Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for William Ellis Jones Diary, 1862
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Shannon Wait, March 2010
Title: William Ellis Jones diary Creator: Jones, William Ellis, 1838-1910 Inclusive dates: 1862 Extent: 1 volume Abstract:
The diary of William Ellis Jones documents nine months of service in the Crenshaw Battery, Virginia Light Artillery, by a 24-year old private. Jones describes the mustering of Crenshaw’s Battery on March 14, 1862, participation in several battles, including the Battle of Gaines’ Mill and the Second Battle of Bull Run, and meeting Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
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
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
The William Ellis Jones diary is accompanied by a typescript with an introduction and notes by Jones’ grandson, William Ellis Jones, III.
William Ellis Jones Diary, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
William Ellis Jones was born May 15, 1838, in Richmond, Virginia. He was mustered into service in Crenshaw’s Battery (Pegram’s Battalion), Virginia Light Artillery, on March 14, 1862. Jones participated in the battles of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Mechanicsville (Beaver Dam Creek), Gaines’ Mill, Cedar Run, Groveton, Second Bull Run (Manassas), Harper’s Ferry, Antietam (Sharpsburg), and Fredericksburg, between March and December 1862, the period covered by his diary. He survived the war and returned to Richmond, where he married Ella Cordelia Smith, and ran a printing and binding business with William H. Clemmit under the name Clemmit & Jones. He died on April 18, 1910, at the age of 72, survived by three sons--F. Ellis Jones, Fairfax Courtney Jones, and Thomas Grayson Jones.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The diary of William Ellis Jones is contained in a single volume and covers the period of Jones’ service in the Confederate States Army between March 14 and December 31, 1862. Jones apparently found the mostly-blank book on the battlefield at the Gaines’ Mill; it had previously belonged to a Union Soldier named William Daugherty. Jones tore out most of the used pages and transcribed a narrative he had been keeping into the book, but Daugherty’s signature and a few of his notes remain.
Jones’ record begins when he was mustered into service in Crenshaw’s Battery, Virginia Light Artillery, and contains brief but extremely rich daily entries describing morale among Confederates, the intensity of battle, and frequent illnesses and deaths. Jones also described receiving medical treatment for several health problems (June 14: “Feel much better this morning, the calomel acting with talismanic effect on my liver”), the execution of deserters (August 19: “…the prisoners were marched up to their graves, preceded by the band playing the dead march and their company with loaded muskets”) and meeting Stonewall Jackson (August 11: “He… looks on the ground as if he lost something; altogether he presents more the appearance of a well-to-do farmer than a military chieftain.”).
In a particularly long entry on June 27, Jones described participating in the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, covering his psychological state, the “terrifically hot” enemy fire, and the battle’s casualties. Jones’ diary is a literate and observant record of nine months of service in Crenshaw’s Battery.
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862.
Beaver Dam Creek, Battle of, Va., 1862.
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862.
Confederate States of America. Army. Virginia Artillery. Crenshaw's Battery.
Confederate States of America. Army--Military life.