William Darke Briscoe Civil War diaries C0239
Published by George Mason University Libraries
William Darke Briscoe (1832-1906), a native of Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), enlisted in the Confederate army at the outbreak of the Civil War, and he was assigned quartermaster to the local company. He served through the war, eventually rising to the rank of captain in the 12th Virginia Cavalry. John S. Mosby, in his "Stuart's Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign" includes a paragraph concerning Briscoe's delivery of a dispatch at the end of June 1863, from northern Virginia to Robert E. Lee's headquarters in Pennsylvania. The balance of what seems to be known of Briscoe's service in the war is contained in the diaries in this collection. Following the war Briscoe returned to Charles Town and to farming, marrying and raising a family of six children. In 1903 he published "Evett's Run," a long poem based on Jefferson County's local traditions, in the West Virginia Historical Magazine (Vol. 3, October, 1903).
Approximately 22,500 words total, a detailed manuscript account, in diary form, of long periods of the first two years of the Civil War in Virginia, April 18- August 12, 1861, and April 10- September 8, 1862. The diaries contain eye-witness accounts of Civil War battles, social commentary on life during wartime, and detailed descriptions of travel in Virginia, including trips to Montpelier and Weyer's Cave. The first diary features a detailed double-page manuscript map of the first Battle of Bull Run.
The diaries describe Briscoe's activities, moods, and thoughts from the opening of the war at Harper's Ferry through the first Battle of Bull Run and during the 1862 spring and summer campaigns in Virginia, from Jackson's valley campaign to the eve of the battle at Antietam. Included are accounts of his foraging expeditions to supply his troops, eyewitness accounts of battle, reports and rumors from other quarters, reconstruction of extensive conversations and encounters with comrades, neighbors, and other fellow Southerners, including would-be girlfriends, commentary on the war, and long descriptive travelogues describing famous and not-so-famous areas he traversed. The diaries focus as much on the social aspects of the struggle as the military. Miscellaneous manuscript notes appear on the endpapers and final leaves of second volume. The handwriting is a little difficult to read, but provide a detailed first-hand account of five months from each of the first two years of the Civil War. The collection also contains a rough typescript of volume one and a typescript of several lengthy passages from volume two. The book dealer that sold SC&A the diaries created the typescripts.
The collection is organized by format.
There are no access restrictions.
There are no restrictions on personal use. Permission to publish material from the William Briscoe Darke Civil War Diaries collection must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.
Briscoe, William Darke, 1832-1906.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
William Briscoe Darke Civil War Diaries collection, C0239, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.
Purchased from L&T Respess Books in June 2013.
Processing completed by Jordan Patty in September 2013. EAD markup completed by Jordan Patty in September 2013.