UNION SOLDIER DIARY—PRIVATE DAVID RICHARDS, CO. “M”, 13TH PA CAVALRY

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Item Code: 846-198

Standard pocket “Diary for 1865”. Published New York, 1865. Owner inscription in pencil, rear endpapers—“D. Richards Jr / Brady / Indiana County / Penna.” Single calendar day entries, plus memoranda pages, etc. Brown buckram w/ folding flap. Exhibits light external wear, & wrinkling of rear memoranda pages. Else VG. In protective sleeve, accompanied by documentation.

Private David Richards Jr enlisted 2 /15 /1865 as a private and died suddenly of unknown illness 18 May 1865 at an army hospital in Fayetteville, NC. His pencil entries begin February 14 with the note that he “Left Indiana [PA] went to Pittsburg in the evening went to Greensburgh.” His final three entries—May 11,12 13—record the onset of sudden illness.

May 11—“Last night I laid in camp there caught cold in my ears.”

May 12—“Came to the hospital at Fayetteville

May 13—“Still at the hospital business getting quite brisk.”

Then silence, then the following penciled entry on 18 May:

“Mr. David Richards died this morning at half past 3 o’clock. /His remains were buried at 5 o’clock in the evening in the eastern side of the Fayetteville cemetery at NC.” [Records indicate that he was reinterred in the National Cemetery, Wilmington, NC, grave #43.  Findagrave.com indicates it is Plot 1, 1660.]

Private Richards entries run from February 14 fairly continuously through mid-April. Though terse, they record accurately detail his regiment’s activities as it heads south to join Sherman’s Army in its final mop-up of Johnston’s Confederates in North Carolina. Entries along the way include the following:

February 15—“We was sworn into United States Service for one year.

February 24—“Left city Point went to dismounted camp. Then marched back to City Point and joined the 13th Cavalry Regiment. Heard heavy firing in the direction of Petersburgh.”

February 27—“We started from City Point, VA, to Fort Fisher, NC. Sea very rough. Many of the boys seasick. Saw the masts of the Cumberland in Hampton Roads. Also saw the bow of the Merrimac.”

March 13—“We started at 6 o’clock and marched til 8 ‘olcock when we entered Elizabethtown. Found plenty of niggers but few white folks. Niggers flocked in to see the Yankees was very much delighted. 6 companies departed ted for Fayetteville to communicate with Sherman’s army distant from Wilmington 86 miles

March 14—"We went out on a scout took ten mules three horses & wagons 3 carts and niggers any amount. Weather pleasant. The company that went to Sherman relieved at 12 o’clock. They represent his army as being in good heart and mounted on mules. They have not seen a Yankee paper in three months.”

March 19—“We left camp at 6 o’clock with the 9th Illinois Cavalry and marched about 4 miles and fell in with Henderson McKelvy. Heard very heavy cannonading in the rear supposed to be Goldsboro. Was detailed with ten men to carry dispatches to General Terry. Got lost travelling about 30 miles.”

March 24—“We laid in camp near the Neuse River. In the evening about 3 pm. The rebels attacted the colored troops on the opposite side of the river and at night they all crossed the river on the pontoon bridge.”

April 12,--” We left camp in the morning and skirmished in the afternoon with the rear guard of the army in the evening. We were halted to build breastworks but the Johns did not come into us. Gen. Butler came and surrendered himself”—[Matthew Calbraith butler being a Division Commander under Wade Hampton.]

April 13—“We left camp at 6 am. Six miles east of Raleigh. Marched about two miles when we heard the City had surrendered. Passed on through the town went about 2 miles when we come on the rebel rear guard. Skirmished about five miles We lost 5 killed and 6 wounded…”

April 17—“We laid in camp at Durham Station. Generals Sherman and Kilpatrick with 400 men went to see whether Johnson would surrender. He was willing but Hampton was unwilling. So Johnston waited until he he could consult with his officers.”

April 30—“We left Camp at Durham Station and marched 18 miles and encamped for the night. Weather beautiful.”

Solid collectible. Good 13th PA Cavalry diary, w/ marching content from Sherman’s army at the close of the war. Private David Richards deserved better than a hospital death at the end of it.  [jp]

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