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Cornelius Hanleiter Papers

Collection number: ahc.MSS109

Scope and Content

The collection includes five bound volumes of Cornelius Hanleiter’s war diary from 1861 – 1865, along with correspondence, including a letter from Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens. The collection also contains sketches of Hanleiter’s outpost in Savannah, and other documents relating to his service in the Army of the Confederacy. Also included are newspaper clippings pertaining to the careers of C.R. Hanleiter, Lemuel P. Grant, Colonel Tom Harvard, Anton L. Kontz, and Jonathan Norcross, as well as events of the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Hanleiter’s diaries form the bulk of the collection. His frequent entries provide a very detailed account of the activities of a Confederate officer while aiding in the defense of Savannah from November 1861 until December 1864. The diaries date from November 7, 1861 to January 19, 1863 and continue sporadically through March 1865. Hanleiter apparently abstained from writing for a two-month period between January and March 1863 and proceeded with consistent entries until late July, 1863 whereupon the narrative breaks off until December 20, 1864. The last entry is dated March 29, 1865. The transcriptions of the diaries cover 350 typed pages. Hanleiter’s accounts begin at Camp Kirkpatrick in Atlanta, Georgia and continue during his company’s tour of duty in Savannah and nearby Skidaway and Tybee Island. While stationed along the coast Hanleiter describes the disorganized logistics of moving the army, their daily drills and inspections, the poor state of Confederate defenses, desertions, and the fighting, drunkenness, disorderliness, sickness and disease among soldiers. Hanleiter is expressive in his personal feelings towards his fellow officers, many of whom he regards as either incompetent or immoral. His diaries include dozens of references by name of his fellow officers and enlisted men in his and other Georgia units, by name. The diaries include reports (some very detailed) of battles and skirmishes with Federal vessels, including the Battle of Fort Pulaski. In 1862, Hanleiter was the subject of a court martial process in which he was charged with inducing a private to desert his company. He was found guilty in one case and was fined and suspended, but the penalty was later countermanded. In several other cases, he was found not guilty. His diaries give his account of the proceedings. Other entries include emotional descriptions of conversations with dying soldiers in his unit, a brief second-hand account of Andrews’ Raid, details on his units’ efforts in shoring up Savannah’s defenses, and descriptions of Union gun boats looming off the coast enforcing the blockade of Southern sea ports. Hanleiter writes about the use of slave labor to build Confederate defenses along the coast and the escape attempts made by slaves. His final entries describe the evacuation of Confederate forces from Savannah in December 1864 and his subsequent entries describe efforts to elude the Union army in the Carolinas.


  • 1825-1944, undated, (bulk 1861-1865)


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Cornelius Hanleiter (1815-1897) was born in Savannah, Georgia, the fourth and youngest child of John Jacob Hanleiter, Jr. and Elizabeth McFarland. His father died shortly after his birth and his mother orphaned him at the age of eight. He was soon an apprentice in Savannah where his career as a printer developed. Hanleiter published newspapers and journals throughout the state including the Constitutionalist, Georgia Messenger, and The Southern Ladies Book, among others. In 1847 he moved to Atlanta and by 1852 began publishing the Atlanta Intelligencer. Hanleiter was active in Atlanta civic affairs, organizing the Gate City Guard, and serving on the Atlanta City Council and as a judge of the Inferior Court of Fulton County. Although he opposed secession, Hanleiter served in several Georgia units, most prominently in the Jo Thompson Artillery of Wright’s Legion, 38th Georgia Infantry Regiment. He eventually gained the rank of Colonel. After the war, Hanleiter lost his publishing firm and was financially ruined. He attempted to reestablish himself as a printer but failed. He published the Atlanta City Directories from 1870-1872, and worked briefly in Washington, D.C. in the Government Printing Office as a proof reader. Hanleiter was married twice. He married Mary Ann Ford of New Haven, Connecticut in 1837. They had six children, four of them survived to maturity: William Robertson Hanleiter; Josephine; Mary Ida; and Catherine Ann. Mary Ann died in 1848. In September 1850, he married Ann Elizabeth Shaw. Together they had eight children, six of them surviving: Bertha; George Shaw Hanleiter; Victorene (possibly Victoria); Cora; James McPherson Hanleiter; and Elizabeth. Ann Elizabeth Shaw died in 1876. He and his second wife are buried at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery.


1.25 linear ft.



Existance and Location of Copies

Transcriptions of diaries are available in box 2 of this collection

General Physical Description note

Extent: 1.25 linear ft. (2 document cases, 1 oversized box)


America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Description Control

The collection was reprocessed in 2009.

Cornelius Hanleiter Papers: ahc.MSS 109
An Inventory of His Papers at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center
Inventory prepared by Helen Matthews
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305