James F. Shapleigh Civil War Diary

1863-1864
Manuscript Collection #1313
Creator(s)
Shapleigh, James F.
Physical description
0.004 Cubic Feet, 1 archival folder, consisting of a diary
Preferred Citation
James F. Shapleigh Civil War Diary (#1313), East Carolina Manuscript Collection, J. Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
Repository
ECU Manuscript Collection
Access
No restrictions

This pocket diary was kept by Union soldier James F. Shapleigh of 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers, Co. D, from January 1, 1863, through July 20, 1863. He was mustered out at the end of July 1863. During this period the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers served in North Carolina with the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 18th Army Corps. Camp Rogers in New Bern, was home base. Included in the diary are good details related to the Battle of Washington, North Carolina, that covers March 30 to April 19, 1863, as well as everyday life for soldiers. Later scattered entries in the diary go through January 1864.


Biographical/historical information

James F. Shapleigh (born August 17, 1841, in Eliot, Maine) was a 21-year-old carriage maker living in Dedham, Massachusetts, when he enlisted as a private on August 25, 1862. He was mustered into Co. D, 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers on September 12, 1862, and was mustered out on July 30, 1863, at Readville, Massachusetts.

He married Laura I. and they had at least two children (Lillian Emma born November 14, 1872, and Elwood Colby born October 6, 1879). The children were born in Boston, Massachusetts, and James Shapleigh was living there in the 1920 Census, but his wife was deceased by then.

Sources: Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, Vol. IV, compiled by The Adjutant General and published in 1932 by Norwood Press.

FamilySearch databases "Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915," "Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915," and "United States Census, 1920."

The 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers were formed on September 12, 1862, in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for men to serve for nine months. The regiment was known as the "Tiger Regiment." The regiment was organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts, between August and October, 1862. Leaving Massachusetts on October 24, 1862, the regiment made its way to New Bern, North Carolina. When they reached North Carolina, they joined Major General John G. Foster and took part in Foster's expedition to disrupt rebel supplies throughout North Carolina. The regiment fought in major engagements in Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro. Company D, which Private James F. Shapleigh was a part of, had a couple of special assignments away from the rest of the regiments. Company D was ordered on picket-duty at Bachellor's Creek from December 31, 1862 to January 11, 1863. They were also sent on special duty around the Pamlico Sound from April 15, 1863 to the 24th. The regiment was mustered out on July 30th 1863.

Sources: Reminiscences of military service in the Forty-third regiment, Massachusetts infantry, during the great Civil war, 1862-63 by Edward H. Rogers in 1883 found at: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=5PTZIFKHCTkC

National Park Service information on Union Massachusetts Volunteers, 43rd Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry (Militia) found at: https://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UMA0043RIM


Scope and arrangement

This diary, written by James F. Shapleigh, recounts his time in Company D of the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers of the Union army during the American Civil War. The diary contains almost daily entries from January 1, 1863 until about July 21, 1863. After that there are only a few scattered entries. Shapleigh returned home to Dedham, Massachusetts, near Boston on July 10, 1863.

It is a standard issue Diary and Memorandum Book for 1863. It is broken up into a few sections. There are pages for memoranda, to keep track of a cash account and bills payable and receivable. There are also pages of information for the soldiers like an almanac for 1863, rates of postage, census data for 1860, population of the principal cities of the union in 1860 compared to 1850, federal value of foreign coins, interest rates, distance between New York and other major cities, time of eclipses in 1863, and phases of the moon for 1863. There are many blank pages split into three parts for every day in the year.

For the most part the daily entries are about a third of a page with just a few sentences. Shapleigh wrote mostly about the daily activities of his company including short descriptions about where they marched to and from and when they did drills as well as the weather on most days. When not drilling or marching, Shapleigh mentions getting photographs taken in New Bern, bathing in the Trent River, catching herring using nets, going to church, playing games of "Cribb," and picking blackberries and strawberries. Modes of transportation (besides foot) included riding on the "cars," steamers such as the Thos. Collyer and the Long Island, and schooners escorted by gunboats. There is a great deal of information on the movements of the regiment including how far they marched and the locations of where they stopped. Occasionally he wrote about meeting up with other regiments and the interactions that took place between them. The most detailed part of the diary includes Shapleigh's details related to the Battle of Washington, North Carolina, from March 30th to April 19, 1863, especially in the vicinity of Blount's Creek (called "Blunt's Creek in this diary). Some of this includes information on attacks, troop movements, the use of gunboats, and casualties within the regiment.

Later entries in the diary after Shapleigh's mustering out of the army are few and extend to January 1864.


Administrative information
Custodial History

June 30, 2017, (unprocessed), .004 cubic feet; This pocket diary was kept by Union soldier James F. Shapleigh of 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers, Co. D, from January 1, 1863, through July 20, 1863. He was mustered out at the end of July 1863. During this period the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers served in North Carolina with the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 18th Army Corps. Camp Rogers in New Bern, was home base. Included in the diary are good details related to the Battle of Washington, North Carolina, that covers March 30 to April 19, 1863, as well as everyday life for soldiers. Purchased from William Reese Company, New Haven, Connecticut, with state funds.

Source of acquisition

Purchased from William Reese Company

Processing information

Processing completed May 2019 by Timothy A. Smith, May 2019.

Copyright notice

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


Container list
Box Box 1 James F. Shapleigh's Civil War Diary, 1863-1864