Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cyrus Comstock Diary

The other night, I dropped by the Arlington Public Library to pick up The Diary of Cyrus B. Comstock from interlibrary loan.  Comstock, a talented engineer, served in various roles during the war including stints as a key advisor to Grant.  Comstock's diary, edited by Merlin Sumner and published by Morningside in 1987, furnishes a sea of everyday details liberally sprinkled with shiny gold nuggets like this one from May 8, 1865 in D.C.: "On military commission for trial of conspirators . . . .  Wish I could get off.  They ought to be tried by . . . civil courts."   

Currently, I'm trying to dig up some material about Grant's proposed scheme to invade North Carolina in early 1864, a plan apparently drafted and developed by Comstock and William "Baldy" Smith at Grant's request in January of that year.  Though Comstock's diary proved helpful in my research for Richmond Must Fall, particularly for chronicling Benjamin Butler's behavior on October 27, 1864, it has not yielded the bounty I'd hoped for on my current search.  Nevertheless, it's nice to leaf through a copy again.