Assignment 5

The object that I’ll be focusing on for my final project is the personal diary of Sergeant Henry W. Tisdale.  Tisdale fought in Company I for the Thirty-Fifth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry from 1862-1865.  At his request, Tisdale’s family did not read the contents of his diary until after his death in 1922. His son’s wife, Margaret, typed the diary from the pen transcripts in 1926.  

Tisdale was born on March 9, 1837, in Walpole, Massachusetts.  He enlisted in Company I on July 10, 1862, and trained at Camp Stanton.  Tisdale was wounded at Fox’s Gap during the Battle of South Mountain, but soon recovered and rejoined the rest of his regiment on February 4, 1863.  Tisdale fought in several battles over the next year, including at Vicksburg, Jackson and Campbell’s Station. On May 24, 1864, following the Battle of North Anna River, Tisdale was captured by Confederate forces and was held prisoner.  Tisdale’s time as a POW took him to several prison camps, including Andersonville Prison in Georgia, where he was held from June 7 to October 5. While at Andersonville, Tisdale served as sergeant of the third mess of Detachment #76, responsible for 90 other Union prisoners.  As sergeant, he was responsible for obtaining rations, roll call, and taking the sick to the hospital. During his imprisonment, Tisdale was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but there is no record of a disposition. Tisdale was exchanged on March 3, 1865, and discharged on June 13.  

There are several key findings that could be examined throughout this final project.  First of all, Tisdale’s diary contains entries from every month of his career as a soldier, from July 1862 to June 1865.  There are very few Civil War-era diaries that are this extensive and still so in-tact. I will explore Tisdale’s early experiences with the war, from his training at Camp Stanton to his encounters on the battlefields.  At one point, Tisdale was nearly struck by a minie ball.  The bullet had already passed through another sergeant and was on a collision course with Tisdale, but the bullet struck his rifle and lodged into his gun.  

Second, I feel that Tisdale’s account as a prisoner of war will be fascinating to examine.  Thousands of soldiers that were taken prisoner during the Civil War died, and Andersonville was notorious for being one of the worst Confederate POW camps.  The fact that Tisdale survived the entire ordeal is a miracle in itself. In addition, the leadership position that Tisdale was given while a prisoner is very interesting.  He was responsible for 90 other Union soldiers. Most prisoners would be preoccupied with keeping themselves alive…Tisdale worried about himself and then some.

Finally, I’m curious to learn more about Tisdale’s recommendation for the Medal of Honor.  A man who fought so bravely and served as a leader, even while being imprisoned by enemy forces, deserves some sort of recognition.  I’m curious to see if any other soldiers’ stories are somewhat similar to Tisdale’s, and to investigate exactly why there was no disposition regarding the matter.

Sources – Primary – This is a link to Tisdale’s personal diary.  It is my primary source of information. – Secondary – This contains information on the Battle of South Mountain.  Tisdale was injured during this battle at Fox Gap. – Primary – The history of the Thirty-Fifth Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  It also contains a roster. – Secondary – Documents pertaining to the Battle of Vicksburg. – Secondary – Battle summary of the Battle of Campbell’s Station (November 16, 1863). – Primary – Information on the Battle of North Anna, during which Tisdale was captured by Confederate forces. – Secondary – Information on Andersonville Prison, where Tisdale was held for several months during his imprisonment. – Primary – More information on Andersonville Prison.  This source includes specifics on the prison camp, including clothing, mortality, music, illness, escape and freedom.

4 Replies to “Assignment 5”

  1. Personal diaries like the one you are working with are always interesting and filled with valuable information. I’m looking for one of these myself to help with my research. Good luck with your project.
    Zach Wood

  2. Im glad to see that you are able to use the diaries of an individual. It makes things much more personable and you get a better feel for whats going on at that time. Pages of facts and news articles only go so far. I look forward to seeing your final work.

  3. That is so interesting that you are using a diary to be the foundation of your product. I wonder the reasons behind the decision to not let anyone read his own diary until he died. This would be really interesting to hear your opinion on this. That is also great and I can’t wait to hear you talk about his actions for the Medal of Honor.

  4. I really like the idea of using a diary for your object. I feel like that leaves a lot of opportunity for the direction that you can go with the rest of your project. I believe that his account as a POW will be highly interesting because it is something that happened in the U.S. and nowadays, there are not many experiences that are similar. Overall, this sounds like it will be a daunting, but fun, task to tackle.

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