Frank Bisel Papers

Manuscript Collection #310
Bisel, Frank
Physical description
0.11 Cubic Feet, Diary, copy, 169 pages.
Preferred Citation
Frank Bisel Papers (#310), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1861-1865, undated) of Civil War soldier in the 12th Ohio Battery, consisting of diary, copy, comments, transport discomfort, marriage, doggerel rhymes, clothing bills.

Biographical/historical information

Frank Bisel was a member of the 12th Ohio Independent Battery, originally Company D of the 25th Ohio Regiment.

Scope and arrangement

Bisel's diary covers the period from the battle at Cheat Mountain, West Virginia (September 12, 1861) until his mustering out (July 11, 1865).

The diary is filled with descriptions of the countryside and the attitudes of the residents toward the Union soldiers in Virginia and Tennessee where the 12th Battery spent much of its time during the war. Bisel, with wit and wry humor, depicts Civil War camp life, its discomforts, activities, and especially the antics and transgressions of the men. In a matter of fact style he records the treatment of enlisted men by their superiors and the often harsh and even unnecessary punishment meted out.

Bisel describes the action at the battle of Cheat Mountain (September 12, 1861), which was Robert E. Lee's first campaign; Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign (May-June, 1862), including the battle at Cross Keys (June 8-9, 1862); the second Bull Run Campaign, with eye-witness accounts of the battles at Cedar Mountain (August 9, 1862) and Bull Run (August 29-30, 1862); the Chancellorsville Campaign (April-May, 1863); and the defense of the Nashville-Chattanooga Railroad at Murfreesboro, Tennessee (December 7, 1864) during the Franklin and Nashville Campaign. Bisel describes the marches, the discomfort of rail transport, and most compellingly the horror of battle and its aftermath. The diary also contains newspaper descriptions of Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, his march to the sea, and the Carolina Campaign, along with commentary on Grant's successes at Petersburg and Richmond.

The diary reflects the political attitudes of Bisel and his fellow soldiers toward the Emancipation Proclamation, the 1864 elections, and Northern Democrats. Of special interest are the reactions to President Lincoln's Assassination and John Wilkes Booth's capture.

Bisel describes the low morale of the Union troops at Chattanooga at the close of the war. He notes the possibility for further military service by joining the mercenary forces in Mexico. Comments on the treatment of Confederate prisoners are frequent, and the attitudes of Union soldiers toward the prisoners is reflected in the diary. Of particular interest is a copy of a letter from Ohio governor John Brough which expresses anger at Confederate treatment of Union prisoners and relief that he does not control the fate of Confederate prisoners (May 13, 1864). Also included are copies of dispatches reporting Jefferson Davis' capture (May 14, 1865) and a copy of a war department memo on reduction of expenses.

Of interest is an article copied from the New York Tribune which urges benevolence on the part of the North toward the South and shows concern about the lean years ahead for Southern families. Bisel comments on the article at its end. The diary also contains a list of the members and their hometowns of the 12th Ohio Battery; a description of Shelby, Ohio, which includes the types of industry, trades, churches, schools and professions found there. Other miscellaneous entries include observation on marriage, doggerel rhymes and a clothing bill for 1864-1865.

A separate item in the collection consists of an undated speech on women's rights.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 28, 1976, Civil War diary (1861-1865) of member of 12th Ohio Battery and a women's rights speech. 169 pages. Loaned for copying by Mr. Richard McKinney, 202 Pineridge Drive, Greenville, North Carolina.

Source of acquisition

Loaned by Mr. Richard McKinney

Processing information

Processed by D. Speas, August 1976

Encoded by Apex Data Services

Copyright notice

Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.

Key terms
Personal Names
Bisel, Frank
Brough, John, 1811-1865--Correspondence
Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889
Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination
Corporate Names
Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad Company--History--19th century
United States. Army--Military life
United States. Army. Ohio Independent Light Artillery Battery, 12th (1862-1865)
Atlanta Campaign, 1864
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862
Cedar Mountain, Battle of, Va., 1862
Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863
Cheat Mountain, Battle of, W. Va., 1861
Railroads--Military aspects--United States--History--19th century
Shenandoah Valley Campaign, 1862
Sherman's March through the Carolinas
Sherman's March to the Sea
Shelby (Ohio)--History--19th century
Tennessee--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865