Diary Entry – May 1, 1863

Ft. Henry, Tennessee

George Painter wrote in his diary each day for the year 1863. One hundred and fifty-eight years later, we travel with him as he explores the Mississippi River region while part of the Mississippi Marine Brigade. Some days he spent exploring the area and others he had duties to be performed. Each day was a new experience.

This is his entry for May 1, 1863 from Ft. Henry, Tennessee. I have only changed the spelling and punctuation in a few places for easier reading.

Friday, May 1, 1863

Still remaining at Ft. Henry. To pass the time away with as much pleasure as possible, I took a walk across the ravines at Ft. Henry. I sat under the leafy oaks and while there, my attention was drawn off to some far and distant tree by the quacking of some squirrels, which I discovered were in their most playful manner. After watching their playful movements for some time, I retraced my steps back to the boats which lay at shore nigh the fort.

Below is the actual diary entry in George’s hand with some misspelled words and little punctuation, but very understandable.

Friday. May. 1st. 1863.

Still remaining at Ft. Henry and to pass the time away with as much pleasure as posable I took awalk out across the ravines at Ft. Henry and Sit under the leafy oaks and while there my attention was drawn off to some far and distent tree by the quacking of some squirels which I discovered there in their most playfull manner after watching there playfull movements for some time I retraiced my steps back to the boats which lay at shore nigh the fort.

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Life in the Mississippi Marine Brigade

Discover how Private George Painter, a Civil War soldier from Richland County, Ohio spent 1863 in the Mississippi Marine Brigade. George faithfully wrote in his diary every day during 1863 to report on his military service.

It all begins when General Alfred W. Ellet organizes the brigade and finds that he needs more men for a successful operation. He then decided to recruit members from the local convalescing hospitals with promises of light work. An ad in the Cleveland Daily Leader stated:

The service will be an easy one – no camping out, no carrying knapsacks, and very little marching. The boats will be furnished with good cooks and bedding. Soldiering under such circumstances will be nothing but fun.

George Painter had just recovered from two hospital stays for typhoid fever and was in the St. Louis area where it all began. So it perhaps seemed a good choice for him to join this obscure Union fleet to continue his military service.

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