In the September, 2012 issue of The Journal of American History (Vol. 99, No. 2), Michael Barton of Penn State Harrisburg reviewed a number of web sites where one can find letters and diaries from Civil War soldiers.
One of these is Civil War Voices: Soldier Studies. As Professor Barton writes, “This is a dynamic site that offers a substantial menu of Civil War materials–letters, diary entries, databases, announcements, relevant news items, and interactivity. The ‘Life of a Soldier’ section provides scholarly essays by Chandra M. Manning, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, and Michael Barton.” [p. 688]
Another is the University of Virginia’s Valley of the Shadow. Barton tells us, “This includes antebellum, Civil War, and postbellum letters and diaries. The helpful abstracts provided by the editors indicate that, for Franklin County during the war years, there are no personal documents written by thirty-six Union letter writers and seven diarists; for Augusta County, there are documents by eighty-six Confederate letter writers and eight diarists.” [p. 689]
A third he highlights is the University of Iowa’s Civil War Diaries and Letters Digital Collection. This site provides scans of letters and diaries.
The Indiana Magazine of History’s Voices from the Past: Civil War Soldiers’ Letters and Diaries page is another resource he lists for us.
The next is the Documenting the American South “First Person Narratives” page for “extensive online collections sponsored by the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” [p. 689]
The Virginia Military Institute also has a collection of diaries, letters and personal papers.
The next site he identifies is the online collection of the Musselman Library at Gettysburg College.
Another collection is Penn State’s collection. As Barton tells us, it “has only two lengthy personal documents,” but “it summarizes the digital resources available there and at other Web sites in the state.” [p. 690]
Also from Penn State is The People’s Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project.
Another site with soldier writings is the Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War site.
The Digital Civil War Portal has a large number of items. It “is a collection of varied digital primary source materials at Auburn University, Duke University, the University of Georgia, Tulane University, Louisiana State University, Emory University, and other institutions in the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries.” [p. 690]
The Vermont Historical Society “provides access to the scans and transcriptions of Civil War letters in the collections of the Vermont Historical Society and the libraries of the University of Vermont.” [p. 690]
Another resource is Wisconsin Goes to War: Our Civil War Experience from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The University of Delaware gives us the American Civil War Digital Collections: Letters and Diaries.
Virginia Tech has a number of primary sources available online at its American Civil War Manuscript page.
The University of Georgia gives us their Civil War Letters and Diaries page.
Professor Barton tells us that as of his article we had access to the letters and diaries of about 3,000 Civil War soldiers. Surely that has increased since he wrote his article. We are living in a wonderful age, aren’t we?