Suzanna Gordon's Diary.
My name is Suzanna Gordon. I am 16 years old. My brother, Scott, is fighting in the American Civil War for the Union army. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I live with my mother, Nora Gordon, and my father, Henry Gordon. I also live with my little sister, Margo Gordon, who is 6 years old.
"WAKE UP SUZANNA! IT'S TIME FOR MY BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST!!!!!!" I woke up to my little sister screaming in my face.
"Okay, okay I'm coming Margo!" I said.
Today was Margo's 7th birthday. Every year for her birthday, we would have a birthday breakfast for her and we would have a special breakfast, consisting of toast, bacon, and eggs, instead of the usual oatmeal. Usually my brother, Scott, was here to share Margo's special moment with our family, but he has been fighting in the civil war. This is Margo's 4th birthday that Scott has missed. I sighed as I jumped out of bed. Hopefully Scott is doing okay today.
I went downstairs and breathed in the fresh smell of breakfast. I sat down and started scarfing my meager portion.
"Suzanna slow down, the food's not going to crawl away from you!" my father exclaimed.
I started chewing slower. After we all finished breakfast, which barely filled me up (we were always scarce on food.) , I ran up the stairs.
"Where are my presents!?" Margo demanded.
"Ummm......well.......we don't....." my parents stammered.
"Here they are!" I said, presenting gifts wrapped in old newspaper.
My parents looked surprised. My sister opened a bracelet from me, a porcelain doll from "mom", and a blanket from "dad". I knew my parents were running on low income because they spent most of their money on supplies and things for Scott. I made the bracelet and blanket and bought the doll and wrapped them for Margo with old newspapers.
While Margo was fascinated with her new trinkets, my parents brought me to the other room and started questioning me.
"Where did you get those gifts?"
"Don't tell me you stole them!?"
"How did you get the money for that?"
"I saved up my money from shoveling Mrs. Darby's snow off her sidewalk." I said proudly.
Mrs. Darby was our next door neighbor, and was in her old age, so she needed a lot of help around the house.
"Thank you so much Suzanna! We didn't know what to say to her when we didn't have any gifts for her," my mom said, embarrassed.
"It's okay, mom, I know how hard you work to keep food on the table for us and to keep Scott healthy."
After that I checked the mail. I was ecstatic to receive a package from Scott! What could that be? The package said "The Gordon's" with our address on it. In the corner of the package, I spotted an address. It said South Carolina. I ripped open the package and saw a letter. I started reading it:
"Hello, everyone. If you are worrying about me, don't. I am fine. Yesterday was February 18. We had a busy day of battle yesterday but finally Charleston was surrendered. February 5-7, which was a couple weeks ago, was when we had the Battle of Hatcher's Run. General Grant's objectives were to block Robert E. Lee's supply route on the Boydton Plank Road and to take control of the last remaining railroad furnishing Petersburg, the south side. I got a minor gunshot wound but I will be okay. I am in South Carolina now, but we are about to head to North Carolina. Hope everyone there is doing well. Also I hope this package gets to you by Margo's birthday. I left a little present for her in here! Tell her I say happy birthday and I love her. Things are looking good here. Hope to see you all soon!
I looked back in the package and saw an oval shaped gold necklace that opened up with a picture of Scott on the left and a picture of Margo on the right. There was a note inside the necklace that said, "Even if we are not together in person, we can still be together by heart. Love your big brother, Scott." Margo was going to love this!
After I gave Margo her present from Scott, I helped my parents out and started working on some housework.
Finally it was lunch time. I quickly ate a sandwich, and headed out the door to help my neighbors with any chores they may have for me to earn more money to go shopping. Then I went to my room and started reading a newspaper article about the war. The more I learned, the more I could understand and talk to Scott. My mom suddenly stepped into my room.
"Honey, I am making blankets to send to Scott's camp because they have a shortage of bedding there. Will you please help me?"
"Sure," I replied.
After helping my mother make blankets, which was actually kind of fun, we went to the kitchen to make dinner. We had decided to make beef stew and bread, but of course there was not enough to go around, as usual. We try to make the best of what we have, though. Now I am going to go to bed. Tomorrow will bring another great day for all of us.
Above is a picture of me. Below is a picture of Scott.
I woke up this morning and decided to write a letter back to Scott.
"Hello Scott. I hope you are doing well. Life is good here. Margo had a great birthday and we got your package just in time! She loves that necklace and refuses to take it off, even to bathe! Mother and father are doing well too. Of course they are worrying about you, they always do. I hope your wound is okay and only minor. How is life there? Mom and I made blankets for your camp yesterday. You should get them soon. We all love and miss you here. I hope you can come home soon! Enough small talk. I just got word about the Battle of Wilmington that was fought on February 11-22. I don't know how the newspapers didn't tell us about this battle until March, even though they told us about the Battle of Hatcher's Run, which happened later... Anyways, this is what I know about the Battle of Wilmington.... With the fall of Fort Fisher to Maj. Gen. Alfred Terry’s and Rear Adm. David Porter’s combined operation on January 15, Wilmington’s days were numbered. About 6,600 Confederate troops under Maj. Gen. Robert Hoke held Fort Anderson and a line of works that prevented the Federals from advancing up the Cape Fear River. Early February, the XXIII Corps arrived at Fort Fisher, and Maj. Gen. John Schofield took command of the Union forces. Schofield now began a series of maneuvers to force the Confederates to abandon their defenses. On February 16, Jacob Cox’s division ferried across the river to confront Fort Anderson, while Porter’s gunboats bombarded the fort. On February 17-18, Ames’s division conducted a wide flanking march to get in the fort’s rear. Seeing the trap ready to close, the Confederates evacuated Fort Anderson during the night of the 18th-19th, withdrawing to Town Creek to form a new defensive line. The next day, this line collapsed to increasing Federal pressures. During the night of February 21-22, Gen. Braxton Bragg ordered the evacuation of Wilmington, burning cotton, tobacco, and government stores. The newspaper said, "The burning of cotton, tobacco, and government stores by Gen. Braxton Bragg leads to yet another Union victory." I was so overjoyed to hear that it was a Union victory. I am so proud of you. Sometimes I wish to myself that you were home and not fighting in this war. But then in the end, I realize that you are fighting for the freedom of others which is a better thing to do than to stay home and take care of things around here. I've always just wanted you to follow your dreams and if this is your dream, then why stop you? I love you big brother. See you soon!
