Nesbitt Memorial Library

McDonald Family Donates Civil War Diary to Archives

October 1, 2002

     Beginning on February 12, 1862, James T. Pettus recorded the events of his military career as a sergeant in Terry's Texas Rangers, a unit of the army of the Confederate States of America, in a small pocket diary. On October 1, 2002, Julia Ann McDonald, on behalf of her family, which has owned the diary seemingly since the war, donated it to the library.
     When Pettus filled up the diary, on June 27, 1862, he switched to another. Two months later, on August 29, 1862, he was killed in action. His current diary was probably in his pocket, and may have been buried with him or taken from his body by unknown parties. His first diary, however, was returned to Texas. Probably, he had placed it on the pack train, where it was found when he was killed.
     Before the war, Pettus had lived in Colorado County in the same household as another member of his company, Oliver E. Herbert. Herbert probably returned the diary to Texas. Julia Ann McDonald, who is seen holding the diary at left, is a descendant of Herbert's brother.