New Archives Acquisition: Civil War Diary of A.O. Howell

Recently, the Archives acquired a brief diary describing the Civil War Service of Arthur Orr Howell. Howell was born in Ohio in 1819, and moved to a farm in northwest Urbana in 1853. The following year, he organized a congregational Sunday school which grew to become the present-day United Church of Christ (now at Daniel and Sixth Street in Champaign).

After enlisting for military service on August 21, 1862, Howell served in Company G, 72nd Illinois Infantry. His diary includes entries from May to July 1863, detailing his involvement in General Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg campaign, and the Confederate surrender of the city on July 4, 1863. Howell’s diary also includes details about Gen. John C. Pemberton's request for a truce on July 3, the surrender itself, and the parole of prisoners on July 5. 

In November 1863, Howell was appointed superintendent at the Natchez Freedman’s Camp. The following March, he was promoted to Captain of Company H, 64th U.S. Colored Infantry, were he served until his discharge on August 4, 1865. 

Upon returning to Illinois after the war, Howell operated a sawmill at his farm. In the 1870s, he began a successful tile company, and pioneered the use of “prairie clay” to make tiles. 
 
Howell died January 8, 1900 at the age of 80 after a lengthy illness. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.