Collection Description

This collection consists of seven manuscript diaries, pocket-size notebooks written while Asa Sackman was serving in the 44th Regiment, Companies F and G, of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The diaries date from October 1861, his first month of service, through September 1862. Sackman writes almost daily about the company's movements and actions, the weather, and camp life in the winter, and describes encounters and battles with Confederate troops, prisoners, and deserters. Events take place in West Virginia (with one foray into Virginia) and include the Battle of Lewisburg (May 23, 1862) and the Battle of Charleston (September 13, 1862). There are also mentions of the Battle of Roanoke Island and the Expedition to Logan Court House as well as many of Sackman's fellow soldiers at Camp Piatt and subsequent camps in what became West Virginia.

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Asa Sackman Diary Number 1, 1861
The first diary of Ohio volunteer Asa Sackman describes the daily life of a soldier in the 44th Regiment Infantry in 1861 in detail. He writes about sailing from Springfield to Cincinnati, Ohio, then continuing on their way to Camp Piatt (now Belle) near Charleston, West Virginia. They forage for food, and equipment; his squad seeks out and confiscates whiskey being sold to soldiers; the company comes under attack and men die from accidental drowning; and he notes weather and river rise, interactions with civilians, and boatloads of soldiers. On a trek they follow the Kanawha River north to the Coal River and down it before returning. This pocket notebook covers from October 1 through December 20, 1861., San Diego State University, information about Camp Piatt from seen 5/6/2016; some information from seen 5/6/2016; He notes on December 1 that the 13th Regiment was going to Covington, but it isn't entirely clear that this was the US 13th infantry regiment under Sherman's command; when he says he made coal rings, does he mean coal or jet?; see also seen on 5/6/2016
Asa Sackman Diary Number 2, 1861-1862
The second Diary of Asa Sackman covers December 21, 1861 through January 29, 1862. He records camp life in tents while building their "winter quarters," mentions an arrest, his captain's attendance at a "negro wedding" along with "all the darkies in the camp," sale of horses, military drills and inspections, foraging, the visits of civilians needing "passes," deaths with a suicide. The weather becomes harsher with snow, rain, and winds, and their provisions are nearly washed away. Steamboats come frequently with supplies and other companies, but they have no stoves for heat until January 12. On January 22 he makes a brief note of the Expedition to Logan Court-House, when the 37th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers and some men of the 44th fought and won against occupying confederate forces and burned the town of Logan before abandoning it., San Diego State University, seen 5/6/2016 has a report from Col. Edward Siber, 37th Ohio Infantry, on the Expedition to Logan Court-House
Asa Sackman Diary Number 3, 1862
In his third diary from January 30 through March 10 Sackman describes daily life in winter quarters for a soldier at Camp Piatt. After Emerson Alred from his company dies at the camp hospital, he and other soldiers make a coffin in which the body is shipped "home." He describes guard duty at Belle and Chesapeake (across the river), Dress parades -- American Civil War and inspections in all weathers, of which he keeps a detailed record, and the "awkward squad" drills. Telegrams bring news of casualties and victories of the Union, and men continue to die in the camp hospital. Confederate soldiers and sympathizers are called "seces" for "secessionists." One day they go to have their "miniatures" (photographs) taken. In February the news comes of the Battle of Roanoke Island, but Sackman notes it as part of South Carolina (instead of the correct North Carolina)., San Diego State University, seen 5/6/2016; seen 5/6/2016; for details of action of regiment seen 5/6/2016 names of men in Camp Piatt from; note the use of the term "awkward squad," even spelled correctly once in this diary; the Battle of Roanoke Island was part of the Burnside Expedition, fought February 7-8 (Sackman received news on the 12th); transcription is by Arel Lucas
Asa Sackman Diary Number 6, 1862
Diaries 4 and 5 are missing. This one starts on May 9 after Sackman's regiment came to Gauley Bridge. The 11th Ohio regiment joins them, and the 44th (Sackman's regiment) then has orders for the Expedition to Lewisburg and Jackson River Depot, leaving on May 11. They join the 47th Regiment along New River and march together with 50 wagons. Nearing Sewell Mountain (which he spells "Sauil"), they hear that the Union took Lewisburg. At Meadow Bluff Post Office they part ways with the 47th, which returns to Gauley Bridge with empty wagons to send back with provisions. Sackman briefly describes Lewisburg then records the earlier battle. Part of the 47th and the 2nd Virginia Cavalry are there. Sackman is ordered on a scouting expedition with the 36th Regiment and some cavalry, to Jackson River Depot ("Stacion," later Clifton Forge, Virginia). He details cavalry action, and provisions and equipment they captured after "rebels" left Covington. They return to Lewisburg on the 18th only to face problems with provisions, although the wagons from Gauley Bridge arrive. A bushwhacker who shot at a wounded Union soldier returning to camp is captured and removed to Gauley Bridge. On the 23rd the Battle of Lewisburg commences before breakfast, with the 44th under the command of Colonel Samuel A. Gilbert, and Sackman describes it and the aftermath. The "printing office" is seized and a newspaper called Yankee printed. On May 29 they return to Meadow Bluff (Deitz Farm) and build a camp, which is where the diary ends on May 31., San Diego State University, seen 5/9/2016 The 11th Regiment Infantry (3 years' enlistment) was ordered to the 1st brigade, Kanawha Division West Virginia, Department of the Mountains from March 1862 to September 1862. According to the same archive, the 47th was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, Kanawha Division from May to August and had been at Lewisburg from April 23 to May 10, when they moved to Meadow Bluff. seen 5/9/2016; seen 5/9/2016--Sackman's account differs in his assertion that the sniper who shot the Union soldier returning to camp was captured and taken prisoner;a useful historical account is at seen 12/13/2018; he mentions a "white Spring"--does he mean White Sulphur Springs?
