Gilbert, J. B. Civil War Diary

J. B. Gilberts Civil War Diary and Map
1862-1865, 1961
1 folder

Manuscript & Rare Books Division
Indiana State Library

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Finding Aid by: Nikki Stoddard Schofield, December 2011

Biographical Note:

J.B. Gilberts was the son of Morris and Eunice Gilbert, in Dudley, Henry County, Indiana, with the post office at Dublin, Indiana. The 1850 federal census lists him as Josiah, age 10, with sister Sarah A., age 12, and little sister Delila, age 1.  J.B. mentions both these sisters in his diary.  He joined the Pioneer (Engineer) Corps of the 84th Indiana Volunteer Regiment, which was organized in Richmond, Indiana and mustered into service on September 3, 1862. The 1910 federal census lists him as Joshua B. Gilbert, widowed, age 70, in Richmond, Ward 5, Wayne County, Indiana, with Manuel W. Gilbert, 40, and Carl S. Gilbert, 15.  On December 11, 1915, Josiah B. Gilbert died, at age 75, in Richmond, Indiana.

Source: Guide to Indiana Civil War Manuscripts by Ann Turner, 1965, Indiana Civil War Centennial Commission;

Scope and Content Note:

The hardcover diary contains 188 pages with 184 pages handwritten in ink. One map entitled “Battlefields of The Civil War” published by the National Geographic Magazine, April 1961. The first diary entry is dated August 8, 1862 and the last entry is July 4, 1865.  After the last entry, J.B. copied a Confederate soldier’s love letter, which he found on the camp ground in Big Sandy, Virginia. There is a photograph of J.B. Gilberts as an old man, taken at Maxwell & Estell studio in Richmond, Indiana.

June 11, 1863 (page 54), J.B. wrote that they had “pretty smart of a battle here today.  The Rebels were driven back over Stone River.”
July 9, 1863 entry (page 59), J.B. and another soldier went out foraging and acted as “secesh spies” pretending to be Confederates.  As such, they obtained a mare from a citizen who sympathized with them.

August 13, 1863 (page 64), “We have 130 negroes here at work and still coming in fast.  The deserters are still coming in thick and fast.”

December 25, 1863 (pages 88-89) entry describes Christmas Day with lady friends, so there are six couples, “although it was nothing to compare with a party in old hoosierdom.  I spent my Christmas much pleasanter than I did last year as I was laying in the hospital at Ashland, Kentucky with the measles.”

March 12, 1864 (pages 108-109) J.B. paid a surprise visit to his home.  Jack came with him, and they stayed overnight with Jesse Gilbert. He visited Richmond where “most of my young friends live.” His furlough was for 20 days.

On page 113, he mentions receiving a letter from his sister Delilah, and on April 20, 1864, “on the side of Lookout Mountain breaking up rock and building a turnpike of them.”  On page 117, while still working on Lookout Mountain, he received a letter from Sarah Ann Gilbert, and heard distant cannonading from Dalton, Georgia.

February 5, 1865 (page 157) entry states: “3 or 4 soldiers got killed last night at that well known place (Smokey) all happened at house of ill fame, it is a scandal and outrage that so many public houses are tolerated in the city at this time.  There is near 5000 prostitutes in Nashville.”

April 10, 1865 (page 168): “Great excitement in the City over the news of General Lee and army surrendering to General Grant.  Never saw so many flags as there is now waving in Nashville.”

April 30, 1865 (page 171): “Soldiers in the greatest of glee thinking this wicked and uncalled for rebellion is near its close and they will soon all be discharged and return to their homes and friends, feeling and knowing their work has been accomplished and done honorably and justly.”

The last two pages on which J.B. wrote are 183 and 184, on which he copied a love letter by a Confederate soldier, dated August 24, 1862, Buffalo Creek.  J.B. records that he found the letter on the campground near the Big Sandy, Virginia.

Photocopying Policy:

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.

Item Listing

Folder 1.  Diary (CDV of J.B. Gilberts) and map.

Aug. 8-Dec. 31, 1862 Pages 1 through 30
Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 1863 Pages 30 through 90
Jan. 1-Dec. 31 1864 Pages 90 through 150
Jan. 1- July 4, 1865 Pages 150 through 183
Aug. 24, 1862 Confederate soldier’s letter written at Buffalo Creek and found near the Big Sandy, Virginia
1961 Battlefields of The Civil War (map)

Collection Information

Size of Collection: 1 diary of 184 hand-written pages and one map (1961)
Collection Dates: 1862-1865 and 1961
Provenance: Fred Charni, Charni’s Americana, 15 West 7th Street, Brookville, Indiana 47012
Access : The collection is open for research use.
Restrictions: None.
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
Notes: None