The long hot days of summer are fast upon us, and with them there will be time for sports, time for camp, time to dream, and time to do. Time to start a diary or journal?
A journal can be written for only yourself, to write down the things that are important to you: lists of favorites (music, t.v., and movies), pictures of friends and family, and, of course, your innermost thoughts. Fun times deserve to be remembered, and sometimes writing about a bad situation can help you deal with it better as you think it through on paper. That kind of journal is personal, and you may not wish to share it with anyone.
Present-day Christmas conjures memories of snow, lighted trees, cinnamon, gifts, parties, and music. If we lived during the Civil War, what kinds of memories would we have? Would they be of family, food, warmth, and parties, or would they be of just trying to survive and stave off hunger? Would there be presents under the tree, or would we be happy just to be present with our loved ones. To learn a bit more about Christmas during the years 1861-1864, explore the items in the library and the Web sites listed below.
By A. L. Peel
Albert Peel was raised in Mississippi. At 17, he left the Kentucky Military Institute to come home and enlist in the 19th Mississippi Regiment. He was killed May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania's Bloody Angle and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery near Spotsylvania Courthouse. These diary entries, written a year previously, tell of the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Wednesday, April 29 - Orders came this evening to fall in to fight. Major Hardin went to take command of the right wing which was on picket. Col. Harris was absent so I formed the left wing & formed on the 12 Regt, marched in quick time to the Chanseller Hotel, & Genl. Posey sent us on picket 1½ mile up the road. I put out 2 Companies in advance as pickets. Col. Harris came to us at 9 p.m. Our pickets brought in a prisoner who reported that a company of the enemy had crossed at germanias ford.
By Elizabeth Van Lew
January 24, 1864
Alas for the suffering of the very poor! Women are begging for bread with tears in their eyes, and a different class from ordinary beggars. What an experience is that of an intelligent person, born and brought up in the Southern States, and continuing their residence there through this terrible rebellion. The peace, plenty, and freedom of the whites under the old government stands in strange contrast with the scarcity and apprehension of the Southern Confederacy Government.
THROUGH THE WILDERNESS IN VA.
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
COMMENCING MAY 4TH 1864
May the 7th 1864
Arose at daylight, we had our breakfast about half cooked when the battle commenced. The rebels came out of the woods in 4 lines of battle, then Our artilery opened on them with Grape & Canister causing them to retreat in confusion & were glad to get out of sight. Very heavy fighting down the left of the line near Chancelorsville. It was reported we had captured between 4 & 5000 prizoners today. Heared good news about dark and Great Cheering prevailed the whol length of the line. We recd orders to be ready to move at dark. We marched 3 or 4 miles and halted untill 2 O clock in the morning by the side of the road. We slept with our knapsacks on our backs. Was aroused from our slumbers by a pack of mules running away. We sprung to our feet, grabbed our muskets & got ready for action. We considered it an attack from the rebels. In a moments time we were all quiet and down we laid until daybreak.
- "We are all boys between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one."
Louis Leon joined North Carolina's Charlotte Grays in April 1861. He was to serve throughout the war and spent considerable time in Virginia. Captured at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5, 1864, he spent the war's last months imprisoned at two notorious facilities: Point Lookout, Maryland and Elmira, New York. He published his war-time diary in 1913.
May 5—Moved this morning, feeling for the enemy, and came up to them at noon, five miles from the Run, in the Wilderness. It certainly is a wilderness; it is almost impossible for a man to walk, as the woods are thick with an underbrush growth and all kinds of shrubbery, old logs, grapevines, and goodness knows what. My corps of sharpshooters were ordered to the front. We formed in line and advanced to the enemy. We fought them very hard for three hours, they falling back all the time. Our sharpshooters' line got mixed up with Gordon's Brigade, and fought with them.