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Collection Number: 05515-z

Collection Title: Benjamin Watkins Leigh Travel Diary, April 1861

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


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Abstract Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born in 1831 in Richmond, Va. Leigh practiced law until he enlisted as a captain in the Confederate army on 21 May 1861, receiving a commission in the 1st Batallion, Virginia Infantry Regiment. By June 1863, he had been transferred to the 42nd Virginia Infantry Regiment and promoted to full major. Leigh died in the Battle of Gettysburg on 3 July 1863. The collection consists of a highly detailed travel diary kept by Benjamin Watkins Leigh in April 1861 during a trip through the South, taken with his brother a month before Leigh enlisted in the Confederate Army. The brothers began their trip in Virginia and proceeded through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, before returning to Virginia through Mississippi and Tennessee. The diary contains lengthy, often block-by-block descriptions of the buildings and landmarks in the cities and towns Leigh visited, including Wilmington, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, La., among others. The diary details Leigh's travel route, opinions on traveling by steamboat and rail, and observations on landscape and climate, as well as descriptions of meetings with family, friends, and other associates, including Abraham Minis and James Louis Petigru, as well as several encounters with slaves. Several entries mention local reaction to events in the Civil War, including the ratification of the Constitution of the Confederate States, the Battle of Fort Sumter, and the secession of Virginia from the Union.
Creator Leigh, Benjamin Watkins, 1831-1863.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
No usage restrictions.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Benjamin Watkins Leigh Travel Diary #5515-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Sally Gallant Marks of Whiteville, N.C., in May 2011 (Acc. 101556).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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Benjamin Watkins Leigh was born on 18 January 1831 in Richmond, Va., to Julia Wickham and Benjamin Watkins Leigh (1781-1859), a lawyer and politician who served in the Virginia House of Delegates and represented Virginia in the United States Senate. Benjamin Watkins Leigh practiced law until he enlisted as a captain in the Confederate army on 21 May 1861, receiving a commission in Company A of the 1st Battalion, Virginia Infantry Regiment. By June 1863, he had been transferred to Company S of the 42nd Virginia Infantry Regiment and promoted to full major. Leigh died in the Battle of Gettysburg on 3 July 1863.

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The collection consists of a highly detailed travel diary kept by Benjamin Watkins Leigh in April 1861 during a trip through the South, taken with his brother Chapman a month before Leigh enlisted in the Confederate Army. The brothers began their trip in Virginia and proceeded through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, before returning to Virginia through Mississippi and Tennessee. The diary contains lengthy, often block-by-block descriptions of the buildings and landmarks in the cities and towns Leigh visited, including Wilmington, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Mobile, Ala., and New Orleans, La., among others.

The diary details Leigh's travel route, opinions on traveling by steamboat and rail, and observations on landscape and climate, as well as descriptions of meetings with family, friends, and other associates, including Abraham Minis and James Louis Petigru, as well as several encounters with slaves. Several entries mention local reactions to events in the Civil War, including the ratification of the Constitution of the Confederate States (4 April), the Battle of Fort Sumter (12-13 April), and the secession of Virginia from the Union (18 April).

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Contents list

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Processing Information

Processed by: Anna Kephart, March 2012

Encoded by: Anna Kephart, March 2012

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