William W. Perry Diary

Manuscript Collection #338
Perry, William W.
Physical description
0.11 Cubic Feet, 1 volume , bound diary consisting of 102 pages in chronological order; 15 unnumbered pages not in chronological order; and 8 pages listing the men from Ringgold, Pennsylvania who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Preferred Citation
William W. Perry Diary (#338), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Diary (1864-1865) kept by William W. Perry, a Pennsylvania soldier who joined the Union Army on January 4, 1864, at the age of thirteen. Also included are eight pages listing the men from Ringgold, Pennsylvania, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Scope and arrangement

The collection consists of the diary of a young Pennsylvania soldier who joined the Union Army on January 4, 1864 at the age of 13. It is an account of his 1 1/2 years of military service during the Civil War.

Perry first saw action in the Battle of the Wilderness and was seriously wounded on May 6, 1864. Due to his wound, he was removed from active duty for 6 months. In February 1865, he saw action again around Petersburg, Virginia (Battle of Dabney's Mill) and was on regular picket duty from February 1865 until the war's end. He was present at Appomattox when Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865 and was involved in the pursuit of General Johnston's forces into North Carolina following Lee's surrender.

Of particular interest is Perry's description of the medical treatment he received for his wound. He was ignored by surgeons as being too close to death and six days elapsed before his wound was treated and a meal prepared. Perry was finally transported to Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he was visited regularly by the Sisters of Charity. While confined at Carver Hospital, Perry met President Lincoln and his wife who were visiting army hospitals in Washington.

Also of interest are Perry's comments on the election of 1864 when soldiers, if close to home, were permitted to return to vote; desertions on both sides, particularly Confederate deserters near the war's end; rations and pay in the Union Army; life on the picket line, particularly conversations with Confederate pickets from North Carolina; and descriptions of such cities as Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Chancellorsville, Petersburg, and Richmond (Libby Prison). Another point of interest is that Perry states that on April 8, 1865 in a camp recently vacated by Lee, he found Lee's orders to General Ewell to burn the city of Richmond.

Administrative information
Custodial History

May 12, 1977, 1 volume; Civil War Diary (1864-1865) of a Pennsylvania soldier. Literary rights reserved for five years from above date. Deposited by Mr. Ronald Fochler. Deposit changed to a gift on October 12, 2017.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Mr. Ronald Fochler

Processing information

Processed by M. Duncan, June 1977

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
Perry, William W.
Corporate Names
Carver General Hospital (Washington, D.C.)
United States. Army--Military life
Presidents--United States--Election--1864
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Desertions
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives