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 5

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

Saturday Mar 8th, 1862

            No drilling again today. Instead we have been digging stumps, cutting brush, etc, clearing the land for the purpose of having our camp removed farther back. Nothing unusual has happened.

Sunday Mar 9th

            Have been very unwell all day so that I kept my bunk nearly all of the time. The order was read this afternoon at parade that there would be no more drill for some time, but instead the Cos would go policing around the camp.

Monday Mar 10th

            Slept very poorly last night, and am very unwell today so that the Dr excused me from all duty. The mail came this evening and brought me a letter from father and one from mother.

Tuesday Mar 11th

            Have been on fatigue all day although I am not really able. We were at work making a road near the fort. Received 2 papers.

Wednesday Mar 12th

            Have been on no duty today, and passed the time reading, writing, etc. I wrote to father and mother, also a note to JB and they went out this morning.

Thursday Mar 13th

            On police again today. I had a squad of men under my charge, whom it was my business to oversee and keep at work. We received our US coats and pants today, having been wearing the NY state uniforms.

Friday Mar 14th

            On police again. Dull as the deuce. Feel well.

Saturday Mar 15th

            Work, work, work! Police, police, police! Curse such soldiering. Here we are, raw, inexperienced volunteers, and instead of drilling us and trying to discipline us, for more than a week the officers have kept us bushwhacking, etc. And devil take the captain. He is snapping and snarling at something all the time, like a bear with a sore head. Nothing appears to satisfy him. I am just about discouraged. All my hopes of ever having a chance to 'smell powder' are scattered to the winds; for such a regiment of dead beats will never be sent into action. Our lot is to stay here ingloriously breaking stones, grubbing stumps or something of that kind, while our brothers are winning glory and honor for themselves on the field of battle. I have felt pretty well all day, and this evening it is raining so that the water comes through the tent upon my bunk in streams.

Sunday Mar 16th

            I always thought until today that Sunday was considered a day of rest even among soldiers. But the command of the Great Ruler is void when they clash with those of Gen Braman or Col Morgan. They could not wait until Monday but needs must make us move our tents farther back today, and I have worked very hard a large portion of the time. If it were necessary that it should be done I would not mind, but it would not make the least difference to defer it for a day. Well, we have got our tents pitched again in a new place, and are situated quite comfortably. I have been to church this evening but it was so warm I came out before the sermon commenced.

Monday Mar 17th

            Have policed again a great part of the day. Received a paper from father but it contained little news. Feel well although I awoke with a pretty severe headache.

Tuesday Mar 18th

            Am Corp of the regimental (called police) guard today. Am in fine spirits.

Wednesday Mar 19th

           The Corp of the relief relieved each other last night, so I obtained some sleep. Was relieved at 8 this morning. This afternoon we had battalion drill for the first time in nearly 2 weeks.

Thursday Mar 20th

            After the dismissal of parade this afternoon our Lt informed us that Manasses, which is but a short distance from Bull Run, where we experienced our first defeat of the war, had been taken by our forces, and requested three cheers for the victory. We gave them with a will, halloing and screaming with all our strength in the exuberance of our joy. I was in perfect ecstasies, only regretting that I could not have been there. All honor to our brave troops. For the last 2 months victory has succeeded victory, each one greater than the preceding. We have not as yet received any particulars, so we know not how perfect the victory was. I drew today a hat complete, pants do., a blouse, a shirt, pr of shoes and 2 prs of socks. Feel very well.

Friday Mar 21st

            Am on central guard today. It has rained pretty hard all the forenoon, on which account there was no brigade mounting. A mail came today which brought me one letter, from A Nye. News came in the papers of a severe battle in Arkansas. The rebels under Prior, McCulloch and the others were defeated by our troops under Hallock after 3 days hard fighting. Feel well.

Saturday Mar 22nd

            Came off guard at 9 this morning. Had Co instead of battalion drill this afternoon. This morning I received a letter from J Arnold and his mother, also one from JS and a short one enclosed from Frank.

Sunday Mar 23rd

            At dress parade this afternoon, the regiment appeared for the first time in full dress uniform. Received a paper from father. Have not been to church.

Monday Mar 24th

            Today at 10 o'clock the regiment met and after some drill, cartridges were served out to each man. Then each Co got a target and we all went some distance from the camp to try our skill. The targets were placed in position and we commenced firing. We fired singly, by rank, by file, and by Co. It sounded more like a battle, the continual crack, crack, of the rifles and the whir-r-r of the balls, than anything I had yet heard. It was great sport for us. It is to be kept up every day, I believe. We had battalion drill as usual.

Tuesday Mar 25th

            We had target shooting again today and I missed once out of 3 times, the distance being about 100 yards. Feel first rate.

Wednesday Mar 26th

            In target shooting today, I hit the target every time, and came the nearest the centre. There was quite an excitement in camp this evening, arising from the arrest of the sutler, who is not very popular. He was stopped while riding his horse through camp at full speed, he being a little the worse for liquor, and was placed between 2 files of guard. He, thinking it a joke, resisted, and they seized hold of him, took him to his shanty, and placed a guard over it. The whole camp followed, hooting and halloing, and he looked as if he would have sold himself pretty cheap about then.

Thursday Mar 27th

            This morning I again hit the target every time and came third nearest the bull's eye; the distance being about 22 rods. The light artillery have also been firing shot and shell at a target placed on a neighboring island. We could hear them w-h-i-z-z through the air, and see the water fly as they skipped along on their course. A large wreck which has been near here for a long time was set on fire and is now burning. Some of the officers got into a muss today and drew revolvers on each other. The officer of the day and 2 other captains are under arrest. At battalion drill today we each had 5 blank cartridges served out to us and we had quite a time firing by Co, rank, file and battalion. Am quite well.

Friday Mar 28th

            I bored a target again every time today, making 3 days in succession during which I have not missed once, something which has not been done by anyone in the Co. This afternoon we had brigade drill on the parade ground of the 91st. I feel very well but not as well as usual.

Saturday Mar 29th

            Had target firing as usual this morning, also firing of blank cartridges in the battalion this afternoon. Received a letter from JB.

Sunday Mar 30th

            The whole Co except one Sgt and one Corp besides myself are on guard today so I have nothing at all to do. Received a letter from A Rice and a paper from father. Answered Rice's letter and wrote to JB. Feel well although I did not sleep well last night.

Monday Mar 31st

            There has been general inspection today from half past six until about twelve. I did not go out as the Co is all on duty.

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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 ©