The Civil War's Most Valuable Diarist

Time Period
1861 to 1876
Media Type
Civil War
James I. Robertson, Jr.

On Friday, April 29, James I. Robertson, Jr., delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "The Civil War's Most Valuable Diarist."

At the Confederate States CapitalMaryland-born John Beauchamp Jones was an established editor and novelist when civil war began. He was one of the few people who envisioned the struggle as the large-scale, all-consuming war it became. In May, 1861, he accepted a high-ranking clerkship in the Confederate War Department. For the next four years he kept a meticulous, day-by-day journal. Nothing escaped Jones's eyes and ears. Verbal descriptions of individuals, confidential reports, personal opinions, rumors, weather, inflation, newspaper articles, life inside the bloated Confederate capital—all received attention. A Rebel War Clerk's Diary appeared posthumously in 1866. This mass of information has remained only partially used because of the absences of identification of persons and events, as well as lack of an index. James I. Robertson, Jr., has edited a new edition of the diary, which includes a long introduction, 2,700 endnotes, and an index containing references to individuals and subjects.

Dr. James I. "Bud" Robertson, Jr., a noted scholar on the American Civil War, is Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and former executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. He also served as executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission and as a member of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Robertson is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Stonewall Brigade, General A. P. Hill, Soldiers, Blue and Gray, Civil War! America Becomes One Nation, Stonewall Jackson: The Man, The Soldier, The Legend, and A Rebel War Clerk's Diary: At the Confederate States Capital.

This lecture was cosponsored with The Virginia Antiquarian Book Fair and the Virginia Antiquarian Bookseller's Association (VABA).

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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