H. H. Gillum journal (1865)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, November 1997
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: H. H. Gillum journal
Creator: Gillum, H. H.
Inclusive dates: 1865
Extent: 70 pages
Captain H. H. Gillum's narrative of Sheridan's final great raid, from Winchester to White House, Va. (February 27-March 19, 1865) is written from the perspective of a quartermaster and overseer of supply trains.
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

Acquisition Information

1977. M-1775.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation

H.H. Gillum Journal, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Gillum, H. H.

Rank : Captain, Assistant Quartermaster

Regiment : United States. Army--Cavalry Corps

Service : Unknown

In February, 1865, Capt. H. H. Gillum was assigned charge of the supply train during Sheridan's raid into Northern Virginia. As Assistant Quartermaster on the staff of the federal Cavalry Corps, he oversaw the massive train of mules, horses, baggage, and wagons as the 1st and 3rd Divisions of the Corps drove toward Lynchburg.

Facing a disheartened pro-Confederate populace and a dispirited army, Gillum watched as the Corps swept the field at Waynesboro, and for three weeks, he kept the train rolling over mountains, mud, rivers, and burned bridges, and despite cranky mules and the logistical nightmare of feeding a "horde" of federal soldiers severed from their base of supply. Discovering that Lynchburg was too heavily defended, Sheridan descended on Charlottesville to rest and destroy the railroad, and from there, Gillum accompanied Thomas Devin's 1st Division as they turned to the James River to destroy the canal -- which the slippery conditions and mule hooves did quite adequately -- and any mills along the banks.

Inured to the destruction and personal losses the army inflicted on the civilian population during the expedition, Gillum actually seemed proud of the efficiency with which the army carried out its wreckage and the rapacity with which they foraged, resourcefully rooting out stores hidden in cellars and slave cabins, and appropriating tobacco and flour as needed and leveling whatever remained. He commented that the civilians (in his eyes) even looked upon the soldiers as benevolent -- or at least less harsh than had been the case in the past. Yet despite his casual attitude and the feeling that the raid was as much as lark as a military expedition, Gillum was acutely aware that the war remained serious business. The muddy roads were fraught with peril for horses, wagons, and soldiers alike, and constantly looming was the threat that Confederate forces might appear at any time and make short work of the lumbering train. As a result, horses who were too weak to continue were unceremoniously shot, rather than have them suffer a lingering death or, worse, fall into Confederate hands.

On March 10th, the expedition pulled into Columbia, Va., and reconnoitered. Finding that nearly all the bridges across the James had been destroyed, Sheridan elected to join Grant in the White House, destroying everything in his path, but meeting little effective resistance before arriving there safely on March 18.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Capt. H.H. Gillum's narrative of Sheridan's final great raid, from Winchester to White House, Va., February 27-March 19, 1865, is written from the perspective of a quartermaster and overseer of supply trains. Composed after the fact, but apparently shortly after, the narrative is highly polished, literate, legible, and engaging, and may have been intended for public eyes, either as a report or for publication. Throughout, Gillum's narrative is concerned primarily with three factors: his duties in moving the creaky supply train along, the devastating effect of the war upon the civilians and their response, and the successes of the Union Army.

Although the details of Gillum's duties are sometimes difficult to extract, the narrative is valuable as an account of the emotions and camaraderie among the quartermasters and supply crews, and the difficult issues they encountered in keeping the army moving. While many Civil War collections focus on the dramatic moments of combat or the boredom of camp, Gillum presents the banalities of mud, mules, and meat and makes them interesting, making the challenge of moving supplies for 10,000 cavalrymen as interesting as any cavalry charge. Equally valuable, Gillum's position in the rear provides him a different perspective altogether in describing the few engagements involving Sheridan's force, most notably Waynesboro, and in dealing with the citizens. His descriptions of the arrival of the column in Charlottesville, enlivened by a visit to the University of Virginia and a vignette of a Confederate prisoner of war meeting his wife, is particularly interesting (March 4-5), as is his account of the punitive destruction of a mill (March 10).

The collection also includes a bill of fare (menu) from John Brewer's Restaurant, Petersburg, Va., apparently kept to show the fluctuating, inflationary prices near the end of the war. It is unclear whether the menu is a Confederate or Union imprint.

