Item #8262 Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title]. Alexander Beveridge.
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].
Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].

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Journal of Alexander Beveridge, Jr. from Aug. 15th to Dec. 15th 1862 [manuscript title].

[Salem, New York, Washington D.C., Virginia, and other locales, 15 Aug. 1862–15 Dec. 1862.]. 2 vols. 12mo journal (7.5” x 6.25”), marbled paper covers with black leather spine. 65 pp. In ink. Mounted albumen photograph, 3.4” x 2.25”, opposite title page. [with] Additional 8vo (8” x 6.5”) volume, green and black paper covers with black leather spine, 14 pp. in ink, containing Beveridge’s will and a list of officers in his unit. Numerous blank leaves. CONDITION: Very good, minor wear to volumes, no losses to the text; photo very good with strong tonality.

An unusually observant and vivid diary written by a private of the 123rd New York State Volunteers who died of disease in 1862 in Virginia, illustrated with an apparently self-mounted photograph of the author, lending it a particular poignance and immediacy. While Beveridge saw no significant action, his diary offers more detailed descriptions of certain aspects of the Civil War soldier’s experience than are found in the average diary.

Born in Hebron, New York, Alexander Beveridge, Jr. (ca. 1831–1862) enlisted as a private on 6 Aug. 1862 to serve three years in the 123rd New York State Volunteers, Company E. Like his known letters—the bulk of which were written to his sister Mary in Hebron—this journal tells the brief but moving story of Beveridge’s military service in the latter half of 1862, ending just a few days before his death from pneumonia at the age of thirty-one at a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia on 18 December. Fellow soldier Ed. E. Reynolds is known to have written to Beveridge’s parents informing them of his sickness and death. 

The journal details his journey from an encampment in Salem, New York to the battlefields of Virginia; violent infighting between Union soldiers; camp life and military drills; accidental deaths (by poisoning, accidental shooting, etc.); his experience of guard duty; working a “telegraph line” for the purpose of “conveying intelligence back to headquarters”; news from around the war; encountering a free African American who can make multiple sounds while singing; seeing a Union spy balloon in the air shortly after crossing the Potomac River; taking Confederate prisoners; skirmishes with rebel forces, and so forth. Beveridge’s final entry is dated 15 Dec., three days before he died, and covers his sickness and the illnesses of many in his regiment. The final two pages of his journal list all the letters he wrote during his service. The supplementary volume included here consists of Beveridge’s will, dated 23 Aug. 1862, and a list of officers in his unit. In the preface to his will, he addresses his sister Nancy, giving her instructions regarding his estate should he perish in the war: “I expect to go soon to meet my countries [sic] foes, and if in the all wise providence of God I should never return I wish to make some arrangements concerning a few of my things which I would desire surviving friends and relatives to attend to.” 

Recruited in Washington County, New York, the was mustered into service for three years in Salem, New York on 4 Sept. 1862. The regiment left the state on 5 Sept. 1862, and was assigned to Williams’s 1st Division, 12th Corps, with which it served throughout its term. The 123rd fought its first battle at Chancellorsville in April 1863, where the 12th Corps was heavily engaged, the regiment losing 148 men. The 123rd was only slightly engaged at the Battle of Gettysburg, following which it joined in the pursuit of General Lee into Virginia, and saw more action during the rest of the war in Tennessee and Georgia. During its service, the regiment suffered 169 deaths. Six officers and sixty-eight men were killed or fatally wounded, and ninety-five men died of disease and other causes.


15 Aug. “Here I am…on the parade ground in Salem…a volunteer for the war…we gathered at Bedlam & there received our Red Flannel Shirts…there was a great noise…of profanity &: bad talk…Tom Mahaffy took sick with the colic…He moaned & groaned…& appeared to grow no better fast, until I began to think that something must be done…So out I started in pursuit of knowledge, not knowing what to do, but impressed with the belief that something must be done at any rate. So out I went, but I hadn't gone far until the sharp cry of the sentinels ‘Halt’ brought me to a stand…On making inquiry I was pointed to a tent where there might possibly be a doctor…I was directed to call the orderly Sergeant to take the sick man to the hospital… I could have slept quite comfortable had there not been so much noise. One sentinel in particular sang Dixie with such a loud, clear voice that it went ringing all over the ground.” 

