Whereas a diary gives a personal day to day insight into the lives of the men and women who wrote them, reminiscences give the reader not only the insight into the event, but also some of the emotions that an event left on that individual. Most reminiscences are written many years after the event, and the passage of time may cloud or change a person’s perspective of an event. In many instances the document has been written because the individual was asked to share their experience, and in this case, sometimes they are embellished to highlight the author in a more glorious manner. Other times, the remembrance is written not about the individual at all but of the events they witnessed, never even disclosing their name till the end.
The State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection includes a large number of Civil War Reminiscences, some of which have recently been added to our digital collections. We have just added about 30 of these reminiscences to the collection and more are on the way. The ones that have been entered cover everything from the commencement of the war to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Reminiscences can also be inaccurate sources of information, due the fact that they are written from one’s personal recollections of an event, but they do offer insight on some of the feelings of the individual soldiers who wrote them as well as a rather comprehensive first-hand description of the many battles involving North Carolina soldiers.
If you would like to browse these new additions to our collection, I recommend visiting our Civil War Resources: North Carolina’s Digital Collections and search with the phrase “reminiscences,” and this should populate at least three pages of Civil War reminiscences for you to peruse.
We anticipate adding another batch of reminiscences within the next month most of which will be written by women and their memories of the home front during the war.