Asa Sackman Diary Number 7, 1862
Starting on June 1 in the camp "at Meadow Bluffs" (probably Deitz Farm) Sackman brags that the rains and hail don't wet the "bunk" he and his "pardners" built, and Captain Newkirk asks them to build one like it for him. On the 6th a wagon train with provisions and clothing arrives. The cavalry rides to Blue Sulphur Springs on the 10th, where they have "a little fight" and take prisoners. On the 12th the cavalry goes out to retrieve cattle from Lewisburg but are attacked, and Sackman's company goes out as reinforcements but the Confederate forces have disappeared. "Seces" (secessionists) come to the camp to surrender and continue to do so. Men from each company go "foraging" and are successful on the 19th, and on the 20th another 35 Confederate soldiers surrender, with more on the 21st, when men from the 36th Infantry leave. On the 22nd the 44th (Sackman's regiment) goes on their Expedition to Salt Sulphur Springs. On their way to Union they meet Confederate troops, and Sackman describes the fray and its aftermath in the retreat of General Heth ("Heath") and the 44th's seizure of provisions at Union. The diary ends on the 25th with their return to camp., San Diego State University, seen 5/9/2016; seen 5/9/2016
Asa Sackman Diary Number 8, 1862
This diary continues on June 26, "at Meadow Bluffs" (most likely Dietz Farm). Sackman is sick several times but on the 29th he and others gather strawberries in the rain. Confederate "deserters" surrender and say the hills are full of deserters. The camp celebrates Independence Day (July 4) by firing the cannon; the sutler receives five loads of goods; and on the 10th scouts go out. On the 11th members of the 47th Regiment follow as reinforcements; and on the 12th they return with prisoners and the news that rebels are right across the river. The sentences of a court martial include dishonorable discharge for Patrick Hart of Company A of the 44th Infantry (Sackman's regiment), and hard labor for a cavalryman for desertion. On the 16th they start to build a new camp with the help of prisoners, since theirs is in the middle of a swamp and they feel it's unhealthy. On the 21st companies from each regiment (Ohio 44th, 36th, and 47; Virginia 9th) go scouting. Sackman continues to pick and sell berries and remarks on the poor health of his comrades. A man dies daily at the hospital, and Sackman attributes one death to a punishment march with a knapsack full of rocks. The diary ends on August 2 with an order to pack three days' rations and be ready to march., San Diego State University, seen 5/10/2016; Sackman stays at this camp for the whole of this diary.
Asa Sackman Diary Number 9, 1862
Sackman's Company G, 44th Ohio Infantry Regiment leaves Meadow Bluff on August 3 for Blue Sulphur Springs and the Greenbrier River, where they engage the enemy, including a guerilla band. After the quartermaster dies on the 8th his body is returned for a described military funeral. An order to all men on the north side of the river to take the oath to the Union on pain of confiscation of property draws crowds into camp. A gun-cleaning accident kills someone named "Barier." On notice to be ready to leave, Sackman bakes "sweet cakes" to take. On the 15th they move to Hawk's Nest (Camp Anderson) before going to Camp Ewing (near Bowyer's Ferry, later called Sewell). Men blockade the Summersville Road, and on the 26th word comes that the 9th Virginia Regiment's train was captured and burned. As Sackman continues to cook and bake, Company K of the 44th blocks roads to Carnifex Ferry. On the 31st a telegraph wire to Gauley Bridge is installed. They leave on September 4 for Tompkins' Farm, where they build fortifications and pile brush under bridges ready to fire. They then deploy cannon at Miller's Ferry and fight at Gauley Bridge on the 11th. On the 12th they retreat to Camp Piatt, leaving on the 13th, burning salt works and Malden before reaching Charleston, where the Battle of Charleston begins, ending after dark. They retreat to the Ohio River and arrive at Point Pleasant September 18, where the diary ends on September 30., San Diego State University, for map of this diary: Sackman and his company and 2 others of the 44th regiment marched south from Dietz Farm to Blue Sulphur Springs through the mountains, a distance of about 8 miles, from 37.908140, -80.668414 to about a mile south of the Greenbrier River, estimated to be at about 37.714383, -80.64525 ("Dark Hollow Road"--he mentions going over a mountain and into the "hollow." Then they retreat to the river, cross it, and return to camp through Blue Sulphur Springs. According to Google a distance of about 17.5 miles one way through the mountains. In August Sackman went from Deitz Farm to Little Sewell Mountain (37.951952, -80.718326) to (Big) Sewell Mountain (37.9351162, -80.8409247 from (retracing their steps from Gauley Bridge). I'm assuming that the mentioned Hawk's Nest (Camp Anderson) is the same as Hawk's Nest State Park; seen 5/11/2016; seen 5/11/2016; seen 5/12/2016; seen 5/12/2016; seen 5/12/2016; seen 5/12/2016; seen 5/12/2016 Autobiography of Dr. Thomas H. Barton, from pages 84-; seen 5/12/2016