[Various locations in Virginia and South Carolina. January 1 to December 31, 1863]. pp. of manuscript entries. 24mo. Contemporary wallet-style black leather diary, "Diary 1863" stamped in gilt on front cover. Moderate spine and edge wear, mild soiling. Light foxing and mild soiling to a handful of leaves. Very good. Item #WRCAM55612
A pocket diary kept by New York Chaplain William Lyman Hyde serving in Virginia during the middle year of the Civil War. The diary provides information on the wide variety of duties Hyde performed, from preaching in churches that were near where his regiment was posted, to comforting and ministering to sick and wounded soldiers, to officiating at funerals. He also reports on battles that the regiment was involved in, providing an interesting perspective on the bloody fighting during the Civil War. William Hyde was appointed as sole chaplain of the 112th New York State Volunteer Infantry in October 1862 by Governor Edwin Morgan. The 112th had been formed from residents in and around Chautauqua County, and became known as the "Chautauqua Regiment." For the next thirty-two months, Hyde served with the 112th New York in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and North Carolina by visiting, preaching, and consoling his fellow troops along the way. He was a prolific correspondent to curious friends and family back home, and also kept the present diary. Hyde was well regarded by those he served with through the end of the war; he was mustered out along with the rest of the Chautauqua Regiment in June 1865 at Raleigh, North Carolina. The following year, Hyde wrote the only regimental history of his unit, titled HISTORY OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND TWELFTH REGIMENT NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS (New York: McKinstry, 1866). Hyde's diary is a fascinating peek into his activities in Virginia in 1863, beginning near Suffolk. Much of his time was spent visiting hospitals and providing sermons to the troops, along with distributing the regimental mail, religious tracts, magazines, and other printed materials when he acquired them. He also extended his ministry to African-American churches in his area. Early in the diary, on January 11, Hyde records that he "Preached to thin audience in PM, Psalms 119:11. Regiment worn out with march. Went to color'd church. Evening I spent with lieutenant colonel and wrote to wife." On January 18, Hyde writes: "Many in Hospitals. Visited all but the stockade. Afternoon preached my 'Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.' Went to col'd church...." The regiment would be struck with many cases of sickness, and lost a great number to disease rather than fighting. One such soldier, whom Hyde identifies as "Cosgrove" died on the morning of January 25; Hyde helped conduct his funeral service. Chaplain Hyde was also present when the 112th New York took part in the Siege of Suffolk, Virginia, near Hill's Point and Fort Huger. The siege lasted from April 11 to May 4, with Union forces battering General Longstreet's men in and around Suffolk in order to control the Nansemond River. Hyde records the events in the days leading up to and during the attack. On April 10 he writes: "Trip made with me to Bro. Marshall's. Great excitement in view of probable attack. Draw bridge over Deep Creek broken through. Capt. Bowdish killed." The next day, on the 11th, he continues: "All ladies advised to leave camp. Wife packed her trunks. At night rails torn up by our folks on Portsmouth road and this disabled." The fighting continued on April 12 and 13, with Hyde writing: "Some skirmishing. Great excitement. Wife and children went after dinner on cars" and he notes "Skirmishes on Summerton road." Hyde also includes information pertaining to the battles his regiment faced during their service. On January 29, he records that "Two companies of our regiment were ordered out at midnight to report to Colonel Dobbs." This is a reference to his unit's involvement in the Battle of Deserted House, which took place on January 30. From June 13-17, the 112th New York made various movements towards Suffolk, navigating the countryside through South Quay and Franklin. Hyde's record of the advances over the four days reads thusly: "Up soon after daylight, breakfasted and pushed on toward South Quay. The country exceedingly beautiful. About 8 halted & deployed column. House women & 5 little ones. About 10 advanced. Shelled the works at South Quay from this side the river. After a vigorous shelling of half an hour, column moved towards Franklin. One man in our regt wounded by explosion of shell. We spent the night at Carrsville....About 10 put in line of battle a mile fr[om] Franklin Bridge. The 112th in rifle pits in rear of open field. Shelled Franklin 1/2 an hour and then moved on towd Winsor. The conduct of many in the command both Sat & Sunday bad. Stealing robbing burning & insulting women & children. We stopped for the night soon after sun down - near Winsor....Head Quarters at house of an old farmer after shelling, returned to supper....Went to a creek in the swamp. Bathed, was much refreshed. After supper marched on to Carrsville. Reached camping ground after tedious delays about 2 o'clock AM...spent day about 2 miles back from Black river...." Toward the end of the month, the Union had secured Suffolk and were now set to assist in the campaign up the Peninsula. Hyde writes on June 24: "Rumors of immediate charge began to be rife. We are expecting marching orders before many days. Suffolk seems like a city deserted. Our brigade & Corcorans the only left with one regt of cavalry & 4 batteries." The following day, fighting sickness, Hyde writes: "Rode about the lines. Felt very unwell. Canker & piles. Orders came this PM to get ready to move leaving tents & private property." In mid-August, Hyde and his regiment moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he spends time on and off Morris Island and Folly Island in Charleston harbor. Though his location has changed, Hyde's duties remain the same; he preaches, holds Bible classes, and tends to the sick. In an August 29 entry, Hyde details more of his hospital visits: "Wrote for Capt Stevens, who is somewhat sick. Visited the hospital found Corpl Neil very sick talked & prayed with him. He was fully conscious till near the close of life. Corpl Neil died 1/2 past 5. I was asked by Capt Frazier 169 to attend funeral of man who was shot in the trenches. Did so." He attended the funeral the next evening. In early October, Hyde travelled to Hilton Head and Black Island briefly, but returns to Morris Island by October 13. Here, he continues to visit the "port hospital to see the sick boys." He also mentions that he "fixed some library pamphlets" and "mended some good books." On October 20, Hyde details the members of the 112th New York "to build chapel in conjunction with the 13th Indiana" and visits Fort Wagner the next day. Later, on November 7, Hyde mentions that he went to Morris Island and "called on Captain Appleton, Massachusetts 54th." Capt. John Appleton and his famed 54th Massachusetts regiment, comprised of African-American soldiers had taken Fort Wagner less than three months earlier. Hyde attended another funeral later in the year, which he writes about on November 12: "Funeral of Barber who died at Port Hospital of Paralysis after Dysentery." Toward the end of the year, Hyde attended Christmas services and the dedication of a chapel for the 169th New York Volunteers. In his final entry of the year, Hyde ponders his accomplishments over the course of the year, writing: "This is the closing day of the year. I have not done much. This evening we were to have a watch meeting but after the sermon the storm was so violent we adjourned. The year has been an eventful one to me. Would to God it could carry into Eternity a better report." At the back of the diary are additional memoranda notes and account records which seem to relate to regimental business. In the rear accordion pocket is a blue one-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp, along with a 2 1/2 x 4- inch carte de visite of an unidentified toddler girl. The inner front cover is signed by William Pelton, Company D of the 3rd Tennessee, but the contents and handwriting matches that of Hyde, which was matched to other known papers belonging to Hyde. Plus, the diary was published by a former collector as part of a book of Hyde's correspondence entitled, ARMED ONLY WITH FAITH: THE CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE OF CHAPLAIN WILLIAM LYMAN HYDE, 112TH NEW YORK INFANTRY (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015). An informative original record of a New York chaplain's service in Virginia and South Carolina during a most important year of the Civil War.