18 Aug. “Last night one of the guards from Whitehall Company got asleep [while on picket], lost his gun & eight men went over his lines. I don’t know whether the guards will be permitted to continue to make as much noise as they have done, but as yet they have made pretty free use of their tongues & lungs. However it may sound to the soldier who is trying to sleep, it is quite amusing to the sentinel to hear the sound running from one post to another in the distance ‘10 O’clock & all is well.’ Then perhaps you will hear roosters crowing, dogs barking, crows cawing, & all other kinds of animals. Then perhaps others will commence singing, while others join in.” 

28 Aug. “I am on guard today…word was passed to me by one of the guard[s] that a certain member of the guard wanted a bottle passed to him which another member of the guard had…I positively refused to be a bottle bearer…Perhaps there will be a great indignation against me… Some of our Whitehall friends are not likely to be much credit to us. Some of them are often in the Guard House or marching…Today one of them stabbed another of the same company.” 

3 Sept. “The Whitehaller who stabbed his companion is sentenced to a months hard labor & forfeits a months wages.” 

4 Sept. “Wm. [William] Hutton was quite badly hurt last night above the right eye by a ball club.” 

10 Sept. “Arrived here in Washington, District of Columbia yesterday morning. On Friday Sept. 4th the regiment received the rest of their pay and clothing…and on Friday afternoon we began to find that we were pretty sure of leaving. Our friends came in great numbers to see us. Along in the afternoon the cars came up & then we were pretty sure of going…Too many had taken the precaution to fill both stomach & pocket with spirits & spiritually were uneasy & troublesome …I expected that some of them would fall out of the cars & get run over but we got safely thro’…Before we got quite to New York the cars parted leaving a good many of them behind…we arrived in New York in the forenoon & took up Quarters in the Barracks on Broadway I was sorry to see so much profanity & ungodliness in the camp…We steamed down the western shore of Staten Island…The soldier's cheered almost every one they saw…there was quite a row; some of them were Whitehall men; two of them got bloody faces… s we approached Washington, we could see the dome of the capital as we approached the city… [We] marched to Capitol Hill, where we are not encamped…we marched past the Capital & also past a building where we could see a good number of Rebel prisoners peering thro’ the grates.” 

11 Sept. “I went down to the river to bathe…as a great many others do. We go down in Companies. It is a branch of the Potomac [River] I understand. It is pretty wide here, & is probably a kind of a bay…There is a battery near there where they test cannon. They had a 100 pounder there yesterday. & 6 to 8 smaller ones…Our rations lately have been a piece of bread & a piece of meat or cheese. Were late getting anything this morning & a good many ran the guard. The officers got some of them back again.” 

12 Sept. “A private of the Greenwich Company was accidentally shot yesterday by a revolver…it went off, hitting the other on the side, striking the lower rib, glancing & coming nearly out at a distance of six inches. The ball was taken out. He is likely to recover. We received our guns last night—the Enfield Rifle. We were drilled a little by…Lieut. Col. Norton…Away to the north of us was a pontoon train. It consists of boats about 30 ft. long loaded on waggons. We talked awhile with one of the men there who had gone with the train since last November. He had been down to the Peninsula—helped with the bridge to Chickahominy & blew up one bridge after the rebels had gotten on the other end of it… There are some hundred boats in a train…they have six horses to a wagon. Away to the North of our camp are some companies of Artillery…For every cannon there are six span[s] of horses…They went thro' their forms of marching, wheeling, loading & firing, but used no ammunition.”

