Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry A. Barry Diary, 1863

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, August 2009

Summary Information
Title: Henry A. Barry diary
Creator: Barry, Henry A., 1841-1919
Inclusive dates: 1863
Extent: 1 volume
The Barry diary recounts 48 days in the life of a private in the 127th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company E, encamped in 1863 near Falmouth, Virginia, across the Rappahannock River from rebel forces. The diary describes his company's actions surrounding the second battle at Fredericksburg at Marye's Heights.
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:

2004. M-4393.

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:

Henry A. Barry Diary, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Henry (Harry) A. Barry (1841-1919) was born in Pennsylvania to William A. Barry (b. 1817) and Rachel Ann Barry (b. 1821). The family, including younger sisters Mary Ann and Emma M., lived in Jonestown, Pennsylvania. On August 13, 1862, Henry enlisted in Company E of the 127th Pennsylvania Infantry as a musician with the rank of private. His father was a surgeon in the Pennsylvania reserves and stationed an hour’s horseback ride from the author, which enabled them to visit each other’s camp on several occasions.

Barry's company fought in the first battle at Fredericksburg in December 1862, and in the second at Marye's Heights in April 1863. Following an unsuccessful attempt to push the Confederates out of the Fredericksburg area, his company retreated to its former position and was relieved by reserves from New Jersey. Barry started for home on May 15, 1863, mustered out at Harrisburg on May 29, four weeks before the start of the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war he married (Mary Alice Barry b. 1847) and worked as a clerk in Baltimore. In the 1870 census, Barry is listed as a retail coal dealer, and in the 1900 census he is listed as a sales agent.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume is a 3" by 6" leather-bound pocket diary recounting 48 days in the life of Henry Barry, a private in the 127th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company E, encamped near Falmouth, Virginia, across the Rappahannock River from rebel forces. Entries span from March 31 to May 16, 1863. The first page, numbered "113," indicates that it is part of a series. Pasted in the back are severely faded pictures of his father and mother, William A. Barry and Rachel Ann Barry.

Barry wrote in detail about camp life in Northern Virginia and about the Virginia front six weeks before Gettysburg. He described his experiences leading up to the second battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of, Chancellorsville, at Marye's Heights and his regiment's unsuccessful attempt to push Southern forces back to Richmond. On April 14, they were warned that they were about to advance, confirmed by seeing a cavalry unit and about 2,000 wagons go by. On the 29th they marched south seven miles with full packs and 8 days’ rations.

"This evening I went to the top of a hill and there saw for the first time an engagement between our forces and the Rebs. They were shelling each other at a fine rate" [April 30].

"I understand old Ive drove the Rebs 10 miles yesterday capturing 18 wagon loads and ammunition and 4 days rations. I understand old Joe calculates being in Fred-ericksburg by 4 o’clock this afternoon carrying all the heights" [May 2].

In Battle. This morning at daybreak we marched into Fredericksburg and went down Caroline Street and there rested a few moments when I heard Gen. Gibbon tell Gen. Hall to file left & left flank so we did and the shells did come in profusion" [May 3].

Subject Terms

    • Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
    • United States. Army. Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 127th (1862-1863)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Henry A. Barry diary,  March 31-May 16, 1863 [series]