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Robert S. Dilworth Papers - MS 800
The diaries of Robert S. Dilworth, consist of .25 linear feet of handwritten pocket diaries written by an officer of the 21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry from 1861-1862.
The diaries were purchased from Derek Davis of Huntington Woods, Michigan on March 13, 2000. No restrictions exist on the use of this collection. Duplication is permitted for the purposes of preservation and research. The register was completed by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in May 2000, with transcription assistance of Richard Mann, Mark Moates, and graduate student intern Matthew Henning.
Robert Sample Dilworth was born in Pennsylvania sometime between the years 1835 and 1838. It is not known exactly when he moved to Ohio, but he is listed in the 1860 census of Hancock County, giving his occupation as a carpenter. At the onset of the Civil War, Dilworth enlisted in late August or early September 1861 in Company G of the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, initially serving as 1st sergeant and company orderly before being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on March 1, 1862. On June 13, 1863 he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant and transferred to Company I of the 21st O.V.I.
Lois A. Blakeman was born in Ohio in 1841, the daughter of Charles and Polly Blakeman, of McComb. Her engagement to Robert Dilworth covered most of the period of his service. On January 7, 1864, while he was home on furlough, after having re-enlisted at the expiration of his initial 3 years of service, the couple was married.
On the morning of June 27, 1864, Robert Dilworth was mortally wounded during the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia and died within the hour. As it was described in a letter that appeared in the Findlay Jeffersonian written by Lieutenant John Porter, "A piece of shell had struck him on the top of the right shoulder and passed downward toward his lungs." According to the article the last words he spoke were "Oh! my sweet little wife." He was buried at Marietta, Georgia.
After the war Lois never remarried. She moved from McComb, living several years in Ottawa, in Putnam County. She died in 1926 at the age of 85, and was buried in Harmon Cemetery, in Blanchard Township of Putnam County, in a plot next to her parents. A memorial stone for Robert S. Dilworth was next to her grave with the inscription "In memory of 1st Lieutenant Co.I 21 OVI killed at Kenesaw Mountain. His first thought was his duty to his God, his fellow man and his country."
The Robert S. Dilworth collection of diaries consists of .25 linear feet of handwritten journals, with two additional handwritten poems. The first chronological item is a record kept by Dilworth in his capacity as company orderly as a "sick-book" of Company G, 21st O.V.I. with entries listing guard duty postings, illnesses and disposition of the sick. The bulk of the other material consists of pocket notebooks with journal entries detailing daily events, all of which were written and sent to his fiancee Lois A. Blakeman. Because she is someone he trusts, much of the content of his journals contains specific information about people, some gossip, political opinions, and explanations of military events that might not have been written if it were a strictly personal journal.
The general journal entries, which were written specifically for Lois Blakeman, give excellent descriptions of the towns he visits. He describes the attitudes of the townspeople and compares the residents in the various places he is stationed in or near. On most of the entries, Dilworth gives the date and the day of the week, usually spending some of the Sunday entries mentioning the daily religious activities of the camp. He often mentions the name of the minister, location of the service and the subject and quality of the sermon. There are also many entries that discuss the routine military activities of the day, including duty assignments of the officers and numbers of men on guard duty.
The contents of the "sick-book", while rather dry in its presentation, does give an indirect view of the guard assignments, movements, and condition of the regiment during the earliest part of the service, from October 14, 1861 until May 24, 1862. This period saw the movement of the regiment from Camp Tom Letcher, near Nicholasville, Kentucky, to Camp Buell near Louisville, Camp Harris near Elizabethtown, Camp Jefferson at Bacon Creek, Camp Andrew Jackson near Nashville, and Camp Van Buren at Murfreesboro. Through all these moves the health of the regiment can be traced, with very notable effects recorded such as the outbreak of diarrhea while at Camp Andrew Jackson.
The first journal, dating from April 3-May 12, 1862, describes the route traveled as they moved to Camp William Henry Harrison at Shelbyville, Tennessee and then to Camp Taylor at Huntsville, Alabama, where they were given the assignment of provost guards for the town. During this period some of the events noted by Dilworth include the routine assignments of pickets and guards, impressions of the countryside, skirmishes and the relationship with the local residents, and events in camp. Of particular note are entries for April 7th, where Dilworth makes a vague reference to the departure of the men on special assignment to go south and take a train, the group that was later known as Andrew's Raiders. On April 13th Dilworth discusses the attempted attack on a young soldier of Co.F ("one of Alban's boys"). The boy had approached a house for food and was met at the door by a man who told him he would get him some free hams from the smokehouse. The boy came in and the man stabbed him six times. Soldiers heard the attack and rushed into the house to rescue the boy. Further investigation showed a hole had been dug in the smokehouse. Dilworth believed it was to bury a body. It was never mentioned as to what punishment was given to the man who stabbed the boy. Similarly, there is an entry for April 5th, 1862, in which Dilworth described an incident where soldiers went to investigate a scream in the distance and discovered a group of Irishmen attempting to rape a "splendid" lady. The men were brought to camp and kept under guard, but again Dilworth does not write of the final outcome of the situation.
