Civil War History


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last page 30 of diary

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 22

Diary of Charles Terry Saxton, 90th N.Y. Volunteers, from:

            September to October 1864

            I can hardly recollect the rest until I arrived at home. It seems like a troubled dream. I know that I arranged the business in some way, how I know not, and got upon a train on the Balt and Ohio RR at about 4 o'clock in the evening. The iron horse shrieked, gave a few impatient snorts, and I was on the way. In the evening we arrived in Baltimore, where I took the Northern Central road, through Pennsylvania. We were delayed somewhat and did not arrive in Elmira until the next evening. The next morning I started again and reached Rochester about noon, where I took the Central road for Clyde. I now began to be among familiar scenes. The train sped on its way but not half fast enough for my impatience. Station after station was passed. Old memories, reminiscences of the past, thronged upon my mind. Thought was busy. How would I be received? Weary worn, sick, perhaps dying, - no, not dying. I would not die - I was returning to the house I had left so full of hope and life. Would they know me? Or had I altered so much as to be unrecognizable? And they - they must have altered, too. Childhood had passed into youth. Youth had merged into manhood; and many gray hairs will appear among the locks that were 'black as the raven's wing' when I last saw them. Many places will be vacant where were wont to be familiar forms and faces in the days of auld lang syne. Some have passed through the last great change, and 'for this mortality have put on immortality'. Others are away with Grant and Sherman and other Union leaders fighting their country's battles. While occupied with these thoughts, the engine whistled, the train slackened its speed, the conductor shouted out 'Clyde!' and I was at my journey's end. You know the rest, mother. You know how glad I was to get home, how soon I regained my health and strength, and how well I enjoyed myself generally. You know how for the first few days none of my old friends recognized me and I was as a 'stranger in a strange land' right in the home of my childhood. I suppose that you thought at first that I had come home to die; but when the first symptoms of my amazing appetite began to show themselves you must have been forced to the conclusion that I had only come home to eat. Well, I was happy; I was happy in my independence; I was happy in once more living like a civilized being; I was especially happy in the society of relatives and friends; and when father came home and the vision I had so often seen in imagination, while on the weary march or on the lonely picket, was at last realized, and I could once more say, Father, mother, sister, brother, we are all, all here', then I experienced a calm joy that is indescribable.

            But time rolled on - inexorable and pitiless time that 'waits for no man'. The hours grew into days, and the days into weeks, while the weeks followed each other with a velocity that was heretofore unparalleled in my history; and before long I had to begin to think of going back. This thought was both painful and pleasing - painful because I dreaded to part from all I was interested in and who were interested in me; but yet pleasing because I had become somewhat tired of lying around idle after I had regained my strength, and besides, while I was here, Sheridan was gaining some glorious victories in the valley, and I hardly liked the idea of being away at such a time. But painful or pleasing, I had no choice, but must needs go when my leave of absence had expired; so I took it philosophically and kept my pluck up above the thawing point and on the morning of the 30th of September, 'I hung my harp on a weeping willow tree' and started 'off for the wars again'. I suppose they all felt bad when I left. I know I did, but 'what can't be cured must be endured'. I had to leave the house mighty sudden, however, or I don't know but I should have melted and boo hooed like a big baby. I felt somewhat lonesome and down in the mouth all day. We did not arrive in Elmira until late in the afternoon. The next morning at about half past ten we were in Washington. I reported immediately to the hospital, where I remained 5 or 6 days. They gave me a pass one day and I went down to the city. Was inside the capitol, the finest building I ever saw. This, the patent office, and some other public buildings, were about the only sights in Washington. For the rest, it is a poorly built, poorly laid-out, straggling and dirty-looking place. In the very heart of the city, on some of the principal streets, are to be seen wooden shanties that would be a disgrace to a little country village. It is a pity that we should have such a place for our national capital.

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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.

the blockade of the South

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 ©