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  • Identified Civil War Diary of Franklin Barnhart 87th & 177th PA Volunteers

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    Identified Civil War Diary of Franklin Barnhart 87th & 177th PA Volunteers - There is a bit of a mystery to this diary as to why there seems to be two different types of handwriting. It could be the same person or it could be two brothers.  The diary was written by civil war soldier Benjamin Franklin Barnhart. A Civil War veteran, he was drafted in Perry County October 16, 1862, mustered into federal service at Harrisburg December 3rd as a musician with Co. F, 177th Pennsylvania Infantry (aka "Drafted Militia"), and honorably discharged with his company August 5, 1863. He also enlisted in Harrisburg August 31, 1864, mustered into federal service there September 5 as a private with Co. G, 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, and honorably discharged with his company June 1, 1865.

    Benjamin was born on May 18th, 1827. He married Matilda C. Helm and they ended up having 10 children. Benjamin died August 27th, 1891. They say he stood 5’ 10” tall with dark hair and blue eyes.

    The writing begins on January 1st 1863 and continues on to August 7th, 1863, writing every day. The writing changes around March 8th. These 7+ months of entries are incredible too concerning the war, the battles, traveling on steamships, rebel prisoners and so much more. Then after August 7th there are miscellaneous notes and scribblings. The name George Barnhart is written on a few of the pages. Plus the names of other men with tally type markings. Then from August 17th to October 15th the pages are torn out and not accounted for. Finally on October 16th and running through October 30th Benjamin has written a summary of his time in the service beginning when he was drafted and going through December. Meaning his first three months of service was written up on 5 pages. After that more scribblings and miscellaneous notes. Listed below are several days of entries from his detailed time in the war. Most of the days could be quoted as it’s really a fascinating account as you will see in the following excerpts…..

    There is a bit of a mystery to this diary as to why there seems to be two different types of handwriting. It could be the same person or it could be two brothers.  The diary was written by civil war soldier Benjamin Franklin Barnhart. A Civil War veteran, he was drafted in Perry County October 16, 1862, mustered into federal service at Harrisburg December 3rd as a musician with Co. F, 177th Pennsylvania Infantry (aka "Drafted Militia"), and honorably discharged with his company August 5, 1863. He also enlisted in Harrisburg August 31, 1864, mustered into federal service there September 5 as a private with Co. G, 208th Pennsylvania Infantry, and honorably discharged with his company June 1, 1865.

    Benjamin was born on May 18th, 1827. He married Matilda C. Helm and they ended up having 10 children. Benjamin died August 27th, 1891. They say he stood 5’ 10” tall with dark hair and blue eyes.

    The writing begins on January 1st 1863 and continues on to August 7th, 1863, writing every day. The writing changes around March 8th. These 7+ months of entries are incredible too concerning the war, the battles, traveling on steamships, rebel prisoners and so much more. Then after August 7th there are miscellaneous notes and scribblings. The name George Barnhart is written on a few of the pages. Plus the names of other men with tally type markings. Then from August 17th to October 15th the pages are torn out and not accounted for. Finally on October 16th and running through October 30th Benjamin has written a summary of his time in the service beginning when he was drafted and going through December. Meaning his first three months of service was written up on 5 pages. After that more scribblings and miscellaneous notes. Listed below are several days of entries from his detailed time in the war. Most of the days could be quoted as it’s really a fascinating account as you will see in the following excerpts…..open field for the first night in Old Virginia. On the morning of the 4th December we pitched our tents and remained till the 28th of December 1862. On Sunday morning the 28th we got marching orders. We packed our knapsacks, tore down our tents and was ready till 8 o’clock for 3 days march. We got ready and left the old camp. The first day we marched till 10 o’clock at night. We came to a stream of water and while the pioneers were building a bridge across we laid down in the woods to sleep and at 10 o’clock the Gen. gave orders to cross the stream and the….”

    (And that’s where the entries stop for this section. Again this part takes up 5 pages in October. Not sure why he stopped here. Now to the beginning of the diary, January 1st, where our author writes for a little over 7 months straight, every day……)

    1863

    “January 1st& 2nd, Was a clear warm day. We was on the river sailing for Newbern. We landed at Newbern in the afternoon at 4 o’clock. We lay in town till near sunset then marched 2 miles west and camped….Clear and warm. Our tents not arrived yet. We had the little shelter tents to lay in.”

    “January 23rd, Was a cloudy day. We moved about 2 miles across the Trent River to another camp and commenced throwing up breastworks.”

    “February 25th, Was a very warm day. We had another grand review by General Foster, 20,000 men present. Artillery, Cavalry and Infantry.”

    “March 6th, Was a fine pleasant morning. We had to get up at 4 o’clock and get ready for a march. We captured one Rebel the first day.”

    “March 8th, Marched across the river through Onslow Co. 12 miles took 5 Rebel prisoners, one a lieutenant. A very shrude (shrewd) young man. That evening we killed 2 beeves for the soldiers. Our feet all blistered.”

