Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Civil War Diary of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale: Company I Thirty-Fifth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry 1862-1865

Typed & Bound in 1926 for Frederick C. Tisdale (Henry's son) by Margaret H. Tisdale (Frederick's wife)
Introduction By Roscoe H. Tisdale (Henry's son)

My brother Fred’s wife, Margaret, typed this diary from the pen transcripts made by Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale. They were given to me in his will. He turned them over to me the day before he died, with the request that I should not open them until after he had passed on. Father always kept them among his private papers and no one was allowed to see them. As I consider them to be a priceless family possession and of especial interest to his children, I have had four copies made, and I am giving one copy to each of my brothers, Charles and Fred, and one to my sister Edith, on this Christmas Day 1926. I feel that the possession and reading of these pages will give us a more intimate understanding of father’s character, and make his memory nearer and dearer to us all.



Mark F. Farrell/ Great-grandson
        Henry W. Tisdale was born on March 9, 1837 in Walpole, Massachusetts, the eldest of seven children. He was raised in both Walpole and West Dedham, Massachusetts, which at present is the town of Westwood, Massachusetts. On July 10, 1862 at age twenty-five, Henry enlisted in Company I, Thirty-fifth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and was given the rank of sergeant. Henry 's name appears first on the company roster. Henry was employed as a clerk at Benjamin Boyden's trading business at the time of his enlistment and wrote many letters during the war to Mr. Boyden and to Henry's sisters, Abbie, Nellie (Penelope), and  Carrie (Caroline) Tisdale.

        The regiment trained at Camp Stanton in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.  On September 14, 1862 Henry was wounded in the thigh at Fox's Gap during the Battle of South Mountain in Maryland. Henry recovered and rejoined his regiment on February 4, 1863, when it traveled to Kentucky and East Tennessee. During 1863 Henry participated in the Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi campaigns. On July 13th, while near Jackson, Henry was giving instructions to a sergeant of the 7TH Rhode Island, when a minie ball passed through the sergeant and killed him. It then struck Henry's rifle sparing his life. Later in 1863 the regiment returned to Kentucky and East Tennesse and fought at Campbell's Station. During 1864, the regiment took part in Grant's Overland Campaign in Virginia. On May 24th Henry was captured following the Battle of North Anna River. He was held at several Rebel prisons, including Libby Prison in Richmond, Andersonville Prison in Georgia (from June 7th through October 5th), Camp Millen in Georgia, Camp Davidson in Savanah, Georgia, and the Florence Stockade in South Carolina. While at Andersonville Henry served as the sergeant of the 3rd mess of Detachment # 76 and was responsible for 90 fellow prisoners. His duties included obtaining rations, roll call, and taking the sick to the hospital. While a prisoner of war Henry was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Col. Carruth and Gen. Parke. However, there is not any record of a disposition in the matter. Henry was exchanged on March 3,1865 and discharged on June 13th after three years of war. Corporal Benjamin F. Pratt, 3rd, of Company H, a messmate took ill during captivity and died in 1866 after returning to South Weymouth, MA.  

         On June 3, 1868 Henry married Abbie  Frances Cheney and they had seven children and were living at 23 Glenwood Avenue, Boston. Circa 1880 the family moved to 124 Eustis Street in Roxbury, MA and later moved to 92 Winthrop Street, Boston.  Henry opened a grocery store and market located at 1800 and 2219 Washington  Street. Henry was a deeply religious man and never spoke of his Civil War exploits. Henry died on May 31, 1922 at age eighty-five and was buried in Highland Cemetery in Norwood, MA.

          The family has made seven hardbound typed copies by Margaret H. Tisdale and later a dozen loose photocopies of the " Civil War Diary and Letters of Sergeant Henry W.Tisdale", were made by this writer. The three volume original diary is preserved in the Rare Books Department of the Boston Public Library. The fourth volume," Rebel Prison Pens," was returned to Henry's daughter, Ella, and is lost. However, the library did make a photocopy of it. The diary has not been published, except for a few excerpts for the book, Tribute. Mr.Robert Cormier's AP students at Shrewsbury High School transferred the diary to a digitized computer disc as a class project. Although, this project was done without the knowledge of his descendants it has allowed for this digitized copy of the diary at this website, for which we are very greatful to Mr. Cormier, who was this writer's high school US History teacher. The Civil War Diary and Letters of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale, 1862-1865, was registered with and issued a copyright from the Library of Congress to this writer in 2001.      

         Henry's youngest son, Frederick, was this writer's maternal grandfather. Henry's Model 1861 Springfield Rifle hangs above the family fireplace in West Alton, NH. Henry's other Civil War equipment was given to the Dedham Historical Society along with one hardbound typed copy of the diary.  

December 12th.
Attended prayer meeting in evening in tent of Surgeon Smith, who took charge of the meeting.  These meetings are held now every Sunday and Thursday evenings are very interesting.  Felt too formal in mind and heart.  Received a kindly letter from Cousin Julia.  Surgeon Smith leaves the camp tomorrow.  Shall miss him much as he is the only officer here who has or shows any interest in religious meetings.  Wrote to D. Guild, in answer to a kindly one from him.

December 13th.
Felt inactive in mind today.  Have thought much of the coming Sabbath tomorrow and endeavored to so improve the closing hours of the day as to awake in a goodly frame on the morrow.

December 14th.
Sabbath.  Felt much today my need of more tenderness of heart towards the impenitent, so that I may hunger to do them good.  Attended prayer meeting in Doctor Smith’s tent in afternoon.  He has this tent arranged with temporary seats making quite a goodly chapel.  To prayer meeting in 19th CT camp in evening.  Must be more earnest in prayer for faith and love.

