Portal: Alice Williamson Diary. A Schoolgirl’s Civil War Diary, 1864 – online!

Alice Williamson Diary. An On-line Archival Collection. Special Collections Library, Duke University (Web)

This small, leather-bound volume is the 36-page diary kept by schoolgirl Alice Williamson at Gallatin, Tennessee from February to September 1864. The main topic of the diary is the occupation of Gallatin and the surrounding region by Union forces under General Eleazer A. Paine. The diary relates many atrocities attributed to Paine. Frequently mentioned is presence of black contrabands in and around Gallatin, attempts to give them formal schooling, and their abuse by Union Eastern Tennessee troops.

Alice Williamson is bitterly resentful of the Union occupation. The diarist mirrors the abandonment felt by many Confederate sympathizers in Gallatin. She notes the presense of rebel troops in the region, mentions the massacre at Fort Pillow, the death of Confederate raider John Hunt Morgan, and Atlanta’s surrender to Sherman. The diary lacks details of daily life. The schoolroom and occasional visits are the only other major concerns of the diarist.

This diary was purchased in 1976 with funds from the Flowers Endowment which was created to build the Library’s holdings of Southern Americana. Read more … (Web)