Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William L. Aughinbaugh Journal, 1862-1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
A. T. D., September 1991

Summary Information
Title: William L. Aughinbaugh journal
Creator: Aughinbaugh, William L.
Inclusive dates: 1862-1863
Extent: 196 pages
The William L. Aughinbaugh journal describes the Civil War experience of a Union soldier and his gradual loss of support for the war.
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:

1988. M-2404.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

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


In August, 1862, William L. Aughinbaugh, a resident of Delhi Twp., Ohio, enlisted in Company E of the 5th Ohio Infantry, which was initially assigned to guard duty at the Provost Marshal's office in Cincinnati, helping to enforce martial law. As an ideologically motivated, optimistic soldier, Aughinbaugh greeted with pleasure the news that the 5th Ohio had finally been assigned to duty in the eastern theatre in November, 1862.

That winter, Aughinbaugh's optimism began slowly to erode under the weight of the chronic inactivity of the Army of the Potomac and crushing military defeats at the hands of the Confederates. The dismissal of McClellan and the resignation to defeat that he saw among Union soldiers at Fredericksburg were particularly important factors in altering Aughinbaugh's opinion of the Army as a noble institution. He described how troops fighting at Fredericksburg seemed to accept and even welcome their defeat because they believed that it would lead to the reinstatement of McClellan. Following this battle, he began to entertain doubts about the competence of his commanders, and his frustration with camp life increasingly spilled over into a disgust with Virginians, whom he found to be stupid, dirty and backward. He even wondered about the supposed greatness of George Washington: could anyone raised in such a terrible place as Virginia really be great?

The 5th Ohio fought under Hooker in the Chancellorsville campaign in May, 1863, where Aughinbaugh was taken prisoner. He remained at Castle Thunder, Richmond, for only a few days before being returned to the North under parole. He remained in parole camp until August, when he rejoined the 5th Ohio.

Collection Scope and Content Note

Aughinbaugh is a literate and observant writer, who had apparently received a good education before his enlistment. His diary is an excellent reflection of the creeping loss of ideological motivation that afflicted many soldiers in the Union Army as the war continued longer than expected, and his personal insights are uniformly interesting and often insightful. Among the highlights of the journal is an excellent description of the Battle of Chancellorsville and of his own capture.

Subject Terms

    • Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
    • Cincinnati (Ohio)
    • Prisoners of War--Capture.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Army--Ohio Infantry Regiment, 5th (1861-1865)
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   9, Schoff Civil War Diaries and Journals  
    William L. Aughinbaugh journal,  1862-1863 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Alexandria (Va.)
    • 189-196
    Aquia Creek (Va.)
    • 158-162
    Bolivar Heights (W.Va.), Skirmish at, 1862
    • 72-75
    Bolivar Heights (W.Va.)
    • 62-100
    Brown, John, 1800-1859
    • 69-71
    Chancellorsville, Battle of, 1863
    • 172-181
    Cincinnati (Ohio)
    • 1-19, 29-53
    Dehli Township, (Ohio)
    • 20-28
    Dumphries (Va.), Skirmish at, 1862
    • 113-119
    Dumphries (Va.)
    • 108-157
    Fairfax (Va.)
    • 104-5
    Fredericksburg (Va.), Skirmish near, 1863
    • 169
    • 141-2
    Geary, John, 1819-1873
    • 103
    Greene, George Sears, 1801-1899
    • 105
    Harpers Ferry (W.Va.)
    • 60,61,95,96
    Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879
    • 142,164-5,170
    Leesburg (Va.)
    • 101-3
    McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885
    • 110
    McKelvey, Lt. Col
    • 191,195
    Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872
    • 164-5
    Military Law
    • 7,8
    Petersburg (Va.)
    • 185-6
    Pleasanton, Alfred, 1824-1879
    • 164-5
    Potomac River (Va.)--Description
    • 147-50
    • 156
    Prisoners of War--CaptureRappanhannock Bridge and Kelly's Ford, Va.--Description
    • 164-8
    • 3-7,27
    Slocum, Henry, 1827-1894
    • 122,158
    Soldiers--Conduct of Life
    • 14,17
    Stafford (Va.)
    • 162-3
    Taylor, Thomas
    • 164
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Health Aspects
    • 2,13,14
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Jews
    • 10,11
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, African-American
    • 11,92,193
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons
    • 171, 180-189
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Religious aspects
    • 146-7
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Aerial operations
    • 65
    United States. Army--Military Life
    • 129-31
    Washington (D.C.)
    • 188-9
    Winchester (Va.), Skirmish at, 1862
    • 98