A Quaker Goes to War: The Diary of William Harvey Walter, Company F, 188th Pennsylvania Volunteers


Learn how a humble man from Kennett, Chester County, Pennsylvania lived his beliefs during and after the Civil War. The doctrine of "pacifism" is part of a Quaker's religious beliefs and William Harvey Walter, Quaker, faced the dilemma of adhering to his faith or serving his country. A Quaker Goes to War is his story of service with the Union Forces during the Civil War.

Taken word for word from the diary he carried with him, the journal begins with William's departure for Fortress Monroe, January 1, 1864. Entries include his training, transport of Rebel prisoners, joining Company F 188th Pennsylvania Volunteers and their service at Petersburg, operations against Fort Darling, Drewry's Bluff, and on the Bermuda Hundred front as well as Cold Harbor, Chaffin's Farm, and duty in the trenches before Richmond. But most importantly, William's diary informs us of the movement of Company F during its detached service from its regiment from May 16 through July 5, 1864. Further, William's diary goes beyond mustering out at City Point, Virginia, December 14, 1865. It tells us how returning solders were treated, their struggles to find work, to regain their place at the end of the war. It also sets the record straight for one man, William C. Horn, mistakenly accused of desertion, who died serving his country.

William Harvey Walter was irritated at the expression "Last Call Men," a derogatory term applied to soldiers who served only in the last year of the war. He wanted the truth known. A proud and active member of the G.A.R., William contributed an article to the National Tribune (October 8, 1892) in which he attempts to set the historical record straight regarding his regiment's short term of service. He noted many soldiers in it were veterans of other regiments and many had been in service for one or two years when they volunteered for the 188th Pennsylvania.

A Quaker Goes to War goes beyond just the diary. Annotations, maps, pictures and much more are included within its pages.

Carol-Lynn Sappe

2008, 8½x11, paper, 174 pp.

ISBN: 9780788446368