The Joseph W. Hall diary (160 pages) contains the daily reflections of a member of the 7th New York Heavy Artillery, from May 15, 1864, to July 29, 1865. His typical entries are one or two sentences long. Hall noted his company's locations, daily activities, and food (rations and foraging). He also provided details on his company's role in skirmishes and battles, including the Battle of Cold Harbor (pages 8-10), the Battle of Petersburg (pages 18-20), the Siege of Petersburg (pages 43-44), and the Battle of Ream's Station (page 60-61). The following entry is a typical description of a skirmish:
"[August] 22 We laid about in our work until about noon when we advanced about a mile in the woods and halted in line of Battle[.] The Rebels crept around us and got in our rear and opened on us a galling fire[.] Everything was in confusion[.] the whole corps broke for the Breastworks and were not a moment too soon, for the Rebels were close on our works but our men rallied and repulsed them with heavy loss and held the works[.] Two of our company were taken Prisoner." (page 55)
In addition to fighting, Hall records entries on various other topics. On August 19, 1864, Hall described "talking and trading" with the Rebels instead of firing on them (page 55), and pages 62-73 cover details on army hospitals. The entry from August 18, 1864, contains a brief description of the 10th Corps, of which soldiers "were mostly negroes" (page 55). Hall discussed the Presidential election of 1864 (pages 78-79), and Lincoln's assassination (p. 132-135). Pages 128 through 155 cover the events between the fall of Richmond and Hall's eventual discharge at the end of July 1865.
At the end of the volume, after many blank pages, Hall copied recipes for medicine, including a "Diarrhea Cordial," and a cure for consumption, and listed the 82 men in the 7th New York Heavy Artillery, Battery B, along with their ranks when they enlisted in the regiment in August 1862.