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A Guide to the Augustus O. McDonell Papers

Finding aid created by Ian H. Baldwin

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
July 2006

Descriptive Summary

Creator: McDonell, Augustus Oswald
Title: Augustus O. McDonell Papers
Dates: 1861-1864
Abstract: Letters describing the Confederate and Union dispositions around Pensacola at the beginning of the Civil War. A personal diary including poems and accounts from the frontlines in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Extent: 0.03 Linear feet. Two letters and one diary.
Identification: Ms 197
Language(s): English
Access: Researchers should consult with Special Collections staff before using the collection because there are access restrictions. See the Access note for more information.

Biographical/Historical Note

Augustus Oswald McDonell (a.k.a. MacDonell and McDonnell) was born on April 10, 1839, in Savannah, Georgia. He came to Florida in 1854 where he was educated and worked as a merchant in Archer, Florida, until the start of the Civil War in 1861. In 1860 he joined the Gainesville Minute Men, which laid the groundwork for his entrance into the military in 1861. He served as a private in Pensacola, Florida, then was promoted to lieutenant in command of Company K, First Florida Infantry, and was soon made captain. He served until his capture on August 7, 1864, during battle in Atlanta, and was held at Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, until the close of the war in 1865. He returned to Florida and married Eliza Allen, daughter of Charles Henry Allen of Abbeville, South Carolina, on October 9, 1867. They had nine children. In 1871 McDonell became chief clerk to the general superintendent of the Florida Railroad under the Seaboard Air Line system. He was promoted several times, ultimately becoming general passenger agent of the Seaboard Air Line system in Jacksonville, Florida, in July of 1900.

Scope and Content

The writings of Augustus O. McDonell cover the opening confrontation between Union and Confederate troops in Florida over possession of Pensacola and Escambia Bay, and also chronicle his experiences in the western campaigns of 1862-1864.

In a letter dated April 22, 1861 to his father, McDonell described the training of soldiers at Camp Magnolia in Pensacola. The number of soldiers is given along with the jobs that McDonell and others are trained to perform. He expresses his feelings about the capture of Ft. Sumter together with the excitement about the "Old Dominion" (Virginia) entering the Confederate States of America. A second letter dated April 28th, 1861 to his mother notes that the name of his camp (Magnolia) comes from the flowering trees around it. The letters also describe Union efforts to protect their hold on Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.

The diary of Augustus McDonell covers his service with the 1st Florida Battalion in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia from the dates August 10, 1862 to March 31st, 1864. McDonell includes many personal accounts from battles fought in these states especially the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 8th, 1862. Other battles described are Dalton and the Atlanta Campaign. The hardships and ideas of soldiers during the Civil War are expressed through poems and drawings that McDonell pieced together over the span of one year. Financial records were also kept in his diary that gave a basic day-to-day expense table of personal and Battalion purchases. He included a tally of dead, wounded, and missing soldiers with most of his battles entries along with the names and sometimes the ranks of soldiers in his Company (Company D). Drawings depict women and men dressed in uniforms and formal wear; these are not identified.

Access or Use Restrictions


Photocopies of the letters and of the diary are available for research use. Access to the original diary is restricted due to its fragile nature. Contact an archivist or the curator of Florida history for permission to see the original.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Augustus O. McDonell Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Contents List

Photocopies of the letters and diary are stored as part of the Florida Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection together with the original letters. The diary is stored as part of the Diary Collection.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Armed Forces -- Officers -- Diaries.
Confederate States of America. Army. Florida Infantry Regiment, 1st.
McDonell, Augustus Oswald -- Diaries.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, confederate.

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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