Subject Terms

  • Columbia (Va.)--Description and travel.
  • Custer, George Armstrong, 1839-1876.
  • Early, Jubal, 1816-1894.
  • Forage--Virginia.
  • Horses.
  • Marches--Virginia.
  • Mules.
  • Prices--Virginia.
  • Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America.
  • Quartermasters--United States.
  • Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Cavalry operations.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction and pillage.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Transportation.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women.
  • United States. Army--Supplies and stores.
  • Women--Virginia.
Genre Terms:
  • Memoirs.
  • Menus.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   99, Schoff Civil War Collection Folders   17-19
H. H. Gillum journal,  1865 February 26-1865 March 25 [series]
 1865 February 26
Preparations for March up Shenandoah
 1865 February 27
March begins
Phil Sheridan
George Custer
Black mule-drives
 1865 February 28
Orders to take charge of supply/ammunition trains
Fording stream
 1865 March 1
Destroyed Virginia towns
Burning bridge
Gen. Jubal Early
Foraging mutton
 1865 March 2
Tobacco expropriated
Reception of Union troops in Staunton, Va.
 1865 March 3
Crossing creeks
 1865 March 4
Camp at Charlottesville
Recuperating from battle
 1865 March 5
Wrecking of railroad
Sheridan's generalship
Foraging forbidden
University of Virginia
Prisoner taken in own home
 1865 March 6
Exhausted horses
Civilian morale
Hidden goods in slave cabins
 1865 March 7
Quarters in private home
Virginia civilians
 1865 March 8
Confederate sharpshooters
Flour expropriated
 1865 March 9
200 horses shot
Crossing of James River
 1865 March 10
Scottsville, Va.
Crossing canal
Blacks appropriated for risky jobs
Provisions expropriated
 1865 March 11
Columbia, Va.
 1865 March 12
Rest and Recuperation
Virginia civilians cower
Gen. Early
 1865 March 13
Frederick Hall Station, Va.
Destroying railroad
1865 March 14
Destroying railroad
 1865 March 15
Captured at Ashland, Va.
Gen. Devin
 1865 March 16
Orphaned baby
 1865 March 17
Cedar groves
King William Courthouse
 1865 March 18-25
Blacks as butt of humor
Duties as Depot QM at landing on Pamunkey River
Contraband labor

Additional Descriptive Data

Partial Subject Index

Ashland (Va.), Skirmish at, 1865
  • 1865 March 15
Camp followers
  • 1865 February 28
Charlottesville (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 4, 5
Civilians--Virginia--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • 1865 February 27
  • 1865 March 1, 5-7, 9, 12, 17
Columbia (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 10, 11
Custer, George Armstrong, 1839-1876
  • 1865 March 15, 16
Devin, Thomas, 1822-1878
  • 1865 March 15
Early, Jubal, 1816-1894
  • 1865 March 1
  • 1865 March 2, 12
  • 1865 March 1
  • 1865 March 2, 5-8, 11, 12
Frederick Hall Station (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 13
Harrisonburg (Va.), Skirmish at, 1865
  • 1865 March 1
Harrisonburg (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 1
  • 1865 February 26
  • 1865 March 6, 9
  • 1865 March 16
King William Court House (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 17
  • passim
  • 1865 February 26, 27
  • 1865 March 6, 9, 10
New Market (Va.), Skirmish at, 1865
  • 1865 March 8
  • 1865 March 2
  • Restaurant menu
Prisoners of War--Confederate States of America
  • 1865 March 2, 3, 5
  • 1865 March 5, 13
  • Restaurant menu
Scorched-earth policy
  • 1865 March 1 and ff.
Scottsville (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 10
Sheridan's Raid in Northern Virginia, 1865
  • passim
Sheridan, Philip Henry, 1831-1888
  • 1865 February 27
  • 1865 March 2, 12, 18
  • 1865 March 6
  • 1865 March 6
Staunton (Va.)--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 2
  • 1865 March 2, 13
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans
  • 1865 March 6, 9,10, 15, 16, 18
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Cavalry operations
  • passim
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Confiscations and contributions
  • 1865 March 2
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction
  • 1865 March 1, 5, 8,13
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Scouts and scouting
  • 1865 March 5
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Transportation
  • 1865 February 26, 27
  • 1865 March 2, 3, 9, 10
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women
  • 1865 March 1, 5-7
United States. Army--Quartermasters
  • passim
United States. Army--Supplies and stores
  • passim
University of Virginia
  • 1865 March 5
Virginia--Description and travel
  • 1865 March 13
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Destruction
  • 1865 March 1, 5, 8, 13
Waynesboro, Battle of, 1865
  • 1865 March 2
  • 1865 March 1, 5-7