Civil War diary donated to Springfield library

2013-09-25T19:30:00Z 2013-10-04T21:38:05Z Civil War diary donated to Springfield libraryThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 25, 2013 7:30 pm  • 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. | Writing in tiny script in a leather-bound journal, a Civil War soldier from Springfield chronicled patrols and some of the war's deadliest battles and made mention of current events, including Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

A descendant of Peter "Simon" String discovered the diary in 2010, and on Tuesday he and other relatives donated the document to the Lincoln Library in the soldier's hometown, The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported.

"Last year, we decided that we were not going to keep the diary in the family," said John Beam IV, the soldier's great-great-nephew. "We felt it belonged here in Simon's hometown."

The journal documents String's daily experiences of war from June 1864 to May 1865.

The entries are typically brief and written with abbreviations.

One entry, dated Nov. 16, 1864, celebrates Lincoln's re-election.

"Got papers of the 11th, glorious election news, Lincoln elected, the country is saved, hoorah, hoorah," it says.

On April 17, 1865, he wrote: "At nine o'clock a.m. military paraded the streets of Memphis in honor of the president's death, made a very fine display, at night had a very heavy shower, nothing new."

Beam stumbled across the diary three years ago in his father's dresser, where it had been for 44 years.

He spent three months transcribing the entries. Visitors to the library's Sangamon Valley Collection will be able to read the full transcript.

Beam and his family, who are from Spokane, Wash., also donated 63 letters that String wrote to his wife during the same period.

String was a member of the 4th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry from November 1861 to May 1865. He fought in the battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donaldson, Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, Vicksburg, and the Central Mississippi and Meridian campaigns.

A final entry succinctly describes his journey home at the war's end.

"Left Cairo at 1:45 a.m. got to Tolono at 4 p.m.," he writes. "Took the Great Western train at 7 p.m., got into Springfield and at home at 10 and 1/2 p.m. Had a very pleasant trip, weather pleasant.

"Am now a citizen, War labors are all over."

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