Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Neer, Henry.

Neer, Henry, 1836-1865.

A diary (1864) which he kept while he was a sergeant in Company C, 25th Michigan Infantry from Aug. 1862. Much of it is written in rhyme, the first part a love letter to his wife, and then of his activities in Decatur, Ga., including a description of the city. From September on there are short, concise statements of activities and events: the weather, picket duty, drilling, dress parade, inspection of arms, reading, writing letters. When on the march he said, "I have suffered considerable ... both from hunger and cold, but not more than others have." They forage as they go along, "and get arrested for it sometimes, but that don't stop us. Tonight I have got my canteen full of strained honey and my haversack full of mutton." In Alabama he said, "We are living fat on sweet potatoes, fresh meat of all kinds, dried fruit . . . and so it goes in the army, some days have plenty to eat and sometimes nearly starve to death." Once they went out with six wagons for hogs, sheep, fowls, sweet potatoes, molasses, corn. He washed and mended his clothes, saying, "Had a great battle. Slaughter of thousands of the enemy (graybacks) in the wash tub. Great battle of boiling water." He speaks of winter quarters; a visit to Atlanta and its razed appearance; of going to Nashville, sixty of them standing in a freight car; going to a theatre in Nashville; of election day and voting for Lincoln; and of hard fighting near Nashville.

Neer, from Sodus, Mich., was a farmer with a wife and two small sons. There is a letter to his wife (Sept. 30, 1864) and one to his sons (Dec. 24, 1864). He died of disease at Louisville, Ky., February 6, 1865.