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My only POW item from the Civil War


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This is one of my favorite pieces in my collection. It is a diary kept by Daniel Nichols, Co. F, 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was captured during the Mine Run campaign on November 11, 1863 and spent time in several Confederate Prisoner of War camps, the most famous being Andersonville. The diary begins in 1863 and when the year turns to 1864 he just crossed out "1863" and put the '64 dates. He wrote a poem about Andersonville (Camp Sumter) in ink...but he mentions things like the famous tiny stream that ran through the middle of the camp. He also describes several incidents of soldiers being shot along the "dead zone" and in one line he mentions the hanging of the infamous raiders on July 11, 1864. I included some pictures so you all can get an idea. This showed up at a local flea market I frequent about 4 years ago. He married a girl from Philadelphia after the war and lived here the rest of his days. If you can imagine, the man I bought it from rescued it from being thrown in the trash with a bunch of other books and papers from a family estate sale. Enjoy.

Paul

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When I hear stories like that it makes me happy and sad. Happy you have preserved it and sad to think of all that has been trashed. VERY cool object that would be a museum piece.

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Thanks Capa. It's one of my most cherished pieces. I hope one of my children appreciates it one day. I teach US history in a high school outside of Philadelphia and my students have really enjoyed seeing it.

Paul

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Paul,

That is an amazing piece. I can see where the kids in your class would like it. I'm sure your children will cherish knowing how much it meant to you. On a side note , it reminded me of a local story. My friend collects ,buys and sells Civil war items. There was a old beat up desk put to the curb for pick up before a estate sale. Well it was picked up but not by the trash man but a trash collector. In one of the drawers was a stack of old papers. The original owner of the desk was an officer in the 6th Wis. in the civil war and the papers were daily notes and transactions . A literal history in a certain timeframe of the civil war. I was able to look through them quickly before they were sold. Unfortunately way out of my price. Anyway ,sorry I didn't want to take away from your post as that is one awesome piece of history. i hope you have had it transcribed and keep it in a very dark dry place.

Regards, Mitch

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I am always impressed by the quality of handwriting in letters, diaries and such, from years gone by. There was a certain pride and excellence in penmandship. Sadly, 100 years from now, collectors will be sharing copies of poorly spelled text messages from our time period.

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Bugme. That is so true. I see texting lingo showing up in term papers now because the students are so used to using the acronyms. Thank you Mitch for your kind words. I loved hearing your story about the 6th Wisconsin soldier but am sorry you weren't able to get the grouping.I wonder if he mentioned "Old Abe" the eagle anywhere in there. I actually transcribed the whole diary a few years back and shared it with some guys doing a book on the 18th although I haven't heard much more about it so don't know if that book has gone on the back burner. Nichols kept track of the soldiers around him who died at Andersonville as well as other small details. My favorite section was when he wrote about being captured at Mine Run. One entry he's talking about going into battle and the next he nonchalantly describes being a prisoner and how the rebels were taking his possessions as souvenirs. He also describes being in a prison in Virginia...I forget which one at the moment, but how the Union soldiers were singing patriotic songs really loudly at the annoyance of the Confederate guards.

Paul

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