Thomas Benjamin Fisher - Co. H, 11th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

(Photo and Bio)

Civil War Diary and Letters from Home,1864-65


Transcribed and Edited by Thomas H. Fisher
Tallahassee, Florida 32312

Part I -- Civil War Diary


Editor's note: The following text was transcribed and edited from the Civil War diary of Thomas Buckingham Fisher by his great grandson Thomas Howard Fisher. Punctuation marks were occasionally added to the original text, and the spelling of some words was corrected to add clarity to the entries. Mention is frequently made of "Wils" who is Thomas' younger brother, Wilson Jewell Fisher, who entered military service with his brother. Textual explanations and comments by the editor are found within brackets [ ] .

Both boys joined the service as "bounty" volunteers in Dixon, Illinois, and were assigned to Company H of the 11th Illinois Infantry. Toward the end of the war, the 11th was reorganized, and they were transfered to the 46th Illinois Infantry.

The history of the 11th Illinois is documented in Hard Dying Men (1991) by Jim Huffstodt published by Heritage Books, Inc. The events described in the Fisher diary can be directly correlated with the text of this book.

OCTOBER 5, 1864 -- Went to Dixon. Examined. Asked and got French Furloughs [i.e., unauthorized leave]. Went home and staid all night.

THURSDAY 6 -- Went to town and will get some crab apples for mother. Home again for all night.

FRIDAY 7 -- Said good bye to the folks at home. Went to Amboy to the Sociable at Slaughters. Had just more than a good time.

SATURDAY 8 -- Sworn in the U.S. service. First day in the Barracks. Prospect rather poor for a comfortable night. 1/2 rations and but 1 blanket to 3.

SUNDAY 9 -- Wrote 1 letter home. Read in my testament and was rejoiced to see friends from home who precured furloughs for 13 of our Co. Went to church and saw lots of Friends there.

MONDAY 10 --- Back to the Barracks. Don't know long we shall stay . Had a good time at old Amboy.

TUESDAY 11 -- A Dull day in the Barracks. Stood Guard awhile and had the promise of a pass from the Capt. or P.V.M.

WEDNESDAY 12 -- Did not get the pass. There was lot of conscripts came in today and we were kept shut up all day. Close leave to night.

THURSDAY 13 --- Got to Camp Butler about noon after a tiresome journey. Felt quite unwell. Had a sore throat and quite feverish.

FRIDAY 14 -- Had our first dinner on hard tack. Wrote letter home. My throat is pretty sore but feels a little better this evening. Got drove out of 79th to 12 to give the [illegible] a chance.

SATURDAY 15 --- My throat was quite sore and on the whole it was a poor day for me. No fire in the barracks and it was quite cold.

SUNDAY 16 --- No Sunday here. In fact it seems as if the post commanders try to make it an extra day for business. Ben quite unwell all day. Throat very sore.

MONDAY 17 --- My throat is better. Got some fever. Chase & Shortell are down with fevers like myself. Painters medicine is helping me right along.

TUESDAY 18 --- 3 of us got a patients pass to town. Had a gay time with Jim's Brothers. Visited all the noted places and saw all the sights we could. Am a great deal better.

WEDNESDAY 19 --- Nothing unusual happened today. Wrote 2 letters home. Think my cold is better.

THURSDAY 20 - Just 1 week since we came here and it has been as poor a week as far as my health is concerned as I ever spent. But thank the Good Lord I am better.

FRIDAY 21 -- Snowed to day. Wonder what kind of a day it was at home. Wrote 1 letter. Loafed the rest of the time.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1864 -- The weather cool and pleasant. Wils done some washing.

SUNDAY 23 -- Another dismal day. No sign of Sunday. I think that when we get home we will prize Sundays privilege more then ever before.

MONDAY 24 -- Very pleasant weather. Went to the river and washed 2 shirts for the first. Got along first rate. The Subs and niggers [sic] had a row. 3 men wounded.

TUESDAY 25 --- Jim and I went out to forage. Did not get anything but some apples. There is nothing in this camp worth having. Got word we would go away tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY 26 --- Received a good letter from home. Everything going on as usual. Wils and I had a partnership letter from mother.

THURSDAY 27 --- Today we got our overcoats and we all felt like the boy with new boots. Wrote a letter to Amboy.

FRIDAY 28 --- Moved from No. 12 to 13. Had rather a vexatious day. Some of the boys got quite angry. All in good health.

SATURDAY 29 --- There is quite a talk of furloughs home to vote. I would like it first rate. All is well.

SUNDAY 30 --- Another slow Sunday. Wrote 1 letter and read. Washed and walked the rest of the time. On fatigue but dismissed.