16 Sept. “Well here we are in old Virginia, in the sacred soil of the old Dominion…We came 6 or 7 miles, carrying our our knapsacks, canteens, haversacks, guns, cartridge boxes with 15 rounds of cartridges…There are a number of regiments encamped in sight of us & some forts to be seen.”

18 Sept. “Went a mile or so & got good water from a well to the north of our camp. Just beyond this well there is an earthwork throw up some 5 or 6 ft. height & a ditch on the outward side… Before going back I took a trip to Fort Richards…There is a pretty good view from it of the city of Washington. Could see the Capitol, Washington Monument (unfinished) & a long bridge… Could see forts & camps in all directions. There was a guard at the fort but I succeeded in getting past him… In the first place there is a row of sharp pointed sticks to run against & then a ditch some ten feet wide to cross & then a bank to ascend which a man could hardly climb up without any opposition, to say nothing about meeting a row of muskets…there are posts some 8 or 10 ft. high at the top of the ditch pointed at the top & holes thro’ them for musketry…There are about 8 heavy cannons & some mortars. Fort Ward further on has twice as many. It is Warrenton Heights all around here. There is a fort on nearly every hill…A man at the fort told me that there were about 50 such forts around here.” 

19 Sept. “They have a square black flag at some of the forts which is used for giving signals. It has a white spot in the middle of it. It is fixed on a pole & a man takes the pole & waves it to the left & right… They can thus talk to one another at the signal stations several miles apart…A soldier in the 44th says they’re sending in the new volunteers to [Gen.] McClellan. There is not a very high state of morals in our camps. There is any quantity of profanity, some pitching cents & some gambling on a large scale…A Regiment of Zouaves from Penn. came in last night.”

30 Sept. “[T]owards night we got started…We got into Washington about dark. … [A]s we came to Washington a long train of ambulance wagons came up the rear of our regiment…carrying the wounded over to Alexandria. There were two men killed before we left Washington —one was accidentally shot & the other was run over by the cars… [We] reached Frederick City after dark…At Monocacy a few miles from here we crossed a stream over which [Gen. Stonewall] Jackson destroyed the bridge a short time since.”

3 Oct. “I heard that a man was poisoned by eating a pie at Fredrick near where we got on the cars—he lived about 20 minutes after eating it. I heard that there were some 1500 wounded soldiers in Frederick…I have been talking with a Lieutenant of the first Maryland Regt who was among those who surrendered at Harper's Ferry…He says they could have held the heights… Said his Colonel was opposed to surrendering. Some 1500 cavalry cut their way thro’ from Harper’s Ferry losing one man who was thrown from his horse—They wanted to do the same but their superior officer would not permit it. About 9,000 surrendered. He said the Rebels had about 500 killed. Many of their wounded are in houses around here.” 

6 Oct. “Orders were from headquarters & very strict—two were given yesterday to prevent straggling when marching & when in camp…On the march from Sandy Hook to this place…[men] fell out until I suppose there were not enough for two companies when we arrived here.…There is a spring in the limits of our camp…There is a guard over it night and day…to see that no man out of the regiment dips into the spring. The object is to prevent poisoning the water.” 

10 Oct. “A soldier in the Granville Company shot his finger off this morning. I heard one of his own company say that he believed that he did it on purpose in hopes of getting a discharge. I saw a negro at Frederick who was quite a curiosity. He had a faculty of singing without using his lips, & making different sounds at the same time. One sound was a kind of buzz, all on the same tone; the other a kind of shrill whistle, by which he went thro’ various tunes. It might have been done by his throat on his tongue.” 

13 Oct. “I was on guard Saturday… I was guarding the spring, two of us stood there at night & took turns watching…I continued to be on guard at Mr. Finks’ house about breakfast time & I was invited in as those are who guard property…We have not much of a sutler’s establishment in our Regt…a couple of men drove on the ground this morning…they are selling cheese at 20 cts a pound…We heard considerable firing down the river. 

