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Samuel Chapin and William R. Sessions Civil War Diaries

1862-1863
2 volumes (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 157 bd

Transcripts of Civil War diaries kept by Samuel Chapin and William R. Sessions, volunteers in the Union Army. Both hailing from South Wilbraham, Massachusetts, Chapin was twenty-one and Sessions twenty-seven when they enlisted in the army on August 29, 1862, with 25 other men from Wilbraham. They were assigned to the 46th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for a service period of nine months. Sessions's diary covers his time in captivity with the Confederate Army at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Chapin's journal, meanwhile, covers the activities of the regiment and Chapin's life within it, including battles at Kingston, Whitehall, Goldsboro, and the defense of Newbern.

Background on Samuel Chapin and William R. Sessions

Samuel Chapin was born in the former South Wilbraham, Massachusetts (now Hampden) on January 31, 1841. Chapin was the eldest of five children of Ralph Sumner Chapin and Harriet Newell Cady. The Chapin family had been farmers since Samuel's great-grandather, Abner Chapin, had come to South Wilbraham from Chicopee around 1748. Samuel volunteered for the Union Army at age 21 and served in the 46th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for nine months, participating in a few battles along the way at Kingston, Whitehall, Goldsboro, and Newbern. After the war, Samuel Chapin followed the roots of his family and became a farmer in South Wilbraham. He married Arianna Marston Guptill at the age of 34 on October 13, 1875, which produced a daughter, Edna Gertrude, one year later. Samuel Chapin passed away in Hampden on July 22, 1883, at the age of 42 due to bronchial consumption, and is buried in the Chapin family plot in Hampden.

William Robert Sessions was born on December 3, 1835, also in South Wilbraham, as the only son of William Vyne Sessions and Lydia Ames. Sessions was 27 when he enlisted with the Wilbraham contingency in the 46th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was captured by the Confederates and spent nearly three weeks in captivity at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. After the war, William Sessions lived a prolific life, serving as a Selectman, Moderator, Assessor, School Committee member, Justice of the Peace, Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, State Representative, State Senator, and Trustee of Massachusetts Agricultural College. Married four times, Sessions lived most of his life at his family farm in Hampden, built by Robert Sessions of Boston Tea Party fame. After his retirement, Sessions lived in Springfield, where he died on January 29, 1914, at the age of 78. He is buried at the Old Cemetery in Hampden.

Scope of collection

The Samuel Chapin and William R. Sessions Civil War Diaries are useful resources for any researcher seeking to learn about life for Civil War soldiers, especially Union Army volunteers. Researchers interested in Civil War prisoners-of-war will also be served by this collection, as Sessions's diary is comprised entirely of his time as a POW with the Confederate Army. The diaries also contain backgrounds and introductions of both men and the 46th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, composed by members of the Historical Society of the Town of Hampden, Massachusetts. Photographs of Chapin and Sessions are also included in the introductions to the diaries.

Inventory

Diary of Sgt. William R. Sessions of South Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Company I, 46th Regt. M.V.M.
1863 May-Jun
Box 1
Memorandum and Journal of Samuel Chapin of South Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Company I, 46th Regt. M.V.M.
1862 Sep-1863 Jul
Box 1

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Hampden Historical Society.

Digitized content

Selected materials have been digitized and are available for viewing online through our digital repository, Credo.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Samuel Chapin and William R. Sessions Civil War Diaries (MS 157). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Chapin, Samuel, 1841-1883
  • Sessions, William R. (William Robert), 1835 or 1836-1914
  • Soldiers--Massachusetts--Diaries
  • United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 46th (1861-1865)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States—History—Civil War, 1861-1865—Prisoners and prisons
  • Wilbraham (Mass.)--History

Contributors

  • Chapin, Samuel, 1841-1883Sessions, William R. (William Robert), 1835 or 1836-1914 [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Diaries