Historical and biographical note: Henry Bassford Whittington, 1812?-1884, was a clerk for an Alexandria mercantile business during the Civil War.   Previously he lived in Dinwiddie County for some period of time.   He also enjoyed a local reputation as a poet and his work was occasionally published in the Alexandria Gazette during the latter half of the nineteenth century.   During the Federal occupation of Alexandria, he kept a diary of nearly-daily entries for the period May 24, 1861-March 30, 1864.   At the time of the 1870 Federal Census, he was living in the Mansion House Hotel.   He died in Alexandria on September 25, 1884.
Scope and Content Note: The diary begins on the date of Federal occupation of Alexandria by Union troops, May 24, 1861.   Entries describe events related to the Civil War, the occupying troops and attitudes of the local populace.   There is rich detail regarding personnel of the ever-changing occupying force, its disruption of local affairs and response of the citizens.   Local and national events such as major battles, skirmishes, and political occurrences are vividly described.   References to persons important to the history of Alexandria and the country for that period are frequent.   Sectional opinion of the period toward such issues as slavery, contrabands, and emancipation are also present.
Additional Physical Form Available: Microfilm copy, reel #00056;   Photocopy, Box 11A;   Transcription of May 24-August 12, 1861 - Civil War Vertical File
Arrangement: Chronological.   The diary is a collection of sheets of lined pages, folded crosswise in pairs with the entries written across the lines.   There is no cover.   Loose threads along the folded-edge of some sections suggest that some or all of the diary may have been bound at one time.
Source/Donor and Date: James Douglas, relative of the creator, 1950s(?).
Subjects: Alexandria (Va.) - Social Life and Customs, 1783-1865;   Diaries;   Military Occupation;   Military Occupation Damage-Virginia-Alexandria;   Slavery in the United States-Virginia;   United States-History-Civil War, 1861-1865.
Sally Kelly, Spring Intern, 1994