Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Levi E. Kent Journal, 1861-1862

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscript Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Levi E. Kent journal
Creator: Kent, Levi E.
Inclusive dates: 1861-1862
Extent: 1 volume
Abstract:
The journal of Levi E. Kent, of the 4th Rhode Island Infantry, Company F., provides an account of his regiment's movements, battles, pastimes, entertainments, and lifestyle.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1976. M-1730.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Levi E. Kent journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Kent, Levi E.

Rank : Captain; Major

Regiment : 4th Rhode Island Infantry Regiment. Co. F (1861-1864)

Service : 1861 September-1862 September 26

Although his origins are unknown, it appears that Levi Kent was old enough and commanded enough respect to earn a Captain's commission in the 4th Rhode Island Infantry when it was organized in September, 1861. A disciplinarian, Kent served with the 4th Infantry during several months of comparatively quiet duty in Maryland, guarding the national capitol, before entering the fray in North Carolina.

In February, 1862, the 4th Rhode Island was placed under the command of Ambrose E. Burnside, to assist in his expedition against the Carolina coast. With a massive naval assault, the force took possession of Roanoke Island on February 7th, gaining a precious, precarious foothold in the rear of the Army of Northern Virginia. Kent and his regiment took part in securing this foothold with a successful offensive campaign against New Bern (where they were engaged at Slocum's Creek) and in April, with the siege and capture of Beaufort. The expedition, however, came to a halt when the bloodiest days of the Peninsular Campaign made their presence in Virginia a necessity. In July, the majority of Burnside's forces were ordered to reinforce Fortress Monroe.

Life in the 4th Rhode Island was turbulent by any measure, and the officers in particular appear to have been wracked with dissention, and bickering and in-fighting among them was common. After a leave of absence in June and early July, Kent rejoined his regiment for a brief period in Virginia, but was discharged in September, 1862. His post-war activities are unknown.


Collection Scope and Content Note

Although Kent served for only one year during the Civil War, he left an outstanding account of his regiment's movements, battles, pastimes, entertainments, and lifestyle. A good writer and capable of holding forth for several pages on a single engry, Kent's journal virtually amounts to a regimental history. Of special interest is his reporting on the palace intrigue among the officers of the 4th Rhode Island.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Aquia Creek (Va.)
    • Baltimore (Md.)
    • Beaufort (N.C.)
    • Cape Hatteras (N.C.)
    • Christmas.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Funeral rites and ceremonies.
    • Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872.
    • Human behavior.
    • Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865.
    • Liquors.
    • Lizards.
    • Maryland--Politics and government.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Military camps.
    • Military discipline.
    • Military ethics.
    • Morale.
    • New Year.
    • Ocean travel.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)
    • Plantations.
    • Poore, Ben Perley, 1820-1887.
    • Roanoke Island (N.C.)--Maps.
    • Secession.
    • Skirmishing.
    • Slavery.
    • Slocum's Creek (N.C.)
    • Soldiers--Recreation.
    • Thanksgiving Day.
    • Theft.
    • United States. Army--Officers.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • Washington (D.C.)
    • Washington, George 1732-1799.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   3.3b Schoff Civil War Diaries and Journals  
    Levi E. Kent journal,  1861 September -1862 September [series]:
     
      September 1861 [subseries]:
     
    Rigid discipline
     
      October 1861 [subseries]:
     
    Commissions
     
    Trip to D.C.
     
    Description of Capitol building
     
    Unrest at discipline
     
    Lincoln
     
    Party with champagne
     
    Ben Perley Poore
     
    Funeral
     
      November 1861 [subseries]:
     
    Unpopular new colonel
     
    Camp in the field
     
    Maryland election
     
    Improvised stove
     
    George McClellan
     
    Moving camp
     
    Thanksgiving dinner
     
      December 1861 [subseries]:
     
    Picket at Edsell's Hill
     
    Army morality
     
    Christmas gifts
     
    Christmas celebration
     
    Menu
     
    Sleeping arrangements
     
    Thoughts of home
     
      January 1862 [subseries]:
     
    New Year's Day
     
    Gen. Howard departs
     
    On board the Eastern Queen
     
    Pastimes
     
    Fortress Monroe
     
    Steamers and sinkings in Cape Hatteras
     
    Stuck on a sandbar
     
    Human nature
     
    Food/water in dirty barrels
     
    Music and games
     
    Poor conditions on board ship
     
    Local folks: poor whites
     
    Roanoke Island
     
      February 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Battle at Roanoke Island (with map)
     
    Aftermath
     
    Wounded and dead
     
    Prisoners (including son of Gov. Wise)
     
    Burnside
     
    Foraging
     
    Death from "lack of whiskey"
     
    Funeral
     
    Description of Camp Parke, N.C.
     
    Lizards
     
      March 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Illness
     
    KP duty
     
    Palace intrigue: Captain and Colonel
     
    Skirmish at Slocum's Creek (lengthy and excellent description)
     
    N.C. union sympathizer
     
    Beaufort, N.C.
     
    Macon House resort area
     
    Deserted plantation; slaves
     
      April 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Preliminaries and attack on Fort Macon
     
    Box from home
     
      May 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Bilious fever
     
    Steamship journey: Beaufort to New York
     
      July 1862 [subseries]:
     
    [Kent did not keep his journal during a leave of absence]
     
    R.I. and Philadelphia southern sympathizers
     
    Description of Philadelphia
     
    Baltimore: "rotten to the core"
     
    Dissatisfaction with new colonel
     
    Resignations
     
    Halleck in camp
     
      August 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Continued dissatisfaction in camp
     
    Whiskey quarrel
     
    False "rebel signal"
     
    Maneuvers around Fredericksburg, Va.
     
    Stolen George Washington memorabilia
     
      September 1862 [subseries]:
     
    Aquia Creek
     
    Skirmish
     
    Closing thoughts; discharge