≡ Menu

Bruso, Octave (50th New York Engineers)

Octave Bruso 1837-1897


Octave Bruso



Enlisted, December 8, 1862, at Buffalo; mustered in as private, Co. E, December 8, 1862, to serve three years; promoted corporal, February 1, 1863; sergeant, December 27, 1864; mustered out with company, June 13, 1865, at Fort Barry, Va., as Octave Vruso.

Sent to Mrs. Jack MacMillan, St. Andrews West, Ontario

By Mrs. C.T. Easton, Marietta, NY


(Editor:  Mrs. Easton was the daughter of Octave A. Bruso, a son of Octave Bruso)

To the reader: in this diary the words “received” and “pleasant” were misspelled by Octave Bruso on a regular basis. Therefore, no “sic” notation is made for these consistent errors.

Also, Octave corresponded frequently with businesses with apparent names like Schneider, and Shellington and others. The exact spelling of these companies will need to be researched, as surnames or business names in Mr. Bruso’s hand are very difficult to decipher.

There are perhaps half a dozen doodles in parts of this diary, which appear to have been made by children and which have no historical significance.

Where Octave mentions fellow soldiers, I have turned to the Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of New York for the Year 1898 (Registers of the First, Fifteenth and Fiftieth Engineers, and First Battalion of Sharpshooters, Serial No. 16, Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford CO, State Printers, New York and Albany, 1899) for additional information.

Hereafter this work will be cited as the Report of the Adjutant General.

I have attempted to credit all photographs and notes that are not my own. Any errors or omissions in attribution are keenly regretted, and will be corrected upon notification. This has been a project of research, and was not undertaken for any pecuniary gain.

My goal in sharing my ancestor’s diary is simply to share the day-to-day life of a member of Company E of the 50th N.Y. Engineers with those who have an interest.

Other researchers will please credit this work as “1864 Diary of Private Octave Bruso, 50th NY Engineers, Company E” edited by Tom Bauerle, Buffalo, NY, 2010.”


Non-commercial researchers are free to use portions of this work as they wish. Copies of this diary will be sent to libraries in Buffalo and elsewhere to assist other researchers. It is my hope that a Civil War era photograph of Octave and Company E will surface.

I would be doing a disservice without acknowledging my late uncle, Donald Bruso, upon whose excellent research I have tried to build over the years. Also, thanks to my dear brother Richard G. “Dick” Bauerle who engendered and fostered in his little brother a love of history.

It may interest the reader to know how this diary ended up in my hands.

I frequently visit the Bruso plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY. On a Saturday afternoon in the Fall of 2009, I was seated upon Octave’s gravestone and said out loud: “Octave, why didn’t you leave a diary of your Civil War service, like so many others?”

I told no one about this one-way conversation.

The following Monday, I received an e-mail from my brother Richard stating that while he rarely did so, he had just used an internet search engine and searched for “Octave Bruso.”

The first listing was for an item from Heritage Auction Galleries:


Diary of Union Private Octave Bruso of the 50th New York Engineers…. (Total: 1 Items)Auction: 2009 December Signature Arms & Militaria Including Civil War Auction #6021




“Diary of Union Private Octave Bruso of the 50th New York Engineers. Entries from January 23, 1864, through January 16, 1865, recording experiences at the battles of the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. On May 6, 1864, Bruso writes about fighting at the Battle of the Wilderness: “In line of Battle on the north side of Mine River. Terrible fighting on the early part of the day. Behind the Breast works all day. Made Pits. One man of Co. E. Wounded. . . . layed in Pits for 24 Hours.” Bruso spent the next several weeks marching, “Building Roads & Bridges“, and witnessing nearby fighting. On June 1, 1864, he writes, “Arrived at Cole [Cold] Harbor at 2 P.M. Marched hard and almost bushed. A most terrible battle was fought and we had to leave our place of nest double quick.” Between battles, he watched “A Negro publicly hung at 6th C[orps] for committing adultery on a white woman.” Near Petersburg on July 30, 1864, he writes, “Petersburg Seiged at 4 ½ a.m. Terrible artillery and infantry fight.” As a member of the engineer corps, he spent much of his time in hard labor, “digging all night” or “making rifle pits“.

Twenty-five year old Private Bruso, from Buffalo, New York, mustered into “E” Co., New York 50th Engineers in December 1862; he mustered out in June 1865. Every day in the diary has an entry, though one week’s worth of pages are missing from November 1864. The diary, written mostly in pencil, contains various doodles throughout. Included is an obituary from the Buffalo Courier-Express (1926) of Octave’s wife, Charlotte Pierce Bruso, the adopted daughter of the nephew of President Franklin Pierce. Their marriage is recorded in the entry for February 16, 1864. Mostly tight binding with minor and occasional stains. Cloth wraps, back cover is rubbed, creased, and torn. 3″ x 5″. Very good condition.”

(Editor: As of this writing, it appears that Charlotte Henry Pierce Bruso’s adoptive father Clark Pierce was not related to President Franklin Pierce. This seems to be pure fiction, possibly created by my great-grandfather Dr. Frank Bruso to better fit into the class-conscious society in which he lived. Dr. Bruso, the first-born son of Octave and Charlotte, was a mercurial figure. Vigorously patriotic and civic-minded, his personal life was fraught with conflict and missteps.)

I purchased this important family document for $1,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

While this chain of circumstances may be hard to believe, the reader has my solemn assurance that this account is the absolute truth.

I will always believe that my great-great grandfather wanted me to have this diary, so that I might share his tale with you.

It is with great reverence for his memory, and for all who have served and who continue to do so, that I present this work.

Tom Bauerle

Editor and great-great grandson of Octave Bruso

Buffalo, NY

December 17, 20102


Diary Entries of Octave Bruso:

  1. “1864 Diary of Private Octave Bruso, 50th NY Engineers, Company E” edited by Tom Bauerle, Buffalo, NY, 2010. This image is copyrighted by Tom Bauerle and may not be used without his written permission.
  2. “1864 Diary of Private Octave Bruso, 50th NY Engineers, Company E” edited by Tom Bauerle, Buffalo, NY, 2010. Please read the above description for terms and conditions of using this work.
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Paul L Kendall January 2, 2011, 4:02 pm

    You are so very fortunate!

    My great-great-grandfather was Sylvester Hilton, private, Co. F, 50th New York. Would love to hear from you.


    Paul Kendall

Leave a Reply