The Civil War Diary of Captain Edward Hill


The diary of Captain Edward Hill conveys the pleasures, hardships, and heroism of a Union soldier who served in the Civil War's climactic showdown in Virginia between the armies of General Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee. Hill and his regiment, the 16th Michigan Infantry, took part in many of the Army of the Potomac's key battles, and in later life Hill wrote about the Battle of Fredericksburg. Information about his daily wartime activities, however, is only available from February 16, 1864 to July 27, 1864 through jottings in his diary. At the beginning of this period Hill enjoyed a leisurely return to his regiment after a brief furlough in Michigan, socializing with friends and going to the theater in Baltimore and Washington. In mid-April 1864 he rejoined his men at their camp near Bealton Station, Virginia, and during the relentless Union offensive of May they took part in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and North Anna. Hill was wounded near Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864 prior to the Battle of Cold Harbor and would later receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic leadership. The diary continues during Hill's recovery, chronicling his progress and daily visitors while he recuperated at Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C.

This online collection includes transcriptions of Hill's diary as well as images of the original. It also includes an essay on Captain Hill and the 16th Michigan Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac entitled "When Will the End Come?" by Alyssa Sisco Ginn, SMC Class of 2008 and Professor Carl Guarneri of the SMC history department.

Further information on people and places mentioned in Hill's diary is available through the People, Places and Events document.


Information on the objects

The diary was donated to Saint Mary's College during the fall of 2008 by Susan Birkenseer. The entries are transcribed just the way Hill wrote them originally in the small space the pre-printed diary allotted to each day, with little punctuation and irregular capitalization. Extra spaces have been inserted between phrases to facilitate comprehension, and editorial insertions have been bracketed. Where Hill's handwriting is unclear a parenthetical question mark is inserted. The transcriptions were done by Carl Guarneri (professor of history) and Alyssa Sisco Ginn, (SMC class of 2008). Scans of the diary were completed by Sarah Vital (reference and instruction librarian), and the original website was organized and coded by Sue Birkenseer (reference and instruction librarian). The online collection site went live in 2009. The transcriptions and scans were transferred to the College's Digital Commons institutional repository in 2022.