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Wordpix John

Diary of Elsie Caroline Duncan Hurt

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Has anyone seen seen/read the "Diary of Elsie Caroline Duncan Hurt"? She was the daughter of Harriet and Joseph Duncan (Duncan Field) and would have been nine years old at the time of the battle. She was my g-grandfather's sister. My family believed that she wrote a journal, and we've been searching for it for 25 years. Now, I'm hearing that someone found it and gave it to the Memphis Public Library. It IS listed in the library's online catalog. If you've seen it, does it include much information about Shiloh, and do you know if there is a way to buy/download/obtain a copy? (Amazon doesn't have it--I take that to mean I'll probably need to take a field trip to Memphis.)

Thanks,

John

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John,

I was going to say that you might be able to get a copy through the inter-library loan, but I imagine that's not an option with an original diary. You might give the library there in Memphis a call, to see what is or isn't possible. Maybe they could make a copy of the pages and arrange to send them to you or your local library, although my guess is probably not. Never hurts to ask though. But off-hand, it does sound as if a trip to Memphis would probably be required.

Even if there's nothing in there about Shiloh though, it would be pretty interesting to see the diary. Especially after such a long search.

Wish I could help more, and perhaps someone else here can, but please keep us posted on how things go.

Perry

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Wordpix,

I was at the main Memphis library today. The transcribed diary is in their reference section. I didn't find out if they have the actual diary. They have only one copy; at least that is what they told me. I didn't have time to do much reading, but I did copy it up to Dec. 1862. It is not really a daily diary, but memoirs or recollections. It has some very interesting things about Shiloh.There are several (ok, many) discrepancies but is very interesting. After several SDG members have read it, it will make a good discussion topic.

In the back portion are copies of some wills and deeds or such. I only thumbed through it except for the battle part.

The copy that they brought to me was hardback bound, but the pages were obviously copied from typewtitten pages. So there must be other copues somewhere.

Grandpa

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Thanks, Grandpa. Since my last post, I've seen a couple of stories about the "diary" that appeared in the Commercial-Appeal in 2000. Based on those, I'd agree with you about discrepancies. Mainly, I think she got things out of chronological order. The events she reports very well could have happened. They just may have happened at different times than she reports. In at least some cases, she appears to have moved events back and forth from pre-battle to post-battle. For example, she writes of the Duncan family living in the house and interacting with Union soldiers AFTER the battle. My grandmother always told me that the house was badly damaged and no longer fit to live in after the battle. Her sources would have been her father (Elsie's brother), Elsie's other siblings and maybe even Elsie herself (or "Caroline" as people in my family call her). If you toss out Elsie's chronological order, there would have been plenty of opportunity for interaction with soldiers BEFORE the battle.

Elsie tells of her older brother enlisting in the Confederate army. That much is true. James K. P. Duncan drew a Confederate pension. Reportedly there is a large file on him in the Tennessee Archives. Maybe C.D. will go downtown with me to look at it. 

One possible explanation for her chronological order issues may be that this is really a NOVEL, not a DIARY. Elsie's obituary from the Commercial-Appeal states that she was working on a novel based on her experiences as a child during the war. The book at the library may be a copy of the manuscript for that novel.

I've seen some indications that the "diary" or manuscript or whatever was actually published a few years ago. The library's online catalog seems to indicate as much, but I've never been able to find another copy.

I'd love find a way for the members of the SDG to read this diary and discuss it.

John

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John, I agree to your idea about chromological order. Also, I get the distinct impression that the house she is talking about most of the time was not at Duncan field. She does mention that the house was severely damaged, but does not give the impression that she was in that house. She said that a gunboat shell took off most of the roof. That is very plausible. I'm guessing that they had a second house.

I find her descriptions of interacting with Union soldiers after the battle very believable. After the battle she may well have lived in a house that was just very near the battlefield. I remember my daddy telling me that the 'old' folks told him that Union soldiers were camped all over the hills near the battlefield all summer of 1862.

I find that almost everything she mentions is very plausible, even though time and place are jumbled up. However, with some serious review of the document, I think everything can be sorted out and put in proper order and location.

All in all, I found the document to be an important addition to knowledge about the events concerning the battle at Shiloh.

Grandpa

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I think the Union army kept a field hospital in the immediate battlefield area for at least several weeks after the battle. First close to the battlefield itself for several weeks and then a couple months later at Corinth which Halleck finally took in late May. That book about the 14th Iowa at Donelson and Shiloh mentions specific soldiers that died at Shiloh in the last week of April of disease, not wounds. The book also mentions soldiers being discharged from Corinth for disability from the temporary tent hospital in late July, and quotes some letters from a paroled prisoner who wrote about his volunteer duties at the field hospital in Monterey in late July, written while he waited for official exchange and worked at the field hospital at Monterey out of sheer boredom. In these letters he mentions going back and forth from Monterey to Corinth to visit his friends in the regiment until almost August.

If took over seven weeks for Halleck to gather 100,000 men and then to move them slowly slowly at a pace of maybe two miles every few days to reach Corinth from Pittsburg Landing there would have been plenty of Union soldiers in the area for a long time after the battle.

