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Frank Smith Reader diary and transcription

Identifier: WLU-Coll-0019

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a diary kept by Frank Smith Reader between March-June 1864. In it, he describes the march up the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the burning of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), the pillaging that took plage in Lexington, and the march to Lynchburg. Reader also documented the weather, his daily duties, the conduct of officers, the 9th West Virginia Cavalry, the 5th West Virginia Cavalry, Ringgold Battallion, and Averell's Division. He also compares the appearance of the Shenandoah Valley, its homes and people with conditions existing at the time of his march through the same territory in 1862. Additional topics include the following: capture of Piedmont by McNeill, "Porte Crayon," skirmishes with McNeill and Imboden, enemy engagement, desperate fighting and the retreat from Mt. Jackson, General Hunter replacing General Sigel, the military capabilities of Hunter and Sigel, Crook's victories in the Kanawah Valley, Hunter's campaign, burning houses, subsisting off the country, engagement at Staunton, the death of Confederate General W. E. Jones, Governor Letcher's home, the destruction of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the start to White Sulphur, being taken prisoner and marched under guard to Calihan's Station, being in jail in Covington, and the possibility of being sent south.


  • Creation: 1864 March 10-June 23, circa 1964


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The materials from Washington and Lee University Special Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used should be fully credited with the source. Permission for publication of this material, in part or in full, must be secured with the Head of Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Frank Smith Reader was a Union soldier of the 5th Regiment, West Virginia Cavalry, who served under Generals Franz Sigel and David Hunter.


0.02 Linear Feet (2 folders)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of John A.R. Varner in 1881.

Frank Smith Reader diary and transcription
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Repository Details

Part of the Washington and Lee University, University Library Special Collections and Archives Repository

204 W. Washington St.
Lexington VA 24450 USA