Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John P. Reynolds Journal, 1861

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, January 1992

Summary Information
Title: John P. Reynolds journal
Creator: Reynolds, John P., b. ca. 1841
Inclusive dates: 1861
Extent: 239 pages
John P. Reynolds, Jr., was 19 years old when he enlisted in the Salem Light Infantry, one of the first units to respond to Lincoln's call for volunteers in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War. His journal provides an account of life in the army during the opening states of the war, and includes long, detailed passages describing drills, parades, ceremonies and celebrations, and the ways in which soldiers chose to entertain themselves.
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-2420.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

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


Reynolds, John P., b. ca. 1841

Rank : Corporal

Regiment : 8th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Salem Zouaves). Co. I (1861)

Service : 1861 April 15-August 1

John P. Reynolds, Jr., was a 19 year old corporal from Salem who enlisted in the Salem Light Infantry during the Civil War. After the Zouaves mustered out, Reynolds enlisted in the 19th Massachusetts Infantry, a three-year regiment, and took part in most of the great battles fought by the Army of the Potomac in 1862 and '63. He rose to the rank of Captain before being discharged due to wounds in November, 1863.

The Salem Light Infantry, also known as the Salem Zouaves, was among the first units to respond to Lincoln's call for volunteers in 1861. On April 18th, just three days after Lincoln's call, the regiment left Massachusetts and was deployed at Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D.C. The Zouaves were attached as Company I of the 8th Massachusetts Regiment (the "Minute Men"), under the command of Captain Arthur F. Devereux, son of a former Adjutant General of the state, George H. Devereux. The Zouaves were formally mustered into the U.S. service as a three months regiment on April 30th and during the three months' campaign, they served at Annapolis, guarding the U.S.S. Constitution, at Relay House, Md. (May 11-June 26), and at Baltimore (June 26-July 29).

Collection Scope and Content Note

John P. Reynolds' journal is an unusually literate and well-written account of life in the army during the opening stages of the Civil War, and includes long, detailed passages describing drills, parades, ceremonies and celebrations, and the ways in which soldiers chose to entertain themselves. It is an example of a superb Civil War journal containing almost no reference to military activity. While nostalgically reviewing the events since the unit was called, Reynolds himself noted that "the pastimes we had experienced...combined together presented more the aspect of a pleasure excursion or mammoth pic-nic, than a military campaign during the period of actual warfare" (p. 90).

Particularly noteworthy descriptions include those of the camp at Relay House, of particular drills, flag-raising ceremonies, and of celebrations of the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill and of the Fourth of July. Reynolds is at his best when recounting an operation on July 3rd to capture a Rebel recruiter, Samuel Ogle Tilghman, at his home on the coast. Though no shots were fired, the atmosphere Reynolds sets provides a strong sense of what it must have been like for a young soldier on patrol. Tilghman was released on parole of honor just two weeks later, on July 26, 1861.

The Reynolds journal appears to be the second and only surviving part of a series that probably originally contained three volumes. The first covering muster to June 6, 1861, the third, from July 14th to mustering out on August 1st.

Subject Terms

    • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 8th (1861-1864)
    • United States. Army--Inspection.
    • United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • United States. Army--Military life.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • Maryland--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Baltimore (Md.)--Description and travel.
    • Drill and minor tactics.
    • Guard duty.
    • Military discipline.
    • Tilghman, Samuel Ogle.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    John P. Reynolds journal,  1861 June 6-July 14 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Nason, George W. Minute Men of '61. Boston, Smith & McCance, 1910. pp. 246-252.

    Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, ser. 2, vol. 2: 36, 226.

    Partial Subject Index
    African Americans.
    • p. 39, 73-74
    Amicicide (Military Science)
    • p. 146
    • p. 39, 46, 61-63, 73-74, 98
    "Anvil chorus".
    • pp. 116-117
    Baltimore (Md.)--Description and travel.
    • pp. 130-135, 156-157
    "Baltimore Joe".
    • p. 23
    Blood Tubs.
    • pp. 95-97
    • pp. 129-130
    Bunker Hill, Battle of, 1775--Anniversaries, etc.
    • pp. 57-58
    Butler, Benjamin F. (1818-1893)
    • p. 36, 78
    Camp life.
    • passim
    Camps (Military)--Relocation.
    • pp. 122-127
    Cookery, Military.
    • p. 216
    Devereux, Arthur Forrester, 1838-1906.
    • pp. 118-119
    Devereux, George H.
    • p. 69, 112
    Dinners and dining.
    • pp. 116-117
    Drill and minor tactics.
    • pp. 4-5, 25, 118-119, 184, 218-219
    • p. 39-40
    • pp. 95-97
    Flag raising.
    • pp. 70-73, 219
    • pp.75-77
    Food fights.
    • pp. 121-122
    • p. 220, 225
    • pp. 9, 11-12, 141, 216
    Fourth of July--Maryland--Baltimore.
    • pp. 171-179
    Franklin Falls (Md.)
    • pp., 193-194
    • p. 142
    Guard duty.
    • pp. 207-212, 230-232
    • pp. 114-115
    Hinks, Col.
    • pp. 118-119
    Hotels, taverns, etc.--Maryland.
    • p. 23
    • pp. 137-139, 155-156
    Military discipline.
    • pp. 85-86, 93-94, 233-234
    Nail factories--Maryland.
    • pp. 64-66
    Parades (Military)
    • p. 111, 177-178, 181-183
    • p. 43-44
    Plug Uglies.
    • pp. 95-97, 149
    • p. 86, 233-234
    • pp. 151-152
    Religious gatherings.
    • p. 104
    Rullman's Bellevue Gardens (Baltimore, Md.)
    • pp. 130-132
    Soldiers' cameradery.
    • pp. 75-76
    Soldiers--Religious life.
    • pp. 56-57
    Stuart, J. E. B. (1833-1864)--Homes and haunts.
    • p. 130
    • pp. 53-54, 194-195, 216-217
    • pp. 10-12, 14-18, 199
    Tilghman, Samuel Ogle.
    • pp. 160-168
    • pp. 189-190
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Civilians--Maryland--Baltimore.
    • pp. 137-139, 203-204
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Songs and music.
    • p. 29, 49-50, 52, 98, 175-176, 180-183, 186, 190-191
    United States. Army--Barracks and quarters.
    • p. 142-144
    United States. Army--Inspection.
    • pp. 18-20, 55, 102-103
    United States. Army--New York Infantry Regiment, 7th.
    • pp. 75-76
    United States. Army--Pay, allowances, etc.
    • p. 228, 236-237
    Washington Monument (Baltimore, Md.)
    • pp. 133-135
    • pp. 79-82
    Wife abuse.
    • p. 32-34
    Wildes, Rev.
    • pp. 109-110, 112
    • p. 75-77, 206
    • pp. 181-182, 224-225