Civil War History


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The Leaders:
The Politicians

Jefferson Davis

Above: Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy.
Below: Abraham Lincoln of the Union.

Abraham Lincoln

Charles Terry Saxton
The American Civil War

A War Diary

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page 12

Diary of Charles Terry Saxton, 90th N.Y. Volunteers, from January, 1862 to August, 1863.

Friday July 18th, 1862

           We fired at a target this morning with the 8 inch Columbiads. They make a very loud report. After firing the first turn I felt for my head and was much relieved at finding it still there. Talk about thunder, that's nothing to the tremendous roar of these big-mouthed fellows. My ears buzz still as though there was a swarm of bees around them. The target was somewhat over a mile, and springing to the porthole after firing you could hear the shell w-h-i-z-z through the air and see it as it rushed like lightning to its destination. Soon after touching the water you could hear a loud report as it burst and see a column of water thrown high up in the air. Our gun made the best shot.

Saturday July 19th

            Have been on police. We had some more target practice this morning. One shell from our gun burst almost as soon as it left the muzzle and you can see where it tore away 2 or 3 bricks from the breakwater.

Sunday July 20th

            Dull and monotonous.

Monday July 21st

            000. This expresses the events of the day.

Tuesday July 22nd

            Union came in bringing a mail in which was a letter from Aunt Lib, also letters from Rice, Briggs, Frank and JB, also a paper from Rice.

Monday July 28th

            Am on guard. I saw a large water spout only a little way outside the reef. It moved very rapidly but was in sight for a long time and so near that you could plainly see it revolve. Wrote to JB.

Wednesday July 30th

           Wrote to Frank yesterday. News came this morning that yellow jack is at Key West. Three of our regiment have died of it. I hope the bloody disease will not come here for it would make a clean sweep.

Wednesday Aug 6th

           Wrote to Briggs and Rice. Tortugas presents a lively appearance today. There have been 3 schooners, 2 brigs and 1 steamer to the dock. This forenoon a sloop belonging at Key West ran in, all sail spread, passed the quarantine flag without heaving to, thus provoking a gun from the fort, which was prevented by their hoisting the Stars and Stripes, Union down, a signal of distress. They went out to her and found her in a sinking condition, she having sprung a leak about 10 o'clock the night before, since when the crew had worked the pumps continually. They have succeeded in caulking her, I believe, so she is ready to sail again. Have been reading Bulwer's 'Strange Story' and found it to fully correspond with the title; strange, mystical but intensely interesting. Much concerning magic and magical arts is woven into it, which imparts the mysterious interest which I, at least, always feel in such a theme. He also dipped into metaphysics; indeed one important aim of the work appears to be to prove the separate existence of the soul and mind. It is, as Bulwer's works generally are, deep and learned, and, I should judge, one calculated to be quite popular; even although we, in this sober, matter-of-fact age are not disposed to believe in such surmises and speculations as are introduced.

Thursday Aug 7th

            The steamer Delaware arrived this morning, bringing our Brig Gen, whose name is Terry (my middle name) and staff. We gave him a salute of 11 guns. He wished to see some target practice so we fired 15 shells and made some splendid shots. He minutely inspected our rifles and equipment this evening and expressed himself as very well pleased with their appearance and our condition generally.

Saturday Aug 9th

            I received letters last night from father, mother, Joe Arnold and G Smith, also 2 papers. I was much surprised by the reception of a small box sent by some of the boys in Clyde containing several pounds of nice butter, needles, thread, ink, etc. It is pleasant to think that I have friends, although far away, who value me enough to send me such a present.

Monday Aug 18th

            We had a muster today which was general throughout the union, for the purpose of ascertaining the strength of the army. Day before yesterday, according to general orders, on account of the death of Ex President Van Buren, our flag remained at half mast, also we fired a salute of 13 guns, one every half hour during the day and 3 in the evening. The sun lately has been getting hot and if it were not for the cool shelter of the fort we could hardly live.

Friday Aug 22nd

           Flags at half mast on account of the death of Capt Sullivan at Key West, the best Capt in our regiment. He with 6 others belonging to the regiment were buried on the same day, all the deaths being caused by yellow fever, which appears to be raging there with great violence. Have been reading Cooper's 'Jack Tier', a tale the scenes of which are laid among this group of islands at Key West. Of course it is interesting to me if for no other cause than the fact that I have seen most of the places myself of which he speaks.

Wednesday Aug 29th

           Union came in today bringing news from Key West. The yellow fever is playing the deuce with the soldiers there. Since we heard from there last, one Lt, 5 Sgts, among them one Orderly, the Qr Mr Sgt and Ordnance Sgt and between 20 and 30 men have died. Have been laid up for several days with a bad sore on my leg which I thought was going to be a fever sore. The steward told me to come to the hospital but I couldn't see it and the consequence is that I am now doing well.

Wednesday Sept 3rd

            Received letters from Rice and mother. Many have died at Key West since last reports, among them one Lt. The Capt of Co F sent in his resignation some time ago, he being under charges at the time, and the acceptation was read off on parade this evening.

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Civil War History

Reasons for the Conflict:

     In 1860 slavery still existed in the southern states of the USA, even though it had been abolished in most of the rest of the world more than a generation before.

      Many Americans believed that it was time that it be abolished in the USA as well.

      This was the primary issue of the American Civil War, though there were other issues relating to how strong ties should be between individual states and the Federal government.

Key West, Florida, 1861:

      Located where the gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic ocean, Key West was of enormous strategic importance in upholding the blockade against the southern states. It was also used to train new recruits.

an 8-inch columbiad gun

An 8-inch columbiad gun
of the type used by
Charles Terry Saxton.

Mrs AH Wilcox of
Barrington Street.
Rochester, N.Y.

originally typed up the diary of
her father, Charles Terry Saxton,
and preserved it for posterity.

Trees of London        A James Wilkinson Publication ©