Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Charles Byington Diary, 1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, June 2010

Summary Information
Title: Charles M. Byington diary
Creator: Byington, Charles M., ca. 1838-1864
Inclusive dates: 1863
Extent: 1 volume
The Charles M. Byington diary records the Civil War service of the quartermaster-sergeant of the 110th New York Infantry, including the battles of Fort Bisland and Port Hudson.
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:

1998. M-3475.

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:

Charles M. Byington Diary, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Charles M. Byington was born June 1, 1838, the son of carriage-maker Rufus Byington and his wife, Sophronia Phelps. In 1860, he lived with his family in Hannibal, Oswego County, New York. When the 110th New York Infantry was mustered on August 27, 1862, he entered service as a private in Company F. He was promoted to quartermaster-sergeant before January 1, 1863, and fought at the battles of Fort Bisland and Port Hudson. Byington was killed while on garrison duty near Fort Jefferson at the Dry Tortugas, Florida, on August 16, 1864.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Charles M. Byington diary contains approximately 95 pages of daily entries, covering January 1-July 19, 1863, and 5 pages of records documenting financial transactions. The earliest diary entries are quite brief and record daily activities, duties, and movements. Byington frequently noted that he had distributed equipment, made invoices, foraged for food to feed the soldiers, and drawn rations in his role as quarter-master sergeant. On January 4, 1863, he mentioned a soldier who had given religious instruction to an African American Regiment; in other entries he discussed the activities of his company's colonel, DeWitt Clinton Littlejohn, and those of several of his friends.

Byington wrote longer, more detailed entries beginning in March, when his regiment camped near Baton Rouge and he noted the frequent firing by gunboats there. On March 15, 1863, he gave a firsthand account of an engagement near Port Hudson, in which the USS Mississippi lost its rudder and exploded. In mid-April, he wrote about the Battle of Fort Bisland, including nearly getting hit by shells and seeing white flags hung outside of "most every house," reportedly by Confederate women frightened of the Yankees (April 19, 1863). In June, he described frequent foraging, his health problems, and the Battle of Port Hudson, in which several men he knew were wounded and killed (June 14, 1863). He also recounted a surprising assault by Confederate cavalry, which he and several officers fled by boarding a ship that was "peppered by bullets" (July 2, 1863). On July 18, 1863, he mentioned a visit to the decimated Port Hudson (July 14, 1863: "The buildings inside were literally torn to pieces"). The diary ends with a search for a coffin for "one of our boys" and a church visit on July 19, 1863.

Subject Terms

    • Fort Bisland (La.)
    • Hannibal (N.Y.)
    • Port Hudson (La.)--History--Siege, 1863.
    • United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 110th (1862-1865)
    • United States. Army. Quartermaster Corps.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Charles Byington diary,  1863 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library also has the journal of Thomas Hall, another member of the New York 110th Infantry.