Gould D. Molineaux (1835?-1883) was a clerk and bookkeeper by trade and served as a corporal (later sergeant as of January 1864) in Company E of the 8th Illinois volunteer infantry. He fought the duration of the Civil War from early June 1861 to to the war's conclusion and his entries continue through May 16, 1866. There are conflicting sources in regard to Molineaux's age when he begins his diaries. A Peoria census taken in 1860, one year prior to first diary entry, suggests that he was 24 at the time of his first entry. Molineaux himself claims to be 27 in an entry on his birthday, February 22nd, 1862, leaving a one-year discrepancy in comparison with the census. However, Rebecca Blackwell Drake's small introductory biography on Molineaux claims he was 22 when he enlisted in the Union Army.
Throughout the diaries, Molineaux revels himself to be an avid letter-writer and mentions sending and receiving letters from loved ones in his hometown Peoria, Illinois including his his mother, Eveline Keyon; stepfather, Lewis Keyon; sister Phoebe ("Phebe") and her husband George F. Laubach (sometimes referred to as "G.F.L."). Molineaux was married to Esther S. Molineaux (1837-1930), though she is never mentioned in the diaries and was presumably wed to him after their conclusion. Although never injured in the war, Molineaux suffered from various illnesses throughout his life. Notably, on October 25th, 1861, he was offered a 20 day furlough back to Peoria in the interest of his health. Later, on June 4th, 1863, he was struck with dysentery and sent to a division hospital, then later moved to Webster Hospital in Memphis. He received another furlough for 30 days following his hospital discharge in early August. The journal continues in May of the following year.
Molineaux was a rather dedicated diarist who wrote primarily about the weather conditions of the day and their often adverse effects on the camping soldiers. He participated in a number of important battles in the area including the Battle of Raymond; his entries during this battle were used as source material for In Their Own Words, a book about the May 1863 confrontation compiled through various soldiers' first-hand accounts. Other battles of interest include: "the Vicksburg Campaign: the battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, the Big Black River, and Vicksburg" (Drake, Rebecca Blackwell. In Their Own Words: Soldiers Tell the Story of The Battle of Raymond. Mississippi: Friends of Raymond, 2001). From 1865 and on, he was stationed in Mobile, Alabama. While his earlier entries are intense and action oriented, describing moments of combat, the maneuvers of "the rebels" or listing the wounds of friends and fellow soldiers, his later entries are comparatively tamer and more likely to detail office reports and stock lists as well as the occasional mention of "exploding shells." Though all the diaries show evidence of struggle, it is significant that while earlier entries recount him sick and sleeping in the snow with little food, as the main conflicts of the war wind down, the later entries are more apt to talk of visits to restaurants, theatre and even church. Molineaux died in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1883 at the age of 48 but is buried in Springdale Cemetery in Peoria. His diaries were entrusted to the care of his wife.
Civil War Diary (6/19/1861-9/1/1862)
Civil War Diary (12/22/1862-6/2/1863, 8/2/1863-8/3/1863, 2/11/1863)
Civil War Diary (5/7/1864-12/31/1864, 1/1865-6/1865, 8/4/1865)
Civil War Diary (5/7/1865-3/2/1866)
Preservation copy, Civil War Diary (6/19/1861-9/1/1862)
Preservation copy, Civil War Diary (12/22/1862-6/2/1863, 8/2/1863-8/3/1863)
Preservation copy, Civil War Diary (5/7/1864-12/31/1864, 1/1865-6/1865)
Preservation copy, Civil War Diary (5/7/1865-3/2/1866)
Tintype of Molineaux (circa 1861-1866)