The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Gilman, Byron, b. 1843
Byron Gilman (1843- ) Papers
0.25 linear feet (1 box)
Byron Gilman papers contain a
daily account of Gilman's life from September 16, 1861 until September 27,
Scope and Content Note
The Byron Gilman papers contain a daily account of Gilman's life from September 16, 1861
until September 27, 1864. There is a hiatus between November 30, 1862 and August 1,
1863, during which time Gilman was serving in the Union Army as a volunteer.
However, toward the end of his tour of duty, he resumed his journal. This portion of
the journal is on notepaper sewn into a booklet; entries before and after his
military service are in a hard-bound book. Entries in the diary resume in August
1863 when Gilman, although not yet mustered out, is back in Lynn.
With the exception of accounts of Byron's life in the infantry, the diary
consists primarily of descriptions of social evenings with friends, parties and
visits, and the entertainments he attended both in the Lynn area and in Boston.
Numerous printed programs, newspaper clippings, detailed descriptions and critiques
of plays, concerts, lectures, and other curiosities such as acrobats, mesmerists,
etc. are inserted in the diary, together with Byron's own evaluations. A photograph
of Gilman is also inserted.
In addition to the diaries, the collection includes a document listing the names
of soldiers with an account of the articles of clothing they received, a handwritten
list of "Articles Worn or Carried about the Person," and "Contents Knapsack". Folder
3 also contains a list of "Massachusetts Militia Company, May 4, 1830 Commanded by
Charles Merritt, Leutenant (sic) H. Burchstead Ensign Othis Newhall."
Byron Gilman was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1843, the
son of Joseph Gilman, a millwright, and Louise J. Gilman. He was trained in music,
played the flute and violin, and experimented with other instruments. In 1861, Byron
was working as a clerk with Boyce & Nichols, a "shoe findings" establishment, in
Boston. On August 20, 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army as a member of the Eighth
Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, to serve for nine months as a musician
and was subsequently stationed in New Berne, North Carolina. He was involved in some
experimentation with a new kind of signaling system employing whistles instead of
bugles. Although in the vicinity of several battles, he saw no action, and mustered
out of the service on August 7, 1863.
After being mustered out, he was engaged for some months in recruiting efforts
for the Heavy Artillery and attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a commission for
himself. He worked for a time in a machine ship, doing repairs and projects for
local industries. By the summer and fall of 1864, determined to see his fortune
abroad, he attempted to find a berth on a ship going to China. When that proved
unsuccessful, he tried to find a place with the Panama Railroad. Gilman went to
California soon afterward and was first engaged on the Pacific steamers and later as
secretary of a mining company in San Francisco.*
*Much of the biographical information is derived from an insert in the front
page of Gilman's diary, provided by John Albree.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 8th (1861-1864)
United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--Armed Forces--Diaries
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
Byron Gilman papers contain a daily account of Gilman's life from September 16, 1861 until September 27, 1864.
Massachusetts. Militia; United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 8th (1861-1864); United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.--Civil War, 1861-1865; Lynn (Mass.); United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives; United States--Armed Forces--Diaries; Diaries; Diaries--1861-1864; Diaries--Massachusetts--Lynn; Entertainment events--Massachusetts--Boston; Musicians; Soldiers
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.