Exploring the Roundy Family Archives: A Glimpse into Civil War-Era History
This collection of materials sold at auction offers a look at 19th-century life with several artifacts from the Roundy family of Paw Paw, Michigan.
Centered around Averill J. Roundy, a Union soldier who served during the Civil War, this archive offers a window into a pivotal period of American history.
A Soldier’s Personal Civil War Diary
At the heart of the collection is Averill’s personal diary, dating from 1862 to 1863. Chronicling his experiences following the Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, the Civil War diary provides poignant insights into the hardships faced by soldiers on the front lines.
From descriptions of wounds to reflections on the camaraderie of comrades-in-arms, each entry offers a glimpse into the realities of the Civil War.
The Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia
The Battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, fought on May 5, 1862, was a pivotal engagement between Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War.
Occurring as part of the Peninsula Campaign, Union General George B. McClellan’s forces clashed with Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s troops near Williamsburg.
The battle saw intense fighting as both sides vied for control of the strategically important Williamsburg Road.
Despite heavy casualties and fierce resistance from Confederate forces, Union troops ultimately secured victory, paving the way for further advances towards Richmond, the Confederate capital. The Battle of Williamsburg marked a significant moment in the Union’s efforts to quell the rebellion.
The Collectibility of Civil War Diaries
Civil War diaries are invaluable historical artifacts that provide firsthand accounts of the experiences, emotions, and perspectives of individuals who lived during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
These diaries offer unique insights into the daily lives of soldiers on the front lines, as well as civilians on the home front, documenting everything from battles and military campaigns to personal struggles and triumphs.
One reason Civil War diaries are highly collectible is their authenticity and immediacy. Unlike secondary sources or historical accounts written after the fact, diaries offer unfiltered glimpses into the past, capturing the raw emotions and intimate details of individuals’ lives. This authenticity makes them invaluable for researchers, historians, and enthusiasts seeking to understand the experience of the Civil War.
Firsthand Descriptions of Civil War Battles
Additionally, a Civil War diary often contains firsthand descriptions of significant events and battles, shedding light on lesser-known aspects of the war and providing valuable context for broader historical narratives.
For example, diaries from soldiers who participated in pivotal battles like Gettysburg or Antietam offer unique perspectives on the experiences of those who fought on the front lines.
Furthermore, the scarcity of Civil War diaries adds to their collectibility on the auction market. Many diaries were lost, destroyed, or simply never written, making those that have survived even more precious. As a result, collectors are willing to pay significant sums to acquire these rare and historically significant artifacts.
In recent years, Civil War diaries have commanded impressive prices at auction. The value of an original Civil War diary depends on a few factors, but primarily the identity of the author and the quality and quantity of the content he chose to write about.
CDV Portraits of Civilian Family Members
Accompanying the diary are CDV portraits of family members who played significant roles in Averill’s life. From his brother, Corporal Reuben A. Roundy, to fellow soldiers such as George W. Roper and John A. Post, these images capture the faces of those who served alongside Averill in the Union cause.
Beyond military portraits, the collection includes a diverse array of memorabilia, ranging from miniature autograph albums to sewing kits and leather wallets. Each item offers a unique perspective on daily life during the 19th century, from mementos exchanged between loved ones to practical items carried by soldiers in the field.
Among the highlights are tintype portraits of various Roundy family members, ambrotypes of Civil War soldiers, and cabinet card photos capturing moments of everyday life. These images, alongside enveloped letters, postcards, and souvenirs from the St. Louis World’s Fair, paint a vivid picture of the Roundy family’s experiences spanning decades.
When dealing with items such as these, we’re reminded of the sacrifices made by ordinary people during extraordinary times. Their stories, preserved through these small artifacts, serve as a testament to the resilience and courage of those who shaped our nation’s history.