The Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson diaries consist of five Civil War diaries; four kept by Nathan D. Robinson, and one written by his brother Thomas. Nathan's diaries cover 1862-1870, while Thomas' volume spans January-May and September-December of 1864.
Thomas' 49-page diary documents his life on a farm near Hanover, Ohio, before and after his military service, as well as three weeks of his time with the National Guard unit he joined, which was incorporated into the 143rd Ohio Infantry. Between January and late April, in daily entries, he described farm work (including harvesting buckwheat and making cider), weather, routine activities, and his efforts to resist alcohol. From May 2-22, he briefly documented his military service, mentioning drilling, traveling by train, and exchanging weapons, though not in much detail. Thomas resumed writing in the diary on September 17, 1864, and added daily entries until the end of the year. These focus primarily on his health, duties, finances, and the weather. On September 27, he wrote that he had contributed $10 to a fund to hire volunteers to take the places of drafted men in the war. In the back of the diary are several pages of financial accounts.
Nathan D. Robinson's first diary spans August 15, 1862-January 14, 1863 and contains approximately 90 pages of entries. In it, he described his arrival at Camp Massillon in Ohio, movement around Kentucky, camp life, duties, and incidents of note, such as the arrival of "Contraband" (escaped slaves), who warned the soldiers of surrounding Confederates. On October 6, 1862, Robinson wrote down detailed instructions on how perform picket duty, including whom to approach and at what distance.
The second volume, covering January 1-November 18, 1864, mainly contains extremely terse descriptions of movements and military actions. In its approximately 100 pages, Robinson gave brief descriptions of such events as the Battle of Resaca (May 13-15, 1864), and the destruction of railroad tracks in Macon, Georgia, during the Atlanta Campaign (August 30, 1864). He also provided ongoing details about the weather and his regiment's casualties.
The next diary, spanning January 1-June 28, 1865, contains 100 pages and comprises lengthier entries. Topics include the health and diagnosis of typhoid fever of Nathan's brother Thomas (January 24, 1865), the capture of an Armstrong Gun "said to be presented to Jef Davise [sic] by the Queen of England" (February 13, 1865), and conflicting rumors about the Lincoln assassination (April 17-19, 1865). On April 22, 1865, Robinson learned that Thomas had died eight days before, and he subsequently drew a mourning curtain over the top and sides of his entries through April 26. In his writings of April 24 and 28, he mentioned several visits to the "Deaf, Dumb and Blind Asylum," which he found "entertaining" and "interesting."
The fourth volume, of approximately 100 pages, sporadically filled in, contains only occasional entries between 1866 and 1870. It also consists of miscellaneous financial notes, two messages from women, and the lyrics to the song "When Sherman Marched Down to the Sea." A single receipt is laid into the volume.