William H. S. Burgwyn Diary (January 21, 1864-September 29, 1864)

William H. S. Burgwyn

The third diary of William H. S. Burgwyn first 25 pages contain an alphabetical list of the men as well as a detailed clothing allowance list for Company H of the 35th Regiment North Carolina Troops. There is also a descriptive roll at the end of the diary, which includes each individual’s name, rank, eye, hair color, height and age. William used this book for Company business in 1863 while he was a Captain of Company H of the 35th Regiment North Carolina Troops. In his previous, diary he makes reference to spending time writing out his descriptive roll.

He commenced the diary portion of the book on January 21, 1864 as he starts out for Petersburg to take his new position on General Clingmans staff. “Started about 7 1/2 AM for Gary’s to take the train for Petersburg Va which place I reached about 3 PM. Happened to see Mj Gage Commissary of the brigade who hauled my baggage + me to Genl. Clingman’s Head Quarters.” William spends much of his time while in Petersburg escorting the young woman of the city to social engagements, political lectures and church, some days he goes to church three or more times with different young ladies.

On April 27, 1864 William leaves Petersburg for Ivor Station, and on May 11, 1864 William and General Clingmans Brigade arrive at Drewrys Bluff. They partake in a few skirmishes, in the area, and on May 15, 1864 “About 8 PM orders came from Genl Beauregard saying that he intended attacking the Enemy early next morning.” William gives detailed information about the attack in his diary. My favorite quote from that day is “As soon as they perceived me four aimed their pieces at me but I falling down at the time partly from shere [sic] exhaustion it prevented them from shooting me their balls missed me but one passed through my hat brim.”

On May 31, 1864 William “was taken very sick about dark last evening with a sever attack of Cholora Morbus + suffered intensely all night.” His Brigade was ordered to Richmond but being ill he rode in the ambulance later in the day. He arrives to find his brigade had gone in the direction of Cobb Harbor.  “On arriving at Gains Mill about 4 or 5 miles from C.H. about 8 PM heard the Brigade had been in an engagement with the Enemy + been flanked + forced to retreat + that Capt. White ADG had been wounded Capt Blake ADG who had joined me at Mechanicsville + myself immediately started for the brigade about a mile + half distant I feeling very badly + excessively weak about 1/2 mile from Gains Mill found Capt White who was painfully wounded in the back by a piece of shell after seeing him put in an ambulance + started off + having met Genl C who had come to see how Capt White was we three returned to the Brigade formed in line of battle directly across the road.” William goes on to write details in regards to some of the action that takes place.  On Wednesday June 1, 1864, William “received a tremendous blow which struck me I thought about the knee making me fall like an ox + suffering intense pain I knew I was painfully wounded + I thought my knee joint was shattered.” William was carried off the battle field and brought to the Brigade Hospital. The injury was diagnosed as painful but not a dangerous wound. He was transported to Richmond where his father met him and with help from the hospital surgeons arranged a 60 day furlough for William to recuperate from his wound. Williams father send a telegram home to his wife.  “William is with me at Dr. Barnes he was brought in wounded with a ball through his leg below the knee it is very painful, but not dangerous he will not lose his leg we start for Thornbury as soon he is able to travel.”

Telegraph image

Telegraph From Henry Burgwyn to his wife Anna Burgwyn

William is home at Thornbury Plantation for the rest of June and most of July recovering from his wound. He writes about the pain and discomfort of his injured leg and some activities of the family during that time. On July 26, 1864 William starts out for Raleigh on the train with his father, the rest of the family having already arrived in Raleigh. On July 29, 1864 William receives a 30 day extension on his medical furlough and remains in Raleigh until September 19, 1864. While in Raleigh William writes largely of his social activities. “In the PM I took a ride with Cousin Kate Devereux + afterwards took tea + spent the evening very pleasantly at Geo. Mordecai’s.” I find this part of the diary of particular interest. I live in Downtown Raleigh and work here, as well, and I found myself wondering what Raleigh might have looked like in 1864.

On Thursday, September 19, 1864 William heads to Petersburg and his Brigade. He is given the new position of Brigade inspector and spends his time inspecting the brigade until the diary ends on Tuesday, September 27, 1864. The next and last diary of the series commences on September 29, 1864, he buys this diary while a prisoner of war at City Point on October 3, 1864.

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2 Responses to William H. S. Burgwyn Diary (January 21, 1864-September 29, 1864)

  1. Pingback: A Week of Blog Posts « History For All the People

  2. thanks for posting. It’s always good to read non-fiction.

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