My Civil War Journal

By: Lily Weidler

Journal Entry #1Who are you?

My name is William Robinson and I live in Springfield, Illinois with my wife and baby boy named Samuel. I am twenty-two years old. At home, I work in my uncle’s dry goods (grocery) store and I stock shelves and also work as a cashier. In the weeks my uncle can’t pay me, he lets me take home some food for my family and I. On the weekends, I fish in the local river with my wife to get some fish for meals. We live in a small brick house cottage that has all the necessary things: a bathroom, kitchen, living room, and a bedroom. I volunteered in the war because I want to help President Lincoln and his wish to stop growth in slavery.  That being said, I am fighting for the Union side and I am a Private rank.  Think about all those horribly treated African Americans who are forced to serve whites!

Photo Prompt: Soldier Selfie

This is me in my battle uniform.

Journal Entry #2 Civil War Slang Conversation

Sofia: What are you here for possum?

William: My bread basket hurts!

Sofia: But the other day you were as fit as a fiddle?

William: I think it’s from the sheet iron crackers.

Sofia: Why don’t you go sit up on that bed and be as snug as a bug.

William: Good because I’m played out.

Sofia: Just lay there while I am toeing the mark

Sofia: Let me go grab you a root

William: That’s scarce as hen s teeth!

Sofia: Anything for my top rail #1 patient!

Journal Entry #3 Letter to Family

Dear Mary and Samuel,

Camp life is not comfortable and the generals are very strict. Camp is located in the forest. We have several tents that we sleep in and it's very uncomfortable to sleep on the rock hard ground. We work from sunrise to sunset and it's a very tiring and long hardworking day. We practice being soldiers in the fields and obey the commands from  the generals. We also do marching exercises and gun practice (learning how to hold it, firing, ect.) In the little free time we have, we play cards. When we are not practicing, we are cleaning tents, fixing equipment, feeding the horses, and of course gathering food and water. Being sanitary is very important to our leaders. If we are messy, we have silly punishments like using a log as a gun for the whole day. I heard it is very tiring and heavy to carry by the end of the day. Luckily, I haven't had to do that yet.

Photo Prompt-Fun:

My soldier friends and I like to play cards in our free time.

Journal Entry #4 Jeremiah Handley

ME: How do Jeremiah and the Union troops, some of whom are African-American, react to slaves they meet?

JEREMIAH: When we come across slaves, we try to help them escape and get out of the south. We lead them to an underground railroad so they can leave the south safely through the night.

ME: How do the hungry troops treat Southern farms?

JEREMIAH: If any of us troops are hungry and the only option we have is a Southern farm, we steal a little food because the farm owner wouldn't give us anything since we are fighting for the Union.

ME: Will Jeremiah ever know what happened to his brother?

JEREMIAH: I don't think that I will ever find out what happened to my brother because people did not record every single soldier that died. There was about 600,000 causalities and it would be hard to figure out the exact 600,000 people that passed. Also, it would be hard to find my brother  because back then, we didn't have the technology like we have today so the only way I could find out was through newspapers or through people.

ME: What will a Confederate prison camp be like?

JEREMIAH: I think this camp will be horrible because we are captured by the enemy and they don't like us at all. We probably won't get any food or drink because all the money is going towards the war and there is not enough to buy that kind of stuff.

ME: How serious is Jeremiah's injury?

JEREMIAH: My injury is serious. After running away from a fight, I got off balance and twisted my ankle and then the Confederate troops captured me and took me to a Confederate prison.

ME: Will he survive?

JEREMIAH: I think I will survive. After my ankle is healed, I will run away from the prison camp and keep fighting.

ME: What has become of his brother?

JEREMIAH: I still do not know anything of my brother because no news is going through the prison camp. Maybe when I escape, I can find something out and get to see him after the war is over.

Photo Prompt - Morning

Our troop is the only ones out in this deserted forest. Our plan is to sneak up on the enemy this morning.

Journal Entry #6Song

Leavin' our families behind

But we will be just fine

Oh, oh, oh, oh

Off to war we go

Off to war we go

Fightin' for the Union

Trying to stop slavery

What a cruel thing it is

We can fix it maybe!

Oh, oh, oh, oh

Off to war we go

Off to war we go

Goodbye for now

We'll see you soon

Maybe in a few years

Around noon?

Journal Entry #5

Camp Life

Whenever we are not fighting in battles, we do a lot of fun stuff during our free time. My personal favorite is dancing to music because it is really fun to do with my friends. Some soldiers brought their own instruments from home so we dance and sing to some classic war songs that include, "Battle Cry of Freedom", "Battle Hymn of the Republic", and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again". My favorite song is "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" because it reminds me that the war will soon be over and I get to see my family again.

If I had to choose a favorite food to eat at camp, it would be hardtack. It is basically a really hard biscuit mostly filled with worms. One of my soldier friends found 32 worms in his hardtack.

Here are the ingredients for hardtack:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • Salt (5-6 pinches)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Fork

Journal Entry #7 Illnesses and Injuries

For me, I got sick here and there but no too bad that I had to go to the hospital. I mostly got sick from sleeping in my tent with other sick soldiers and from drinking bad water sometimes.

From what I hear, the hospitals are very unsanitary and lots of soldiers complain of the poor service. Lots of soldiers got sick from drinking unsanitary water from dirty swamps. When they go to the hospital, medicine is low on supply or doesn't work very well. A lot of soldiers also got sick from sleeping in their tent with other sick soldiers.

When soldiers are injured on the battlefield, hospitals are miles away and people are lucky to get a stretcher for the ride because they are very rare. For operations, doctors are also very unsanitary. With blood on their hands, they wipe it on dirty towels or on their coat then go to the next patient who could very well get sick from the doctor. How ironic! For operations, medicine for people who need to get knocked out is low on supply so people are often awake when they get surgery. How painful! Hospitals are not much of a help so sometimes the soldiers take care of themselves and don't even bother going to the poor service of the hospitals miles away.

Photo Prompt-Battle:

Journal Entry #8 Coming Home

When I got home, I felt so good to be back. I got to see my wife and my little boy. I also was really happy because the Union won! I did my job and came back all in one piece. Luckily, I was not dead or injured badly.

Anyways, when I got home, my wife ran over to hug me crying tears of joy. She congratulated me on winning the war. I felt lucky to be alive and able to see my family again. I knew that coming into the war, I would get dirty, and a few cuts, but I knew that I had to risk my life to end slavery because it is such a horrible thing.

Photo Prompt-Home:

Here is a painting of me arriving at home.

Photo Prompt-Color:

This is what you would see through my eyes at the battlefield.


Civil War Soldier from Foote, Iowa. GunPunDit. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. <>.

Soldiers playing cards in camp. Civil War Trust, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. < warfare/winter/cards-729.jpg>.

"Croatan Forest North Carolina.", n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. < dynoGallDetail.asp?photoID=6063257>.

"Virginia at War." Civil War Trust, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.< photographers/brady-center-773x600.jpg>.

"HomeComing,1865.",n.d.Web.28Apr.2014. < fig78.jpg>.

Smoke billows into the sky. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. <>.

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