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 24

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

            October to December 1864

            The regiment was encamped on the very same ground where it was before the battle of the 19th. The boys left it rather early that morning and according to their account must have done some pretty tall skedaddling, but they got back again before night - some of them. As they say, the Johnnies beat reveille for them, but they in turn beat retreat and tattoo for the Johnnies. Tit for tat. There were no signs of the recent battle except the fresh made graves; and they were too thickly strewn around the hills and in the valleys. You may be sure we gave them no chance to catch us napping again. They used to get us up a couple of hours before daylight every morning and make us stand in line under arms. That was mighty cold work.

            The 6th corps have a great opinion of themselves. After the battle they used to have a sort of dialogue which they would shout to each other in our hearing. One would hallo out to another, 'Who elected Abe Lincoln?' Another would answer, 'The 6th corps'. 'Where?' 'At Cedar Creek'. 'Did the 19th corps help any?' 'Yes, a little.' 'Did the 8th corps help any?' 'Not a d--n bit'. It was rather amusing, but after all the 19th corps did as well as they did.

            I must here relate a little incident that comes into my mind, which relates to a man in our regiment and who now belongs to our Co. When we came up from New Orleans there were quite a number of the boys, who were on a 'tear' in the city, left behind. Among them was this man, whose name is Finnerty, but who is universally known throughout the regiment by the name of 'Brick'. He is whole Irishman, every inch of him, always spouting with the richest brogue, having, like Mrs Tony Weller's shepherd, 'a wonderful power o' suction', and when under the influence of his 'particular wanity', very pugnaciously inclined, and withal possessing an enviable amount of that article so necessary to a soldier called 'cheek'. In fact he had what we call a 'whole face'. These men arrived some little time after the regiment, and during all of our campaigning around the valley before the regiment went home, were lying at Bermuda Hundred. On account of remaining behind, their return furlough was stopped. This was rather hard on the boys and they hardly knew what to do: but Brick was equal to the emergency and he determined to seek an interview with Lt Gen Grant himself. He went to the entry before the general's quarters, but could not obtain admittance, so he went around another way and leaped the fence. As soon as he was over he ran right up to the celebrated commander of all the US armies and fell on his knees before him. 'Your royal highness', commenced Brick. 'Get up, get up,' says the general, 'I'm no royal highness. What have you got to say to me?' 'Well, me noble captain,' says Brick, rising, 'through the inmity of our Colonel we have been deprived of our furlough', and then he went on to tell the whole affair with variations. The general called in an officer of our regiment who corroborated the main points of the story and promised that they should all have their furlough, which promise he fulfilled immediately. Gen Grant was talking with some officers and ladies at the time, and they all laughed very heartily over the affair. The incident was related in various forms and in nearly every paper in the country. I relate this as a memorable example of what cheek will accomplish.

            When at Cedar Creek, the 19th corps was reviewed by Little Phil Sheridan, who pronounced himself much pleased by their appearance. Soon after (the 19th of November) we received marching orders and the whole army moved to within 5 or 6 miles of Winchester - near a place called Newtown. Our division was placed in the front, while the remainder of the forces were moved about a mile further back. The whole army immediately began throwing up breastworks. Our Co and another one were detached from the regiment to support a battery. The next morning the Johnnies began skirmishing with our pickets, and continued so doing all day. We were on the qui vive the whole time. Once they let into our skirmishers in our front a big volley, and scared the signal corps that was stationed on a house, so that it came down on a run and scattered like a flock of sheep. We expected an attack any minute and had our cartridges out all ready for action. The next morning we were up at 3 o'clock and at daylight the fun commenced again. Once during the day a squad of cavalry charged, shouting and yelling, and came so near to our breastworks that we could see them, but our cavalry soon sent them back, howling. The next day we were not disturbed; they had probably found out that they had a hard nut to crack and had concluded to defer the cracking for a while. We were now left alone in our glory. The Johnnies retired back into winter quarters, and we were relieved of all fear of their coming in to relieve our pickets and drive us out of camp before breakfast.

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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 ©