For the first 120 years, no one remembered that Benjamin Humphrey’s journal even existed. A box containing the journal lingered in the attic forgotten until it was uncovered in 1985. The original journal was made up of 4 pocket sized books, written in pencil, or in ink if a pen was available. While the words had faded and some pages had been damaged by water, reading such a personal account of the civil war provided a unique perspective on what it was like during the war on a daily basis.
After the journals were discovered the process began to carefully transcribe the fragile pages, preserving as much of the information as possible. A very rough draft of the journal was shared among family members but even at that time it was recognized that the words of Captain Humphrey were valuable.
Newer technology allowed the journal pages to be scanned as photographic images and by enlarging and enhancing those images; words were uncovered that were previously unreadable. As more detail began to appear, the names and service of many men that enlisted in the U.S. 7th Cavalry Missouri Volunteers also surfaced. The state of Missouri has made military records for individual civil war soldiers available online; wherever possible, the records have been matched to the men Benjamin served with and talks about in the journals.
By publishing the journal, we hope that other families will be able to learn more about their own history.
On the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, “Missouri Volunteer, The Civil War Journal of Capt. Benjamin T. Humphrey” was published and dedicated to the Men of Company M 7th Missouri Cavalry Volunteers.