Hiram Smith Williams, born in New Jersey, was an unusual individual. A skilled carriagemaker and carpenter, Williams settled in Livingston, Alabama, in 1859 and quickly identified with the people around him. When the Civil War erupted in 1861, he supported the Southern cause, and in 1862, he enlisted in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, serving on detached duty as a skilled naval carpenter in Mobile and as a participant in the Atlanta campaign as a member of a Pioneer unit - composed of men with construction skills. Williams was taken prisoner just a few days before the end of the war, and spent three months in a prison camp at Point Lookout, Maryland. Civil War students should find this diary useful because it is a fully descriptive record of a member of the Pioneer Corps. Little is kwn about how these units operated and what the internal organisation was like.
Hiram Smith Williams, born in New Jersey, was an unusual individual. A skilled carriagemaker and carpenter, he traveled throughout the Midwest in the 1850's as an organizer for the Know Nothing Party and the candidacy of Martin Van Buren. When Van Buren failed to win the presidency in 1856, Williams spent two years wandering around Missouri, teaching school and writing poetry. In addition to his political activities, he served as a correspondent for several midwestern newspapers.In 1859, Williams settled in Livingston, Alabama, where he worked as a carriagemaker. He quickly identified with people around him and when the Civil War errupted in 1861, he supported the Southern cause. In 1862, he enlisted in the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, and through 1863 he seerved on detached duty as a skilled naval carpenter in Mobile. While in Mobile, Williams was active in the cultural and social life od the city and frequently appeared in plays as a semi-professional actor.In 1864, he was reassigned to his regiment, part of the Army of Tennessee, which was camped in Dalton, Georgia. From February 1864 until autumn of that year, he participated in the Atlanta campaignas a member of a Pioneer unite, which was composed of men with construction skills. In that capacity he helped build bridges, roads, and fortifications, came in close contact with various unit headquarters, and sometimes worked as a hospital orderly.