Richard Colburn DiaryView Fullscreen
The Civil War diary of Richard Colburn, an enlisted soldier of the 12th Infantry of the United States Regular Army attached to the Army of the Potomac. The diary contains entries from December 18, 1861 to February 17, 1863 and details camp life, daily activities, battles, and experience as a prisoner of the Confederate army. It traces Colburn's first days in the army in Iowa and his travel from 14 February 1862 when he left Iowa to his arrival at Fort Hamilton in New York City two days later and his continuing journey to Washington DC. Upon arrival in Washington, Colburn notes that he "put in to help cook." Many of his subsequent entries include brief notations of cooking for the men. Expecting to march to Manassas Junction from Washington, he moved first to Camp California, just outside Alexandria, VA, and from there to Fort Monroe in late March 1862.
The 12th Infantry, marching from Fort Monroe, became involved in the Peninsula Campaign, which lasted into July 1862. Coburn refers to "the hard battle between Yorktown and Richmond" (Battle of Williamsburg) on May 5th and makes reference to Big Bethel and Camp Winfield Scott where he was camped. On Friday 27 June 1862, Coburn was engaged in the Battle of Gaines' Mill and writes, "marched off to the left where we had a heavy battle where Maj. Clitz [Henry Boynton Cliz] myself and several others were wounded and taken prisoner by the 5th regiment Va, with some that was not wounded, many killed." The remainder of the diary describes his time in hospital, both Confederate and Union, his eventual release on 15 January 1863, and his trip home. Colburn's last entry is dated 17 February 1863 when he was in Southington, Ohio visiting his sister on his way, presumably, to Iowa.