Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Levi E. Kent Journal, 1861-1862

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Manuscript Division Staff

Summary Information
Title: Levi E. Kent journal
Creator: Kent, Levi E.
Inclusive dates: 1861-1862
Extent: 1 volume
The journal of Levi E. Kent, of the 4th Rhode Island Infantry, Company F., provides an account of his regiment's movements, battles, pastimes, entertainments, and lifestyle.
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:

1976. M-1730.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Levi E. Kent Journal, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Kent, Levi E.

Rank : Captain; Major

Regiment : 4th Rhode Island Infantry Regiment. Co. F (1861-1864)

Service : 1861 September-1862 September 26

Although his origins are unknown, it appears that Levi Kent was old enough and commanded enough respect to earn a Captain's commission in the 4th Rhode Island Infantry when it was organized in September, 1861. A disciplinarian, Kent served with the 4th Infantry during several months of comparatively quiet duty in Maryland, guarding the national capitol, before entering the fray in North Carolina.

In February, 1862, the 4th Rhode Island was placed under the command of Ambrose E. Burnside, to assist in his expedition against the Carolina coast. With a massive naval assault, the force took possession of Roanoke Island on February 7th, gaining a precious, precarious foothold in the rear of the Army of Northern Virginia. Kent and his regiment took part in securing this foothold with a successful offensive campaign against New Bern (where they were engaged at Slocum's Creek) and in April, with the siege and capture of Beaufort. The expedition, however, came to a halt when the bloodiest days of the Peninsular Campaign made their presence in Virginia a necessity. In July, the majority of Burnside's forces were ordered to reinforce Fortress Monroe.

Life in the 4th Rhode Island was turbulent by any measure, and the officers in particular appear to have been wracked with dissention, and bickering and in-fighting among them was common. After a leave of absence in June and early July, Kent rejoined his regiment for a brief period in Virginia, but was discharged in September, 1862. His post-war activities are unknown.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Although Kent served for only one year during the Civil War, he left an outstanding account of his regiment's movements, battles, pastimes, entertainments, and lifestyle. A good writer and capable of holding forth for several pages on a single engry, Kent's journal virtually amounts to a regimental history. Of special interest is his reporting on the palace intrigue among the officers of the 4th Rhode Island.

Subject Terms

    • Aquia Creek (Va.)
    • Baltimore (Md.)
    • Beaufort (N.C.)
    • Cape Hatteras (N.C.)
    • Christmas.
    • Fredericksburg, Battle of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862.
    • Funeral rites and ceremonies.
    • Halleck, H. W. (Henry Wager), 1815-1872.
    • Human behavior.
    • Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865.
    • Liquors.
    • Lizards.
    • Maryland--Politics and government.
    • McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885.
    • Military camps.
    • Military discipline.
    • Military ethics.
    • Morale.
    • New Year.
    • Ocean travel.
    • Philadelphia (Pa.)
    • Plantations.
    • Poore, Ben Perley, 1820-1887.
    • Roanoke Island (N.C.)--Maps.
    • Secession.
    • Skirmishing.
    • Slavery.
    • Slocum's Creek (N.C.)
    • Soldiers--Recreation.
    • Thanksgiving Day.
    • Theft.
    • United States. Army--Officers.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health aspects.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • Washington (D.C.)
    • Washington, George 1732-1799.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Levi E. Kent journal,  1861 September-1862 September [series]
     September 1861
    Rigid discipline
     October 1861
    Trip to D.C.
    Description of Capitol building
    Unrest at discipline
    Party with champagne
    Ben Perley Poore
     November 1861
    Unpopular new colonel
    Camp in the field
    Maryland election
    Improvised stove
    George McClellan
    Moving camp
    Thanksgiving dinner
     December 1861
    Picket at Edsell's Hill
    Army morality
    Christmas gifts
    Christmas celebration
    Sleeping arrangements
    Thoughts of home
     January 1862
    New Year's Day
    Gen. Howard departs
    On board the Eastern Queen
    Fortress Monroe
    Steamers and sinkings in Cape Hatteras
    Stuck on a sandbar
    Human nature
    Food/water in dirty barrels
    Music and games
    Poor conditions on board ship
    Local folks: poor whites
    Roanoke Island
     February 1862
    Battle at Roanoke Island (with map)
    Wounded and dead
    Prisoners (including son of Gov. Wise)
    Death from "lack of whiskey"
    Description of Camp Parke, N.C.
     March 1862
    KP duty
    Palace intrigue: Captain and Colonel
    Skirmish at Slocum's Creek (lengthy and excellent description)
    N.C. union sympathizer
    Beaufort, N.C.
    Macon House resort area
    Deserted plantation; slaves
     April 1862
    Preliminaries and attack on Fort Macon
    Box from home
      May 1862
    Bilious fever
    Steamship journey: Beaufort to New York
     July 1862
    [Kent did not keep his journal during a leave of absence]
    R.I. and Philadelphia southern sympathizers
    Description of Philadelphia
    Baltimore: "rotten to the core"
    Dissatisfaction with new colonel
    Halleck in camp
     August 1862
    Continued dissatisfaction in camp
    Whiskey quarrel
    False "rebel signal"
    Maneuvers around Fredericksburg, Va.
    Stolen George Washington memorabilia
     September 1862
    Aquia Creek
    Closing thoughts; discharge