The effort to record Civil War veterans' experiences, during the conflict and before and after it, started in 1914. Dr. Gus Dyer, Tennessee State Archivist, developed a questionnaire and contacted all known living Tennessee Civil War veterans, asking them to return the questionnaires to Nashville.

In 1920 the project was continued by John Trotwood Moore of the Tennessee Historical Commission and also State Librarian and Archivist. The 1,650 completed forms were returned by 1922 and were made available for historical research. They are on file in the TSLA and have been microfilmed for security and ease of use (Microfilm #484).

The responses are rich in detail about pre- and post-war life, as well as military experiences. They include personal and family information; opinions about class and race distinctions; and details of agricultural, business and educational opportunities for the young in nineteenth century Tennessee.


Captain Robert Josephus Dew (pictured above) joined the Weakley County volunteers, "Old Hickory Blues," in May of 1861 at the age of eighteen. In his questionnaire he reports: [I] "owned no property, a horse, bridle and saddle was all that I claimed as my own. This of course under the law belonged to my father, but it was his rule to give each of us boys this kind of a rig when about 15 years old, there were ten children, I being the oldest."

Captain Dew describes his last days in the army and the long journey home: "I was sick; cold; wet; hungry; and sleepy; picture as bad as you can and we were in worse condition... the yankees were good to us knowing the country we had to pass through every fourth man was allowed his gun... long march over mountains to Greenville Tenn. when we were given transportation to Nashville, Tenn, thence by boat to Paducah, Ky rail to Mayfield, Ky then foot home, arriving June 4, 1865."

Lieutenant William Thomas Durrett of the 14th Tennessee (pictured above) describes his war experiences: "...on the 26th day of June 1862 we attacked General George B. McClellan's extreme right at McChanicsville... I was wounded by piece of shell having calf of my left leg shot..." Lieut. Durrett spent the last days of the war at Johnson's Island Prison, where he took the Oath of Allegiance June 18, 1865, then made his way home via Cincinnati.

The questionnaires are arranged alphabetically by name, beginning with the Confederate soldiers' responses and followed by the Federal responses. NOTE: An asterisk after the name indicates that the veteran provided information beyond what was requested in the questionnaire.