Historic letters and diaries are often extremely valuable and informative documents that historians use to learn about and report the history of the United States. Through these documents, historians are able to learn about specific locations during times of battles and other historic events. Diaries and letters also provide personnel information that informs the reader of experiences, thoughts, and emotions during our nation's most important events. The diary of Seth James Wells not only provides personnel and historical information, but it forces the reader to compare their life to the life of a soldier at war. .
Seth James Wells was born on April 26, 1842 in Rising Sun, Iowa. Wells was a white American Union soldier who resided in Michigan following his birth. He began recording in his journal on November 3, 1862 when he was 20 years of age. While marching through many southern states such as Tennessee and other various areas, Wells would observe what was happening and record that information later that night at the military camps. Military marches, military life, weather and the quartering of troops were generally the kinds of information Wells would record in his diary. Wells continued his diary up to his date of death on July 9, 1864 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Seth James Wells died single at the age of twenty-two due to wounds.
The life of Seth James Wells in the military seemed to be very similar each day. When the men had time to themselves, they would usually play ball with other men in their division. Unfortunately, free time was limited and the soldiers spent most of their time dealing with the hardships of war. The fall and winter days were not too harsh for the soldiers, but by night it was often unbearably cold. Snow and rain sometimes left the men soaked and looking for a dry place to sleep. Many nights the men would have to think of ways to keep warm and dry.