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 6

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

Tuesday Apr 1st, 1862

              Today is the 1st of April, the day designated from time immemorial as All Fool's Day. We in camp here have, of course, been busy playing jokes on each other, and it was very amusing to see the blank look a victim would put on when he would go to the orderly of some other Co, asking what was wanted of him, to find himself 'sold'. The orderly put several in the guard house this morning and they retaliated by sending in a charge against him, accusing him of using abusive language towards them, thereby placing him under arrest. No drill this afternoon on account of the death of a Lt in the 47th, as the officers wished to attend his funeral. Feel well.

Wednesday Apr 2nd

              Everything passed as usual today. Fired blank cartridges at battalion drill.

Thursday Apr 3rd

              Am on camp guard today. Nothing unusual.

Friday Apr 4th

              Came off guard today feeling very unwell. Have had a terrible fever and headache all day and have scarcely risen from my bunk.

Saturday Apr 5th

              The whole Co has been on duty again today except a few Corporals and Sergeants so I have been free from all duty. Feel quite well.

Sunday Apr 6th

              We have had inspection and dress parade as is usual on Sunday. I have passed my time mostly in reading Dickens' 'David Copperfield' which I like very much.

Monday Apr 7th

              In target shooting this morning our Co made some pretty good shots. Three balls pierced the bull's eye, mine going nearest the centre. It is beginning to be quite sickly on the island. They bury one or more every day from one of the regiments and the hospitals are crowded. The 47th suffers most, the prevailing disease being typhoid. One of the captains is in the hospital very low.

Tuesday Apr 8th

              Am on police guard again today. Received letters from mother, GJS, ETC and one from a Mrs Smith in Clyde, who, having heard that I had seen her son in the 91st, wrote to learn about him. Also received 2 papers from Rice.

Wednesday Apr 9th

              Came off guard at 8 this morning. Have written to mother. The water is getting deuced low here and if it does not rain pretty soon I don't know what we will do. We are reduced to one canteen full per day, which we draw in the morning and as it gets very warm during the day we often go thirsty.

Thursday Apr 10th

              There are rumors circulating through the camp about our leaving here soon, and I made a wager with Nelt Hendricks of a box of cigars that we would not leave here within 3 weeks. I have been reading today Faber on 'The Difficulties of Infidelity' and I think his arguments are pretty conclusive.

Friday Apr 11th

              The wind is very high tonight, and the dust is flying around the camp so that we all look like colliers. There was nothing this afternoon but a dress parade.

Saturday Apr 12th

              One of our Co had a narrow escape last night. He was on guard and in some unaccountable manner his rifle was discharged, passing through his thumb and so near his face that it made a hole in the forepiece of his cap. The wind is still pretty high. Drill, etc as usual.

Sunday Apr 13th

              Inspection and dress parade as is usual Sundays. Between 15 and 16 of our men are sick today and excused from duty. There is only one Corp besides myself who is not sick. I am reading at present Dick's 'Celestial Scenery', which I have borrowed from the Chaplain.

Monday Apr 14th

              There was a splendid rain storm last night. It rained all night; and part of the time it came against my tent as though it was dashed down by the barrel full. Have been on fatigue today on the military road. Our Major has resigned. Sgt Perry has been court-martialed today and has been reduced to the ranks for leaving camp without a pass. The Philadelphia left today, carrying the mail and a number of discharged men. Two from our Co went on her, making 5 that have been discharged since we came to Key West. Feel very well.

Tuesday Apr 15th

              Nothing unusual today, except that we all, according to orders, raised our tents about a foot from the ground, to allow the air to circulate freely under them.

Wednesday Apr 16th

              I beat them all shooting today, 3 of my shots having struck inside any of the others. This evening on parade the Col showed us a splendid banner with the NY City coat of arms on, sent as a present by that city, and made a short speech on this occasion.

Thursday Apr 17th

              Have been on fatigue all day. I had a squad of men at work bushwhacking around the hospital tent, and policing about the camp generally. Feel very well indeed.

Friday Apr 18th

              Am very unwell today so that I had to go to the doctor. Have a bad headache, fever, etc and have scarcely left my bunk. Rockets are going up this evening for a great victory at Corinth, Miss., the particulars of which we have not yet heard.

Saturday Apr 19th

              Feel pretty slim today, still am able to do duty. Have been on drill as usual.

Sunday Apr 20th

              Awoke this morning with a headache which does not tend to make me feel very well. Am on provost guard; Corp of the 3rd relief.

Monday Apr 21st

              I was relieved this morning at half past nine. The Rhode Island has arrived with a mail but I received nothing but a very old paper from father. The whole regiment is bushwhacking again, so there has been no drill, nothing but a dress parade. Order no 1 from Gen Hunter, commanding the department to which we belong, was read to us, but the Adjt was so much intoxicated that he could hardly articulate the words. I feel much better than I did yesterday.

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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 ©