George W. Lyon Papers

Manuscript Collection #162
Lyon, George W.
Physical description
0.073 Cubic Feet, 1 item , diary.
Preferred Citation
George W. Lyon Papers (#162), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.
ECU Manuscript Collection
No restrictions

Papers (1865) consisting of diary of day to day activities.

Biographical/historical information

George W. Lyon enlisted for service in the Civil War, at 21 years of age on Aug 20 1862 at New York City, NY and commissioned as first lieutenant. He commanded Company B, 131st New York Infantry on Aug 20 1862. He transferred from B Company to I Company on 12 Oct. 1863 and was promoted to full captain (Volunteers) on 9 September 1863. While in the 131st New York Infantry, he participated in the battles of Irish Bend, Louisiana (4/14/1863), Cox's Plantation, Louisiana (7/13/1863), Donaldsonville, Louisiana (7/13/1863), and the battles at Port Hudson, Louisiana (5/27/1863 & 6/10/1863). On 10 December 1863, he was promoted to first lieutenant (Volunteers) to serve as company adjutant. On the same day, however, he transferred to the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry Regiment (Union) as a first lieutenant and was commissioned into Field and Staff. He transferred from the 2nd Louisiana Cavalry on 7 September 1864 to the Field and Staff, of the 1st Louisiana Cavalry Regiment (Union) where he served until he was discharged on 7 September 1865. He was promoted to Captain (Brevet, Vol) on 26 March 1865. While he was in the 1st & 2nd Louisiana Cavalry Regiments (Union) Lyon did not see combat.

Sources for the above information:Index to Compiled Military Service Records; Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force 1861-1865, (1865); Union Blue: History of MOLLUS, (White Mane, 2001); New York: Report of the Adjutant-General.

Scope and arrangement

The George W. Lyon Papers consist of a diary written by Lyon while serving as Union officer based at New Orleans on the staff of General E. R. S. Canby (Commanding General of the Military Division of West Mississippi), January 1, 1865 to September 6, 1865.

Lyon participated in and described the Mobile campaign (March 17 - April 12, 1865) commanded by General Canby. He later served as dispatch officer carrying the news of General Kirby Smith's surrender to General Pope at St. Louis, the latter receiving it "as somewhat unpleasant news, Canby having succeeded in that which he (Pope) had failed."

The diary primarily chronicles the day-by-day activities of Lyon as an officer in the Union Occupation Force at New Orleans. Frequent entries show the daily routine to consist of military activities or office work, an evening at the billiards parlor, and frequently the night socializing with the young ladies of New Orleans.

Common grievances including trouble acclimatizing to the extremely hot weather, the high prices of services ($51.00 dental bill), the size of the salary ($151.00), and the return of his letters of resignation.

Administrative information
Custodial History

April 7, 1971, 1 item; Diary (1865). Purchase by J.Y. Joyner Library, Greenville, North Carolina.

Source of acquisition

Purchase by J.Y. Joyner Library

Processing information

Processed by G. Newbold, April 1971

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
Canby, Edward Richard Sprigg, 1817-1873
Lyon, George W.
Corporate Names
United States. Army--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States. Army--Military life
Soldiers--United States--Diaries
Mobile (Ala.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns
New Orleans (La.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives