A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps. Winthrop Henry Phelps, Ethel L. Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.
A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.

A Chaplain’s Life in the Civil War. The Diary of Winthrop Henry Phelps.

Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1945. Sm. 4to (11.2” x 8.75”), full brown calf, gilt-title at spine. Frontis. photo (5” x 6.75”, plus margins), xiii, 189, [blank], [1, colophon] pp., 15 photo plates (approx. 3.5” x 5.75” to 9” x 6.5”, plus margins). 2 folding maps (both 25” x 30”, plus margins) in pocket at rear: Historic and Scenic Reaches of the Nation’s Capital (The National Geographic Magazine, 1938); The Reaches of New York City (The National Geographic Magazine, 1939).

An exceedingly rare photo-illustrated Civil War chaplain’s diary, covering his service in the war from 1864 to 1865 and reflecting a point of view not often found in Civil War diaries, limited to just six typescript copies.

Appointed chaplain with the 2nd Connecticut Volunteer Artillery in 1863, Winthrop Henry Phelps (1818–1865) kept his diary from 15 May 1864 to 31 Dec. 1865. Compiled and edited by Winthrop’s granddaughter Ethel L. Phelps, the diary was posthumously published in 1945, illustrated with mounted copy photos from period images. Phelps describes tours of duty with the 19th Connecticut Infantry (later 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery) at forts in Alexandria, VA and Washington, D.C. and the participation of the regiment in nine engagements, including battles at Spottsylvania (May 1864), Petersburg, VA (March–April 1865), Cold Harbor and Appomattox campaigns, the Siege of Petersburg, Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and the battles of Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. Phelps discusses military organization, discipline, marches, desertions, disease, casualties, medical care, foraging expeditions, religion, and the suffering of noncombatants. Also included is Phelps’s "Resume of Regiment Activities During 1863."

The photographs picture Phelps (late in life) standing beside his horse Ned “probably taken some time after the war at South Egremont, Mass.”; the officers of the 19th Connecticut Infantry; Col. Elisha S. Kellogg; Lt. Bradley D. Lee; the Fairfax Theological Seminary (used as a military hospital); Phelps and his wife, Lucy; maps of Washington and vicinity; a genealogical and statistical table on the men of the 2d Connecticut Heavy Artillery published in Apr. 1864, and more. The text is organized as follows: 1) First Active Service—From Washington to Petersburg and Back; 2) Campaigning in the Shenandoah Valley; 3) Encamped before Petersburg; 4) On Leave—A Visit to Connecticut; 5) Down to North Carolina and the Return to Washington; 6) In the Forts at Washington; 7) Mustered Out—Home and Reconstruction.

Born in Albany, NY, Winthrop Phelps graduated from New York University in 1842. He studied at the Union Theological Seminary, graduating in 1845, and received a MA from New York University in 1845. He then held positions at the Congregational Church in Greenfield, NY (1845–46) and the Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale, NY (1846–49); was ordained a Presbyterian minister (1848); and served at the Congregational Church in Stockbridge, Mass. (1849–54); the Congregational Church in Monterey, Mass. (1854–61); and the Congregational Church in Hitchcocksville (present-day Riverton), CT (1861–63). In 1863, he was appointed chaplain of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Infantry—serving until 1865. He was mustered out in 1865 at Fort Ethan Allen, Washington D.C. After the war, he purchased a farm in S. Egremont, Mass. and held a number of temporary church positions in the area. He moved to New York City in 1882 to take up liturgical work and died in 1885.

Worldcat locates four of the six copies, at LC, the Huntington Library, Minnesota Historical Society, and the University of Minnesota.

A rare, unusual, and quite interesting Civil War diary.

REFERENCES: Phelps Family Papers at archives.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org; Winthrop Henry Phelps papers, 1864-1865 at catalog.loc.gov.

CONDITION: Very good, moderately rubbed and scuffed; contents clean and bright; light rubbing to some of the photo plates.

Item #7098

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