John P. Reynolds' journal is an unusually literate and well-written account of life in the army during the opening stages of the Civil War, and includes long, detailed passages describing drills, parades, ceremonies and celebrations, and the ways in which soldiers chose to entertain themselves. It is an example of a superb Civil War journal containing almost no reference to military activity. While nostalgically reviewing the events since the unit was called, Reynolds himself noted that "the pastimes we had experienced...combined together presented more the aspect of a pleasure excursion or mammoth pic-nic, than a military campaign during the period of actual warfare" (p. 90).
Particularly noteworthy descriptions include those of the camp at Relay House, of particular drills, flag-raising ceremonies, and of celebrations of the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill and of the Fourth of July. Reynolds is at his best when recounting an operation on July 3rd to capture a Rebel recruiter, Samuel Ogle Tilghman, at his home on the coast. Though no shots were fired, the atmosphere Reynolds sets provides a strong sense of what it must have been like for a young soldier on patrol. Tilghman was released on parole of honor just two weeks later, on July 26, 1861.
The Reynolds journal appears to be the second and only surviving part of a series that probably originally contained three volumes. The first covering muster to June 6, 1861, the third, from July 14th to mustering out on August 1st.