[This blog post was written by Debbi Blake, Collection Services Section Manager for the State Archives of North Carolina.]
Found in a stack of Civil War-era newspapers in an antique shop in 1989, the Fort Fisher log book was purchased for the State Archives by the Friends of the Archives, the Museum of History Associates, and the Fort Fisher Restoration Committee. The slim volume contains about 68 entries dating from May 20-November 10, 1864. The entries include such information as general and special orders, circulars, and specific orders from General Whiting to Colonel Lamb. They mention 32 officers, 15 enlisted men and 1 free Negro. Written on the first page of the book are the penciled words, “This Book was found in a bomb-proof in Fort Fisher by Patrick F. Rayan.” Attached to the page are three pieces of flags that belonged to the Twenty-fifth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (2) and the Twenty-Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (1).
The entries themselves run the gamut between the curtailing of all visits into Wilmington, North Carolina due to the yellow fever outbreak to orders to build plank bridges so that troops can more easily pass between guns. Reading them is fascinating from a historical perspective and is a bit reminiscent of the barrage of announcements made by Radar O’Reilly on “M.A.S.H.” Many historians have used the log book for studies of Fort Fisher, but scientists have also used it for its entries on the weather during the period. The Fort Fisher Logbook is part of the “Treasures of the Archives” and is available online.