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John H. Myers Memoir

Identifier: Ms-2009-061

Scope and Content

This collection consists of an American Civil War memoir written by John H. Myers, a corporal in Company G, 55th Illinois Infantry of the United States Army. Rather than a strictly personal narrative, Myers' memoir provides an overview of military operations as he experienced them. He writes at length on military personnel (never naming individuals, however), likening officers to monarchs and privates to serfs, detailing several instances of injustices and incompetence committed by the former. Also discussed, often in a somewhat humorous manner, are army rations. (The writer particularly describes the soldiers' experiences with hardtack and the worms with which one shipment became infested.) Myers relates several anecdotes about foraging and the procurement of food, water and clothing. In subsequent sections, the former corporal describes the day-to-day experiences of the soldiers within an invading army--marches, encampments, picket duty, and battle preparation--providing specific details on army procedures. In the final section, Myers takes the reader step-by-step through the experience of battle, then its aftermath, as the dead and wounded are removed from the field.

Accompanying the memoir is a carte-de-visite, the verso containing--in modern-day ink pen--the name of Dr. J. H. Myers, Lewistown, Pa. The portrait was executed in the studio of F. R. M'Carthy of Philadelphia.


  • 1888


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

John Henry Myers was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania around 1841. Census records indicate that Myers was the son of Henry H. and Maria Myers, and that he was living with his parents and siblings in Fulton County, Illinois by 1860. During the Civil War, Myers enlisted in Company G of the 55th Illinois Infantry of the United States Army and was mustered in with the company on October 31, 1861. He reenlisted as a veteran at Chicago on April 12, 1864, and mustered out as a corporal with his regiment on August 14, 1865. After the war, Myers returned to Pennsylvania. By his own account, Myers began practicing medicine around 1871, though he did not obtain a degree in medicine until graduating from the Baltimore Medical School in 1883. John Henry Myers died at his home in Lewiston (Mifflin County), Pennsylvania on March 6, 1919.

Administrative History

The 55th Illinois Infantry of the United States Army was organized at Chicago, Illinois and mustered into Federal service on October 31, 1861, during the American Civil War. The regiment, part of the Army of Tennessee, participated in many of the larger battles in the western theater of operations, including Shiloh, Champion's Hill, and the Siege of Vicksburg, as well as the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's "march to the sea." The 55th Illinois was mustered out of service on August 14, 1865.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


American Civil War reminiscences of John H. Myers, a corporal in Company G, 55th Illinois Infantry of the United States Army, providing an overview of the common soldier's life, focusing particularly on the behavior of officers; food, water and clothing rations; marches; encampments; battle preparation; picket duty; battle and its aftermath. Accompanied by post-war carte-de-visite identified as Myers.

Source of Acquisition

The John H. Myers Memoir was purchased by Special Collections.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the John H. Myers Memoir by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the John H. Myers Memoir commenced and was completed in April 2009.

John H. Myers Memoir, 1888
John M. Jackson, Archivist
2009 (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