Civil War Diary Mix of Gossip, News

barnRecently decoded portions of a diary and notebook kept by Confederate Lt. James M. Malbone, show that the officer was inclined to record gossip along with his officials duties. Most of his diary, which includes entries for 1863 and 1864, are about official business, like casualties and expenditures. However his self-created code placed throughout the book includes information about the illicit activities of fellow soldiers.

The AP reports that,

Sprinkled amid entries on camp recipes and casualties are encrypted passages in which Malbone dishes on such juicy topics as a fellow soldier who got caught in bed with another man’s wife.

You can read a transcript of the diary and view his homemade code by visiting the New York State Military Museum website where they have pdf copies of the diary and the transcription of the entries. They also provide this link to a photograph of Malbone.

Malbone was wounded in battle and the diary appears to be written after he was assigned a ‘desk job.’

Besides the gossip that the news article refer to the diary has quite a bit of interesting information in it. The entries include comments about guerrillas fighting the CSA, some of the casualties of war (including a boy who everyone thought was out of harm’s way, but was struck by a stray bullet and killed), and even a fairly long description of a group of inhabitants on ‘blue ridge,’ that Malbone does not describe in a very flattering manner (Oct. 19-20, 1863 entry).

Although the diary is 325-pages long, since it is a transcription, each page is relatively short, and since it has been saved as a pdf,  it can be downloaded to your machine and read at your leisure.

Categories: American History, Civil War History | Tags: ,

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