It feels pretty good sitting here and getting my hands dirty in the relatively new Special Collections building at the University of Virginia. I gave my mid-term exam this past Friday and now have the entire week off to work on gathering research materials for my project on the demobilization of the Army of Northern Virginia. This is a fairly difficult project in terms of tracking down sources. Luckily I found a few helpful items including a thorough diary kept by a farmer in Nelson County who commented on the passing of recently paroled Confederate soldiers as well as the end of slavery.
The biggest surprise, however, was coming across a pristine letter dated August 1, 1864. That’s right – a wonderfully detailed account of the Crater from a soldier in the 9th Alabama. He provides vivid descriptions of the battle and aftermath as well as the handling of black Union soldiers. There is no indication in the collection itself that such a letter exists so I plan on alerting the staff for future researchers.