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 8

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

Thursday May 8th, 1862

              It has been dark and lowering all day, and this morning we had a slight shower. As I came from camp this morning the lightening was playing in the heavens, darting from cloud to cloud, and the thunder reverberating along the hollow arch proclaimed the coming of the storm king.

Saturday May 10th

              Well, I am not wanted at the hospital any longer so here I am in my tent again and very glad I am to be back. It rained hard last night and we had a very heavy shower this forenoon.

Sunday May 11th

              I went over to the south beach today with a party of the boys and had a good time bathing. While we were there, one of the 47th came along with a rattlesnake about 4 feet long. He carried him by a cord fastened around his neck; and when he put him down the 'varmint' acted as though he would like to avenge the indignity on somebody. While we were wandering along the beach we discovered two open coffins lying almost on the surface and in them were the remains of some poor fellow beings of the Lord knows whom. Three grinning skulls, looking very little as though they had once been 'The dome of thought, the palace of the soul' were lying near, and as the rough men passed by they would kick them out of the way. Well, to this we are all tending, today full of life and majesty, but soon moldering to dust, trodden under the foot of man, and prey even to the vile worm. It is raining tonight. Now it increases. Faster and faster it comes until it no longer rains but pours. Well, let it come. What if it does come in my tent? It does not hurt much and then one feels so refreshed when it is over. The jolly rain is always welcome to me while on this island.

Monday May 12th

              I received today letters from mother, Frank, and GJS; also a package containing the daguerreotype of GJS, ETC, and SHB. Everything all right at home.

Tuesday May 13th

              Received a paper from Frank but was acquainted with all the news it contained before. Have written to mother, Frank and Smith. Feel very well both in body and spirit.

Friday May 16th

              Victory again! McClellan has met the enemy at Williamsburg and utterly defeated them, driving them before him like sheep. Bully for our side! Rebellion is hopelessly crushed, and unlike truth when crushed, cannot rise again. The might and the right are on our side and what can withstand their power?

Sunday May 18th

              Six months today since I enlisted. It hardly seems 6 weeks. One half year ago today I took leave of home and friends, to go - the Lord knows where; to come back - the Lord knows when. Since then the earth has travelled half its mighty orbit; bloody battles have been fought, and thousands of immortal souls have been sent to the God who gave them life; the world of mind has been marching onward in its career; and many great things have been accomplished. Have I done anything? I hope so. I have tried to gain something in the past few months; if I have failed, it cannot be helped. The past is not recoverable, but the future, the golden future, is mine; to be improved or not according to my will. May it prove indeed golden, and worthy of commendation.

Monday May 19th

              Have been on fatigue today, bushwhacking in the rear of the camp. Very warm.

Tuesday May 20th

              The 91st left today on the Philadelphia. Their destination is not generally known, but it is supposed to be Pensecola. They left on short notice, as nothing of the kind was surmised until last night. I wish it had been for us, for they stand a chance, at least, of seeing some skirmishing, but the gods hold this regiment in special abhorrence. I received this evening 2 letters, one each from Rev Mr Brown and Mrs Graves.

Wednesday May 21st

              We have spent the morning mostly in decorating for the festival which is to take place tomorrow in our camp in honor of our recent victories.

Thursday May 22nd

              Well, the great festival is now going on and as a matter of course I am on guard, acting sergeant. The camp looks splendidly. At the entrance to each street is a leafy arch, interwoven with flowers, and hanging from it are stars, wreaths, etc. The parade grounds and officers' tents are very tastefully arranged and bear many appropriate mottoes and devices. The camp was enlivened by many fair daughters of Cayo Wanso, who, however, were monopolized by the officers; and everybody seemed to think that everything was well arranged. In the afternoon there was a full dress parade; after which considerable fun was created by the appearance and manoeuvering of a party very fantastically dressed who called themselves 'The Colonel's Obstacles'. Towards night the whiskey began to flow pretty freely and the effects are beginning to be seen on both officers and men.

Friday May 23rd

              They kept the guard moving pretty lively last evening until about 11 o'clock. There were several fights and I had to keep around the guards nearly all the time. The wind is very high today and the dust is playing the deuce with our pretensions to cleanliness.

Tuesday May 27th

              Have been on fatigue at the fort storing barrels of bread, etc and truly it was fatigue. I came to nearly being placed under arrest as I was told to bring my squad back for lunch at 1 o'clock and I did not get there until 3 the regular time for fatigue parties to commence work. I wish they had, as I would like the fun of defeating them on court-martial.

Wednesday May 28th

              It has been raining spasmodically nearly all day and at drill this afternoon we were dismissed on this account, shortly after parade was formed. Have felt rather unwell.

Thursday May 29th

              It has been raining a great part of the day. This evening I have been to the city to deliver a note from the Capt to the Spanish consul. He invited me in, offered me a cigar, and was very polite and gentlemanly.

Saturday May 31st

              Another dead beat in our Co. One of the men, a Dutchman, while on post last night shot his thumb off with his rifle, how I cannot imagine. This afternoon the Gen reviewed all the troops on the island near the fort. Golly it was hot marching in our dress uniforms.

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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 gilf 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 ©