William McLeod's diary describes his experiences as a Confederate soldier in the Civil War from June 1864 through January 1865. The diary begins during the Atlanta Campaign and describes day-to-day siege warfare and the various engagements in which he was involved, including the Battles of Peachtree Creek, Atlanta, and Jonesboro. The diary also mentions the Battle of Dalton, Georgia in October 1864 and the subsequent advance northward into Alabama and Tennessee. McLeod’s account provides details on the actions of the Seventh Florida Regiment at Franklin, Murfreesboro (Second Battle), and Nashville.
The diary concludes in the aftermath of the Confederate defeat at Nashville, documenting the withdrawal into Mississippi, McLeod's furlough on January 23, 1865, and his subsequent railroad trip into Alabama and Georgia. The diary ends on January 29, 1865 while McLeod was in Columbus, Georgia.
Among the historical figures mentioned in the diary are: General Joseph E. Johnston, Lieutenant General William Hardee, Major General William B. Bate, and Colonel Robert Bullock. McLeod also mentions a number of his follow soldiers, including: F. J. Seward, W. H. Shepherd, W. P. Rodgers, W. Smith, Sam Handcock, John Underhill, U. R. Durrence, W. Carlton, W. Whidden, and H. C. Surrency.
William McLeod was born in Richmond County, South Carolina on June 11, 1836. He moved to south Florida with his family in 1841. McLeod served in the Third Seminole War, enlisting in Captain Edward T. Hendricks' company in 1857. During his Seminole War service he contracted a severe case of measles, which affected him later in life.
In March 1862, following the outbreak of the Civil War, McLeod enlisted from Manatee County in Company B of the Seventh Florida Infantry Regiment (known as the South Florida Infantry), commanded by Captain James Gettis. The Seventh Regiment served in Florida until mid-1862, when it was sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It served in east Tennessee and north Georgia for several years, with its first major engagement being at Chickamauga, Georgia in September 1863.
McLeod's regiment also participated in the battles around: Chattanooga, Tennessee in late 1863, the Atlanta Campaign of May-September 1864, the Tennessee Campaign of late 1864, and the Carolinas Campaign in the early spring of 1865. In April 1865, the decimated regiment was consolidated with several other units into the First Florida Infantry Regiment Consolidated. Its remnants surrendered later that month.
McLeod served as a private in Company B, Seventh Florida Regiment from 1862 through mid-1864. He was present on the surviving company muster rolls, which in January 1864 list him as company cook. Later that year during the Atlanta Campaign, he was elected second lieutenant. McLeod was paroled in April 1865 as a private, probably because he was returned to his original rank following the reorganization of the regiment as part of the consolidated First Regiment.