Transplanted from his native Vermont, Calvin Robinson was a successful businessman in Jacksonville, Florida, during the Civil War. Loyal to the Union and finding slave-holding repugnant, he refused to join the secessionist movement in the South. Targeted for his Union sympathies, he would eventually lose his business, home, and money.

As Jacksonville burned—set ablaze by Southerners targeting Union sympathizers—Robinson fled north but returned to Jacksonville three years later, where he reestablished himself in the business community and became a philanthropist, even founding an orphanage for black children. Throughout his ordeal, he kept a record of the events unfolding around him.

Anne Robinson Clancy, Calvin’s great-granddaughter, received his journal as it passed through a succession of heirs. She transcribed and edited it, and the end result is A Yankee in a Confederate Town.