    “March 10th, We slung knapsacks and started for our old camp at Newbern, 21 miles distant. Commenced raining at noon. Marched through mud, knee deep. Reached the old camp at 8 o’clock all tired and muddy.”

    “March 14th& 15th, Was a fine pleasant day. Got orders to prepare for a review being marched to Newbern. Commanded to halt and return camp and prepare for a fight. Canons roaring across the river at Ft. Anderson…..A little frosty. Roused up at 4 o’clock with arms loaded. Formed line of battle along Brest works . Stood till day light, got marching orders. Marched of 10 o’clock toward Pollocksville within 4 miles of the place. Next day the Rebs had left when we arrived there.”

    “March 30th, Was a cool day and men all in good spirits. We had a Union meeting in the evening. Speeches were made by Col. Buret and other distinguished officers.”

    “March 31st& April 1st, We got on board the steamer Allison. Sailed off for little Washington across the Pamlico Sound to Reinforce General Foster. In the evening we arrived at Hills Point Blockade and opened fire on the Rebel Fort…Was cool. We ware still at Hills Point laying at anchor several miles below the blockade. Our gunboats in front shelling the Rebel Forts. We could see the shells bursting but no answer from the Rebel battery.”

    “April 3rd, Still at the same place. No break of the blockade. Yet still continue to shell the Rebel Fort. We ware put on board a large schooner. Very much crowded.”

    “April 5th& 6th, Easter was a clear pleasant day. Still on the schooner. The gunboat Hunchback. _____ and open fire on the Rebel Fort. Great excitement among the troops…We returned to Newbern and arrived at our old camp in the evening at ten o’clock. We ware all very tired for we ware very much crowded on the transport.”

    “April 9th, Was a warm day. Marched ten miles further. Arrived at a Rebel Fort. Our artillery opened fire on the fort which briskly returned by the Rebs. Continued 2 hours. Nine of our men ware wounded. We fell back to Mt. Camped night.”

    “April 13th, Was a warm day. We have marching orders, 5 days rations to march at a moments warning. Left camp at 8 P.M. Crossed the Neuse River. Marched to an old Rebel Fort 1 mile below Fort Anderson. Encamped for the night.”

    “April 23rd, Was a very wet day. We tore down our tents, left camp 11 o’clock, got on board the steamer Escort and sailed for Washington D.C…..was a fine day. We landed at Washington at eleven o’clock and encamped on the east side of the town.”

    “April 27th, Was a pleasant day. We put up our large tents. Very warm so that we could barely stand the heat.”

    “May 2nd, A pleasant day. The band was in town serenading the Colonel before leaving to take home his family. Excitement in camp about promoting officers.”

    “May 21st, Still cloudy and cool. They ware practicing in the forts and block houses by throwing shells.”

    “June 1st, Still on pickets. Nothing of importance. We can sometimes see the Rebs crossing the road at a distance.”

    “June 10th, Was a warm day. General Foster present. They are again practicing by throwing shells from the Forts. Dress parade in the evening.”

    “June 26th – 30th, Roused up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Marched off to blockhouse No. 1. Raining very fast. Relieved a company of the 158th. They had marching orders….Left camp at 3 o’clock. Tore down our tents. Marched to Little Washington. Got on board the steamer Escort. Very much crowded. Lay there till next morning then got off….Got on board a schooner. Our company and 4 others started off. Arrived at Fort Hatteras in the evening. Anchored for the night….Left Fort Hatteras at daylight. Sailed across Cape Hatteras and on the Atlantic. Arrived at Fortress Monroe at daylight next morning. At anchor…..A pleasant morning. We lay at anchor awhile then got on board the steamer Utica and sailed up York River to Yorktown then up the Pemonsky (?) to White House landing.”

    “July 1st& 2nd, Got off the boat in the morning and marched 2 miles and pitched tents on General McClellan Army Field on the farm of the Rebel General Lee….Still lay on the same ground in our shelter tents. Great excitement heard. Heavy canon landing in the direction of Richmond.”

    “July 8th – 10th, Warm, raining within 90 miles of Washington City on the Potomac. At daylight arrived at Washington at 3 o’clock. Marched to the barracks and took supper…..Left the barracks at 12 o’clock. Took the cars and started for Frederick's city. We could not get there. There ware 16 trains between us and the city loaded with troops. We got to Harper's Ferry 12 o’clock.”

    “July 12th, Started early in the morning. Marched on 2 miles east of Boonsborough near the pike. Encamped on South Mountain. The road all crowded with troops going on to meet Lee’s Army.”

    “July 14th& 15th, Still on South Mountain. The road still crowded with troops and wagons. Cannonading heard in the direction of Hagerstown. Report that Lee’s crossing the Potomac….The great army is moving to Harper’s Ferry. Lee is crossing the river. We left South Mountain at 10 o’clock. Marched on toward Frederickburg. Arrived there at sunset and camped in a field west of the town.”

    “August 1st, Was a very warm day. Did not do any duty in the evening. Co. E. and A. ware called out on a scout. We marched on to Frederick then out in the country. No Rebs there. We returned next day.”

