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Blakeman, James Henry
Pair of Manuscript Civil War Diaries of James Henry Blakeman, Co. D, 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment, 1863-1864

Two Diaries: 1863 Diary, includes 122 pp. of diary entries, 3 pp. cash accounts. 1864 Diary, includes 122 pp. of diary entries 2 pp. memoranda notes; both volumes are pocket diaries, bound in limp leather, with flaps, measuring 3” x 4 ¾”; bindings are worn; both volumes are three days entries per page format, with all days having entries, entries written in pencil, in a legible hand.

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J. Henry Blakeman (1841-1918)

James Henry Blakeman was born 20 November 1841, the son of James Blakeman (1804-1881) of Stratford, Connecticut and his wife Cornelia Salmon (1807-1887), and the grandson of James Blakeman (1847-1835), a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He was from the Oronoque section of Stratford and was a life-long resident of the town and attended its public schools.

James Henry Blakeman enlisted on 29 July 1862 as a private in Company D, 17th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. He was 20 years old at the time. Blakeman was severely wounded on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. His regiment supported Battery G, 4th U.S. Artillery, which had taken position on Blocher’s Hill (now called Barlow Knoll), a mile or so north of Gettysburg. He was struck by a rifle ball in the left side between the hip and ribs passing through the flank, before ever having a chance to fire his gun. After being wounded he had to hobble for about two miles to a barn hospital (11th Corps Hospital near Gettysburg - probably the Spangler Farm), before being sent to Jarvis U.S. General Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland by train. After recuperating for ten months, or so he rejoined his regiment in early June 1864 in St. Augustine, Florida, and served with the army until the close of the war when he mustered out with his regiment on 19 July 1865. Blakeman had a cousin, Selah G. Blakeman, who served with him in the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

On 24 October 1866 he married Amelia J. Burr (1845-1913) a school teacher, of Monroe, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Isaac Burr (1799-1889) and his second wife Mary A. Babbitt (1804-1872).  Together Blakeman and his wife Amelia had several children: Mattie (1868-1909), and Grace E. (1878-), a graduate of Storrs Agricultural College; and a son George (1877-).

Blakeman engaged for many years in the seed growing, stock breeding and general farming business. His son-in-law R. O. Spamer became associated with him in business and were known for their fine breed of Holstein Friesien cattle. Blakeman was active locally in town of Stratford, serving as a town constable, collector of taxes, auditor of town accounts, assessor, justice of the peace, deputy sheriff and notary public. He was elected to the Connecticut Legislature and served on the Committee of Appropriations.

Blakeman was a prominent member of the order of Patrons of Husbandry. He filled the offices of Master of Housatonic Grange of New Haven County, Pomona and Fairfield Count, Pomona Granges and general deputy of the Connecticut State Grange. He was also prominent in the G.A.R., I.O.O.F., and O.U.A. M.

Henry James Blakeman died on 21 September 1918 in Stratford, Fairfield County, Connecticut. His wife died in 1913.

       17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The 17th Connecticut Infantry was organized at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 28, 1862, under the command of Colonel William H. Noble. The regiment was attached to Defenses of Baltimore, Maryland, VIII Corps, Middle Department, to October 1862. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, XI Corps, Army of the Potomac, to August 1863. 2nd Brigade, Gordon's Division, South End Folly Island, South Carolina, X Corps, Department of the South, to February 1864. 1st Brigade, Ames' Division, District of Florida, Department of the South, to April 1864. District of Florida, Department of the South, to October 1864. 4th Separate Brigade, District of Florida, Department of the South, to July 1865. The 17th Connecticut Infantry mustered out of service July 19, 1865.

Service: 1862 - Duty at Fort Marshall, Defenses of Baltimore, till October; At Tennallytown, building Fort Kearney, October 15-November 3; March to Thoroughfare Gap and Chantilly November 3-12; Duty at Brook’s Station, Va., December, 1862, to April, 1863.

Service: 1863 - “Mud March” January 20-24; Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6; Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5; Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24; Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3; Hagerstown, Md., July 11-13; Moved to Folly Island, S.C., August 1-12; Siege operations on Morris Island, S.C., against Forts Wagner and Gregg, and against Fort Sumter and Charleston August 15-September 7; Capture  of Forts Wagner and Gregg September 7. Moved to Folly Island, S.C., and duty there, operating against Charleston, S.C., till February, 1864.

Service: 1864 - Expedition to John’s and James Islands February 6-14; Ordered to Jacksonville, Fla., February 22, and duty there till April 15; Moved to St. Augustine, Fla, April 15-17, and duty there till June, 1865; Action at Welaka May 19 (Detachment); Expedition to Camp Milton May 31-June 3; Action at Milton June 2; Whitesville July 24; Companies “A,”  “C,”  “I” and “K” at Picolata, St. Johns River, July 18 to February, 1865; Companies  “A,” “E,” “F” and “H” moved to Jacksonville July 22, and participated in Expedition to Baldwin July 23-28; Expedition to Enterprise September 28.

Service: 1865 - Companies “C,” “F” and “H” at Lake City, Fla., and “G” and “I” at Tallahatchie May and June,1865; Regiment moved from St. Augustine to Jacksonville June 9, and duty there till July 7; Mustered out July 19, 1865.

The regiment lost during its service 5 Officers and 48 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 74 Enlisted men by disease. Total 128.

       Sample Quotes:

“June 30, 1863

About nine o’clock shifted camp a mile or two. In afternoon Co’s A, D, E, & I went with the Major on a scout. Had a very hard shower.


