It is not clear on the face of this journal where or when most of it was composed. The journal bears a date on its flyleaf of July 24, 1863. If the date on the flyleaf signifies the date Cheavens received, or at least began writing in, this journal, he could not have started it until after the fall of Vicksburg on July 3, 1863. It appears that he began working on the journal in Raymond, Mississippi, where he and other parolees from the Confederate forces surrendered at Vicksburg stayed between July and September 8, 1863. This supposition is strongly supported by a close reading of the text. The story until Cheavens’ arrival in Raymond is all cast in the past tense and flows as a continuous narrative. Starting in Raymond, Cheavens sometimes writes in the present tense and refers to places as “here.” Similarly, beginning in Raymond, the prose gets choppier in spots. Some events still get a full retrospective narrative treatment, but other parts are less like autobiography and more like a daily diary.
July 24th, 1863