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 7

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

Tuesday Apr 22nd, 1862

              Well, I am getting completely wearied out with this island. Everything is so quiet, no excitement, nothing new to be seen, no chance of ever being any benefit to the country, guard or fatigue continually. But I am here and must grin and bear it, until they think proper to remove us. Have been on drill as usual, also police around the camp. Am in good spirits, considering the general state of things; but the knowledge that we would soon leave this place would elevate them several degrees.

Wednesday Apr 23rd

              This morning we made great preparations for a regimental inspection by the Inspector General, our recent Major. The Capt examined our pieces before we went out, and unless he could rub his white gloves all over them without soiling them, they were not clean. Mine was all right. After all there was nothing but a review. Have been on fatigue again this afternoon. We are on every day but the men have learned the art of 'sojering' so well that it does not hurt them much. Most of them, as soon as they get a chance, will start for their quarters, stay there until nearly time to knock off, then return and fall to work hastily, and get the very minute allowance of 'spiritual refreshment'. Well, I don't blame them.

Thursday Apr 24th

              I hardly know what will become of this regiment. It's pulse is very low indeed at present while it becomes feebler and feebler every day; and I think it will soon kick its last kick and sink into nothingness. We can get only about 150 men on parade, and there being about 100 on duty, it leaves the balance unfit for duty. I would like to know what evil angel ever induced me to enlist in such a regiment. My evil star was evidently in the ascendancy at about that time. But what is the use of grumbling? Today the Capt said he would give each man who had his piece clean a drink of whisky. We all got our drink, but of course I did not like mine as I am a 'teetotaler'.

Friday Apr 25th

              I believe if I ever get north once more, that the desire of coming south will never again enter my head. They may prate and boast about their sunny South as much as they please, but it is much too sunny for me. The heat fairly extracts all the life and energy I possess from my body, and leaves me dull and languid and without ambition for anything. If it were not for the cool breezes which blow over our island, gently fanning and alleviating the intense heat, I should feel like lying down and dozing my life away. Oh, the north, the varying northern clime for me! There the very air we breathe imbues us with life and spirit which the southern atmosphere can never impart. That is the place that produces those hardy, independent men who are ever first in their projects to improve and benefit the world; where the seasons are ever rolling their ceaseless round; pleasant, changeful spring; summer, warm and delicious as it ever is in the southern clime; autumn with its plentiful harvests of grain and luscious fruits; and grim old winter with its soft, feathery snow, and happy parties and sleigh rides. The scene is ever varied and each change in itself is beautiful. Yes, the North for me, even though the cold, freezing breath of old Boreas ofttimes sweeps over it, chilling all things to death and wrapping them in their winding sheet. His reign is but short; and soon the warm breath of spring returns, freeing from their fetters the chained rivers and lakes, bringing forth the bright verdure again, and restoring everything to fresh life, only the more enchanting by the preceding period of bareness and desolation.

Saturday Apr 26th

              On account of the mosquitoes and also for other causes, my sleep was much disturbed last night. Dull as ever today. I wish that a mail would come in for I have not heard from my folks in nearly 3 weeks; and about the only pleasure I experience is in the reception of letters from home, sweet home.

Sunday Apr 27th

              This morning the Capt had Lt Apthorp put under arrest because one man in his squad did not appear clean on inspection. He also put 2 cooks in the guard house because they would not come out. He grows meaner and more unreasonable every day, expecting us to do impossibilities and growling at us if we fail. But I will be from under his control some time, and then he may whistle if he ever catches me again.

Monday Apr 28th

              Am on police guard today. Towards evening we had a pleasant shower, but it continued but a short time. Do not feel as well as usual.

Tuesday Apr 29th

              Came off guard this morning feeling rather the worse for wear. For 2 or 3 nights past I have had very sanguinary battles with the mosquitoes, in which they succeeded very effectually in driving balmy sleep from my pillow, or rather knapsack. But today we received a mosquito bar furnished by some kind persons (may the gods prosper them) and now I hope to check the encroachments of the savage little fellows.

Wednesday Apr 30th

              We were mustered for pay today; and may the time soon come when we will receive it, for money and I have long been strangers, unwillingly on my part, of course, for nearly 2 months. How homesick I feel today. I am not feeling well physically and that always has a tendency to make me think longingly of the comforts of home and the kind and affectionate care of its inmates. Oh, how I would like to be at my studies again, perplexing my brain over algebra or geometry, instead of being here where I am doing no good either to myself or my country. But maybe, after all, it is better as it is; for I am gaining some experience in the world and seeing something of life which I would not have seen if I had stayed at home.

Thursday May 1st

              I was greatly relieved in spirit today by the reception of some letters from home. I received letters from Mother, Rice and Tommy Smith. This evening on parade the Lt informed us that the news had arrived of the capture of New Orleans, for which we gave 3 hearty cheers. Feel very well.

Friday May 2nd

              This morning they fired a salute of 30 guns for the taking of New Orleans. Received 3 papers from Rice.

Saturday May 3rd

              Havelocks have been given out to us today, a present from the ladies of Brooklyn. While on police, as I turned over a stone, a centipede about 6 inches long was uncovered He was a savage looking fellow, and I think his bite would have been bad for the health. He was of a reddish color, and had 20 pairs of legs, each of which was armed with a claw, which if they crawl over you, inflict a painful wound.

Monday May 5th

              This morning the Capt sent for me and when I went to his tent he told me that he was going to the hospital and wished me to go with him. He has been sick some time so that he could not take command of his Co. I said that I would go, and here I am this evening in the officers' hospital in a very pleasant part of the city. The food here is first rate, better than any I have had since I left home, and everything is very comfortable.

Tuesday May 6th

              The day has passed off pleasantly, I have good food but little to do; and have passed a great part of the time in reading, either aloud or to myself, Macaulay's History of England and Dickens' Great Expectations.

Wednesday May 7th

              The Philadelphia arrived last night bringing a mail containing 2 letters for me which I received this morning. One was from father and one from Joey Arnold and his mother. While I was at camp a very pleasant (?) incident occurred. One of the boys was handling some hemp, when 2 scorpions crawled out and crawled into his breeches. I took two sticks and got them out before they stung him, but he was rather scared and probably would not like to have the thing repeated. I feel well although I woke this morning with a headache.

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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.

crew of the Philadelphia

The crew of the Philadelphia
that brought the mail.
Click to see closer view.

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 ©