[CIVIL WAR SOLDIER'S DIARY.]
Autograph Manuscript of Leonidas R. Hollenbeck [1840-1912], in pen and pencil, approximately 360 pages in 3 black leatherette pocket journal volumes, 12mo, various places in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, January 1, 1862 to December 31, 1864, being a daily record of life in the First West Virginia Cavalry, including first-hand accounts of the Second Battle of Bull Run and of Gettysburg, some toning to leaves, occasional minor stains or smudging, front endpaper of 1862 volume lacking, bindings rubbed with some losses to backstrips. Together with a 2 by 1½ inch ambrotype of Hollenbeck in uniform, touched in gold, lower half of case only; and a 3 by 2½ inch tintype of him as a civilian about a decade later, plate only, no case.
Leonidas Hollenbeck enlisted in the First Regiment West Virginia Cavalry Volunteers (G Company) in 1861 and was discharged on 21 November 1864. The present diary is a remarkably faithful journal, with entries for over a thousand days of war. For three years, he interrupts his journal for only 4 (apparently uneventful) days in late September, 1862. The First West Virginia Cavalry was a valorous, heavily utilized Regiment and Hollenbeck saw much action. Many of his entries record days in camp, drilling, picket duty, scouting, skirmishing, troop movement, and the reported movements of other Companies in his Regiment and of the Rebels, health of the men and the horses, camp morale, foraging for hay, raids for horses, etc. Hollenbeck also records first-hand the battles of Winchester, Strasburg, Port Republic ("Rebels attacked us early this morning and whipped us with great slaughter"), Culpeper ("the battlefield is a desperate sight so many dead horses & some men nearly dead buried"), Thouroughfare Gap, Warrenton Junction, Hagerstown, Raccoon Ford, Abbs Valley, Wytheville, Lynchburg, Liberty, Falling Waters, Winchester, and many skirmishes, engagements and raids. Incongruously, Hollenbeck, a brave and patriotic Union soldier, takes a break from these battles to visit his local relatives: "I took a trip to Flint Hill to see my new cousins they seem glad to see me but are violent Secessionists."
Most noteworthy, perhaps, are Hollenbecks first-hand descriptions of the build-ups, fighting and denouements of the Second Battle of Bull Run and Gettysburg. From 25-31 August, 1862 Bull Run: "This has been a [day] of suspense. Was rallied out at 12 oclock last night and on road till daylight, ready to move at any moment, but only moved two miles and are now still in suspense
[next day] Rebels attacked Manasseh Junction in force and is known that Jackson is making an effort to own the Federal Capitol. Hard fighting still. Our Regt. engaged hotly with the Enemy. Our supplies and communication cut off
pretty hard fighting at Bull Run, the losses not known
[next day] Still hard fighting, battle raging. Our Regt made a charge on the Enemy, was overpowered. The enemys cavalry was supported by Infantry and Artillery. From Regt on Left Wing some loss. [next day] Our Regt is still on the battlefield though was badly cut up and scattered yesterday. Fighting pretty hard quite a number of ambulances, buggies & omnibus sent from Alexandria & Washington to take care of the sick & wounded, no., I suppose to be 400 [crossed out] 250
[next day] still on Battlefield
[next day] ... Rebels are still pushing up our lives we have been defeated 2 at Bull Run." The following summer, Hollenbeck fought at Gettysburg and afterwards went in pursuit of the enemy; "Regt moved to Gettysburg, hard and continued fighting
many brave men has fallen today
[next day] Hard fighting, our Div. engaged. Suffered some from our Regt. In killed 5 officers, Adjt Knowles, Lieut. Leisure, killed Capt. Harris mortally wounded several privates killed & wounded. Gaining ground
[next day] Rebels falling back. Amongst the hardest fought battles of the war. Major Gen. Mead in command against Rebel Lee army in pursuit
[next day] Camped near Gettysburg. Rebs have fallen back leaving their dead & wounded in our possession. Official report says our loss 20000, Rebs 30000."