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Augustus O. McDonell Papers

Identifier: Ms 197

Scope and Content

The writings of Augustus O. McDonell cover the opening confrontation between Union and Confederate troops in Florida over possession of Pensacola and Escambia Bay, and also chronicle his experiences in the western campaigns of 1862-1864.

In a letter dated April 22, 1861 to his father, McDonell described the training of soldiers at Camp Magnolia in Pensacola. The number of soldiers is given along with the jobs that McDonell and others are trained to perform. He expresses his feelings about the capture of Ft. Sumter together with the excitement about the "Old Dominion" (Virginia) entering the Confederate States of America. A second letter dated April 28th, 1861 to his mother notes that the name of his camp (Magnolia) comes from the flowering trees around it. The letters also describe Union efforts to protect their hold on Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island.

The diary of Augustus McDonell covers his service with the 1st Florida Battalion in Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia from the dates August 10, 1862 to March 31st, 1864. McDonell includes many personal accounts from battles fought in these states especially the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 8th, 1862. Other battles described are Dalton and the Atlanta Campaign. The hardships and ideas of soldiers during the Civil War are expressed through poems and drawings that McDonell pieced together over the span of one year. Financial records were also kept in his diary that gave a basic day-to-day expense table of personal and Battalion purchases. He included a tally of dead, wounded, and missing soldiers with most of his battles entries along with the names and sometimes the ranks of soldiers in his Company (Company D). Drawings depict women and men dressed in uniforms and formal wear; these are not identified.


  • Creation: 1861-1864



Photocopies of the letters and of the diary are available for research use. Access to the original diary is restricted due to its fragile nature. Contact an archivist or the curator of Florida history for permission to see the original.

Biographical/Historical Note

Augustus Oswald McDonell (a.k.a. MacDonell and McDonnell) was born on April 10, 1839, in Savannah, Georgia. He came to Florida in 1854 where he was educated and worked as a merchant in Archer, Florida, until the start of the Civil War in 1861. In 1860 he joined the Gainesville Minute Men, which laid the groundwork for his entrance into the military in 1861. He served as a private in Pensacola, Florida, then was promoted to lieutenant in command of Company K, First Florida Infantry, and was soon made captain. He served until his capture on August 7, 1864, during battle in Atlanta, and was held at Johnson's Island, Lake Erie, until the close of the war in 1865. He returned to Florida and married Eliza Allen, daughter of Charles Henry Allen of Abbeville, South Carolina, on October 9, 1867. They had nine children. In 1871 McDonell became chief clerk to the general superintendent of the Florida Railroad under the Seaboard Air Line system. He was promoted several times, ultimately becoming general passenger agent of the Seaboard Air Line system in Jacksonville, Florida, in July of 1900.


0.03 Linear feet (Two letters and one diary)

Language of Materials



Letters describing the Confederate and Union dispositions around Pensacola at the beginning of the Civil War. A personal diary including poems and accounts from the frontlines in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

A Guide to the Augustus O. McDonell Papers
Finding aid created by Ian H. Baldwin
July 2006
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America