This collection contains a transcript of Silas Dexter Wesson's Civil War diary, as well as a copy of the Wesson family genealogy, which includes transcripts of letters from Silas Wesson to his family during the Civil War.
In 1861, Silas Dexter "Deck" Wesson (1839-1909) of DeKalb County, Illinois, enlisted in Company K of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry, where he eventually rose to the rank of First Sergeant. Wesson fought with the unit throughout the war, including in the Seven Days' Battles, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Wounded in June 1863, Wesson missed the Battle of Gettysburg but spent the remainder of the war fighting Confederate guerilla John S. Mosby. Wesson also later took part in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.
The collection consists of a photocopy of a typed transcript of Silas "Deck" Wesson's war diary and a copy of Wesson Threads, a Wesson family genealogy. The diary covers the Civil War years in brief, with emphasis on camp life, comments about officers, and brief notations of actions. Notable entries describe how Wesson was struck by the regimental chaplain for cursing, his impressions of President Lincoln ("homely as a mud fence") and his contention that his regiment refused to comply with General Philip Sheridan's scorched earth policy in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The family genealogy contains transcripts of 33 Civil War letters from Wesson to his family, which expand on topics discussed in the diary, including praise of General Ambrose Burnside.
Phil A. Gruzalski of Tinley Park, Illinois, and Wesson's great-granddaughter, Lori Runkle of Batavia, Illinois, gave the two typescripts to the Illinois Historical Survey, predecessor to the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, in 1986 and 1987.