MS 575 mf - The Harrison Leathers Collection
|Title||MS 575 mf - The Harrison Leathers Collection|
The Harrison Leathers Collection consists of three volumes of journals kept by Harrison Leathers dating from 14 September 1862 through 28 June 1865 and a transcription of all three volumes completed by Mrs. Helen Prill (privately printed as "Harrison Leathers' Day Books--Biography and Related Documents of the Civil War Era, 1862-1865." Elida, Ohio: Cards, Inc., 1984). He served in Company A of the 99th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the 17th Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps, which was stationed in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The collection was transferred for microfilming by Paul Yon from the Van Wert County Historical Society (Van Wert, Ohio) with the cooperation of Mrs. Helen Prill, 1 May 1990. The collection was prepared for microfilming, and the finding aid was completed by James Kaser, a doctoral student in American Culture, in May 1990.
Harrison Leathers was born 31 October 1834 to Christian (10 January 1800-17 September 1864) and Catherine (Shupe) Leathers (26 December 1803-27 December 1879), both of whom had migrated to Ohio with their parents as small children. The Leathers family consisted of eight children including Harrison: Noah, who died in infancy; Louis; Eliza, later the wife of Jacob Fowler; Abraham; and Sara, later the wife of S. R. Moneysmith. The Leathers arrived in Van Wert County in 1852, probably from Amanda, Ohio, and established a farm in Section #34 in Ridge Township.
Leathers married Martena Adaline Cummings, the daughter of Emanuel and Mary (Redman) Cummings on 15 April 1858. The couple had four children: Edmond Ambrose, a farmer who married Jennie Bell; William Creighton, employed by the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad, who married first Ella Young and then Jennie Leslie; Delora Virginia, who married W. C. Gilliland; and Florence Emma Bell, who married J. G. Prill.
Leathers enlisted as a private in Company A of the 99th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry 5 August 1862 for a term of three years. In September and October of 1862 his company was involved in skirmishing with the enemy south of Louisville, Kentucky and was engaged in a battle near Perryville, Kentucky on 10 September. At about this time, Leathers became ill, suffering from chronic diarrhea. He remained with his company until continued illness forced his hospitalization, first in Lebanon, Kentucky and then in New Albany, Indiana, where he arrived 14 November 1862. He returned to Louisville on 8 January but still felt periodically unwell. On 1 February 1863, he rejoined his company which was then in Nashville, but, suffering once again from diarrhea, was moved to the General Field Hospital 30 April 1863. From then until November of 1864, he was in hospitals in Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati and Camp Denison (near Cincinnati).
Leathers spent the rest of the war in what he referred to as the "Invalid Corps," the 17th Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps. This regiment was organized in January of 1864 and stationed at Indianapolis, Indiana and was active in controlling liquor sales to soldiers passing through the city, guarding military stores, pursuing and arresting deserters, enforcing the draft law, guarding a military prison near the city, and conducting recruits and draftees to the front and prisoners to other prisons. Leathers was transferred to the Regiment 30 October 1864 and arrived in Indianapolis with a group of men from Camp Denison on 14 November. Between then and his discharge 30 June 1865, Leathers was a private in this regiment, performing such duties as working in the cookhouse, guarding the pay master's office, and acting as orderly. He was detailed several times to conduct prisoners or recruits, once to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the time he was in Indianapolis, he was visited by his wife and members of his family and also was able to travel to Van Wert several times on leaves and furloughs.
After the War, Leathers returned to his family in Van Wert to continue his life as a farmer. By 1896 he owned 172 acres of farm land in Ridge Township, some lots in Middlepoint, and conducted a milling operation. He and his wife were active in the local Lutheran Church, in which he was an officer for over thirty years, and served for a long period as Sunday School Superintendent. He was also active in the local Republican Party and served as clerk, trustee, and assessor for Ridge Township. Leathers continued to play an active role in the social and civic life of his community until his death 5 June 1902.
|Scope and Content|
The Civil War journals of Harrison Leathers (1862-1865) provide insights for the social historian into the life of enlisted men stationed on the homefront. Leathers' discussion of his lengthy illness gives some idea of how sickness unrelated to battle injuries was dealt with, since he describes the sorts of transportation he had to use to get to medical facilities, and some of the hospitals in which he stayed. At points, he also briefly relates his emotional condition, referring to his loneliness and sadness, providing an indication of how he felt about his situation. Because he describes the activities in which he and his fellow soldiers engaged to divert themselves, readers get some idea of the social life of enlisted men during the War. Leathers' journals also provide clues for understanding the administration of the War on the homefront since he rather laconically described several tragic incidents, such as soldiers freezing to death as the result of guard duty.
The transcription of the journals by Helen Prill included in the collection is useful in overcoming the usual problems of legibility one faces in reading handwritten materials. The fact that her work also includes a name index to the journals, a genealogical chart, a photograph of Leathers' family, a photocopy of Leathers' discharge papers, and pertinent excerpts from A Portrait and Biographical Record of Allen and Van Wert Counties, Ohio (Chicago: A. W. Bowen, 1896), Indiana in the War of the Rebellion (compiled by W. H. H. Terrell, 1896), and the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866 (Akron, Ohio: Werner Co., 1886-1895), increases the seventy-six page volume's usefulness.
"HARRISON LEATHERS: DAY BOOKS--BIOGRAPHY AND RELATED DOCUMENTS OF THE CIVIL WAR ERA, 1862-1865."
|Order of Microfilming|