Civil War Exhibit and Frederick Bartlett’s Diary

The following post was originally a multi-part post over Spring 2015, featuring parts of Lt. Bartlett’s diary and highlighting the Spring 2015 exhibit in Archives and Special Collections. For information about the current Archives and Special Collections exhibit, please visit the Archives and Special Collections department.

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Did you know that 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War? To commemorate this sesquicentennial anniversary, the Department of Archives and Special Collections collaborated with Dr. Carla Bittel’s Fall 2014 History 550: The Civil War seminar in order to curate an exhibit titled Not Silent: Finding Voices in Civil War Artifacts. This exhibit was on display for the Spring 2015 semester.

In addition to the exhibit in Archives and Special Collections, I (Paraprofessional Library Assistant Rachel Deras) will focus on the diary of Frederick J. Bartlett (1832-1899). Frederick was a white man who was a commissioned lieutenant in the 27th infantry, United States Colored Troops (UCST).The USCT were regiments of the United States Army during the Civil War composed of African American Soldiers. UCST regiments were led by white officers, and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers.

I will be posting weekly entries from Bartlett’s diary to recreate the winter and spring of 1865 for all of those following along.

Frederick J. Bartlett’s Diary

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Photo courtesy of: http://www.doylenewyork.com//Full//643/844643.jpg

The Department of Archives and Special Collections acquired Bartlett’s diary last summer as an addition to our Civil War Collection. While many of Bartlett’s entries are casual and describe the mundane day to day activities of the war, it is an accurate representation of life in the 19th century. The issues associated with slow communication are highlighted (especially when it comes to Lincoln’s assassination) as is the feeling of constantly wondering about what would happen next.

Fort Fisher

Photo courtesy of: Shallotte Attractions

Fort Fisher protected Wilmington from Union assaults and provided a safe haven for vessels that succeeded in running the naval blockade of Confederate ports. Bartlett helped capture Fort Fisher in January 1865.

 

One of the primary focuses of Not Silent is to remember the lives of the soldiers who fought who aren’t the Civil War giants we have come to learn about such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Ulysses S. Grant, to name a few. Of course, these men are important but so are the many men who fought whose stories we don’t know, men like Bartlett. Through Bartlett’s diary we will discover the reality of the Civil War and what it meant to serve during a time of so much flux in US history.

Paraprofessional Library Assistant Rachel D. (me!) will be following the diary of Frederick J. Bartlett (1832-1899) throughout the semester.

Frederick was a white man who was a commissioned lieutenant in the 27th infantry, United States Colored Troops (UCST).The USCT were regiments of the United States Army during the Civil War composed of African American Soldiers. UCST regiments were led by white officers, and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers.

I will be posting weekly entries from Bartlett’s diary to recreate the winter and spring of 1865 for all of those following along.

Frederick J. Bartlett’s Diary

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Bartlett’s diary starts on January 1st, 1865 and ends on December 31st, 1865. Our plan here is to sync up with Bartlett as our exhibit goes up in the A&SC gallery. So, that means we are going to start with Bartlett’s entry on January 13th, 1865:

“Moved up within five miles of Fort Fisher and at 10 am the Regt was landed by the marines. Firing commenced by the gun boats on the shore batteries & Fort Fisher at 7 am. Between 4 to 6 PM the colored Div formed a line of battle from the sea beach to the Cape Fear River and threw up two lines of breastwork during the night. Weather was very pleasant & mild. Bombardment of Fort Fisher heavy from 1 to 5 pm.”

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Photo courtesy of: Shallotte Attractions

Fort Fisher protected Wilmington from Union assaults and provided a safe haven for vessels that succeeded in running the naval blockade of Confederate ports. Bartlett helped capture Fort Fisher in January 1865. So, that means Fort Fisher is very important in this here story.

So, you might be asking yourself why we are following Bartlett. While many of Bartlett’s entries are casual and describe the mundane day to day activities of the war, it is an accurate representation of life in the 19th century. The issues associated with slow communication are highlighted (especially when it comes to Lincoln’s assassination) as is the feeling of constantly wondering about what would happen next. That’s why we chose Bartlett.

Come one, come all and join us as we journey through Bartlett’s diary (we don’t think he would mind).


In the hopes of syncing up Bartlett’s entries with the same present day dates I am now presenting you with entry number two:

Frederick J. Bartlett’s Diary

January 15, 2015

“Still in line of breast works in rear of fort Fisher. Bombardment of the fort commenced at 7:30 AM and continued until 9:45 PM the Fort was surrendered. A charge was made on the Fort by the Marines on the coast and Infantry in rear. The Infantry captured the three first traverses of the Fort at 6 PM. The 27th Regt. went up to the Fort and lay there over 9 ½ hour and fell back. After the surrender of the Fort the 27 proceeded to Fort Buchanan and captured Gen’l Whitine & 300 prisoners.”


If you’ve been wondering what Lieutenant Bartlett was up to on this very day (January 29th) in 1865, you’re about to find out!

“Still in rear of Fort Fisher. Rose half past five. Had breakfast at 8 AM, read until 11 AM and then had inspection of arms. Spent the afternoon in writing and reading. In evening had a private prayer in my tent. Weather clear & milder. A number of shots were thrown at the rebel fort up the river by the gunboats.”

Sounds like a pretty calm day sprinkled with some intensity, wouldn’t you say?


On this day we are once again taking a peek at Lt. Bartlett’s diary.