MONDAY OCTOBER 31 -- Mustered this afternoon for furloughs whether we will get them or not I can not tell. It will disappoint a great many if we dont.

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 1 -- Had our first dress parade. A regular humbug. The Hospital inmates got their furloughs to go home to vote.

WEDNESDAY 2 --- Done guard duty for the first time. Quite a talk of the furloughs being a fizzle. A great disappointment any how.

TUESDAY 3 -- No furloughs. It rained and snowed like fury. Damp and disagreeable this evening. Wrote 1 letter home.

FRIDAY 4 -- All well, in good Health. T. Acker was buried today.

SATURDAY 5 --- Took a french furlough across the country. Expect to stay all night out in the woods.

SUNDAY 6 - Laid out last night. Rain to day and most of the boys pretty tired. Got to Wappella at midnight tonight.

MONDAY 7 - Hurrah for Amboy. Here we are right side up with care. Folks all well. Hurrah for Old Abe anyhow.

TUESDAY 8 -- Voted for Old Abe today and feel as if I had discharged a Sacred duty to my country and myself.

WEDNESDAY 9 --- It rained all forenoon. But cleared away at noon, and how the wind does Blow. Had a pleasant evening.

THURSDAY 10 -- Rather a cool day but it cleared away and made a pleasant evening. Went to prayer meeting. Enjoyed it more than ever I did before.

FRIDAY 11 --- Helped father husk 1 load of Corn. Went to town and spent the evening.

SATURDAY 12 --- Home nearly all day. Went to town for Reba. Called on some of our neighbors. All seemed glad to see me.

SUNDAY 13 --- Went to church twice. It seemed real good to hear a sermon once more. I wish I could attend church regularly once more.

MONDAY 14 -- Left Amboy and friends as I expect for 1 year.

TUESDAY 15 --Had a pleasant ride last night. Spent today at Macon. Reached camp about 7 o clock this evening.

WEDNESDAY 16 -- Reported today, frencher. What they will do I can not tell. But I have a clear conscience anyhow. Wrote 2 letters home. Health good as usual.

THURSDAY 17 --- Nothing unusual today. The same old routine in this camp that there was before we went home.

FRIDAY 18 -- Very pleasant weather. Health good and on guard for the first since I took french [leave].

SATURDAY 19 --- Another very pleasant day. Spent it in a lazy way. Besides hope to go to meeting tomorrow.

SUNDAY 20 --- Had the privilege of attending meeting 3 times today. Enjoyed more than ever in my life before.

MONDAY 21 --- It is quite cold and has been all day. I wish that it would stay warm or that we could be sent South.

TUESDAY 22 -- Cold today. Nothing unusual going on. Worked in the commissary department all forenoon.

WEDNESDAY 23 -- Good Deacon B [Burrell] come to see us today. Brought goodies for Thanksgiving. Went to meeting this evening. The Lord was in our midst. Help me God and pardon my Sins.

THURSDAY 24 -- Had a dinner today in No. 10. Thanksgiving sent from home. All enjoyed themselves. Went to meeting to night. Had a good meeting and heard a splendid sermon.

FRIDAY 25 --- Had the privilege of attending meeting again tonight. Feel encouraged to seek till I find. Had a good letter from mother today and answered it.

SATURDAY 26 --- A vary pleasant day and night. Washed a little on fatigue this afternoon. Tomorrow is the Sabbath.

SUNDAY 27 --- Had the privilege of attending meeting 4 times today. Preaching twice in the chapel prayer meeting once and preaching once on the parade ground by the Conscript preacher.

MONDAY 28 --- A very pleasant day. Got mad because we could not get any supper. Felt ashamed after it. I wish to conquer myself.

TUESDAY 29 --- A pleasant day. Very warm. Did not have my coat on all day. Borrowed $5.00 of E. W. Sloan.

WEDNESDAY 30 -- Had the privilege of going to meeting again tonight. Felt as if I ought to speak, but did not. I wish I had more faith and was able to take up my cross.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1864 --- A very rainy disagreeable day. Got letters from home. Felt very unwell this afternoon. Had a severe headache.

FRIDAY 2 --- It cleared off today. Pleasant and warm. Went to meeting tonight. Had a pleasant Lesson.

SATURDAY 3 --- Cooler to day and nothing going on out of the usual course.

SUNDAY 4 --- Heard two good Sermons today, but the prayer meeting was interrupted by a crazy tic spouting politics.

MONDAY 5 --Weather good and all in health. Quite a lot of men sent away.

TUESDAY 6 ---A dull cloudy day. Received a letter from L.G.W. On guard third relief.

WEDNESDAY 7 -- Pretty cold day. Recd. 2 letters. 1 from a Friend and 1 from home. Went to prayer meeting. Had a good sermon. Wrote 2 letters.

