Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
James Noble Ward Journal, 1843-1844

Duane Norman Diedrich, West Point Collection

Finding aid created by
Phil Zaret and Meg Hixon, March 2013

Summary Information
Title: James Noble Ward journal
Creator: Ward, James Noble, 1823-1858
Inclusive dates: 1843-1844
Extent: 1 volume
The James Noble Ward journal concerns Ward's experiences as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1843 and 1844. He described his return to New York following a furlough to his Georgia home and discussed his coursework, drill, and other daily experiences at the academy.
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:

Donated, D. N. Diedrich, 2004. M-4457.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

James Noble Ward Journal, West Point Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


James Noble Ward was born in September 1823, the son of Charles Ward and Catherine Taylor Lindsay. He had five siblings who survived to maturity: Catherine Lindsay (b. 1821), Charles Americus (1825-1858), Marcus Lindsay (b. 1829), Laura Amelia (b. 1831), and Ralph Shorter (b. 1839). Catherine Lindsay Ward married Reuben C. Shorter. James Noble Ward entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1841 and graduated in 1845. He was a brevet lieutenant with the 6th Infantry Regiment at Fort Smith, Arkansas, and later served with the 3rd Infantry Regiment. Ward was commended for his conduct at the Battle of Cerro Gordo and was eventually promoted to captain. On January 5, 1856, he married Mary E. Backus. James Noble Ward died on December 6, 1858.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The James Noble Ward journal (114 pages) concerns Ward's experiences as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, from August 20, 1843-March 23, 1844. From August 20, 1843-August 28, 1843, he described his return to New York from his home in Georgia, where he had been on furlough. He reflected on his family and on leaving home and later commented on the scenery and his fellow passengers as he traveled by stage, steamer, and rail along the Atlantic Coast and in the state of New York.

His daily entries at West Point pertain to many aspects of life at the academy, such as classes, drilling, and leisure activities. Ward most frequently commented on his math, chemistry, and philosophy courses, and occasionally told stories about other cadets, often related to their performance in drill exercises. Some of the anecdotes are humorous, such as Ward's account of one cadet's mistakes when issuing drill orders (September 27, 1843). He sometimes discussed his expectations about graduating and made notes about his family. The diary includes descriptions of visits by General Henri Gatien Bertrand (October 28, 1843) and New York Governor William C. Bouck (November 1, 1843). Ward mentioned special occasions such as a Christmas dinner (December 25, 1843) and his opportunity to see pieces of a mastodon skeleton and a petrified head on display in the academy's library (November 15, 1843). Though he rarely commented on politics, he complained about a Congressional proposal to cut military funding in his entry of March 16, 1844.

Subject Terms

    • New York (State)--Description and travel.
    • United States Military Academy.
    • West Point (N.Y.)
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    James Noble Ward journal,  August 20, 1843-March 23, 1844 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, from Its Organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903. Volume 1. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903.

    Stearns, Ezra S. History of Plymouth, New Hampshire. Volume II: Genealogies. Cambridge, Mass.: The University Press, 1906.

    Ward, William. List of Cadets Admitted into the United States Military Academy, West Point, N. Y., from Its Origin Till September 1, 1886; with Tables Exhibiting the Results of Examinations for Admission, and the Corps to Which the Graduates Have Been Promoted. Washington, [D.C.]: Government Printing Office, 1887.