LeRoy Wiley Gresham

Leroy Wiley Gresham. Sixth-plate hand-colored ambrotype, ca. 1856. Lewis H. Machen Family Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. ppmsca-33535

LeRoy Wiley Gresham (1847–1865), the younger son of John Jones Gresham and Mary Gresham, came from a prominent family in Macon, Georgia. His father was an attorney and plantation owner and had served two terms as the city’s mayor in the 1840s. LeRoy Gresham suffered from a long-standing but currently unknown illness that hindered his growth. A broken leg in the late 1850s caused him further pain and contributed to his invalidism. Despite his confined circumstances, his mind was curious and expansive, as evidenced in his correspondence and the seven diaries in which he kept almost daily entries from 1860 to 1865. Gresham was a voracious reader of newspapers and literature and a perceptive observer of life on the Confederate home front. He diligently recorded the war news, especially when General William T. Sherman’s Union forces left Atlanta for their “March to the Sea” (November–December 1864), which many Macon residents feared would swing through their area. LeRoy also noted his own physical suffering and the remedies used to ease his considerable pain. Gresham began but failed to finish his last diary entry on June 9, 1865. He died at the age of seventeen on June 18, 1865.

  • “If Father were only here”November 17, 1864LeRoy Wiley Gresham (1847-1865). Diary entry, November 17, 1864. Lewis H. Machen Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress