MS - 027: Michael Moyer Co. C 173rd Pennsylvania, Civil War Diary

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MS – 027: Diaries of Michael Moyer, Company C 173rd Pennsylvania Infantry and Company H 46th Illinois Infantry

Inclusive Dates: 1862-1866

Processed by: Thomas Lester, Class of 2011

March 2011

Link to Full Finding Aid


Purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, 2000.  (173rd PA Infantry Diary)

Purchased from Robert McDearmon, June 2009.  (46th Illinois Infantry Diary & 173rd PA Infantry Notebook)


Michael Moyer was born on February 28, 1836 in Miles Township, Center County, Pennsylvania.  He was both a farmer and a carpenter.  He married Mary Lechman on May 27, 1858 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  Over the years they had several children: Mary Elizabeth, born December 13, 1858; Sarah Jane born October 30, 1860; Nancy Ellen born November 5, 1867 (deceased December 26, 1905) and John Michael born September 6, 1869.

He was living in North Annville, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania when he enlisted in October 1862.  He was a substitute for Henry Steckbeck who paid him $500 to serve in his place.  Moyer would spend most of his time at Camp Viele by Tanner Creek in Virginia. 

Throughout his nine months, Moyer served as an orderly twice, a guard on a boat running between Virginia and North Carolina, as a provost guard to prevent drunkenness, and went on a recruiting expedition.  On May 29, 1863 he was appointed Corporal of the provost guard.  He was honorably discharged from duty on August 17, 1863. 

He was very active in corresponding with family and friends.  He had three brothers, Henry, Phillip, and Christopher.  Henry was a member of the 148th Pennsylvania Regiment, Company G, part of General Winfield Scott Hancock’s Division in the Army of the Potomac outside Fredericksburg.  He also wrote three sisters Kate, Lizzie, and Anna.  There is also a mention of his wife and a young daughter Lizzie, named after his sister.

Moyer later moved westward and enlisted in the 46th Illinois Infantry Regiment on March 2, 1865, receiving $700 in bounties.  He joined the unit at Fort Gaines, Alabama in March 1865.  He was honorably discharged from duty on January 20, 1866.  Immediately after the service he lived in Ridott Illinois and then moved to Elsinore, California.  

Moyer would be plagued by illness and physical defects throughout the rest of his life.  In the spring of 1863 in Virginia, he contracted bleeding piles that would cause irritation for the remainder of his life.  He also suffered from rheumatism in his hands and arms as a result of military service.  He would become partially disabled in January 1890.  While working in Iowa, he was repairing the outside of a grain elevator and fell from a ladder twenty-two feet high hitting the railroad tracks below.  The fall caused serious damage to his feet and ankles. 

Moyer’s wife Mary died on June 10, 1910, in Elsinore, California.  Moyer died in Los Angeles on October 20, 1920 in a home for disabled veterans.  He was suffering from “aortic insufficiency” and chronic nephritis.

Scope and Content Notes

Most of the entries contain a discussion of the weather and his location.  Drills, inspections and dress parade are also mentioned frequently.  He also describes several deaths that occur, usually from disease.  While on provost guard, he records the safe-word on most days.  In the back there is a poem written to him by Henry Steckbeck and the distances he has traveled to each location mentioned in the entries.  In the front cover were five Confederate two-cent stamps issued in April 1863.

The second diary follows Moyer’s time with the 46th Illinois Regiment from late February 1865 through January 1866.  Moyer was first send to Camp Butler in Springfield, Illinois then to Natchez via Cairo and New Orleans.  Many entries contain the weather and letters sent home to various individuals.  In April 1865, he participated in the capture of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely in Alabama.  He also mentions hearing of the capture of Richmond, surrender of Generals Lee and Johnston, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the attack on Secretary of State William Seward.         

The third book was used during his first term of service.  It contains lists of items coming into Norfolk harbor.  There are also recipes for different medicines.  The book contains few diary entries and some pages of calculations.  

Link to Full Finding Aid