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The Civil War Diary of Alfred W. Shollenberger, 1864 March - December

Identifier: 21-007-003

Scope and Content:

Alfred’s journal spans from March 31, 1864 to December 19, 1864. In it, Alfred details his period of service as a Union Engineer as a member of the construction corps. He frequently highlights the events of his day, news he has received of the ongoing conflict, as well as recording the weather conditions almost every day. Alfred spent time mostly in Virginia, parts of what is today West Virginia, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. He was involved in some of the most pivotal events of the war with his engineering work, such as in the Shenandoah Valley region during the Valley Campaigns and in Washington DC during Jubal Early’s 1864 attack on the capital. Furthermore, while he was not involved in other events directly, Alfred often mentioned them in his entries. He often accurately reported the major news of the war very soon after the events took place. For example, he recorded information about the Fall of Atlanta in September of 1864, the activities of the guerilla group Mosby’s Rangers in Northern Virginia, and the failed Union strategy at the Battle of the Crater. He also frequently mentioned many now famous Union Generals and politicians, such as Ambrose Burnsides, David Hunter, Phillip Sheridan, Ulysses S Grant, Secretary of War Stanton, and even President Lincoln himself. Although he did not participate in the gruesome battles that the conflict is most known for, the engineering work of Alfred and others like him was crucial to the success of the Union. Engineers and laborers helped facilitate troop transport, supply chains, and even helped turn the tide of some battles. Almost all entries are mostly legible, with a few indecipherable words/phrases every so often. A few entries, especially in November and December are missing, too faded to read, erased, or crossed out.
Note to Researchers: There are two versions of the transcript of the diary: the original transcription snd an edited version of the transcription. the original transcript contains text exactly as it was written within the diary. The edited transcription contains proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling which will aid researchers in accessing the historical content presented in Alfred’s diary entries.

The transcriber has also included footnotes with notes, links, and other useful information to aid researchers with the historical context of the diary entries.


  • 1864 March - 1864 December


Open for research.

Biographical Sketch of Donor, Sara Hummel Rynkiewicz:

Sara Victoria Hummel Rynkiewicz was born in Cressona, Pennsylvania sometime in 1885 to her parents, Levi and Barbara Hummel. She had six siblings, two of whom died when they were children. She married Dr Stanley Henry Rynkiewicz sometime in 1904. They were married for 64 years, until Sara’s tragic death in 1971. On August 1, 1971, she was unfortunately killed in a traffic accident in Kingston, Pennsylvania. Her husband Stanley also met a tragic end three years later, when he was brutally murdered in his medical office. Alfred W. Shollenberger’s Civil War Diary was donated to Wilkes College’s Eugene S. Farley Library sometime between 1947 and 1971, prior to her death. It is unknown how exactly Sara came into possession of Alfred’s diary, however it is likely that it was passed down through Alfred’s descendants, as Sara was the sister-in-law of Alfred’s youngest son, Leroy Charles Shollenberger.

Biographical Sketch of creator, Alfred W. Shollenberger:

Alfred W. Shollenberger was born in Hamburg, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 1839 to Joseph Shollenberger and Sarah Wolff. He had three sisters. Alfred was a carpenter by trade, according to the 1880 US Census. There is not a consensus, or solid evidence of, exactly which regiment Alfred was a part of. One possibility is the Pennsylvania 19th Infantry, which is what is listed on his headstone (this is strange, as that unit was mustered out in 1861). Another is that Alfred was a member of the United States Military Railroad Construction Corps, however there are no official records of their rosters available. Alfred also mentions that he has comrades in the PA 102nd infantry, although his name is not listed in the records for that unit. Based on the contents of his journal he was not personally involved in direct battle conflict, rather he primarily did engineering and construction work to build and/or destroy infrastructure like railway bridges. Alfred was married to Mary Ann Holton sometime in 1863, prior to his deployment. After he returned from his deployment they had six children. Alfred passed away on November 26, 1915, aged 76.


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Language of Materials



The diary was donated to Wilkes University by Sara Hummel Rynkiewicz of Kingston PA, sometime before her death in 1971.


Gift of Sara Hummel Rynkiewicz of Kingston PA, sometime prior to her death in 1971.


This civil war diary is in the public domain.

Processed and Transcribed by:

William Billingsley, Archives Work-Study, Fall 2020-Spring 2021, Ryan Mercer, Archives Work-Study, Summer 2021, supervised by Suzanna Calev, Archivist, Fall 2020-Summer 2021.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script

Repository Details

Part of the Wilkes University Archives Repository

84 W South St.
Wilkes-Barre PA 18701 US
570-408-7823 (Fax)