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 28

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

            June 1865 - January 1866 (cont.)

26th, June, 1865

           Early this morning we resumed our journey. The river began rapidly to grow wider. The dirty yellowish color of the water began to acquire more of a greenish hue. After a while we entered the bay and the land almost disappeared. It rained nearly all the morning. Along in the afternoon we again began to approach land. We steamed up Hampton Roads near to Fortress Monroe, stopped a short time and again proceeded on our way. The sun had just gone down and objects were just getting a little indistinct when we rounded Cape Henry. I was up on the hurricane deck enjoying the breeze which was blowing up quite freshly. It was a beautiful scene. In the east the clouds were flooded with crimson light; while the white sail of a large vessel loomed up with startling distinctness, in the light of the fiery background. Everywhere else the clouds looked dark and threatening. To our left the land could be seen dim and indistinct in the misty distance. It grows fainter and fainter, until it disappears in the obscurity of the coming darkness. On our right hand and only a short distance away is a long stretch of white sandy beach. A white lighthouse with its flaming eye is glaring out upon the restless waters. A house stands near the beach rising grim and desolate from the white sand, and a sailboat is moored a short distance out and is rolling and pitching with the waves. Off our larboard bow is a steamer towing a large merchant ship. The forked lightning is momentarily darting from cloud to cloud, lighting up the heavens with dazzling but transitory brightness. The white capped waves are flashing through the gloom on every side. Slowly the light fades out of the western sky. Slowly the murky night settles down upon the earth and waters. The sandy beach and the white house and the little schooner and the big vessel begin to appear faint and indistinct in the gathering gloom. Now they have disappeared from sight, engulfed in the thick darkness, and nothing is to be seen except the lighthouse with its warning eye; our steamer ploughing solitary through the waves and the phosphorescent gleam of the tumbling waters beneath. I will leave the vessel steadily moving onward and go below to sleep and dream 'rocked in the cradle of the deep'.


           This morning I was aroused at about 4 o'clock by a gentle insinuation from some person unknown that 'if I didn't get up in about 2 minutes I would get a good ducking'. I raised my head, got a sight at the hose just appearing around the corner, saw that they were about washing down the deck, and concluded to make a virtue of necessity, and see old Sol emerging from his morning ablutions. Others soon began to crawl out. There is some sea on, and an unusual proportion of woe-begone visages is discernible. Some great sorrow seems to have fallen upon a great number. There is an interesting looking young fellow leaning over the railing and looking earnestly down into the blue water. He has an indescribably sorrowful look upon his handsome features. There he grows fearfully pale. He seems to be tortured by some terrible recollection of the past or anticipation of the future. Ha! He is leaning over the railing as though to plunge into the boiling waters beneath and thus end his misery. Hold him, some one, and do not let him dr---Pshaw! He is seasick. Helloa, what's the matter with me? Feel of my pulse and see if I am sick. Ugh, I know I am. Lay me back and fan me. What's that you say? Want a piece of fat pork, eh? Oh, you infernal villain; and I make a rush for him with a bayonet but dart off on a tangent and make for the side. 'What's the matter, Saxton, sick?' 'Oh no, I only feel a little queer. My stomach seems to be kicking up the deuce of a row. I'm not seasick. It's that confounded coffee.' 'Oh yes, I understand.' I feel a little better now since I eased my mind, and can enjoy a hearty laugh at the utterly miserable look that overspreads the doctor's face as those rascals tantalize him. He half raises his arm as if to strike some one but the effort is too much for him in his present exhausted state; and with a miserable attempt at a smile - a sickly abortion of one - he again contemplates the beauties of the deep.

            The day passed without much incident. We passed a few vessels. Most of the time land was dimly visible on the starboard side. The sun shone brightly and the waves gradually diminished in size.


           It is morning and as calm and bright as one could wish. So it has continued all day. We expect to arrive within sight of the light house before morning.


            When I first went on deck, land was in sight and we were heading for it. At first it was nothing but a long, low line of white beach with a border of dark green, a few vessels anchored in what appeared to be an opening, and a light house. The light house begins to show signs of hard usage, and looks as if it is of little service at present. Slowly we go onward until we have passed the last buoy and are in the mouth of the Savannah River with Georgia on our left and South Carolina on our right.

            We did not go far, however, before the keel began to plow through the mud, and we were brought to a standstill. After a great deal of puffing and blowing and rushing forward and paddling backward for about an hour, the captain gave it up as a bad job, and concluded to wait until high tide. We did wait until about 11 o'clock and then started again and went along smoothly for 4 or 5 miles. We passed Fort Pulaski, a square fort commanding the approach, which looks when you are going up as if it is built on a long neck of land projecting nearly across the river. As I remarked, we went up 4 or 5 miles and then we stuck in the mud again, in which interesting situation we remained until about 6 o'clock when a boat came down from the city and took us aboard. The scenery along the river is flat. The land stretches away on either side in low, swampy flats covered with tall, coarse grass, some bushes and a few palmettoes. Before we reached the city we passed two obstructions in the river which were made by the rebels. Stakes were driven in the ground entirely across the channel, and rafts filled with bricks, etc, were floated against them. We also passed another fort. It was dark when we reached the city, and we landed and bivouacked for the night on Bay St, near the dock.

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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 ©