Henry Beck Civil War diaries
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Henry Beck Civil War diaries

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040. reference@atlantahistorycenter.com
Creator: Beck, Henry, 1839-?
Title: Henry Beck Civil War diaries
Dates: 1864-1865, undated
Quantity: 3.0 Folders (2 diaries and 1 biography)
Identification: ahc.MSS422f

Biographical/Historical Note

Henry Beck (1839-?) was born in Germany, immigrated to the United States and settled with his family in Havana, Alabama, in 1857. He enlisted in the Confederate Army in April, 1861, and joined the Army of Northern Virginia. In April, 1864, he became the commissary clerk for Company D of Battle’s Brigade, Rode’s Division’ 2nd Corp. Following the war, Beck moved to Greensboro, Alabama, became a merchant, and married Lucy Heller. The Becks had five children and moved to Birmingham in 1887, where they continued on the family business. Henry was a mason and was an officer in the Knights of Pythias. Additional information about Henry Beck has not been determined.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of two volumes of Beck’s diary compiled during his service in the Army of Northern Virginia. Beck’s diaries from 1861-64 were lost in a fire at the headquarters of a Confederate Reunion in Birmingham, in 1894 . In 327 diary entries, Beck provides detailed observations on the daily life of an enlisted man in the Confederate Army. Beck ruminates on weather conditions, daily marches and his primary duty of feeding the troops. He gives detailed accounts of troop movements and battle strategies. Beck vividly recounts the battles at Spotsylvania, 2nd Cold Harbor, Monocacy, Cool Spring, Berryville, Opequon, Fisher’s Hill and Cedar Creek. After the Confederate defeat at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, Beck embarks on a four month tour of Northern Virginia in which he attends numerous social functions, attends to daily business in the local towns and meets, courts and falls in love with his future wife. Beck’s final diary entries find him back home in Alabama in February, 1865, on what turns out to be a permanent furlough.

General Notes

America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Henry Beck Civil War diaries, MSS 422f, James G. Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1981 and subsequent additions

Description Control

Collection reprocessed in 2009, with subsequent additions.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Container List



1Diaries, 1864-1865 View online.


2Transcriptions, 1864-1865 View online.


3Henry Beck Biography, undated