Love, your not so little sister, Suzanna."
Above is the Battle of Wilmington. Below is Margo.
I woke up this morning and went to the supermarket to buy a few goods for my family with the money I saved up yesterday from helping out the neighbors with chores. When I got there I decided to put up a sign to collect canned goods for Scott's base camp. Within minutes of putting up the sign, I got more than 20 cans! Everyone was dropping in cans and the box was full in 15 minutes! I was overjoyed!
Mostly everybody in town knew Scott and liked him. He was one of the town's friendliest people and always had a smile on his face when talking to people, even in the worst conditions.
Next I went to the doctor's to see if he had any extra medical supplies that I could send to Scott's camp. It turns out he had a bunch of extra medical supplies that just got shipped yesterday! Today is a lucky day for me!
Then I headed home and and got the mail. No mail from Scott, sadly. Hopefully if there is a battle today, it will be a union victory and I hope Scott's wound is okay. I worry about Scott of course, but never as much as mother and father. All they will talk about at dinner is Scott.
"How is Scott doing today?" they would ask each other and us.
"Did you get any mail from him today?"
"Do you think he has any major wounds?"
"Do they have enough supplies? If not, Suzanna and I can collect or make more to send to them."
The endless questions and comments about the war, the discussions about the battles, the questions about Scott. They seemed to never end.
Anyways, my mom wanted us to have tea together so we had tea. And of course, Margo brought her doll and sat her in her own chair.
We had cold bread, stewed fruit, and light cake. It was good. I shared my cake with Margo because there was not enough for everyone.
It was the afternoon now. I decided to read a book. After that I helped my mother sew pillows for Scott's camp. Then I went outside to play a game with Margo. Of course after that, she wanted me to play dolls so I did that too.
Now I am going to bed since it is getting late. Hopefully tomorrow we will receive a letter from Scott.
Above is Scott's camp. Below is Margo's porcelain doll.
I decided to check the mail when I got up. There was a letter from Scott! That was quick!
"Hello Suzanna, Margo, mother, and father. I was happy to see a letter from Suzanna. Yes the battle of Wilmington was a union victory. Suzanna, you are getting very smart about the war! When I come home, we can talk more about it. But now, it just depresses me to talk about the war because it just makes me realize how far we are from each other. But things are looking up greatly. It looks like the union army will win and the war may be over soon! But don't get your hopes up too high because anything can happen. Anyways, how are things doing there? Is mother still worrying about me? Is father still working at the factory? Things aren't so bad here. We have enough bedding and canned goods to last us a week because of Suzanna and mother! Thank you ladies so much! Our commander would thank you in person, he is so grateful for all that you send to us, and so are all the other soldiers. Too bad they can't right now, but maybe they will after the war ends, who knows? We just had the Battle of Wyse Fork and it was another union victory! Margo, I'm glad that you like the necklace I got you! Hope life is good there, because things are looking up here! I love you all and I will see you soon!
P.S. Suzanna, if you learn anything else about the war or anything else in general, be sure to tell me. I love receiving your letters!"
I am so happy to get a letter from Scott, I love hearing from him and I am glad the war might almost be over.
Mother thinks that Scott is being too hopeful in thinking that the war may be over soon. She is just glad that he is okay.
Father thinks that the war may actually be over soon and that we will definitely see Scott in the next month. He is already planning what we are going to do when Scott arrives back home.
Of course, Margo doesn't know what to think about the letter. She is just glad that "big bubby Scotty" is writing to her.
Above is the Battle of Wyse Fork on a map. Below is a picture of them in battle.
When I woke up this morning, I found out some surprising news. President Lincoln has been assassinated! He was in Ford's Theater sitting quietly when he was shot in the head. John Wilkes Booth assassinated him! We all put up flags to commemorate him this morning. Everyone in the USA put up flags for him! It was a depressing time for everyone.
My mother and father were the saddest of all. And of course, Margo had no clue what was going on.
That was all everybody could talk about. How President Lincoln was killed and who killed him and if they were in jail or not or what gun killed him. The newspapers even couldn't stop talking about it. "The mystery of President Lincoln's killer" or "President Lincoln's assassination, the man behind it all." To me it all didn't matter.
But I knew this meant Scott would be home soon and he would make it out alive. I was so grateful! People always asked me "How do you not worry about him dying in the war?" I would always give them the same answer, "I do worry, all the time actually, but I know that if he dies, I will see him again, and that he will be in a better place."
I love you Scott, make it home safe