Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Joseph W. Hall Diary, 1864-1865

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, March 2011

Summary Information
Title: Joseph W. Hall diary
Creator: Hall, Joseph W.
Inclusive dates: 1864-1865
Extent: 1 volume
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.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2002. M-4234.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Joseph W. Hall Diary, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Joseph W. Hall (born c.1840) enlisted as a private in the New York 113th Infantry (Albany County Regiment) under Colonel Lewis O. Morris on August 9, 1862. In December of that year, the regiment became the 7th New York Heavy Artillery, with Hall assigned to Battery B. He was promoted sergeant on March 18, 1864. In November 1864, his regiment joined the Army of the Potomac's 2nd Army Corps. He fought at Spotsylvania Court House (May 17-21, 1864), Cold Harbor (June 1-12, 1864), Petersburg (June 16-23), Ream's Station (August 25, 1864), and Hatcher's Run (February 5-7, 1865). His regiment defended Baltimore from February to June of 1865. Hall mustered out with the rest of the regiment on August 1, 1865, and was honorably discharged.

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    • Cold Harbor, Battle of, Va., 1864.
    • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.
    • Petersburg Crater, Battle of, Va., 1864.
    • Presidents--United States--Election--1864.
    • United States. Army. New York Heavy Artillery Regiment, 7th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 2nd.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Recipes.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Joseph W. Hall diary,  1864-1865