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

in the diary of the 9th Ill. infantry, he tells of them staying on the battlefield for two weeks and the stench and sickness that they experienced while on the battlefield. after two weeks they were alowed to move to an area outside the battlefield. and there would have been detachments from the landing to corinth to guard their supply route when they first started and their alternate supply route after they took over the rail line. also in the report of the ohio rep. to the battlefield in the very early 1900's when he blessed the location of the ohio plaques and monuments, he stated how surprised he was at how the park had become overgrown with brush. he also stated that confederates were in the duncan house sharpshooting at their lines and received much attention from the union arty. and infantry, that being the case the house must have been almost destroyed.

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Several thoughts:

First, that's an interesting comment about the field hospital at Monterey. I remember my grandmother telling me that the Duncans went to stay with relatives at Michie shortly before the battle. Isn't "Michie" just a different name for "Monterey"? It would seem reasonable that they stayed there for a while after the battle. (Grandpa, does the diary say where they were or when they got there? The family story is that they didn't leave home until the day before the battle.)

Second, C.D.'s comment on the destruction of the house sounds like what my grandmother used to tell me.

Third, I've seen comments about the overgrown brush before and can't help but wonder if it might be a time-of-year issue. Did the Ohio rep. report the date of his visit to the park? Was he there in April or some time later in the summer? I spend a lot of time hiking a piece of land in the southwestern corner of Bedford County. In latitude, it's about 20 miles (16'41" to be exact) north of Shiloh. In elevation, it's about 450 feet higher. Buttercups usually bloom about a week earlier in Duncan Field than at my place in Bedford County. There, the forest under brush is very heavy in the summer months but dies out almost completely after the first frost and doesn't return in force until some time in May.

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

Halleck's maps of the area between shiloh and corinth show the field hospital on what is now post office road about 150 yds north north east of the sanders cemetery. where legend has it that there is a line of confederate graves that is very well defined, if that is them. James K.P. Duncan was in the 45th confederate infantry.  it appears as though both james duncan and joseph both enlisted in co. F, 9th infantry regt. kentucky in savannah on jan.1 1862 they were both then both transferred to co. B,23th light artillery regt.,tenn. on 14 apr.1862. Joseph was promoted to full sargeant on 12 may,1862. will see if i can't track them through the war. james must have been transferred to the 45th at some point as that is where his pension was from. the joseph he is shown enlisting with must have been his older brother joseph riddel duncan.

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

John, it appears as though both James K.P. Duncan and Joseph R. Duncan were with the ninth kentucky inf. at Shiloh. Company B, ninth Kentucky inf. was recruited wholly from savannah and as such were transferred to Newman's 23th batt. tennessee infantry in latter april. when with the ninth they had several men killed at shiloh from co. F. the rolls of co.F are very interesting as 98% of the men are from savannah and enlisted in jan. 1862.

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Caroline Duncan Hurt says in her recollections that her father was a chaplain in the Confederate army. She also says that he recruited and drilled Confederate soldiers before the Union army occupied Pittsburg Landing.

Grandpa

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

o.k. John here's what I came up with James K.P.Duncan and Joseph R. Duncan enlisted in co F ninth kentucky infantry, Jan. 1, 1862. their unit then moved from there to Murfreesboro, in March they moved to burnsville and then to Shiloh where they were in some heavy fighting at the crossroads and hornet's nest(home). they were part of Trabue's brigade. after the battle they reached the corinth line apr.12. very shortly after they were transferred to the 23th tenn. inf. until 1864 when they were merged with the 45th tennessee. they were paroled at greensboro n.c in 1865. There are some good letters from Rees with the ninth kentucky inf that cover their time at burnsville and corinth. I LOVE THIS STUFF!

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I love this stuff, too, and really appreciate all the help in learning about my ancestors. However, I think Joseph R. Duncan was Elsie's brother (or half brother) instead of her father. According to 1850 Hardin County census records, the Joseph Duncan household included Joseph R. Duncan, age 14, which would have made him 25 in January 1862. I've also seen a pension record that mentioned Joseph R. as James K.P.'s brother. Another interesting point on ages, James K.P. Duncan was just a couple of months past his 15th birthday when he enlisted. Joseph (the father) was 63.

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OK, a few more items from Caroline's recollections. By the way, I hope to get down to Shiloh sometime in the next few weeks. I will take the part that I have copied and drop it off for CD.

She mentions being frightened by the sounds of the battle, and asking her mother if Jim, Jae (Joe?), and ?ick (Dick? Richard, Vick?) were in the battle. Caroline also mentions that her mother told a neighbor lady that she had two sons and a son-in-law in the battle.

Also, from what Caroline wrote, I am convinced that they did not live at Duncan field at the time of the battle, but lived somewhere nearby that was on the edge of the battlefield. However there were other members of the family that probably did live at Duncan field. Caroline mentions that her mother's daughter (stepdaughter? daughter-in-law?) was living right in the middle of the battle with 5 young children.Caroline does mention that they moved to a new home. "Mother was very sad about leaving the old home". Of course she does not say when the move took place. She even describes the new home place.

