The Moses A. Cleveland collection is made up of a copy of Cleveland's Civil War diary, a scrapbook of his postwar correspondence, and two drafts of his autobiography, which he composed in 1892 and copied in 1909.
The first volume ("War Diary 1864-5...") contains Cleveland's transcribed copies of his diaries from his service in the 7th Massachusetts Light Artillery Battery. Cleveland began his transcription with a short introduction and a brief history of the war, written in 1866, and the first copied entry is dated January 1, 1864. Driven by a desire to evade conscription, he enlisted in the artillery on June 4, 1864, and was dispatched to the Department of the Gulf. Throughout his diary, he made marginal notes tracking important events or themes, described his military activities and, to a lesser extent, offered opinions about the war. Of particular interest is his reaction to the news of Lincoln's assassination, which he first discredited as rumor (p. 132). Following Lee's surrender, Cleveland's regiment was stationed in Mobile, Alabama, before returning to Massachusetts, where Cleveland was discharged on November 13, 1865. The diary also includes a retrospective, a log of miles travelled, a roster for the 7th Massachusetts Light Artillery Regiment, transcriptions of documents, and several ephemera items and newspaper clippings. Some of the news clippings imply that Cleveland was involved in the war's final shot. Two Confederate bills pasted into the volume. Letters and notes from the 1910s are laid into the volume.
The second item is a 95-page scrapbook that Cleveland compiled in the 1880s and 1890s while living in Willoughby, Ohio. It primarily contains correspondence, including several illustrated envelopes, and provides insight into Cleveland's postwar interest in the Civil War.
Two copies of Cleveland's autobiography, which he originally wrote in 1892 and copied in 1909, chronicle his life as a journeyman carpenter and his life as a working man in the antebellum North. He discussed both his personal life and his political views. Of particular interest are remarks about the Millerite movement and about the Mexican War. The first draft of the autobiography (59 pages) ended with Cleveland's enlistment, and the second (107 pages) closed with reflections on the first few years of his postwar life. The first volume contains two photographs of Cleveland, and the second has a number of songs and poems, many of which commemorate soldiers of the Civil War (pp. 109-252). He intended the autobiography to be integrated with his war diary as a single volume. Newspaper clippings and poems are pasted and laid into the volume's endpapers.