William and Isaac Perkins papers  1784-1794
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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.

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