These Civil War diaries were lost and forgotten in a travel trunk for almost sixty years after the author's death, until the travel trunk and diaries made their way to an estate sale in Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1950s. The mysterious path they took to get there and who cared for the travel trunk and diaries is unknown.
Since the author had no heirs, upon his death the travel trunk (likely the travel trunk mentioned by the author in the diaries containing his effects, including the diaries) probably ended up in someone's attic for many of these years, surviving two world wars, the Great Depression, and any one of the many tragedies that may befall the works of man. Whatever path they took, it's a miracle that this American literary treasure has survived in almost perfectly legible condition after so many years.
The discovery of the two large hardbound manuscripts of diaries was made while cleaning out the old travel trunk. The hardbound manuscripts were found in a cloth bag, most likely the oiled silk bag mentioned in the Civil War diaries by the author. Glued to several pages within the diaries are pictures and silk ribbons of various officers of the Union Army as well as other memorabilia. A bookmark was tucked between the pages, which would prove crucial to confirming the identity of the author many years later. The Civil War diaries remained in storage for the next 25 years in silence and obscurity until the next owner acquired the diaries in 1976.
As previously mentioned, the identity of the author was at the time unknown. He did not write his name or signature anywhere in the two manuscripts of diaries. In 1976 the Civil War diaries were brought to the University of South Florida to authenticate and help find the mysterious author. The evidence authenticating the diaries was overwhelming. First, the two large hardbound manuscripts are different. The first book is smaller then the second, measuring 11 1/2 inches x 9 inches(292mm x 229mm) and is black, with 270 pages. The second book measures 13 1/2 inches x 8 3/4 inches(235mm x 184mm) and is brown, with 356 pages. This difference suggests an unplanned continuation of the diaries. Second, the writing is in cursive form, and the author uses a quill pen, which is commonly used in writing from this era. Third, when the author is captured by the Confederate Army, his diary is safely stored with his friend behind the Union lines. While imprisoned at Belle Isle, the author continues to write on scrap paper that he hides in his leggings. After his release by means of a prisoner exchange and eventual return to his unit, he enters the notes into his manuscript. This is according to his own entries, which proves the continuation of the diaries. And finally, as previously mentioned, glued within the pages are pictures and silk ribbons from the Civil War era.
But still, the name of the author could not be identified. All that was known of the author was from clues written in the Civil War diaries themselves. He served in the 9th Massachusetts Volunteers, lived in the Boston area and was of Irish decent. But little else could be gleaned from the diaries to discover his name. In one attempt, a clairvoyant was summoned with disappointing results. So after many years, it looked like his name might never be found.
Then, eight years after a 1990 article in the Civil War Times Illustrated featured the diaries, someone was able to identify the author by researching records of the hospital mentioned in the article. The author's name was Timothy J. Regan! And that's how, almost 50 years after the discovery of the diaries, the mystery was solved. This also happened to be the name printed on the bookmark previously mentioned, found between the pages of one of the manuscripts, but, which had deceivingly looked like advertisement for a print shop. Since then, Timothy J. Regan's death certificate and military pension records have been found. There is no known photograph of Mr. Regan.
All of these facts combined prove that these American Civil War diaries are truly authentic and a one-of-a-kind American Civil War experience! An American experience so real that a screenplay based upon the diaries has been written called, The Irishman by John Lovett, which I hope will one day grace the silver screen.
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