THURSDAY 8 -- A very cold day. Wrote a letter to my sisters. All quiet on the Potomac.

FRIDAY 9 -- Moderated a little today. Got 1 letter from N.U.B. Answered it. Orders to leave tomorrow.

SATURDAY 10 --- Left Camp Butler at 7 P.M. for Dixie. Sent $20.00 home to the folks. Got our hard tack and all. Now for Vicksburg.

SUNDAY 1l -- Reached Decatur 9 P.M. last night. Laid out with out any fire. Awful cold weather. Started 9 A.M., llth, for Cairo. All [illegible] on the road. Most of our boys were lucky enough to get in the Conductors Caboose.

MONDAY 12 -- Reached Cairo 5 A.M. Laid here all day. We expect to start soon for Vicksburg. I would like to stay here and sleep tonight. I think Cairo is a sweet hole.

TUESDAY 13 -- Went aboard the White Cloud about 10 P.M. Laid all night. Left Cairo at 10 o clock today. Snow in sight all day.

WEDNESDAY 14 -- Rode all day through as wild a country as any one could wish to see. Wrote two letters. Read and smoked. Passed Fort Pillow this afternoon or its ruins. [Ft. Pillow was located on the Tennessee side of the Mississippi River about 50 miles north of Memphis.]

THURSDAY, 15, 1864 -- Reached Memphis last night at midnight. Spent nearly all day in Fort Pickering which is garrisoned by niggers [sic]. Had lots a fun in making the niggers [sic] dance and sing. All in good health.

FRIDAY 16 -- I forgot to say we got to the Regt. about 5 o'clock P.M. yesterday. Drew our guns this morning. Mine was as rusty as the dickens. Took me nearly all day to clean it. Wrote 2 letters.

SATURDAY 17 -- Rained most all day. No chills. Wrote letters home and to Camp Butler. The 46th had marching orders to night.

SUNDAY 18 --- Went over to the 46th. Took dinner there. Was on inspection twice. Got along better than I thought I would.

MONDAY 19 --- Rained all day. Musty wet and disagreeable. Wrote 2 letters.

TUESDAY 20 --- Near White Station [Tennessee] in camp in the woods. Left Memphis middle of the afternoon. Wet and rainy. Got a good fire. Commend myself to the Care of our Heavenly Father.

WEDNESDAY 21 --- Near Germantown [Tennessee]. Did not march a great deal today. Went on the railroad this forenoon. Cleared off. Got a comfortable campfire. Foraged a little for straw to sleep on.

THURSDAY 22 --- Camped dont know where (Lafayette?). Slept with Wils and Jim Gordy. Back on fatigue. Passed burnt houses and deserted farms all day. Lost my pipe last night. Feel mad over it. All in good health.

FRIDAY 23 --- Near Moscow [Tennessee]. Did not march all day rest till this afternoon. Most of the men pretty tired and lame. Jimmy rode in an ambulance. This forenoon on guard.

SATURDAY 24 --- Christmas Eve. Did not march today. Wils and Jim are on picket. What we are here for no one knows. Cant go out side the lines for fear of being grabbed by guerrillas.

SUNDAY 25 --- The dullest Christmas I ever spent. It is rainy and disagreeable. Got burnt out last night. Lost my boot and haversack. Borrowed a boot of a sick boy to wear to Memphis. March in the morning.

MONDAY 26 -- Left camp at three oclock in the morning. Had a heavy tramp, the roads being very muddy. We are half way to town, camped near the rail road. About out of rations. I've got half a tack for tomorrow.

TUESDAY 27 -- Germantown tonight. Only made about 6 miles and then put up. I am on guard at the wagon yard. No foraging allowed.

WEDNESDAY 28 -- Remained in Camp all day. Went around town to see the desolation that abounds. Visited the church, mill and shops. I feel glad that the war is not near home. E. W. Sloan was captured by guerrillas today.

THURSDAY 29 -- Received one letter from home. It was quite cheering. I suppose there is more in Camp. It is reported that we move back to Memphis in a day or so.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1864 --- On picket. A wet rainy night. Orders not to sleep any. I expect it is cold enough at home. The Lord above take care and protect us and our friends.

SATURDAY 31 --- Back again to Memphis, but orders to be ready to start at 7 oclock A.M. This is New Years eve. How the folks at home are spending it I wonder. I am sure they think of us. 1 got three letters here tonight. I am very tired but must write a letter home. Sloan escaped from his captors and beat us to Memphis.

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Copyright 1993 Thomas H. Fisher, Tallahassee, Florida 32312

Many thanks to Thomas Fisher, gr-grandson of Thomas B. Fisher, for contributing this information.

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