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Treasures from Archives: Civil War diary

I’ve been digging around Archives looking for Civil War material for a long time. One day, Sister Marie Grace Molloy, a wonderful volunteer, asked me if I had ever seen the Civil War diary of Sister Clarice Asbury’s (RIP) grandfather. No, I hadn’t seen it, so I put the diary on my list of things to scrutinize more judiciously when I had the time. Recently I had time to take a longer look at this historical treasure.

George E. Blaire (sometimes spelled Blair) was the maternal grandfather of Sister Clarice. Sister Clarice was born Elizabeth Asbury on June 6, 1898, in Bozeman, Mont. She entered the Congregation on Sept. 8, 1919, and died Nov. 15, 1993. In her file in Archives is this small, unassuming journal. Sister Clarice noted that this journal was “the Civil War diary of my grandfather.”

Blaire was the captain of Company A, 17th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Captain Blaire began his journal in June of 1863. He described marching in the rain and mud, sleeping in the woods and playing “foot ball.” He also described fighting in the Battle of Hoover’s Gap in Tennessee June 24-26, 1863. Amazingly, with no cell phones, TV, radio, blogs or Twitter, Captain Blaire wrote on July 3, 1863, about Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg! In case you need a refresher, July 3 was the last day of the terrible battle.

Captain Blaire wrote about his capture by the Rebels in Chattanooga, Tenn., in September 1863. He journaled how the prisoners were taken by rail car to Atlanta and then back up north to Richmond, Va., and the infamous Libby Prison. Eventually, Captain Blaire was imprisoned in Charleston, S.C. It was there that he and his fellow prisoners were freed in September of 1864.

And there in our Archives in a small envelope within the file of Sister Clarice Asbury is a wonderful piece of our nation’s history. A treasure indeed!

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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