portrait of Samuel James Corbett
Samuel James Corbett

The Civil War Diary of Samuel James Corbett

The Civil War Diary Project 1991-1992

“The Civil War Diary of Samuel James Corbett” was researched in the 1991-92 school year by students from the following schools: James Monroe Elementary, Bill Coate’s 6th-grade class (Madera, California); Kent Middle School, Linda Storek’s 4/5th grade class (Kentfield, California).

Samuel James Corbett loved a good fight, and so did his friend, Fred Quant. That’s why they joined the California 100 during the Civil War. Not content with guarding roads and harbors, they wanted to get into the thick of things.

Throughout the Civil War, they never left each other’s side, and in between dodging bullets, they each wrote a diary. When the war ended and they came home, they each went their separate ways, and so did their diaries.

Corbett became a San Francisco physician. When he died, his Civil War diary was given to the Bancroft Library. Quant became a Madera County farmer, and when he died, his diary was given to his granddaughter, Lena Adams. In 1991, Mrs. Adams turned her grandfather’s diary over to the Madera Method for examination by its students.

Before the year was out, the young student historians discovered the Corbett diary in the Bancroft Library. Armed with both diaries, they analyzed the writings of both the old soldiers and published them. Corbett’s diary, being the longest, formed the core of the work, while Quant’s diary was used as a research resource. When “The Civil War Diary of Samuel James Corbett” was released, the diary of Fred Quant was given to the Bancroft. It is now housed on the same shelf as the Corbett diary.

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