Solomon W. Shively served in Co. E, 7th N.J. Vol. Inf. from Aug. 24, 1861, to Oct. 7, 1864. As a constituent part of the Army of the Potomac, his regiment was engaged in the major battles of the Eastern Theater, 1862-64.
Shively's diary, which includes entries from Apr. 8 to June 14, 1864, describes the Battle of the Wilderness, the early days of the Spotsylvania campaign, and the assault on Cold Harbor. Shively's comments are brusque and honest; the 7th New Jersey at the Wilderness "diden fight worth a Dam." He also describes the execution of a Massachusetts soldier for the rape of an elderly woman, trading coffee with Confederate soldiers for southern tobacco, and camp life. According to Shively, the regiment occupied its time in camp with baseball, cards, drinking, and "raising hell." Especially noteworthy are Shively's comments on his corps commander, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, and on Fredericksburg, Va.
Through the assistance of Rev. Paul R. Beach of Beason, Ill., Shively's granddaughter, Mrs. E. J. Meyer, also of Beason, donated the rebound diary, its original cover, and his two second lieutenant's shoulder straps to the Illinois Historical Survey in 1981.