St. Joseph Tucker Randolph was 17 when the Civil War began in April 1861. He did what most young Virginians did and immediately signed up with a newly formed regiment. For a time, he participated in drills and preparations, but he also had time to continue working in the bookstore operated by his father.
The Randolphs had a storied heritage, one of Virginia’s first families with the Lees, Carters, and Tuckers. By the time of the Civil War, however, they had fallen on harder times, operating stores and other middle-class endeavors. Perhaps it was the influence of his father’s bookstore, or his own solid education, but Tucker, as he was called in the family, began keeping a diary from April 9 through about 1863. He also wrote letters to his parents and other family letters, and he showed himself a fairly astute observer of military operations, battles, officers, and his fellow soldiers.
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