Jun 21, 2016 - Sale 2420

Sale 2420 - Lot 97

Price Realized: $ 2,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
"MAY GOD BE MERCIFUL TO THIS WICKED NATION" (CIVIL WAR--CONFEDERATE.) West, John W. Diary of an Alabama captain. 32 manuscript pages. 12mo, stitched; dampstaining with slight text loss to corners, final two leaves quite defective. Vp, 5 August 1864 to 18 February 1865

Additional Details

John W. West (1825-1896) was a Tennessee native who was living in Limestone County, AL when he became a captain in the 35th Alabama Infantry. He kept this diary during the final months of the war. It begins with him taking command of the consolidated C and G companies. His regiment was in northern Georgia and Alabama under General Hood, attempting to halt Sherman's Atlanta campaign and march to the sea. Much of their efforts were devoted to tearing up railroad tracks. For example, "Toar up the RR for several miles, at night fell back to Lost Mountain" (4 October 1864) and "travling eastward toward the W& A RR, struck the road near Resaca 9 oclock at night & commenced the work of destruction" (12 October).
Battles included the Battle of Allatoona: "French's Div attack Altoona & was repulsed, lost some six or seven hundred men, captured two hundred Feds" (5 October) and the Battle of Decatur: "Started for Decatur, saw some Yankey scouts about 11, drove in the pickets at Decatur about 12 oclock, heavy skurmishing from about two until four . . . lost one man of my company killed by cannon ball" (26 October). The weather was difficult, as West noted his "poor wet & cold soldiers" (7 November) and complained that it was "hard to live out doors like bruits" (11 November). A rare highlight was a 12 November review by General Beauregard. In the wake of the Confederate defeat at Franklin, West grew despondent: "Our loss heavy in the fight at Franklin, every body scared off . . . may God be merciful to this wicked nation" (11 December). The mood worsened after Christmas: "All hands in our side drunk, Gen. G included, who is in arrest. Reported death of Pres. Davis" (29 December).
After the war, Captain West settled in Pecan Gap, TX, where he raised a family. His diary comes with a small collection of supporting material including a 1870 courtship letter to his future wife, an 1893 pension card, photographs of the family's gravestones in Texas, and a full typed transcript of the diary.