From the part of the recollections that I copied, I don't find any reference to them leaving to escape the battle. She does say that the sounds of the battle moved away from them as the battle progressed.

John, keep on searching. There must be another copy of Caroline's work out there somewhere. I will try to get back to the library but don't know when that might be.

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

I'm sorry I proably misworded that, yes the joseph R Duncan that enlisted with james was their brother. If you want to read the rees letters go to http://wwwrootsweb.com/~orphanhm/reesltrs.htm there are some misdates in the history of the ninth, they show the transfer of co. A and B on apr 14th . the official records and the history of the 23th. tenn. show the transfer taking place in december of 1862. but then the ninth history shows them being transfered to the 23th light artillery regt. i couldn't figure why no records existed for them, until i found the record of them in the 23th. infantry.

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One more note. In re-reading Caroline's recollections, I noticed that she says that her "sister and her five children were still in our house about halfway between Shilah (sic) Church and the river". The sister's name was Middie. The ick? name was Dick. Apparently Dick was Middie's husband, and the son-in-law mentioned by Caroline's mother.

Hope I haven't thoroughly confused anyone.

Grandpa

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A couple of points that might help make sense of all this or muddy the waters a bit more. (All I know is that this discussion is fascinating.)

First, Joseph Duncan appears to have owned several pieces of land in Hardin County and McNairy County. Here's an excerpt from his will recorded a few days before the battle:

"I give to my said wife the land called the pleasant land containing 155 & 52 by deed and also Egypt containing 200 acres by deed during her natural life time or widowhood and also eastern rock hill the land whereon my family now resides by deed two hundred acres the above property is intended for the support and schooling of my present wifes children should she marry it is to be for the children giving her a childs part of the same.

"I direct that my other lands to wit the pine (or fine JMH) lands lying on English Fork of Turkey Creek east side of TN given in Hardin Co. by deed 370 acres but it has been measured and has 414 acres and eastern rock hill on the Seay Place by deed 260 acres on lick creek west side of Tenn. given and also one tract of land in McNairy Co. TN. (Goshen or given JMH) on the old George place by deed two hundred acres and also I have a bond on W.G. Campbell for 48 acres of land in McNairy Co. TN."

I'll bet C.D. can tell us the location of "eastern Rock hill the land whereon my family now resides."

Second, Elsie Caroline was the 15th of Joseph Duncan's 18 children by two wives. They may have needed that much land for everyone to have room. The 18th would have been a baby in 1862--a boy named Edwin (or maybe Evan).

Third, Middie's real name likely is Milberry. She's a half sister (as is Joseph R.), so I don't know much about her. My family seems to have a history of not having close relationships with half siblings and their descendents.

Fourth, in the Commercial-Appeal articles, Elsie Caroline mentions a woman named "Margie" who seems to be helping her mother. It seems likely that "Margie" could be a slave mentioned in the will as "my black woman Rachel Margrette."

Grandpa & C.D., thanks for all the info!

John

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Guest C.D.RICKMAN

o.k. joseph duncan was a primitive baptist preacher. the first minister in hardin county was rev. charles riddle who according to histories joseph riddle duncan was named for. joseph duncan preached at enon to a congreation of 33 prior to 1853 when he moved west of the river. just prior to this move the primitive baptist had split into the primitive baptist and the missionary baptist.this may have prompted his move to shiloh, although that is just speculation.

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A cousin tells me that Milberry Harriet Duncan married Richard Blevins, so that would line up the "Middie" and "Dick" mentioned in the diary. However, my cousin said she's had the impression that they lived near Pyburn's Bluff on the east side of the river. I'm not sure where that is, but it wouldn't be halfway between Shiloh church and the river.

Also, my cousin tells me that another of Joseph Duncan's sons, William Carroll Duncan (or "W.C."), may have joined the Confederate army and that W.C.'s son, William Daniel Lafayette Duncan, may have joined also.

John

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I looked up Aenon cemetery as I knew it but after going to so many sometimes i get them mixed up--This cemetery once had a baptist/ church with it but not know and is in the northern part of the county--Cerro Gordo .But Pyburns bluff a=rea is down south near Pickwick lake-both on the east of the river.

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John, Yes Margie was a slave according to Caroline. She mentions a few other slaves as well. One she called Old Black John, and another named Ben who could play the fiddle. She also mentions that Shiloh church was used as a school house.

Grandpa

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John, Maybe Middie and Dick moved across the river after the war, or at least after the battle. Caroline mentions her too many times for her to not have been there at Shiloh at the time of the battle. She even tells about her father and brother going onto the battlefield Sunday night and bringing her and the children back to their house. If the house was damaged as much as we suppose it was, it's likely that it may have never been repaired.

There used to be some Blevins living at Adamsville. There might be a connection there.

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It is my understanding that the house was never repaired. Imagine how terrifying it would have been to be in THAT house during the battle!

Update: I may not have been clear about the house. While it was never "repaired," it was replaced by another house after the battle.

 

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