Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson Diaries, 1862-1870

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Mary Parsons and Shannon Wait, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson diaries
Creator: Robinson, Nathan D., ca. 1842-1901 and Robinson, Thomas, ca. 1840-1865
Inclusive dates: 1862-1870
Extent: 5 volumes
The Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson diaries contain entries relating to the Civil War service of two brothers from Ohio, in the 104th and 143rd Ohio Infantry.
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:

1979. M-1880.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson Diaries, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The diaries are arranged by author, with Thomas' one volume first, followed by Nathan's four volumes, which are arranged chronologically.


Robinson, Nathan D.

Rank : Pvt.

Regiment : 104th Ohio Infantry Regiment, Co. GK (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 11-1865 June 17

Robinson, Thomas

Rank : Pvt.

Regiment : 143rd Ohio Infantry Regiment, Co. C (1864)

Service : 1864 May 2-1864 September 13

Thomas Robinson was born around 1840 in Columbiana County, Ohio, the son of James and Mary Robinson. His younger brother, Nathan, was born approximately two years later, followed by Lucretia (b. ca. 1844), Lydia Ann (b. ca. 1846), Elizabeth (b. ca. 1851), James H. (b. ca. 1854), Laura (b. ca. 1856), and Emeline (b. ca. 1859).

On August 11, 1862, Nathan was mustered into the 104th Ohio Infantry and served until his discharge on June 17, 1865, in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1869, he married Salina Townsend in Williams, Ohio, and they settled on a farm in Angola, Indiana. He died in 1901.

Thomas enlisted in Company C, 143rd Ohio Infantry on May 2, 1864, signing up for 100 days, and was mustered out on September 13, 1864. He returned home ill, and died on April 13, 1865.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson diaries consist of five Civil War diaries; four kept by Nathan D. Robinson, and one written by his brother Thomas. Nathan's diaries cover 1862-1870, while Thomas' volume spans January-May and September-December of 1864.

Thomas' 49-page diary documents his life on a farm near Hanover, Ohio, before and after his military service, as well as three weeks of his time with the National Guard unit he joined, which was incorporated into the 143rd Ohio Infantry. Between January and late April, in daily entries, he described farm work (including harvesting buckwheat and making cider), weather, routine activities, and his efforts to resist alcohol. From May 2-22, he briefly documented his military service, mentioning drilling, traveling by train, and exchanging weapons, though not in much detail. Thomas resumed writing in the diary on September 17, 1864, and added daily entries until the end of the year. These focus primarily on his health, duties, finances, and the weather. On September 27, he wrote that he had contributed $10 to a fund to hire volunteers to take the places of drafted men in the war. In the back of the diary are several pages of financial accounts.

Nathan D. Robinson's first diary spans August 15, 1862-January 14, 1863 and contains approximately 90 pages of entries. In it, he described his arrival at Camp Massillon in Ohio, movement around Kentucky, camp life, duties, and incidents of note, such as the arrival of "Contraband" (escaped slaves), who warned the soldiers of surrounding Confederates. On October 6, 1862, Robinson wrote down detailed instructions on how perform picket duty, including whom to approach and at what distance.

The second volume, covering January 1-November 18, 1864, mainly contains extremely terse descriptions of movements and military actions. In its approximately 100 pages, Robinson gave brief descriptions of such events as the Battle of Resaca (May 13-15, 1864), and the destruction of railroad tracks in Macon, Georgia, during the Atlanta Campaign (August 30, 1864). He also provided ongoing details about the weather and his regiment's casualties.

The next diary, spanning January 1-June 28, 1865, contains 100 pages and comprises lengthier entries. Topics include the health and diagnosis of typhoid fever of Nathan's brother Thomas (January 24, 1865), the capture of an Armstrong Gun "said to be presented to Jef Davise [sic] by the Queen of England" (February 13, 1865), and conflicting rumors about the Lincoln assassination (April 17-19, 1865). On April 22, 1865, Robinson learned that Thomas had died eight days before, and he subsequently drew a mourning curtain over the top and sides of his entries through April 26. In his writings of April 24 and 28, he mentioned several visits to the "Deaf, Dumb and Blind Asylum," which he found "entertaining" and "interesting."

The fourth volume, of approximately 100 pages, sporadically filled in, contains only occasional entries between 1866 and 1870. It also consists of miscellaneous financial notes, two messages from women, and the lyrics to the song "When Sherman Marched Down to the Sea." A single receipt is laid into the volume.

Subject Terms

    • Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
    • Death.
    • Farm life--Ohio.
    • Farms--Ohio.
    • North Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • North Carolina Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind.
    • Resaca, Battle of, Resaca, Ga., 1864.
    • Soldiers--Ohio.
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 104th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Ohio Infantry Regiment, 143rd (1864)
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   7, Schoff Civil War Diaries and Journals  
    Nathan D. and Thomas Robinson diaries [series]
    Thomas Robinson diary,  1864
    Nathan D. Robinson diary,  August 15, 1862-January 14, 1863
    Nathan D. Robinson diary,  January 1-November 18, 1864
    Nathan D. Robinson diary,  January 1-June 28, 1865
    Nathan D. Robinson diary,  1866-1870
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Pinney, Nelson A. History of the 104th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, From 1862 to 1865. Windham, Ohio. Akron, Ohio: Printed by Werner & Lohmann, 1886.