The Cyrus Hussey Diary
with Excerpts from the
Letters of Virgil Moats
the
H I S T O R Y of the Forty-eighth Ohio Vet. Vol. Inf.
and
The War of the Rebellion:
a Compilation of the Official Records

Edited by S. E. Williams and D. D. Worth

 

Capt. Cyrus Hussey
Capt. Cyrus Hussey served in the 48th OVI from September 9, 1961 to January 17, 1865. He apparently kept a diary throughout this period but only the books covering approximately the second and third years of his service are known to have survived. These volumes of the diary cover the period between July 11, 1862 and March 6, 1864 when Capt. Hussey was ordered to Columbus Ohio. The diary ends July 6 1864. It includes the entire Vicksburg Campaign, and the early part of the regiment's history in the Department of the Gulf.

The Diary supplements the Regimental History which, itself, seems to be based largely on the diary or diaries of Maj. John A. Bering and Capt. Thomas Montgomery. Statements from the Regimental History are in a san serif typeface and followed by the signature "John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery" while Capt. Cyrus Hussey's Diary are enclosed in a box and followed by the signature "Cyrus Hussey". Dates of the Diary are highlighted to make them stand out. Occasionally communications recorded in the OR are included and are in small unserifed type with the signature of the author of the report. An extensive report by Col. Sullivan in the OR is divided and the parts are presented at the dates in which the events described occurred. Letters by Major Virgil Moats are also presented in san serif type in boxes with the signature, Virgil Moats, followed by the date of the letter. Virgil Moats' letters are also divided and parts are presented at the dates of the events they describe. Introductory statements and comments made by S. E. Williams or D. D. Worth are in italics and enclosed in [square brackets].

Cyrus Hussey's Diary is available from Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections, University of Toledo Libraries for Manuscripts Collection. A portion has also been digitized.

An anonymous transcription of the Hussey Diary is also available from the Canaday Center. We transcribed the diary independently, then checked the transcript against the Library transcript for errors. The Official Roster (Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866), military records from the National Archives and other references were used to check the spelling of names listed. Where they were hard to read the proper spelling was assumed and where they were clearly spelled incorrectly the correct name is given in brackets next to Hussey's spelling.

Maj. Virgil Moats
Major Virgil Moats organized Co. F and was its first Captain until he was promoted to major. Some of Moats' letters to his wife and father have been preserved. They were published in 1984 in "Shiloh to Vicksburg: Dear Eliza. An Eyewitness Account in the Civil War Letters of Major Virgil H. Moats 48th O.V.I. 1827-1863" ( Edited by Edward L. Walker. Hedgehog Press. Pebble Beach, CA). Much of Moats correspondence with his wife dealt with machinations about land acquisition and expansion of the family farm back home in Defiance County, Ohio. These sections of his letters have been omitted and the sections that deal with day-to-day activity of the 48th have been separated and interleaved chronologically with the Hussey Diary.

Virgil Moats and Cyrus Hussey were both competent leaders and intelligent men, aware of what is going on around them. They both were ambitious men who sought and received promotions and actively influenced the direction of events within the regiment. Both were also lonely for home and missed their wives and families dreadfully, but the similarity ends here. Hussey was a hard working, straight-laced man with little sense of humor while Moats was a popular, affable fellow who is always joking around. Cyrus Hussey was so competent as an executive and valuable as an assistant that he was sought after as an executive officer even by those, such as Col. Sullivan, who might have cause to dislike him. He was rigidly honest and moral, perhaps as a result of his Quaker upbringing. A hard-working former teacher, who did algebra and grammar in his spare time, Hussey muttered about the "gaming" on the steamer as the regiment head south. By contrast Virgil Moats, a farmer who had been a teacher, lawyer and Mexican War soldier, was a likable person who ingratiated himself with senior officers by his unpretentious, rural charm. His maneuvers in land deals back home reveal the smart, careful man behind this simple façade. The attitudes of Hussey and Moats about the relative place of duty and practicality differ greatly as well. Cyrus Hussey saw remaining on garrison duty in Memphis while other regiments took the field as being "left in disgrace" while Virgil Moats held the more practical view that Lieut. Col. Parker's volunteering the regiment for Sherman's expedition to Chickasaw Bayou was "rather against our feelings" and thought Parker should have "better let good enough alone" and remained on garrison duty which was "as near home in comfort as we could have expected". While both men were patriotic and demonstrated a strong sense of duty, Hussey comes across as the idealist and Moats the pragmatist. There is evidence from Serg. John Richardson's (Co. F) letters that Virgil Moats got along very well with Col. Sullivan and there is no question from his diary that Cyrus Hussey held the Colonel in contempt. The factual information presented by these two men matches perfectly, but their interpretations and their personalities contrast greatly.

In the Civil War the men of entire villages and towns often enlisted as a company. This was the case with most of the companies of the 48th OVI. Because the companies were transplanted communities, Hussey gives us a picture of the men from the Highland/Clinton County border area near New Vienna and Highland, Ohio (Cos. A and D) while Moats gives some details from the life of men who hail from Defiance County, Ohio (Co. F). When either man wrote home, his wife would have known the men mentioned in the letters. It was community news and would have been grist for the gossip mills back home. Disgraceful behavior, such as drunkeness or desertion, even madness and attempted murder in the case of the Doud brothers, was reported. These, together with positive achievements, humerous stories and adventures, would have spread throughout the community back home.

The Hussey diary can be roughly divided into the logical sections below. Since Capt. Hussey's diary does not quite cover all of the first period listed, there are stretches here composed mostly of the regimental history.

 

July 2 - July 21, 1862
Guarding the Railroad, then on to Memphis

July 22 - December 22, 1862
On Garrison Duty at Fort Pickering, Memphis

December 23, 1862 - January 4, 1863
Chickasaw Bayou

January 5, 1863 - January 14, 1863
Arkansas Post

January 15, 1863 - April 15, 1863
Digging the Canal

April 16, 1863 - May 17, 1863
To the Rear of Vicksburg

May 18, 1863 - July 4, 1863
Siege of Vicksburg

July 5, 1863 - July 28, 1863
Siege of Jackson

July 27, 1863 - August 31, 1863
A Soldier on Leave

August 19, 1863 - October 3, 1863
New Orleans

 

 

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11/28/2013