Thursday, 1864 March 24, Martinsburg, Berkeley County, Virginia [later West Virginia]: “Said he expected they would hang him”

[Diary entry of an identified Union army military chaplain’s (?) visit with an accused wife murderer]

Martinsburg, Va. March 24, 1864
On Provost guard in Martinsburg
today made a visit to the room
in which Mr. Joseph  M. [Linciana?]
who murdered his
wife in Martinsburg was confined.
He seemed to be in much trouble
at times especially about his children
(4 in number). Said he expected
they would hang him, and that
he imagined strange things and saw
strange sights. Said his wife had
a secret in her heart which she would
not reveal to him, and that she had
frequently asked him to get her some
medicine which she wanted to kill her
child with which was then unborn.
Said that the plot she had in progress
would result in his death.
He spent a considerable time in prayer
to God expressed hopes of entering Heaven

[page 2: “March 24th” continued]
but he read from the bible and talked
sometime. Prayer was offered by a member.
Did not take an active part in
the meeting, although I felt it my
duty. O Lord I hope this man fearing
spirit still hangs about me. It seems
almost an impossibility for me to
cast it off. For my wicked heart
cherishes this evil spirit, which I
feel incompetent to cast off without
Thy assistance and for thy all sufficient
assistance I humbly pray.
I feel O Lord, that Thou art ever true
to Thy promises and that Thou will
grant the requests of all those that pray
believing, but I have a wicked [heart]
that is fit only fit for the [service?] of the
devil which I humbly ask Thee to take
from me and give me one free from
guile so that I can pray believing; with
[unintelligible word] the spirit I should. O Lord hear my
prayer and according to Thy word give
me a new heart. Amen.

[Editor: West Virginia was admitted to the Union as a state on June 20, 1863. Other materials in  this manuscript collection suggests this unidentified Union soldier as possibly a member of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry and/or the United States Christian Commission, a Protestant organization that provided medical services and religious literature to Union troops.]

MSS 5535

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