The Civil War Journal and Diary of Joseph Benjamin Burgin

#15291 Joseph Benjamin Burgin (grandson of Pioneer Ben) was the son of Alney Burgin. Called "Joe-Ben" by his family, he was most commonly referred to as " J.B." by others. He served in Company K, 22nd North Carolina Infantry Regiment, during The Civil War. Company K was commanded by #1521A, Alney Burgin, son of John Burgin. He too, was Pioneer Ben's grandson and J.B.'s first cousin. J.B. served under Capt. Alney Burgin until he was captured by the Union Army, at or near Chancellorsville, Virginia, May 3, 1863.

As an officer, J.B. must have been assigned the responsibility of keeping an account of expenditures, purchases, exchanges, head-counts, etc; One such journal (diary) was discovered in August of 2002. One hundred and twelve pages remained intact. Luckily the initial page of this approx. 2-1/2 x 4” booklet (small) contains the full date, Feb. 18th 1862 written in J.B.’s hand. The last date found in the booklet is Aug 18. The booklet covers Feb 1862 through Aug 1862, with most entries occurring in June, July, and August.

Two different pages are in ink and signed by J.B. asking that his wife be notified in case of his death. One is witnessed by an S. J. Burgin. “If this is found on my body please inform my wife of my death - M. E. Burgin, direct to Pleasant Retreat NC. [Signed] J B Burgin, 1st Lt Co K 22nd NC Regiment.”

There is a hand-drawn map in pencil of an early encampment of the 22nd on page 8 (pages are NOT numbered) of the booklet. The last date before the map is March 1862 and the first date after the map is April 9, so it is likely the map represents the 22nd encampment at this time.

The 22nd had large gun batteries and helped blockade the Potomac at about this time. The 1862 dates also cover active battle dates for the 22nd (some with severe losses) as Lee moved the Army to fight time and time again throughout the war.

Interestingly this journal contains two entries relating to one Steven L. Burgin among the men of the 22nd North Carolina and I have been unable to find him listed anywhere else, or as having served in the Confederacy. A large number of 22nd NC soldier and officer names appear in this booklet and it may be there are others that have been missed by official rosters of CSA service.

A three-page list of 39 soldier names and the word “official” something or the other at the top of the list. This is only one of several lists of names (throughout the journal) with a mark after them and sometimes a number that looks like a date. These could be men killed, wounded, or sick. Two "Burgin" names also appear on this list; a B.M. Burgin and a M.J. Burgin.

Capt Alney Burgin and/or Lt J. B. Burgin appeared to be loaning funds for food and blankets and such above that provided by rations for all the men in the company. The officers of each company seemed to participate by paying accounts to J.B. for such things as bacon, flour, beef, butter, etc. in quantities usually expressed in pounds. There are also accountings of money paid for the treatment of the injured, wounded or sick to the doctors.

Throughout the book, J.B. devotes a page here and there to counting the number of men in the regiment by company. There were ten companies in the 22nd. The regiment was an integral part of Robert E Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and served in all the major campaigns and battles. Some of the dates in the book line up with important battles and the 22nd suffered severe losses in some of them. There is simply no doubt that this little booklet was carried into battle time and time again. The 22nd came together in 1861 with more than 1,000 men and ended the war with barely over 100.

I have compiled a reasonable on-line history of the 22nd North Carolina Regiment and the Burgin families from the Old Fort/McDowell County area who served in Company K. To read, click here:

The McDowell Boys

Three or four pages have lists of items wanted or needed by companies and by individual soldier names. And then there is that "jug full in Steve’s tent". I believe this must be Steven Burgin based on the candidness of the entry.

Below is a list of the Captain Alney Burgin's personal items.

Twenty-six pages are headed by company officers’ names, Cpt Burgin, Maj Cole, Maj Galloway, Cpt Odell, Capt Bolin, Capt Lichford, Lt Clark, Lt Rusich, Smith, and 4 more Lieutenants. Note that the example below notes “settled in full”. I believe the officers were buying additional rations for their men.

I don’t have space to go into the exploits of these men and officers. But these are some of the finest heroes the Confederacy produced. Do a quick search on this Major Thomas S Galloway and see what you get.

While no officer’s handwritten booklet would be complete without doodles, there are only two in this book. The one below and one of a camp tent.

Two or three pages of the book were cut away and were likely I.O.U.'s or other settled debts, as J B Burgin seems to have been the keeper of accounts of personal loans for Company K and at times the regiment. He totaled the number of men in the regiment by companies time and time again. The number changes frequently.

NOTE: This journal was found in the estate library of a descendant still residing in the Old Fort, NC, area. The books were sold at an estate auction in 2002. Many of the older books from the estate had the name *Bonnie Burgin written in them. J.B.'s journal sold on e-Bay, August 11, 2002 for $2150.

The seller told me, "Joseph Benjamin's journal will certainly find a good home and will remain an historical treasure in someone's collection. The gentleman who bought it is adept at placing historical material in university archives, museums, and important collections. Lt. Burgin's little history of the 22nd North Carolina Rgt. in 1862 will no longer be hidden away."

*1521A57 Bonnie Burgin was the grand daughter of Captain Alney Burgin


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