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Daniel Blain Papers

Identifier: Ms-1990-002

Scope and Content

This collection contains four war-time letters written by Daniel Blain, a Confederate soldier in the 1st Rockbridge Artillery during the Civil War, and a post-war diary maintained by Blain while serving as a Presbyterian minister in Virginia.

The letters, all addressed to "My Precious Loulie" (presumably Mary Louise Mercer, Blain's future wife), were written from July to September, 1864, from camps near Petersburg, Virginia. In the first letter, dated July 5, 1864, Blain writes exclusively and at length of having attended the deathbed of "Mr. Hoge" (probably Rev. William James Hoge, who died that same day and is buried in Richmond).

The Daniel Blain Papers includes four letters and a diary by Blain. The letters, written July 5 and September 18, 1864, from camp near Petersburg, Virginia, to his future wife. He writes about the chaplaincy in the CSA Army, sitting with a dying man in his last hours, the freedom he had before the war, and news from the front in Mobile, Alabama. The letters also refer to the shelling of Petersburg and the Democratic Party Chicago Convention.

The collection also includes a post-war diary (1868-1870) written by Blain as a newly ordained Presbyterian minister. He writes of Confederate officers in and around Lexington, Virginia, including Robert E. Lee, his travels around the county, church business, the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and the stillborn birth of his son.


  • 1864 - 1870


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Daniel Blain, son of Rev. Samuel W. and Susan Isham Harrison Blain, was born in Cumberland County, Virginia on November 20, 1838. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in 1858, Blain taught at Potomac Acadmey in Romney, (West) Virginia and attended Union Theological Seminary. Early in the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army, enlisting in the 1st Rockbridge Artillery at Harpers Ferry on May 27, 1861. Wounded at the Battle of Bull Run, Blain was detailed for duty in the ordnance office at Williamsburg and on the staffs of generals Magruder and Pendleton from September 1, 1861 to December 23, 1863; then served in the Ordnance Department of the 1st Virginia Artillery until December 31, 1864; and surrendered at Appomattox as ordnance sergeant and clerk of the Rockbridge Artillery. Returning to Union Seminary following the war, Blain graduated in 1866. The following year, he married Mary Louisa Mercer (1839-1916); the couple would have six children. Beginning in 1866, Blain served for four years as minister at Collierstown (Rockbridge County), then 18 years at Christiansburg, followed by short stints as minister of Williamsburg and York River Presbyterian Church and principal of Kenmore High School (Amherst, Virginia). In 1890, Blain became principal of Cove Academy and minister of the Cove and Riverside churches (Albermarle County), and he continued to serve in these positions until 1905. Daniel Blain died at Covesville on October 4, 1906, and was buried in Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Four war-time letters and a post-war diary of Daniel Blain, a Confederate soldier in the 1st Rockbridge Artillery during the American Civil War and later a Presbyterian minister in Rockbridge County, Virginia.

Source of Acquisition

The Daniel Blain Papers were purchased by Special Collections and University Archives in four separate accessions in 1990.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Daniel Blain Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Daniel Blain Papers commenced and was completed in August 2022.

Daniel Blain Papers, 1864-1870
John M. Jackson
2022 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US