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Austin was the youngest son of A. E. Austin of Austinburg, Ohio, and served as a Lieutenant in the 2nd Brigade 3rd Division, 9th Corps, Army of the Potomac. This collection consist of letters, photographs and a diary from 1855-1864.
The diary entries are varied and detailed. Mitchell records an eclipse of the moon, observes the course of the war and the politics involved in it. He also observes military life, the prevalence and fatal consequences of diseases such as measles and mumps, the physical and demographic features of the country through which he traveled. There are lists of all the members of his company, their nativity and home towns.