Charles James Oliver papers, 1832-1868

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zqn0

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Oliver, Charles James, 1831-1814.
Title: Charles James Oliver papers, 1832-1868
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 444
Extent: 1 microfilm reel (MF)
Abstract:Microfilm copy of two diaries of Charles James Oliver (1863-1864 and 1866-1868), who served in the Troup Artillery, Cobb's Legion, and Cabal's Artillery Battalion. In addition, the collection contains a diary titled "Log of a Voyage to America," May 1 - June 27, 1832, which was kept by Oliver's father, whose name is unknown.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Loaned for microfilming, 1965.


[after identification of item(s)], Charles James Oliver papers, Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by MRD, 1965.

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Collection Description

Biographical Note

Charles James Oliver (May 16, 1831-1914) was born in Warwick, England and sailed with his parents to New York on May 1, 1832. The family moved to Athens, Georgia so that the children could have the advantages of a college community. While working on the plaster friezes in a building at Franklin College, Charles' father received an injury from which he never entirely recovered.

When the Civil War started, Oliver, joined the Troup Artillery which was mustered into Confederate service on April 24, 1861 as a part of the 2nd Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Relieved from duty with this regiment and made an independent unit, the Troup Artillery joined Cobb's Legion in mid-December 1861. When the Legion was dissolved in early 1863 it became a part of Cabal's Artillery Battalion, composed of batteries from various states, for the duration of the war.

After the Civil War, Charles entered the Methodist ministry on trial and was serving in Burke County, Georgia, in 1866. On December 22, he went home to Athens, Georgia, for Christmas and then to Savannah where he worked in a sort of sailor's mission for the year 1867. On May 1, he married Miss Nanny Reeves (February 22, 1847-September 16, 1868) who died a few days after the birth of a son. Early in 1868 the young couple had moved to Atlanta, where Charles worked in another mission, raised money and put up a church building. He withdrew from the ministry the following year, remained in Atlanta, and became a "sort of home decorator," working for the Inman's and other prominent citizens and is reported to have painted the inside of the present state capitol building. He is said to have founded Evans Chapel, which later became Walker Street Church and which eventually divided into the Peachtree Road and Mary Brannon Methodist Churches. He taught at the Trinity Home Mission (Ella Street) in the former Officers' Quarters of the Federal Army of Occupation. His third wife was Miss Frances Pound Shropshire of Cuthbert, Georgia, whom he married in Rome, Georgia. Oliver died in Atlanta at the age of 83 and was buried in Athens, Georgia.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a microfilm copy of two diaries of Charles James Oliver (1863-1864 and 1866-1868) and one diary of Oliver's father, whose name is unknown (1832). The "Log of a Voyage to America," May 1 - June 27, 1832, was kept by Charles James Oliver's father and describes the experience on the ship in which the family came to America.

The "Civil War Journal," 128 pages, has entries between March 31, 1863-November 15, 1864, and is concerned with at least part of his war-time experiences in Virginia. Charles describes the life of a soldier-chaplain who preached, conducted prayer meetings, secured subscriptions to religious journals, and raised money for various causes while still sharing all the duties and hard-ships of his men. His artistic ability enabled him to make sketches in his journal of the countryside, camps, and houses. He gives names of local and visiting preachers, and of civilians who extended hospitality and in whose home religious services were held. This book also contains Biblical texts, religious arguments, summaries of readings, outlines and sermons.

The post-war diary, 93 pages, with entries between October 6, 1866 and December 28, 1868, is devoted to his life as a Methodist minister in Savannah and Atlanta. The fact that Charles was a keen observer, articulate, educated above the average, and never at a loss to find something to write about adds greatly to the value of these journals.

Finding Aid Note

A chronological analysis of the Civil War and post-Civil War journals is available.

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