The Southwest Collection is home to a number of remarkable Civil War collections, including our Confederate veterans’ handwritten accounts and our massive registry of almost every veteran, from both sides of the war, who was buried in Texas. But unique among all of our holdings is the field diary of Lieutenant Austin Wiswall.
Wiswall was the nephew of the famous abolitionist publisher and martyr Elijah Parish Lovejoy, and of U.S. Senator Owen Lovejoy. He served as a lieutenant in the 9th United States Colored Infantry, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, United States Army during the Civil War.
The 9th remained on duty in Maryland until March 1864, when they began to see more dangerous service in South Carolina. One of their conflicts was the Ashepoo Expedition the following May. The journal entries above document Wiswall’s thoughts during that time.
Wiswall was captured by Confederate forces later that year, and was held at Andersonville and Libby prisons. As a result, there are a large number of blank pages in the diary until his August release by prisoner exchange. On August 8th, 1864, he wrote “here we are with the glorious Army of the Potomac once more.” The diary contains no further entries.
The last several dozen pages of the diary contain memoranda like those above. They consist of financial accounts and similar material, but no in-depth descriptions of his service or how these figures related to it. But don’t take this blog’s word for it! Read the whole thing, as well as correspondence and other materials documenting Austin Wiswall’s life, right here.