February 2, 1865:

“Still in camp in rear of Fort Fisher, NC. Had Company drill from 10-12 N. Spent most of the time reading while off duty. Weather pleasant and warm. Twenty shots or more were fired from the gunboats during the day at the rebel fort up the river”

What I find interesting about Bartlett is his commitment to recording the weather. As you will come to see in future posts, the weather makes an appearance in just about every single entry.


So, what happened to our good friend Frederick Bartlett on February 9th, 1865?

“Still camped in rear of Fort Fisher. Had Battalion Drill from 10 to 12 AM and went onto ground for Co. Drill at 2 PM but rec’d orders to return to Co. grounds & inspect arms, provide the men with three days rations and sixty rounds of ammunition and be ready to move in the morning”


February 19, 1865:

“Rec’d a letter from wife. Still in new line of works. Bombardment continued all night and the fort and the line in our front were evacuated near daylight. At 8 AM our Div of the 25th AC moved out in pursuit. Marched about six miles towards Wilmington but met no rebs. The gunboats moved up the river at the same time. At 8 PM I went out on a reconnaissance to the river with Co. K&D out all night. Weather pleasant and warm. “

Even after an exciting night, Bartlett still reports the weather!


February 23, 1865:

“Still on East side of North Riverand the rebs on the West and neither the rebs nor our forces as yet have been able to secure the pontoon bridge. There was some firing all night but it ceased at day light. A flag of truce was sent in, in the forenoon form [sic] the exchange of prisoners but was affected. In the evening the rebels withdraw from our front. Weather cloudy but warm.“


March 5, 1865:

We’re moving into a new month with Lt. Bartlett…

“Still in camp at North East Station NC. Worked nearly all day on my master & Pay Rolls for Janry & Feby. At 5 PM had a Dress parade. Weather cloudy and cool.”

Wish we had photographs of this dress parade!


March 13, 1865:

“In camp at N.E. Station N.C. Had Co. and Squad drills during the day but did not go out as I was busy in my tent writing. Weather pleasant and warm.”

I find it interesting that Bartlett did not join in on squad drills because he was too busy writing in his tent. I can so easily picture him writing in his diary and writing to his wife while everyone else is busy participating in the drills outside of his tent.


March 19, 1865:

“Moved out of camp at 7 AM in advance of the white troops. Passed through Kennonsville— at 1 P.M. and put into camp at 5:30 P.M. about 28 miles from Goldsboro. Cannonading heard in our front all the afternoon and some of the time quite heavy. Weather pleasant and warm.”


March 24, 1865:

“Lay in camp here all day about 1 ½ miles from the Neuse River. Received a letter from wife. A small fight took place some two miles to our right but did not learn the result. Weather cloudy and cooler. At 10 P.M. Rec’d orders to be ready to move tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM.”


March 30, 1865:

“Still in camp at Faison’s Station N.C. In quarter nearly all day reading and writing. Wrote a letter to William Bartlett. Had Dress Parade at 5 P.M. Sent in a request to appear before a Military Board to be examined for Major. Weather cloudy and warm with little rain.”

It seems to be an exciting time in Lt. Bartlett’s life– he is going to be examined for Major which would be a promotion for him. We will have to stay tuned to see what happens.


April 6, 1865:

“Still in camp near Faison N.C. In quarter most of forenoon. At 11 A.M. rec’d the news of the downfall of Richmond & Petersburg. Had Brig. Parade and the order was read to the Troops announcing the fall of Richmond. All excitement in camp until mid night. Wrote letter to wife. Weather pleasant and warm.”


April 17, 1865:

Coming to you one day earlier this week!

“Still in camp near Raleigh N.C. In forenoon had a long shanty built and the camp ground policed. At 2 P.M. went into Raleigh and visited the Governors Mansion State House and Raleigh & Atlantic R.R. Depot. The rumor was afloat in town that President Lincoln was assassinated at Washington. Weather pleasant and warm. “

I don’ think I need to point out how important this Bartlett entry is. What I am most intrigued by is that he mentions that it was a rumor and does not seem to dwell on the fact that President Lincoln might actually be dead. Lincoln was shot on April 14th and April 17th is the first Bartlett mentions of the assassination in his diary– indicative of how slowly the news reached the men fighting the war.


April 20, 1865:

“Still in camp near Raleigh N.C.  At 9 A.M. struck tents and made ready to move camp to the East side and one and a half miles from Raleigh. At 10:30 A.M. passed in review before Maj. Gen’l Sherman. Got into new camp at 1 P.M. and the afternoon was occupied in pitching tents & building quarters. Weather cloudy with little rain.”


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This week we are going to do something a little bit different to wrap up our journey following Lt. Frederick Bartlett’s Diary.

Bartlett finally heads home in the Fall (he got very sick on September 28 and was still super sick through the first weeks at home); he arrived home on October 10.

All semester we have been following Lt. Frederick Bartlett through his diary entries, as he experienced the final months of the Civil War. We end our Civil War series of Tumblr posts with this entry from Bartlett’s diary. Settling back into a quiet routine on his farm near Berea, Ohio, Bartlett writes these simple words a few days before celebrating Christmas 1865: “At Home. In forenoon fixed my sheep stable. In afternoon went into my woods and set up some fence-posts. In evening worked in shop. Weather cold. In afternoon snow fell three inches deep.”  Just an ordinary farmer-turned-soldier who was among the lucky ones to make it back home.”-Cynthia Becht, Head, Archives and Special Collections.

Thanks for following along with us all semester!