    “August 2nd, We returned to town. Lay at court house then returned to camp. We did not see one Rebel. We got back at 6 o’clock. All quiet in camp through the night.”

    “August 3rd& 4th, Was a very hot day. No drilling. Great excitement in camp through the day. Some of the boys wanted to fight. Got marching orders. Took the cars at 8 o’clock. We lost 3 cars on the road to Baltimore. No smoking…..We got to Baltimore at 5 o’clock. Took breakfast at 10 o’clock. Remained there till 11 o’clock then marched 2 miles through the city. Took the cars for Harrisburg. Arrived at 10 o’clock at night. Took supper then marched ¼ mile then camped.”

    He then talks about being mustered out August 7th and returning his guns. The binding is also a bit loose in places and pages from August 17th through October 15th are torn out and not accounted for. The diary measures about 3” x 5”. 


    Franklin Barnhart:

    Residence York County PA; 18 years old.

    Enlisted on 8/24/1861 at York, PA as a Musician.

    On 9/11/1861 he mustered into "A" Co. PA 87th Infantry 

    He was Mustered Out on 10/13/1864


    PENNSYLVANIA 87TH INFANTRY (Three Years)

    Eighty-seventh Infantry.-Cols., George Hay, John W. Schall, William S. Franklin, James Tearney, Lieut.-Cols. John W. Schall, James A. Stahle, Noah G. Ruhl, Samuel S. Bulford, Majs., Charles H. Buehler, James A. Stahle Noah G. Ruhl, F. J. Thomas.  The 87th, eight companies of which were recruited in York county and two in Adams, was mustered into the U. S. service at York in Sept., 1861, for a three years, term.  The winter was spent on guard duty along the Northern Central railroad from the Pennsylvania state line to Baltimore and on May 26, 1862, the regiment moved to Baltimore where it remained until June 23, when it left for Martinsburg.  Shortly afterward it moved to New creek and was stationed there until late in August, when it joined an expedition to Elk Water under Gen. Kelley in pursuit of the enemy.  This was followed by a march to Beverly, Franklin and Webster under Gen. Milroy in October and November.  On Dec. 6, it moved to Petersburg and on the 18th to Winchester, where it went into winter quarters.  In May, 1863, the regiment undertook an expedition to Webster, leaving two companies at Bunker Hill on its return.  In June these two companies were attacked and obliged to fall back to Winchester.  The other section of the regiment was engaged at Middletown and Winchester, after which the entire regiment withdrew to Harper's Ferry, and went into camp on Maryland heights.  Early in July, it moved to Tennallytown, where it joined the Army of the Potomac, being assigned to the 3rd brigade, 3rd division, 3rd corps, with which it took part in the battles of Manassas gap, Bealeton, Kelly's ford, Brandy Station and the Mine Run campaign.  The regiment spent the winter of 1863-64 in camp at Brandy Station, where 180 men reenlisted.  With the 1st brigade, 3rd division, 6th corps, it participated in the Wilderness campaign and the movement to Petersburg.  At Cold Harbor its loss in killed and wounded was almost one-third of its strength.  On July 6, it was ordered to the defense of Washington, which was threatened by Gen. Early, and met him at the Monocacy, losing more heavily than in any other battle of its service.  It also participated in the engagements of the Opequan and Fisher's hill.  On Sept. 23, 1864, the original members not reenlisted left the regiment and the veterans and recruits were formed into a battalion of five companies, which was closely engaged at Cedar creek.  In March, 1865, the addition of five new companies perfected the regimental organization.  It then participated in the final assault on Petersburg and the engagement at Sailor's creek.  It was mustered out at Alexandria, Va, June 29, 1865.


    Benjamin F. Barnhart:

    Enlisted on 12/3/1862 as a Musician

    On 12/3/1862 he mustered into "F" Co. PA 177th Infantry 

    He was Mustered Out on 8/5/1863


    PENNSYLVANIA ONE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-SEVENTH INFANTRY (Nine Months) 

    One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Infantry. - Col., George B. Wiestling; Lieut.-Col., Hugh J. Brady; Maj., John Power.  The 177th was a militia regiment recruited in the counties of Lycoming, Susquehanna, Dauphin, Luzerne, Perry and Indiana, and rendezvoused at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, where it was mustered into the U. S. service in Nov., 1862, for nine months, and proceeded to Washington on Dec. 3.  Ordered to Suffolk, it was assigned to the brigade under Col. Gibbs.  The regiment spent the winter in camp on the Nansemond, in clearing a pine forest across the river, and joining in frequent expeditions into the surrounding country.  In March, 1863, it was sent to Deep creek on the Albemarle & Chesapeake canal to break up contraband trade.  On July 10 it was transferred to Washington, thence to the Army of the Potomac in Maryland, and after a period of duty at Maryland heights returned to Pennsylvania.  It was mustered out at Harrisburg on Aug. 7, 1863.


    Inventory Number: IDE 022