Another incident that related to the discipline enforced on the men is described in the entry for May 5th. Several soldiers had entered a house to escape the rain. The men were apprehended and put under guard. General Mitchell planned to send them home in disgrace. However, he is warned that, if he does, the 21st will go home with the men. On the following day, news of what was believed to be Captain Caton's death reached camp. Caton and his company were returning from escorting prisoners to Columbia and he was in the foremost car when the train was attacked and the car was wrecked against the engine. The car was filled with smoke and burned and later, the bones of a man, along with a sword, were recovered in the ashes, which they believed were Caton's. However, as it turned out he was captured and eventually exchanged and returned.
The second journal, spanning May 13-June 14, 1862 continues the period of occupation at Huntsville and the move to Fort Wood at Athens, Alabama. Problems were noted with morale and discipline, including incidents where soldiers were punished for falling asleep on duty. There were also instances of crimes committed by some local Negroes for which they were tried by a military court presided over by General O.M. Mitchell and sentenced to hang.
The journal covering the period from June 15-Aug 5, 1862 continues with the occupation by the 21st O.V.I. of the area around Athens, Alabama, both at Fort Wood and smaller posts such as Fort Ewing on the Elk River and Camp Strong, at Athens. In the first entry specific reference is made to guerrilla activity by Morgan and the fact that the 21st now has new guns with level sights. Dilworth also makes a point of referring to the establishment of Bible classes, something he writes about frequently. As the period of occupation continued Dilworth spent more time discussing and speculating on the political situation among the officers, particularly noting the friction between Mitchell, of whom Dilworth thought highly, and Buell. He also was very critical of the Col. of the 21st, Jesse Norton, and in the entry for Aug. 2 repeated a false rumor that Norton had defected to the Confederate side and received a commission at Richmond.
During the period from Aug 7-Sept 2, 1862 the 21st Ohio was in their last days at Athens, Alabama before the general withdrawal to Nashville. The events described in Dilworth's journal indicate an increase in hostilities in the area and dissatisfaction and unrest among the officers of the 21st in opposition to Col. James Neibling. In the entry from August 24 we see an effort by several officers to get Neibling to resign, citing his inexperience in military matters, and conduct unbecoming an officer. Later in the same entry friction is noted at the time of the pull-out from Athens, when Capt. McMahan is placed under arrest by Neibling for having cleared the town jail of any Blacks against whom no charges were filed. The death of Brig. Gen. Robert L. McCook is mentioned in the entry for August 8. Other aspects of the withdrawal from Athens involve the actual retreat and attempts of the 19th Illinois to burn the town upon leaving, thwarted by the 21st at the time, but later successful by a small group that stayed behind, as described in the entries for August 27-29, 1862.
The next of the Dilworth journals, from Sept 1-Oct 8, 1862, is written from Nashville, where the 21st O.V.I. is involved primarily in improving the fortifications, foraging, and as pickets around the city. Several entries describe the dangers of going after forage, such as entries of Sept 8. A more direct action is described in the entry of October 8, where the capture of more than 200 prisoners at Lavergne is described.
The last of the journals covers the period from Oct 12-Nov 21, 1862. Written entirely from Nashville, there are many references to the rebel build-up at Murfreesboro and indications that future action would be in that direction, as the Battle of Stones River at the end of the year proved. This journal has more references to direct military action on the part of the 21st and several entries mention increased skirmishes and being under marching orders. The entry for November 9 is notable for a reference to erroneous rumors about the hanging of J.R. Porter and William Bensinger, two of Andrews Raiders. Mention is also made in the entry of May 15 of the high commendation received by the 21st O.V.I. in an inspection by Rosencrans. The final entry in the journals, for November 21, refers to the acquisition of the Regimental Flag, "We have gotten the prettiest stand of colors that I ever saw. They cost $140".
Handwritten journals detailing service with the 21st O.V.I., Co. G, during the Civil War. Sick-book volume records duty assignments and excused absences. Journal volumes, written to Lois A. Blakeman, document daily camp life, military actions, and relationships with other soldiers in the regiment
Patriotic and sentimental poems, one written by R.S. and the other by Julia D. Wortman on the death of her brother, R.S. Dilworth
Widow's pension file material of Lois Dilworth, including affidavits certifying marriage, changes in pension amounts, and assignment of guardian for Lois in her old age
- Sick-book journal - Original - Oct 14, 1861-May 24, 1862
- Sick-book journal - Use copy - Oct 14, 1861-May 24, 1862
- Sick-book journal - Transcript - Oct 14, 1861-May 24, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - April 3-May 12, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - April 3-May 12, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - April 3-May 12, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - May 13-June 14, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - May 13-June 14, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - May 13-June 14, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - June 15-Aug 5, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - June 15-Aug 5, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - June 15-Aug 5, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - Aug 7-Sept 2, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - Aug 7-Sept 2, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - Aug 7-Sept 2, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - Sept 1-Oct 8, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - Sept 1-Oct 8, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - Sept 1-Oct 8, 1862
- Personal journal - Original - Oct 12-Nov 21, 1862
- Personal journal - Use copy - Oct 12-Nov 21, 1862
- Personal journal - Transcript - Oct 12-Nov 21, 1862
- Poem by R.S - n.d.
- Poem by Julia D. Wortman - 1864
- Lois Dilworth Pension File - 1864-1926
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