Journal of John Smith

22 year old John Smith from Fairfield County, Ohio

Dear family,

Its been 1 year sense I join the army, now would be a good time start sending you letters.  I've been thinking lately, and I have come to terms with the fact that I am now longer considered a writer, but a Colonel.  I am disappointed that I won't be able to continue my career in writing, but maybe writing you will help.   I hope that I can make it out of the war to see you all again, I have many stories to tell and I miss you all so much. I hope you will all read my letters at the same time so you can live my adventures together. I'm now a Union colonel, leading the 13th Ohio regiment, my sister, Mary Jane is a nurse somewhere in the army.  I'm currently leading 800 men, we train all day or scout for rebels.  I've been wanting to write to you, mother, Sarah, and Ella but I just didn't have time as I have people to lead and orders from the General to where we should be.  My dear wife, Sarah, I hope you know I am fine and it will be over soon.  Yours, John

Dear family,

It's June 28, 1863, my men are marching through Pennsylvania up North.  We aren't setting up camp yet but we are stopping here for the night, people keep asking me "when are we going to fight rebels?", "does Meade know where General Lee is?"   But I don't have an answer, I don't know myself.  Right now we are eating breakfast, bread and a little beef.  I feel kinda bad for getting a little more food than the others.  I don't know how long this war will last, we may not have enough food or fighting power for our men.  We've been marching for about three weeks now it's getting to be a routine for us, we get up eat, walk for hours, eat and then sleep.  I think my men should do more training but we have orders to meet the rest of the army soon.  When we were walking I had men telling me, "The rebels have been around our territory sir, we should find the rest of the army."  I keep telling them we will meet them soon.  I'm not sure where the rebels are but I want to find them and end this war.  I want to come home to you all, it has been too long, but I will stay as long as this war lasts, we are fighting for other's freedom.  Some of my men have had their enlistments up, and are leaving us because they say this war is lasting to long.   I've been hoping that there will be a battle that will make them change their minds.  We need a battle that will make them believe that we can win this war.  I heard some fellows talking about how if we could keep the rebels out and capture Lee, then there would be fellows who will want to participate in the victory of the Union.  I think that their right, at the beginning of the war everyone thought that it would be fast.  With the help of more volunteers we can end this now.  Love, John

Dear family,

It's June 30, 1863 , I want you to know that I've received orders, we are meeting the rebels somewhere in Gettysburg to drive them away.  I've been told it'll be just a skirmish, so don't worry.  I don't have time to write anymore but I will as soon as this is over.   Staying Safe, John

Dear family,

It's July 5, 1863, and I don't think there has ever been a battle this bloody. I heard that the rebels were just out to steal some shoes, from a random shoe store in Gettysburg.  Just outside town both armies met.  If you've been getting my letters, you know we didn't expect much death.  In all, the Union had over 30,000 casualties, half of my men gone.  We won the battle at least, General Meade kept us from chasing the rebels as they fled  south.  I don't think they will come back, it wouldn't be smart.  I heard that Vicksburg was captured the same day we ended this vicious three day battle.  I'm alright, but I will not be able to write for a while because I have to tend to the wounded.  I need more men now, but that's the least of our worries. I have a feeling, that this is the victory we had been waiting for, more people will believe, come out and fight to end this war.  Because of the loss of Vicksburg the south is now split in two.  I think I'm coming home, to a family living in an entirely free country.   Missing you, John

Dear family,

It's August 1st, 1863, and I am tired from the need to do something other than drill.  These men can follow orders well enough, but enough is never enough and all we have been doing for the past month is drill.   I have men who are so tired of drill that they are worse than they were when they started.   They are getting in trouble for it too.  The punishments are not fun either.  Some men have been forced to march with a log or have had the "bucking and gagging" which is as pleasant as it sounds.  All that just for disobeying.  Tired but loving you, John

Dear family, Its August 5th, 1863, we  sang this song that we made at camp,

We all fight for the same reason

But we are all here for different reasons

We all fight for what we believe in

And answer the call of freedom

We all fight for the same reason

But we are here for different reasons

We fight to keep our nation together

To hold our Independence as one nation

We all fight for the same reason

But we are here for different reasons

We fought for this country before

And we will once again

We all fight for the same reason

But we are here for different reasons

We fight for others rights

And we fight for whole people

It keeps my spirits up but you don't have to like it. I hope things are going alright at home with you guys cause we are all fine. No new news on battle. I'll write again soon, love you all.  John

Dear family,

It's August 7th, 1863, we have been low on food for a while now. So it's about time I told you about my meals.  I don't think that anyone enjoys the food personally.  When we have meat we have very salty beef.  Sometimes with a lack of food we have a flour- water crackers that we call a "hardtack".  I do not enjoy the food, but here at least there are things I can do that keep me occupied.  I have been singing, some men play instruments, sometimes I gamble. I know I'm supposed to discourage that, but this is a war and if my men and I enjoy it, no one is telling me otherwise.  Still going strong, John

Dear family,

It's August 10th, 1863, I have never written to you about the death at camp.   We don't like to talk about it here very much either because you never know if you will be the one to be sick next.  I have been sick a few times.   I made a trip the hospital, it was crowded and disgusting, they had many people with injuries or sickness.  The surgeons are doing all they can all the time.  Most people suffer from things like diarrhea or a simple cold, those are often the most deadly.  I think it's because of the awful sanitation that people are getting sick.  There was 20 deaths yesterday and I heard our camp is considered very clean compared to some.  Well, I hope you guys are safe.  I'll be home soon.  I don't have much paper or ink left so when the war is over I will see you.    Yours always, John

Dear Officer Leger,

My family is all safe and I'm so glad to be back.  Aspen even though we probably won't see each other I hope you won't forget me, because fighting beside you was an honor.  My child is now four and because she was one when I left, I think she will have to get used to me once again.  I'm so glad to see my wife again, I hope your wife Lucy is alright, it would be great for you to write back and tell me.  My mother is fine and also very happy that the war is over. We are both so lucky to have lived to get to see our families again. I hope to hear from you soon, until then, Officer Leger, goodbye and stay safe. 

Colonel John Smith

Works Cited

“Courtesy of Geoffrey Blodgett.” Downtown Oberlin Walking Tour of Civil War Monuments. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. <http://www.oberlin.edu/external/EOG/CivilWarTour/Stop10.html>.

“Death and Injury on the Battlefield Part I.” Wig-Wags. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. <http://www.wig-wags.com/page/2/>.

“Oak Roll-Top Desk Fitted with Fitted Interior.” Civil War Painting Leads Louisiana Historic House Sale. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2014. <http://www.artfixdaily.com/artwire/release/8514-civil-war-painting-leads-louisiana-historic-house-sale>.

“Punishment in the Civil War.” Punishment in the Civil War. N.p., 29 Feb. 2004. Web. 22 May 2014. <http://www.civilwarhome.com/civilwarpunishment.htm>.

“Union Soldiers Cooking Dinner in Camp.” New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/civil-war-cooking-what-the-union-soldiers-ate/>.

“William Henry Dickson Co. I 58th O.V.I. Fairfield County, Ohio.” Civil War Soldiers Fairfield County, Ohio. Civil War 150 Fairfield County, n.d. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://www.civilwarfairfieldcountyohio.org/civilwarsoldiersfco.php>.

Comment Stream