Northern Illinois University Press

A Civil War Soldier's Diary

Valentine C. Randolph, 39th Illinois Regiment

Valentine C. Randolph

Edited by David D. Roe
Commentary & Annotations by Stephen R. Wise

“A useful source that is rich with details about life as a soldier and with insights into the pietistic values of mid-nineteenth-century America.”—Journal of Southern History

"Randolph's diary is exceptional."—Journal of Illinois History

"Randolph's diary has to rate as one of the most interesting and remarkable Civil War diaries ever published. Civil War scholars and enthusiasts alike are fortunate to have Randolph's diary in print."—The Journal of Military History

A century and a half after Appomattox, the diaries of soldiers continue to surface, and Civil War enthusiasts, including many university professors, dream of finding a lost piece of history. Such was the delight of David Roe, whose friend gave him a remarkable family heirloom—the diary of Valentine C. Randolph—which included handwritten daily entries starting on the day Randolph enlisted and ending on the evening before he arrived home. Spanning three years of military experience in the 39th Illinois Regiment, this diary includes revealing narratives, some recounting events not noted in other sources.

An eloquent diarist, Randolph vividly describes military action in key areas of the eastern theater—northern Virginia, Charleston, and Richmond and its surrounds. His record of the Peninsula Campaign, the siege of Charleston, and finally the Bermuda Hundred and Petersburg campaigns offers a rare look at the role common soldiers played in master strategies. He recounts the trials of garrison duty and sea sickness; he observes life in army camps and hospitals. A former theology student and an unusually thoughtful man, Randolph questions the military predation of civilian property and condemns the racial prejudices of his fellow soldiers.

Stephen Wise, the Civil War historian who supplies informative commentary and annotation for A Civil War Soldier’s Diary, describes Randolph as “a devout Christian and a keen observer of people and geography.” The original preface by Randolph notes that he intended the diary to be read only by himself and those whom he permitted; his main purpose was to have, in later years, a personal reminder of his life as a soldier. Consequently, this candid piece of history is rendered all the more valuable. Randolph’s well-written account will interest Civil War historians and military history enthusiasts.

(2006) 290 pp., maps
ISBN: 978-0-87580-343-2
cloth $35.00

Table of Contents

Preface by David D. Roe
Introduction by Stephen R. Wise
The Diary of Valentine Cartwright Randolph
Volume 1: Lincoln, Illinois, September–December 1861
Volume 2: Hancock, Maryland, January–March 1862
Volume 3: March–July 1862
Volume 4: Harrison's Landing, Virginia, July 1862–March 1863
Volume 5: Folly Island, South Carolina, April–August 1863
Volume 6: Morris Island, South Carolina, September 1863–May 1864
Volume 7: Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, June–September 1864
Epilogue by Stephen R. Wise
Appendix—A Brief Biography of Valentine C. Randolph by Charles Stanley
Notes on Sources

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-343-2
cloth $35.00