Title: H. H. Gillum journal Creator: Gillum, H. H. Inclusive dates: 1865 Extent: 70 pages Abstract:
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
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.
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.