William Mervale Smith, surgeon of the 85th New York Volunteer Infantry, faithfully kept a diary of his Civil War experiences. Smith's introspective musings cover matters both professional and personal, from the horror of battle and the almost equally terrible politics of war to his deepest longings and questions about love and spirituality. While some diarists wrote self-consciously, anticipating eventual publication of their words, Smith's entries, as author Thomas Lowry explains, are of such a personal and self-revelatory nature that we can reasonably conclude that he wrote to himself alone, as a sort of spiritual exercise of self-communication.
Dr. Thomas P. Lowry, MD, is a graduate of Stanford University. He has written numerous books on history and medicine and has taught at the University of California.