The Diary of Elizabeth Conner
A tale of a fifteen-year-old young lady on the Union side
Tuesday November 27, 1862
I have decided that it is crucial for the Union nation to have documentation of the events happening in the Americas. Since I have always excelled in Writing class in school, I am going to write a journal during these hard Civil War times. Since you know nothing of me, I am going to tell you a little about myself. I am a fifteen-year-old girl, and I live with my Ma, Pa, my little twin brother and sister, Paul and Laurie, and my older sister Beatrice. My father is a soldier in the war. He is stationed in Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. We live in Westchester, New York in a small three-bedroom house. I have to go now.
Thursday November 29, 1862
This morning I went to school with Beatrice, Paul, and Laurie. After school, I took Laurie and Paul to the park to take their minds off the war. We saw three women standing by the fountain asking for money to support the war. Laurie had found a one-cent piece in her shoe, so she handed it to the women.
After the park, I took the twins back home and did some cleaning around the house. I swept, mopped the floors, made the beds, and cleaned out the pots. To finish off the morning, I played checkers with Ma. Then, I helped Beatrice make lunch for everyone. We ate fresh vegetables from the garden with some milk.
To help with the war, I made a poster telling people to donate money to help the soldiers. Of course the twins each made one too because they are always copying me, but I don't mind. As Pa always says, imitation is flattery. Then, we put up the posters in the shoe store with a box with a slit in the top to donate money. Mr. Hansen said that he would watch the donation box to make sure that no scoundrel took the money.
Then, we walked home where supper was waiting for us. After a small, poorly-rationed dinner, I got Paul ready for bed, and Beatrice got Laurie ready for bed.
It has been a very long day, so I must go.
Thursday December 14, 1862
We all miss you very much. Beatrice and I keep hearing stories of soldiers being killed in battle. Only your letters back to us let us know if you are still alive. Please be safe, Father, and remember how much your family loves you.
Ma has been really sad ever since you left. She cries in her bedroom every night. Beatrice and I always take Paul and Laurie into our room to shield them from mother's cries. A few times, I have heard Beatrice sobbing in her bed on the other side of the bedroom. I always want to go and comfort her, but I am too scared to show her my tears that are usually streaming down my face.
We heard about the Battle of Fredericksburg. Congratulations on your victory! One headline read, "From the Army of Potomac" and had General Robert E. Lee's perspective of the battle. Everyone in the town celebrated last night when we heard the news. Ma celebrated with a grand chicken roast with potatoes. After dinner, Ma even let Beatrice and I have a sip of wine! Beatrice got half a glass because, of course, she is one year older. But Father, I really don't see what the fuss about wine is! I found it to be quite unpleasant!
Mother is calling me now to go feed the chickens. I love you so much Pa.
Saturday December 25, 1862
Today is Christmas! First thing in the morning, all four of us children woke up to find Santa's milk and cookies gone! Beatrice and I both know that Ma ate the cookies and that Santa isn't real, but we played along for Laurie and Paul. After checking the cookies and milk, we took a peek under the Christmas tree. We fondled over the beautifully wrapped presents for what seemed like forever.
Then we went into Ma and Pa's room to wake up Ma. She grumbled because of the early morning wake up call. Finally, however, we dragged her into the parlor where the Christmas tree beautifully stood. We each grabbed a gift and began to tear through the wrapping paper. I got two Sunday dresses for church, a beautiful sapphire bracelet, and a bonnet.
After opening presents, we baked cookies. Paul was interested for a total of five minutes before running into the yard to play. Beatrice, Laurie, Ma, and I baked cookies and other sweets for three hours. After we were done baking, we took three dozen cookies down to a soldier donation center where the cookies would be sent to soldiers in war.
Beatrice and I stayed at the donation center where we helped until one in the afternoon. Then, I sold one of my old Sunday school dresses to a girl two years younger than me. I used the money to donate to the soldiers.
Pleased with my generosity of the day, I went to church with my family. After the sermon, we went home and made a grand Christmas dinner. Beatrice said prayer, and then we dug in. I helped clean up and wash up the twins. Then, Ma read all four of us a Christmas tale. I wonder what Pa did for Christmas. That is all for now.
Wednesday May 3, 1863
Dearest Elizabeth and Family,
Sadly, we have just lost the Battle of Chancellorsville. It is the bloodiest battle I have fought so far. My fellow troops' morale is very low. I am very ready to see you dearest Edith. All of the troops are ready to see their wives. I love you so much. Kiss the children for me.
Beatrice, I hope you are helping your Ma around the house. I read a book in camp that I think you might like. I know you love to read so check out the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I love you, Beatrice. Take care.
Elizabeth, oh how I miss you so! Your latest letter made me chuckle! Yes, indeed. Wine does have an unusual taste. I wish you were here with me keeping me occupied. I miss your young humor. It is very serious around camp. You would hate it here! Keep safe, dear.
Paul and Laurie, your mother sent me pictures of you two. You have grown so much! And I see that you lost your two front teeth, Paul! I love you so much dears!
Take care, Family,
Wednesday, May 5, 1863
The whole family was very pleased to receive Pa's letter. Ma cried with joy to see that Pa was still alive and healthy. Beatrice went straight to the library to get the book that Pa had mentioned. The twins won't stop quarreling because Laurie is jealous of Paul's lost teeth. I, however, am sad because the letter reminded me how much I miss having Pa around. I must leave because the twins are being too loud to even think around here.
Tuesday, April 15, 1865
Lincoln was assassinated yesterday. Mother cried. It seems like now that he is gone, the North has no leader. Lincoln is the one who kept the Union together through the whole war. The twins are very young, so they do not understand the devastation of Abraham Lincoln's death.
The whole town is in angst. People have put up posters in remembrance of Lincoln. Lincoln's one purpose was to bring the country together, and he succeeded. It is so sad to see such a great man with such great ambitions just die.
I'm sure that Father, along with all other soldiers from the North, is mourning on this horrid day. Lincoln was a great president and man of the United States of America. He will surely be missed by Americans of the century. In the newspapers, one headline is "Attempted Murder of Secretary Seward and Sons." The word "murder" makes me sick to my stomach. Another was "Assassination of President Lincoln." Both headlines make me very sad. I have to go.