Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
Leonard H. Mahan Diary
Manuscript & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library
Finding Aid by: Nikki Stoddard Schofield, December 2011
Leonard H. Mahan was the son of William and Mary Mahan of Lost Creek, Vigo County, Indiana. William was 38 and Mary was 43 when the 1850 census was taken. They had five children: Sarah, 17; James, 13; Leonard, 10; Mary E., 5; and Erula, 1. In 1870, the junior Leonard, age 30, was living in Terre Haute, Ward 2, Vigo County, with his wife Emila, age 22. Emila was his first wife, and Lydia was his second wife. In 1880, Leonard is listed as a fruit grower, living in Harrison, Vigo County, with his wife Lydia and son Edward, eleven months old. Twenty years later, in 1900, Leonard and Lydia, who were married for 24 years, were still in Harrison, living with Edward R. Mahan, age 20, and Ann S. Hardy, age 90. The 1920 federal census records that both Leonard and Lydia were born in Ohio. An obituary was published on December 4, 1938, stating that Leonard H. Mahan was 99 years old.
The collection contains a fourteen-page diary and letter of Leonard H. Mahan. Page one begins with this statement: “This book if lost should be returned to L. H. Mahan, Co. C, 31st Regt., Indiana Vols. When the owner will pay for the trouble the finder may go to, besides a liberal reward.”
Diary entries, which were typed from the original, begin with January 3, 1862. Leonard tells about arriving at Fort Donelson on February 14, where he saw shells bursting for the first time. He was in the fight on the 15th. They were reinforced by General Lew Wallace. On Feb. 16, the enemy surrendered at 3 o’clock a.m. When they marched into the fort, the “Rebels seemed quite humorous” and bid them “good morning.” Leonard said there was “plenty of whiskey.”
April 6 and 7, he fought at the Battle of Shiloh, stating that at 4 o’clock, the Confederates fled, “leaving our forces in possession of the Battle Field of Shiloh after two days hard fighting.” Leonard was wounded “severally across the back, recovered.”
Leonard writes about the wounding and deaths of his fellow soldiers, about the weather, camping and marching. On June 29, he wrote: “Marched through Florence, Ala., a large town as large as Green Castle, Ind.”
Leonard’s July 31, 1862, entry, while camped in the fairgrounds at Galatin, Tennessee, states: “an alarm at night, great confusion and laughable excitement, but finally got in line.”
August 27, he wrote: “continued marching for several days hunting guerrillas.”
On October 8, he fought the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, and wrote almost one full page about the experience. He tells about a fight for water, because their only supply was from a few insufficient springs, which were a half mile to a mile away from them. On October 10, they “took up the march after the skedaddled Rebs.”
On November 13, he mentions soldiers who were absent without leave. In the month of December, 1862, he reports deserters and soldiers who returned “from desertion for furlough.”
December 31, at Murfreesboro, they “engaged the whole Rebel force.” He describes the Battle of Stone River on that date, and January 1st and 2nd, 1863. He wrote that “the uproaring cheering of the rebel infantry announced their approach.” General Stanley’s reserve Brigade drove “the last rebel from the field. Then the deafening cheers of the brave boys made the issue no longer doubtful.”
On February 24, 1863, he told about “vaccinating for smallpox” in camp.
In July, he was at Tullahoma, where the Rebels evacuated camp. On July 16, he received word of the fall of Vicksburg and the capture of John Morgan. “Everything in extraordinary cheering condition.”
His last entry is August 6, 1863 with the statement: “Army in splendid condition.”
Pages 12-14 lists the soldiers of Company C, including musicians, wagoner, officers, and privates. He has two separate lists for discharged and deaths.
On March 29, 1865, Leonard Mahan wrote a letter from Lick Creek, East Tennessee to “Friends at Home.” He does not mention any family members, but does refer to soldiers of the 31st who died or returned from furloughs.
Manuscript materials CANNOT be photocopied or digitized in their entirety. Photocopies and/or digital images cannot exceed 25% of a collection or a folder within a collection. In some cases, photocopying may not be permitted due to the condition of the item. Check with a Manuscript Librarian for other options.
Folder 1. 14 pages of diary and one letter.
1862 – 1863 Diary entries
March 29, 1865 Letter
Size of Collection: One folder with 14 pages typed from diary and one letter
Collection Dates: 1862-1865
Provenance: Indiana State Library, Genealogy Division; August 14, 1950
Access : The collection is open for research use.
Reproduction Rights: Permission to reproduce, exhibit, or publish material in this collection must be obtained from the Manuscript and Rare Books Division, Indiana State Library.
Language: Materials are entirely in English.
Alternate Formats: None
Related Holdings: None