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Henry B. Whittington Diary (MS011)

Identifier: MS011
The diary begins on the date of Federal occupation of Alexandria by Union troops, May 24, 1861. Entries describe events related to the Civil War, the occupying troops, and attitudes of the local populace. There is rich detail regarding personnel of the ever-changing occupying force, its disruption of local affairs, and response of the citizens. Local and national events such as major battles, skirmishes, and political occurrences are vividly described. References to persons important to the history of Alexandria and the country for that period are frequent. Sectional opinion of the period toward issues such as slavery, contrabands, and emancipation are also present. The diary ends on March 1, 1865.


  • 1861-05-24 - 1865-03-01



.81 Cubic Feet (2 boxes) : The diary is a collection of sheets of lined pages, folded crosswise in pairs with the entries written across the lines. There is no cover. Loose threads along the folded edge of some sections suggest that some or all of the diary may have been bound at one time.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Bassford Whittington, 1812? - 1884, was a clerk for an Alexandria mercantile business during the Civil War. Previously he lived in Dinwiddie County for some period of time. He also enjoyed a local reputation as a poet and his work was occasionally published in the Alexandria Gazette during the latter half of the nineteenth century. During the Federal occupation of Alexandria, he kept a diary of nearly daily entries for the period of May 24, 1861 to March 1, 1865. At the time of the 1870 Federal Census, he was living in the Mansion House Hotel. Whittington died in Alexandria on September 25, 1884.


Chronological. The entire original diary is in Box 1 with no separation. Box 2 contains a copy of the diary, separated into folders by year.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm copy, Reel #00056 Civil War Vertical File: transcript, May 24 - August 12, 1861. Full transcript on Library server
The Henry B. Whittington Diary Finding Aid
Special Collections Staff
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Repository Details

Part of the Local History and Special Collections Branch, Alexandria Library Repository

717 Queen Street
Alexandria VA 22314 United States