Manuscript volume, 28 January-19 June 1865, pocket diary of First Sergeant Wilbur F. Haughawout, Co. H, Third Wisconsin, details the Union soldier’s daily activities during a tour of duty that spanned the time from his departure from Sisters Ferry, S.C., until his unit was disbanded at Washington, D.C. In addition to regular diary entries, the volume includes personal notes written by Haughawout, among which are a poem regarding his mother and father, accounting records, and the addresses of friends and relations, some of which may date from a different period.
The war diary outlines Haughawout’s experiences as a member of the Union Army during Sherman’s march north from Savannah, Ga., to Washington D.C. Its entries chronicle the occupation of cities, march routes and distances traveled per day, camp life, food availability and rationing, troop inspections, and military engagements. Haughawout commenced his diary on 28 January 1865 at Sisters Ferry just inside the South Carolina border with Georgia. His travels within South Carolina took him from Robertville to Barnwell, Blackville, Columbia, Winnsboro, Chesterfield, and Cheraw.
Haughawout’s unit was involved in a number of actions within South Carolina, including Robertville (29-30 January), Combahee River and River’s Bridge, Salkahatchie (6-7 February), Blackville(9 February), the bombardment and occupation of Columbia(16-18 February), a skirmish near Chesterfield (2 March), and the capture of Cheraw (5 March). From a position near Columbia, Haughawout noted on 16 February that the 15th Corps was shelling the capital city and two days later added—“the 14th Corps is in advance and destroys all or most of the buildings. We live off the country entirely.”
Haughawout’s account of his march through North Carolina, while it contains references to battles and marching routes, focuses more on camp life and news of the war as the movement of Sherman’s army slowed towards the conclusion of the war. The troops’ path through North Carolina took him from Fayetteville(11-13 March) to Bulls Bluff (15-16 March), Bentonville (19 March), Goldsboro (24 March), Kinston(28 March-9 April), Smithfield (11 April), and Raleigh(14-29 April).
Among the notations on battles and skirmishes in which the Union soldier participated, his account of the advance upon Fayetteville is particularly compelling—“Marched at 6 toward Fayetteville. The 2nd Div. taking the advance. The roads were good. Our line of march could be traced by the¼tar Kilns burned on our approach causing volumes of black smoke to ascend and form clouds.” The diary also records battles at Bulls Bluff(15 March) and Bentonville (20 March)—“[we] learned the enemy had retreated 2 miles leaving many dead on the field¼we buried the dead of which there was many as our artillery played sad havoc among their masses lines.”
While Haughawout was engaged in fighting during his stay in North Carolina, many of the entries dating from his time there relate to camp life. His first extended stay in camp was at Goldsboro and Kingston, where he remained from 24 March to 9 April. Descriptions of camp life concern the receiving of mail, issue of clothing and payroll, religious services, picket duty, drilling and review, and the ever important news of the war. Writing on 28 March, Haughawout commented on the occupation of Kinston—“[we] stopped in the suburbs of the city. The boys were so unruly that we were ordered to leave the city. Some buildings were torn down.” During his stay in camp near Kinston, Haughawout received important news—“Glorious news if true. It is officially reported that Richmond is taken by Grant with 25,000 pris[ioners] & 400 pieces of artillery.” And while on the march to Raleigh, 12 April 1865, his corps heard the “glorious news of the capture by Gen. Grant of Gen. Lee and the entire army of Northern Va. on the 9 last....Everyone feels happy over the news.”
Following the fall of Raleigh, Haughawout began a second extended stay in nearby camp (14-29 April 1865). It was there that he learned of Lincoln’s assassination and the surrender of Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston. The diary entry, dated 18 April although Johnston actually surrendered eight days later, recounts the manner in which the Union troops received word of the capitulation—“Had orders read to us that Johns[t]on had surrendered. We were aroused from sleep at 12 o’clock at night to give 3 cheers for the news.”
Haughawout departed Raleigh on 30 April and took up the march towards Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C. The account of his journey through Virginia contains less detail about his day to day events with more of a focus on the descriptions of past battle sites, news of the war’s end, and his concern over the behavior of the troops in his corps. Entries made prior to arriving at Richmond contain line of march and distances traveled with little embellishment; however, the diary notes, when the corps arrived within ten miles of Richmond, each company received “3 canteens of whiskey.”
En route through Virginia Haughawout’s corps toured both the Spotsylvania and Chancellorsville battle sites. After reaching camp some two miles from the Spotsylvania battlefield, Haughawout recounted at length his impressions of the scene(14-15 May)—“We have arrived in plain view of the reble works around Spotsylvania Court House. It is reported by citizens that many of our dead are yet unburied who fell last May in the battles around here.” On the road to Chancellorsville, Haughawout continued to describe the scene through which he passed—“The reble works were completely riddled with shell and solid shot—there not being a tree but that was not marked by Grants’ Artillery. And along this were reble graveyards showing the resting place of many a reble who had fought his last battle.” Returning later that day to his description of Spotsylvania, he noted—“We¼paid a hurried visit to the ground where Gen. Hancock with the 1st & 2nd Corps charged the reble works. The sight which met our eyes would have been appalling to a person not accustomed to see the hardships that one is obliged to see in the army¼clothing, knapsacks, cartridge boxes lay scattered around showing how desperate had been the struggle.” After touring the Chancellorsville battlefield, Haughawout wrote—“One of the 13th [corps] found the remains of his bro[ther] by 2 false teeth which he took out.”
Haughawout’s corps ultimately reached Washington, D.C., in early June and a diary entry from that time, 10 or 11 June, expresses his concern over the corps’ behavior—“men from the 1st, 10th, 21st, and 22nd Wisc. Regiments got liquor in the morning & toward noon they formed on one of the back streets of the lots where houses of infame were kept—as they advanced up the street they lay waste everything before them until checked by the guard. They returned to the regiments & became quite noisy.”
Accompanying the diary are four newspaper clippings, three of which date from the time of W.F. Haughawout’s death in Jasper County, Mo., and contain biographical information and a record of his military service.