John H. Graham journals  1861-1864 (bulk 1861-1862)
full text File Size: 26 K bytes

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Graham journals cover two non-continuous periods. The first contains an excellent record of the first months of 1861, when Graham was a sophomore at the University of Mississippi. Unusually literate and passionate, Graham depicts himself very much in the image of the southern gentleman whose personal honor is at stake in the war. He is moral and religious, but not strongly moralizing, and he writes with a style and intensity that make excellent reading. Though covering only a brief four months, the journal provides an excellent sense of how the University community became caught up in the emotions of the early secession, forming not only the University Grays, but the Lamar Rifles and other militia units. The standard high jinks of student life in the 19th century seem to have been somewhat accentuated by the political tensions.

Graham's second journal includes an account of his service from the winter doldrums of 1861-62 through the unrelenting summer campaigns of 1862. The entries are brief, but occasionally very informative, and he includes useful accounts of the Battles of Fair Oaks, Mechanicsville, Gaines Mills, Malvern Hill, and skirmishes in the 2nd Bull Run Campaign. His descriptions of forced marches through miserable conditions provide a soldier's perspective on just how much the average soldier endured in achieving the efficiency and mobility for which the Army of Northern Virginia was known. Graham's description of the regiment's camps are somewhat limited, but there is a pervasive sense of the support that Confederate troops felt in northern Virginia in his accounts of wandering away from camp into the fields and homes of Virginians. The journal ends in mid-September, 1862, shortly before Antietam. A note dated January, 1863, indicates that Graham returned to the life of a bachelor on his plantation in Clarke County, but a small number of entries dated between August, 1863, and January, 1864, indicates that he had returned to active mounted service. The journal also includes several pages of quotations and notes on Shakespearian plays made at a later time.

Show all series level scope and content notes