held them. Lost my knapsack.

March 9th – The Rebels charged our lines a number of times during the day. Were repulsed every time. Company K got here. Wrote a letter to mother. We are fortified and they never can drive us out of them.

March 10th – They made several charges, were repulsed. On our left where they lost heavy we captured a number of prisoners…

March 11th – Rebs done left. Gone towards Kinston. Advanced our line out two miles…

March 24th – 800 prisoners came in from Sherman

April 1st – Went down to look for some of the dead. Dug up 14 so bloated would not recognize them.

April 12th – News of the capture of Lee and his whole army. They surrendered on the 9th.

April 17th – Roll call is not till sunrise. News of the death of Lincoln. Spent the evening in Taylor’s tent.

April 19th – Had Regt. Inspection. Heard that there was a cessation of hostilities until peace was declared. President Lincoln buried.

April 28th – Took a walk down to the ram “NEUSE” with Couch.

Entries continue through most of the rest of the year as stated above.

With a little effort and research more of Pardew’s story can be pieced together to get a wider picture of his life.

Soldier diaries are much sought after items.  [AD]

 

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