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"The Rebs are yet thick about us" The Civil War Diary of Amos Stouffer of Chambersburg Edited by William Garrett Piston Amos Stouffer, a farmer of Swiss and German ancestry, was born on November 23, 1842, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the fifth of eight children of Jacob Stouffer and Eliza Ryder. When he was twenty years of age he bought an 1863 pocket diary from John K. Shryock, a Chambersburg book merchant, for fifty cents. Except when Stouffer was ill, he made daily entries, which were quite brief due to the small space available. The introductory passage which he wrote on the fly sheet, apparently at the time of purchase, suggests that he intended to record his impressions of the war. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of his comments concern weather and agricultural activities. The excerpts below contain all of his references to the war. To convey the essence of the original I have included at least a portion of the weather reports with which Stouffer invariably began and transcribed his entries verbatim , retaining his erratic capitalization and occasional spelling errors without the obtrusive sic. Where Stouffer's brevity might cause confusion , I have inserted information in brackets. Stouffer offers an interesting civilian perspective on a number of significant issues and events. The most obvious of these are the June invasion of Pennsylvania by Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, the July battle of Gettysburg, and the November dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery. Stouffer details the efforts civilians made to hide their property from the invaders, and in recording the tragic fate of a neighbor reminds us that not all of the casualties in Pennsylvania were soldiers. He notes the capture of African Americans by Lee's men and the Union government's use of African-American labor to restore the railroads For information about the Stouffer family and permission to publish the diary, I am indebted to a descendant, Dianne Riggs of Springfield, Missouri. I also wish to thank my colleague. Professor David W. Gutzke, for bringing this material to my attention. Civil War History, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3, e 1992 by The Kent State University Press DIARY OF AMOS STOUFFER211 destroyed by the Confederates. He records Abraham Lincoln's presence at the cemetery dedication but does not mention his famous speech. As a twenty-one-year-old in apparent good health, Stouffer was concerned about the Union's conscription law, which went into effect in 1863. He was glad to escape the draft but obviously considered himself a patriot, castigating Copperhead activity in the Chambersburg area. Although the eastern theater obviously attracted his attention, Stouffer's reactions to events in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina suggest that civilians eagerly followed the news of the war in its broadest scope. One more year has passed away, and in the history of our Country it has been an important one. Yes, the most important one since the date of our independence. In the annals of this world we scarcely find a parallel to the scenes shone and enacted in 1862. Previous to this date we were a peaceable & prosperous nation and in the advent of this revolution we were engaged in peaceable pursuits and therefore were found defenceless, nationally considered. But hark did you not hear it[?] Alas, it is a traitor gun trained on Fort Sumter. And then through out our land there goes a cry. A sudden splendor fills the sky. From every hill the banners burst, Like spring buds by April's breezes must. Such was the uprising of the loyal men of the North in the defence of our country. January, Tuesday, 6, 1863. A soft changeable morning. . . . Sherman failed to capture Vicksburg. A terrible battle. Heavy loss.' January, Wednesday, 7, 1863. A cold stormy day. . . . Murfreesboro captured by Rosecrans after a terrible battle. Our loss stated at 10,000 killed and wounded, the rebel loss at 20,000. We had 19 colonels killed.2 Lieutenant Col. Housun Foundryman was killed. January, Thursday, 8, 1863. A cold winter day. . . . All accounts from Murfreesboro make it one of the hardest battles of the war. January, Thursday, 22, 1863. A dull soft cloudy morning. ... A Lieut. Ford...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 210-231
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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