December 15th.
Unwell today.  Feel it to be the result of eating too much food in proportion to the labor I perform.

December 16th.
Felt better today and think that cutting short the full gratification of my appetite had helped me to feel more alive in mind and body.  Wrote letter to sister Nellie.  Severe wind and rain came this morning.  Through carelessness lost my memorandum book yesterday.  Regret its loss though it contained but little of value.

December 17th.
Wrote a short letter to sister, Abbie.  Received some papers and Congregationalists from Benjamin Boyden.

December 18th.
Wrote long letter to Abbie, upon political and military matters, the camp here and some of own experiences of soldier life.  Find that where the heart is right in love to God and man, one can do good and get good even amid much that is to appearance entirely subversive of Christian principle and life.  Find much that is uncongenial in the conduct of many of the soldiers here, but still find with watchfulness over my temper and heart can get on peacefully with all or nearly so and get if not do some good.  Some of the men who have served under General McClellan are very bitter against the President for removing him, yet the majority have that confidence in the integrity of the President that they feel it is doubtless for wise and sufficient reasons that the change is made.  Have had to keep pretty quiet the past three days, my wound having become inflamed again.  Begin to think I shall have to be removed to better quarters if I would hope to get well to where I can have proper warmth and food.  Reports are about that the camp is about to be removed to its new quarters are long.

December 19th.
Received a letter from Abbie. informing me of cousin Ansel’s having received this discharge and return home and of brother, Ronnie’s success thus far in learning his trade.  Very glad to learn he likes and is getting on well.

December 20th.
 A bitter cold day.  Lay wrapped up in my blanket nearly all day.  Towards night as the surgeon came round, spoke to him of the need of my being transferred to better quarters in order to hope to get well.  He granted my request and removed me or allowed me to remove to one of the hospital tents but little better than the one I left.  Had been in my new quarters but a short time when orders came for our removal to the hospital in the city.  A most welcome order and we were soon in ambulances in route. By nine in the evening I was once more in a good hospital where I was given a warm bath some clean hospital clothes put on and soon snugly to bed in a ventilated and heated room.  Was placed in the Methodist Church Hospital so called because the building was formerly a church but the congregation being “secesh” the government confiscated the use of their house of worship.  Was joyful thus to bid goodbye to “Camp Misery.”  Nearly all of the sick have now been transferred from thence to good hospitals in this city and Washington.  One of my tent mates was sent to Washington, Edward Otto, a Prussian.  He had a very bad leg, having got hurt by a fall from a horse, he belonged to the 1st N Y Cavalry.  Was obliged in walking to drag his toes upon the ground.  Had been laid by some four months and had tried in vain for discharge.  He had come to this country to avoid being drafted into the army at home and on breaking out of the war enlisted as a “saddler” that being his trade.  Hope the whole of the convalescent camp will be broken up, as it is nothing but a disgrace to the government in its present management.

December 24th.
Have been now four days in my new quarters.  The change is very pleasant.  My wound is already improving under proper dressing and the good accommodations generally.  My heart is not as to me.  Have misspent much time the past four days in useless reading.  Must overcome this habit of reading trashy literature if I would have true ideas of life and earnestness and stability of character.  Need to cultivate more energy and decision in my daily life.  Have noticed a lack of self-possession in my intercourse which feel is but a consequence result of the want of the above qualities of character.

December 28th.
Last Sabbath of the year.  I do not realize it so.  Indeed feel my heart is cold to true spirited life.  Am feeling more end more each day my need of God’s quickening grace in my heart.  Feel that my little wasting of time my little sins I often commit are perhaps the occasion of God’s hiding His face from me.  Yet ought to feel too that it is not by any words of my own that I can merit His grace still also must realize that while I love sin cannot hope for His mercy or grace.  Must therefore yield the whole service and love of my heart not as hoping for reward for my so doing but as my rightful service, and what devout gratitude for God’s goodness call upon me to bestow.  Had a fine Christmas dinner provided for us by the ladies of Washington and Alexandria.  The hospital is full to overflowing with wounded from Fredericksburg, VA.  Sorry to learn by the papers of the death of our Major Sidney Willard, formerly captain of our company, killed at Fredericksburg. I fear more men of our company and regiment have been laid bye in the fight.  Had services in the hospital today.  Have a good Chaplain connected with it.  Received letter from brother, Herbert.

December 31st.
The past three days have been very pleasant.  Took walk to the new convalescent camp on the 29th.  Enjoyed the tramp very much.  From appearance should judge they were making a first class camp, building good barracks, etc.  On my return came around by Fort Scott, which overlooks the cities of Washington and Alexandria, the Potomac River and the surrounding country affording a delightful view, with the Capitol and many of the government buildings being in full view.  Received six letters the past two days and have been busy in answering them.  Feel I have much cause for thankfulness and gratitude to God for His many memories and blessings given me for the year now closing.  Too little have I felt His goodness to me, sparing my life and giving me such good health and cheerfulness, His goodness too in sparing the lives of us brothers and sisters and in giving us in the main such good health and prosperity.  May I commence the year with deeper love and consecration to Him, and a more earnest striving to grow into the image of His son in my life and conduct.  Need deeper and truer views of life, of its object and ends, and to feel that only is a true life, which is spent in seeking the glory of God. And as a consequence of this, my own highest development, physical, mental, and spiritual and the good of my fellow men is realized.

From: civilwardiary.net


The Civil War Diary of Sergeant Henry W.Tisdale,Company I, 35th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers can be read at www.civilwardiary.net my website. Henry W. Tisdale was my great-grandfather.

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