Diary of a decorated Rhode Island Civil War Veteran

One of the great benefits of having scholars actually USE your collections is that they teach you about them. It is impossible (and in most cases irresponsible) to be a specialist as a librarian. For the most part, our collections are so broad that to specialize in one area is to ignore another.

A researcher is working diligently on a history of Battery G, First regiment, Rhode Island Light Infantry Volunteers (a group of about 150 men), the only Rhode Island unit that still lacks a published history.
One of the men in the battery was Captain James A. Barber (1841-1925), of Westerly, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on June 16, 1866, “for gallant and meritorious conduct in action at Petersburg, Va., April 2, 1865, he being one of a number of picked artillerymen who voluntarily accompanied an infantry assaulting party and turned upon the enemy the guns captured in the assault.”
The diary in our collection is a field diary (dated January 1, 1861 to December 14, 1862), written at the time Barber was serving, rather than a fair copy made later (the John Hay Library at Brown University has two fair copy diaries that Barber kept, dated 1863 & 1864). It also contains the photo shown here and his obituary from the Westerly Sun (June 26, 1925). Here is a scan of the leather cover with its little protective flap, as well as one opening, showing 2 of over 100 written pages of the diary.

3 thoughts on “Diary of a decorated Rhode Island Civil War Veteran

  1. >Thanks very much for this post. I’m already a fan of the subject, thanks to your researcher and a descendant. Has anyone transcribed that diary, by chance? That I’d like to see!

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