“July 1, 1863

Marched at nine o’clock very fast to Gettysburg and went into the fight as soon as we arrived was wounded in the first of it and hobbled nearly one two miles to a barn hospital.”


“July 2, 1863

Staid at the barn till afternoon then was taken to our hospital in the city. Found Vet and several other boy’s wounded. Very hard fighting near till after dark.”


“July 3, 1863

Feel pretty sore today. Fighting commenced early in morning and shells were flying over all day. Nothing gained on either side.”


“July 4, 1863

The Rebs left the place in the night and our Regt come in early this morning. Saw Selah. Was taken two or three miles to the Corps hospital. Very hard shower at night. Got wet through.”


“July 5, 1863

Rained nearly all night and here I lie soaking. Wrote home. Hear the Rebs are leaving. Cloudy and very unpleasant all day. Very little to eat. Our Corps has marched away.”


“July 6, 1863

Rained again last night and cloudy and damp today. Got some whisky twice. In afternoon Charley Lewis got some bread, lemons & apple butter from town. Got a paper at night, many of the wounded are very bad.”


“July 7, 1863

Over five hundred of those that could walk left this forenoon but Dr. wouldn’t let me go. Alva E. Wilcox died last night. Still cloudy and some rain. Drs. Are still busy butchering. Some better today.”


“July 8, 1863

An awful rainy night and morning but cleared off in afternoon. More of the boys left this noon. Plenty to eat now. Charley went to town and got some dainties.”


“July 9, 1863

A beautiful pleasant day. Plenty of good things brought by citizens. Am as well as I could expect. Saw Wellington Shelton from Birmingham. Got a clean shirt and took off the old bloody one.”


“July 10, 1863

A fine day though pretty warm. Dr. Beardsley & Mr. Carpenter were here with Mr. Shelton. They are going to try to get us home. Live first rate. My wounds are doing well.”


“July 11, 1863

The Birmingham gentleman were here again. Quite a fine day. No prospect of getting home soon. Still in the same quarters and are quite comfortable.”


“July 12, 1863

Heavy cannonading in morning at a distance. Mr. Shelton brought some books, paper and other dainties, quite a heavy thunder shower. Mr. Shelton brought a paper.”


“July 13, 1863

Was moved from the hospital to the cars in morning started for Baltimore at three in afternoon, but they move awful slow.”


“July 14, 1863

Reached Baltimore about midnight and was taken five or six miles to a hospital. Reached it at daylight. Good bed, kind nurse and plenty to eat.”


“July 15, 1863

Wounds pain me some but are doing well. Some left and more come in. Ladies brought in some bread and butter and sugared blackberries for us this afternoon. Weather pleasant.”


“June 6, 1864

The mosquitoes so thick I could not sleep at all. Started early & reached St. Augustine about nine. Boys very glad to see us…”


“June 7, 1864

Went clamming in morning, got enough for dinner. In afternoon went fishing, got very few. On dress parade at night for the first time in over a year.”


“June 13, 1864

On picket for the first time in fourteen months. Five thunder showers during the day. Went in evening with Selah to see some Florida girls, not very handsome.”


“July 9, 1864

The same old story, gnats, fleas, & mosquitoes so thick we could take no comfort night nor day…”


“July 11, 1864

On picket at the ferry. Hard work in morning, but had a lot of darkies to help in afternoon. Weather very hot.”




“July 28, 1864

Were ordered in at midnight & at day light went on board the E.P. Hale bound for Palatka, arrived drive out rebel pickets & took possession about noon. Detailed an artillery at night.”


“July 29, 1864

A reconnoitering party sent out this morning were fired on by rebel pickets. A gun boat shelled the woods. Quite a pretty place, good quarters.”


“August 2, 1864

On guard over commissary store, so borrowed a little sugar to eat. Showery every day. Cavalry went out & the rebs drove them back & took the Lieut. & 6 others prisoners.”


“August 3, 1864

Washed in morning. A Regt of darkies came last night, so we shall not have so much picket. Went out with some of the boys & killed a cow.”


“August 4, 1864

Evacuated Palatka in morning. Rebels came in before we got out of sight. Got to Picolata & found things as we left them. On picket at night.”


“August 5, 1864

Lieut. North & eight men went up the river & captured thirteen darkies, two pairs of oxen, & two horses.”


“September 20, 1864

Drew ten days rations in morning, which took till nearly noon. The prisoners cut wood for us. Moses in guard house.”


“October 3, 1864

Weather a little cooler. Several of the boys are having their arms marked with india ink.”


“October 6, 1864

Col. Noble, who has been on a raid, came in tonight with Capt. Watson & most of his Co., 29 prisoners.”


“October 7, 1864

The rebs brought in last night are dirty ragged & hard looking as I ever saw. Cloudy all day.”


“October 10, 1864

The reb prisoners taken last week left this morning under a nigger guard for Hilton Head. Drew ten days rations, monthly inspection in P.M.”


“November 2, 1864

Cloudy & looks like rain. Prisoners all at work, digging around the fort.”


“November 21, 1864

Drew ten days rations in morning. Very hard rain in afternoon, but cleared off, cold toward night. Nigger fight in guard house.”


“November 29, 1864

Stiles was off at daylight, weather as warm as July. Prisoners broke into store room and stole three boxes of hard tack. Had them handcuffed and ball & chain.”


“November 30, 1864

Drew ten days rations in forenoon. Put three prisoners in dungeon & chained them to the wall.”