Guide to the Thomas S. Rogers Diary, RG 297

Listed by: Dwayne Cox

Date: 9/23/99

Date Span: January 1 through May 6, 1865

Size of Collection: 1 item

Biographical Sketch: Rogers served in Co. E, 26th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

Scope / Content: The diary contains entries regarding winter quarters, recreation, and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

 Diary Content

Actual diary daily entries cover January through May 6, 1865.  Roger’s unit was located in East Tennessee during this period.  In late March and early April the unit marched and rode the railroad to Chattanooga, through Knoxville, and ended at Bull’s Gap.  He describes the building of winter quarters, and duties associated there to.  About twice a week he helped cut firewood for heating the winter quarters.  Once or twice a week he would draw guard or picket duty.  There would be a company or battalion drill weekly, and a grand review about once a month.  Policing of the camp and quarters would precede an inspection.  Mail came quite regularly.  The weather varied with rain, snow, and windy cold.  When no duties were assigned, he indicated that the soldiers “Laid around camp” and read novels and newspapers and mail.  A couple of time soldiers drank too much and got into fights.  The only gunfire mentioned was union cannon celebrating Washington’s Birthday.  No enemy action is mentioned for the period.  One soldier was to be hanged for his actions against a local woman.  He makes no mention of hearing news of Gen. Lee’s surrender of April 9, 1865.  He had not heard of Pres. Lincoln’s assassination until April 16.   His comment was” Today we heard that old Abe was killed-That was bad news to us down here in the army.”  By Late April the unit had moved by rail to Nashville and were there when diary entries ended on May 6.  A “Grand Review” was held that day.  The remaining pages were devoted to miscellaneous items.  He apparently was a barber, for his lists income from haircuts to members of various companies.  Also he used the diary some time following year of random non-diary type notes after he left the army.

The diary's main value is in showing how little actual combat some union army units experienced late in the war.  In that context, the diary of Rogers shows very minimal thought about the enemy, the natives of occupied territory, and an overall lackadaisical attitude.

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