14 Oct. “[W]e received orders to fall in to get cartridges enough to make up our compliment of of 40 rounds. On Monday we started for Maryland Heights… Several companies went up.… we made fires and keep them burning all night… We could see camps in almost every direction.” 

24 Oct. “Some of our men have been punished by carrying a pretty heavy stick of cordwood without eating for 12 hours. I believe their offense was refusing to do police duty. They are marched back and forth by one of the guards.” 

29 Oct. “On Monday the road about of a mile east of here was full of infantry & cavalry…We filled our haversacks for the second time with two days rations… We hear that Winchester is Evacuated.” 

31 Oct. “Our Regiment & I think the whole brigade moved yesterday into VA…we will go as rear guard…A man in the Whitecreek Co. shot off his thumb & forefinger…War seems to lead to waste in every way. There is a great deal of the bread here that is not good & bad meat & cracked & a good deal of this is thrown into the fire or thrown away to rot.” 

1 Nov. “We crossed the Potomac [River] on a pontoon bridge…& crossed the Shenandoah on another…a body of men came up behind us, they said it was [Gen.] Hookers’ division…The impression here is that our forces are trying to hem in the enemy… After we came here last night a balloon was up twice across the river—it remained up half an hour or so—there was a rope attached to it.” 

4 Nov. “[O]ur company was sent out on picket…there were a number of rebel cavalry seen on that day. I was part of the telegraph line that night to convey intelligence back to headquarters. What one sentinel shouted to me [that] I was to report it to the next one…On Monday six of us were sent down the road to the most advance post of pickets. In the afternoon our Regt with three others, & some artillery went by us, & went on about two miles I think. They drove the Rebel pickets in & crossed the river. 

6 Nov. “Ten Rebel prisoners were taken thro’ here yesterday who were captured by the 145 N. Y. V. [New York Volunteers]” 

15 Nov. “We heard some pretty brisk firing south of us & were called to arms not knowing but that the enemy were coming, but it proved to be some of our own men discharging their pieces…Major Rogers went beyond our lines & into a house to eat. Some rebel cavalry fired into the house at him & just missed a girl in the house & then went away with his horse…the lady of was just opening the door when the rebels fired on her, the ball going so close to her side that it cut the fastenings of her dress loose at her waist.” 

18 Nov. “James Oliver of Co. F[?] was shot in the calf of the leg…by some skulking rebel while he was on picket. The 20th CT [is] part of our brigade…some horseman came along some of the pickets of that regiment. The men on guard hailed them three times—one of the rebel cavalry then shot at him & missed him—he returned the shot & killed a Lieutenant. They run [sic] & seized his horse & brought both horse & man into camp.”

15 Dec. “I was on picket on Tuesday the 9th & on that night we got word that we had marching orders for the next day. Early in the forenoon next day soldiers began to pass southward…The sick who are able to move are left in the charge of Lieut. Carey, who is not very well himself. He is to go with them by railroad to Alexandria. I did not feel able to march—had a severe cold & some fever with it. I did not want to be left behind, however, I thought I could manage to keep up. We started…on Thursday morning & marches thro & another village—marched until about dark making about 13 miles. I began sorely to repent of my part of the undertaking before night, but it was then too late to back out. My pulse was up to 112, & has probably been that most of the time…It was arranged that I should get a passage in the ambulance the next day…The Captain gave me a paper to present to the surgeon for a passage in the ambulance…I rode several miles…but the Sergeant informed me that he must not carry me any farther…I felt somewhat uncomfortable to be thrown out there so far from the end of my journey with a heavily loaded knapsack, gun & other straps…I got into camp about dark…We have heard that Burnside has taken Fredericksburg. It is pretty well along in Saturday afternoon now, & I have rode in the ambulance all day.”

REFERENCES: “123rd Infantry Regiment” at New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center online; “Alexander Beveridge” at New York State Library online.

Item #8262

Price: $3,750.00

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