The Civil War Journal of Alcander Morse, 1862-1864

this afternoon we have to march leaving everything except what we can carry on our back in our knapsacks therefore my dear old journal (over which I have passed many a lonely hour) you & I like all friends in this weary world must part not knowing whether either may survive the ravages of war I bid you a sorrowful adieu

April 23, 1863

When Alcander Morse enlisted in the 37th Illinois following the Union defeat at Bull Run, he could not have known that his three year term of enlistment would not be enough to see Union victory. Nor could he have expected that the war would take him from his farm in rural Illinois into Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, the southernmost tip of Texas, the nation's capital, the battlefields of Virginia, and the streets of Baltimore.

A year into his term of service, Morse began keeping a journal of his daily activities. In chronicling the effects of the war on himself and his regiment as they interacted with and perceived the South, he documented his understanding of the cultural and environmental differences between North and South that had driven the two regions to war. Morse's vocabulary and observations of the South reflect the larger discourse of imperialistic attitudes towards the country's southern states that had been widely disseminated throughout the North, an ideology that significantly impacted the way with which the Union waged war against and later, reconciled with, the nation's internal "Other."


Read the journal kept by Alcander Morse during his service with the 37th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Also uncover the history of the journal and the various incarnations passed down through the family.



Discover the life of Alcander Morse, the journal's author: from his birth on land awarded to his grandfather for his service in the Revolutionary War, to his death on a South Dakota homestead.



Understand Alcander Morse and his journal within the context of the imperial discourse permeating Northern attitudes as they interacted with the people, places, and institutions of the South.