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Mark Wheeler: a Civil War Memoir
This electronic archive presents the detailed reminiscences written by Mark Wheeler, a Peacham Civil War soldier who spent several months as a prisoner of war at the Confederate Prison at Andersonville in Georgia. The Web site features the transcribed text version, the electronic images of the original manuscript, and biographical information.
The preserved original manuscript is held in the collections of the Peacham Historical Association. The manuscript consists of 55 two-sided, loose, handwritten pages, measuring 7 ½ inches in length and 5 1/8 inches in width. The major portion of the manuscript describes his life inside the Confederate prison at Andersonville during the summer and fall of 1864 when more than 32,000 prisoners were held in the 26 1/2 acre stockade.
The preservation and digitization of the manuscript was supported through a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The transcribed text version of Mark Wheeler’s memoir is the work of a dedicated volunteer, Michelle Arnosky Sherburne. She spent numerous hours transcribing verbatim Mark Wheeler’s 105 handwritten pages, making no attempt to correct Mark Wheeler’s spelling or grammar. Misspelled words that sound like or look like the intended words have been transcribed as Mark Wheeler wrote them. He frequently crossed out words and inserted corrections, and these are shown in the text with strikeouts or as superscript inserts to reflect his method of writing. Place names with variant spellings and inconsistent capitalization have been left largely as they appear. In a few cases of challenging misspellings, the inferred word or correct place name are supplied in brackets as superscripts. Brackets are also used to supply missing letters and words or to expand confusing abbreviations.
Although the transcribed text preserves Mark Wheeler’s misspellings, inconsistent spellings and grammar with minimal editorial intrusion, no attempt was made to replicate the physical appearance of the manuscript. While Mark Wheeler’s handwriting is reasonably clear, his frequent corrections, random ink marks, insertions, and erasures could not be visually captured in the transcript. The text version retains the page breaks, but it does not provide a line-by-line transcription. Words divided at the end of a line are transcribed with the dash as used in the original. Since the manuscript lacks punctuation, three spaces are inserted for easier reading to indicate breaks in the stream of thought and to mark the end of a sentence. Endnotes provide background information about places, people or events described in the manuscript.
The Image Version
Mark Wheeler's original manuscript is displayed in three separate parts. The electronic images were scanned in July 2009 by the Digital Services Department at the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, MA. The 110 TIFF images are divided into three smaller, browseable PDF files. You can also view the December 30, 1864 article from the Caledonian Record that he copied at the end of his manuscript, but in the original the pages have deteriorated over time and are no longer fully legible.
Mark Wheeler was a twenty-two-year-old Peacham farmer when he enlisted in November 1861. He served in the First Vermont Cavalry, fought in battles at Bull Run, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor and numerous other skirmishes. He was taken prisoner in the Richmond/Petersburg Campaign during a fight at Stony Creek on June 29, 1864. He spent five months in four different Confederate prisons. The worst was the Confederate prison at Andersonville where he was for four months until October 1864. He was paroled in November 1864 and returned to Peacham in December.
Use of the Mark Wheeler Memoir
Images and transcription may not be reproduced without formal permission from the Peacham Historical Association.
Permission must be obtained in writing from the Peacham Historical Association. Please send your request to:
The Archivist, Peacham Historical Association, PO Box 101, Peacham, VT 05862 or send an e-mail message to: historic@peacham,net
PHA collections include historic maps of Peacham from its earliest settlement. We are making several digitized maps available on this web site. They present a wealth of information about Peacham in the 19th century. The digitized maps include the manuscript map of Peacham lotting plans that show the division of land among the pioneer settlers in early 1800’s. Two of the maps were printed in gazetteers of Caledonia County. The maps of the 12 school districts in 1875 show not only the location of the one-room schoolhouses but also names of property owners in 1875.
The list of available digitized maps includes:
Peacham Lotting Plans Originally prepared by David Martin and then recopied in 1912 and again in 1926. Original map is held by the Vermont State Archives.
1858 Walling Map: Published in Walling, H.P. Map of Caledonia County.1858.
1875 F.W. Beers’ Atlas of Caledonia County: Peacham published in Beers, F.W. Atlas of Caledonia Co., Vermont. New York, Beers, 1875
Maps of Peacham School Districts, 1875: The separate maps were enlarged from the 1875 F.W. Beers’ Atlas of Caledonia County by Tracy McIntyre, Geographic Information Systems Specialist at the Northeastern Vermont Development Association in 2006.
Old Cellar Holes. Property Owners in Peacham, Vermont. Copied and enlarged from map of. 1875. Aug.1944 by Louise Bayley. Reproduced by D.Wilcox, Mar.1964. The map was scanned by Tracy McIntyre, Geographic Information Systems Specialist at the Northeastern Vermont Development Association in 2009. The original map and a key to the cellar hole numbers is part of People of Peacham. Jennie Chamberlain Watts and Elsie A. Choate compilers. Edited by Richard Wood with assistance from the Peacham Historical Association. Montpelier, Vt.: Vermont Historical Society, 1965.