Guide to the William Williston Heartsill journal, 1861-1866 MS 035
William Williston Heartsill was a Confederate soldier in the U.S. Civil War. He was twnety-one years of age at the war's beginning in 1861, and was one the first to enlist, joining what became a very famous unit of the war, W.P. Lane's Texas Rangers. In 1862 his Texas unit moved into Arkansas as a calvary unit, and were soon overwhelmed by a Union force, taken prisoner, and transported to a prisoner of war camp near Springfield, Illinois.
In April, 1863, Lane's Rangers moved to City Point, Virginia, where they were released in exchange for Federal troops captured by the Confederacy. The men joined Gen. Braxton Bragg's army in Tennessee, and fought in the very bloody battle of Chickamauga shortly thereafter. Under Bragg, the Texas men were split amongst various units and dismounted, presenting intolerable conditions for them, and resulting in the men disappearing from their units, and walking from Tennessee back to Texas.
Once reunited there, the unit was placed in charge of a prison for Federal troops, Camp Ford, at Tyler, Texas. In July 1864, the unit joined General E. Kirby Smith in Louisiana and spent the remainder of the war there and in Arkansas. The unit was disbanded on May 20, 1865. Heartsill kept his diary for the full extent of this time period.
After the war, Heartsill entered business selling groceries and saddles in Marshall, Texas, and was active in civic affairs. He began pritning his journal in 1874. He later moved to Waco, where he died in 1916.
Excerpted in part from John H. Jenkins' "The Most Remarkable Texas Book : An essay on W.W. Heartsill's Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army," Austin: The Pemberton Press, 1980.
Journal describes Heartsill's experiences during the U.S. Civil War, including material related to Texas ranching activities, Indian and Mexican affairs, and botany; the Texas Secession Convention; generals Braxton Bragg, Stonewall Jackson, Joseph E. Johnston, and John W. Whitfield; his work with the W.P. Lane Rangers (later Company F, 2nd Regiment, Texas Calvary); battles of Chickamauga and Vicksburg; prisoners of war; and Confederate Army Trans-Mississippi Department.
Heartsill wrote the journal on the scene in small notebooks that he kept in his pocket. These notebooks were sent to back Texas from the front as he filled them up. The journal draft located here at Rice University journal is one of two surviving drafts in Heartsill's hand. The other draft is located at the University of Texas at Austin. These drafts indicate that Heartsill made some attempt to correct spelling and grammatical errors before printing the journal. After the war, Heartsill printed one hundred copies of the journal himself on an "Octavo Novelty Press", over the time period of December 9, 1874-July 1, 1876. The provenance of this journal makes it unique in the field of U.S. Civil War soldier narratives.
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William Williston Heartsill journal, 1861-1866, MS 035, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Gift of Mr. John Wright, 1963.
Manuscript was later published by the author under the title "Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army".
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