Civil War Diary

Written by Mary-Ann Elizabeth Smith



who are you/soldier selfie

 Dear Diary,

     My name is Mary-Ann, and I am fifteen years old of today.  I have attached a "selfie" picture of me.  I am a spy for the confederacy, which is harder than you think. I live as an adopted child who pretends to write to my friends at an orphanage but really, I write to my parents in Charleston. I tell my parents all about life in the north, and life here is alright, I guess. Every day I go to work at the nearest medical center, being as gifted as I am. Wow, I have a lot to explain. I learned medical services since I was four years old from my mother and father, who are wealthy doctors in the south and they write to them twice a month. The only person I write to more than my parents is Lucy Withers. She is my best friend, and I don't know what I would do without her. I'm afraid that is all I can say for now. I will tell you more when I can, but my "mother" is calling.

From, Mary-Ann


conversation entry

I have been in the village that is my real home for a short time, since there was news from the Union. I met up with Lucy, and this was the conversation we recorded.

Mary Ann and Lucy (Louis) are talking in a village, Mary Ann is visiting the camp with new information on the union.

Mary Ann: Luc-Louis! I’m so hunkey dorey that you could see me while I’m here.

Lucy: Umm, Mary Ann, that’s not how you use “Hunkey Dorey;” if you are going to make people believe this, you have to be a more convincing, normal person.

Mary-Ann: I know, I know. I’ve been through the mill since the last time I saw you, my possum. Oh gosh, this slang is so strange.

Lucy: Well, no matter- why are you here? Is there more news?

Mary-Ann: Yes, my days in Illinois have served me well. There is news of an attack, but I really must, uh, skiddattle.

Lucy: Alright. Make sure you write me!

Mary-Ann: I can predict that I will.


camp life entry/color

Dear Louis,

It has been awhile since I have talked to you. Or write to you, that is. I have thankfully gotten away from my "family" for a bit, sine I am signed up for a three week part as a nurse in the war. On the union side, though. Although it may seem like it would bother me that I have to heal the opposite side, I do despise the North, but I do not want any deaths. At least I am not fighting for them.

My house is more permanent than most, as I sleep in a small cabin that five or six soldiers made. We called it the Nurse's tent. Very original, I know. The work has been minimal, because all we really have to tend to is when the soldiers cut themselves with their own bayonets during a drill practice. Which is more often than you'd think, actually!

Today was actually not very eventful- only one soldier had a self-inflicted injury. I spent most of the time with two twins I met today both young for the army at age ten. We tied grass outside my cabin. It reminded me that green was my favorite color. I have attached a picture.

The conditions here are very poor, and not what I am used to in SC or even my new home. The cabins look like they are not fit for a slave, and I am deathly afraid that I will catch the flu. I would still be able to heal myself if I do. There have been punishments that some soldiers have received, and one man I saw was running around wearing a barrel. Many soldiers actually do catch the flu, and some are so sick of the drill practices that they fake the flu and come to us begging to cover them. Needless to say, us nurses are very good liars, but you already knew that.

From, DD



Dear Louis,

I needed to write you a letter right away with news and questions.

How are they feeding you? In my nurse's tent, we have enough materials that I could make our traditional bread. Remember: You mix up warm water, yeast, and flour and other ingredients and than you roll it and knead it until it is ready to cook. It is my favorite food to eat at camp. I heard from almost all passing soldiers that they eat mostly weevil-filled hardtack, but I am lucky I don't have to eat that. I hope you are doing the same, even though I have heard rumors of spider web corn bread, whatever that is.

I woke up this morning and I immediately saw the sun shining beautifully, and I thought you would want a picture! Good luck at camp. Have you made any new friends?

Love, Mary Ann



Dear Diary,

     Today I met a wonderful boy named Jeremiah Handley, and I asked him a few questions about what he told me of his life as a soldier. Here is the small "interview".

Mary Ann: Jeremiah, when you chose to join the Southern army, what caused you to make that choice?

Jeremiah: Well, Mary Ann, I was surprised myself. I mostly made the choice because I wanted to fight for my country, and what I truly believed in. I believed that this was my calling. I also fought because my mother wanted me to fight, and she knew how I felt about it.

Mary Ann: Jeremiah, looking back, what is something in your life that you are proud or happy about?

Jeremiah: I am very proud that I lied and said that I was of age to fight. I am sure that many boys my age were very scared to lie, and went off to be in the marching band or something like that. I believe that not anyone could go up and tell a person that you were of age when it was a full-on lie.

Mary Ann: I agree. Jeremiah, what is one thing in your life you wish had been different?

Jeremiah: Wow, you have a lot of tough questions! If I had to pick something, i guess that I wish that I did not board the train and that I went on foot with my brother. It would be so much more relieving if I knew that my brother was alive, or even if i could confirm that he was dead, for that matter. But I just do not know.

Mary Ann: Last question here, I promise! Jeremiah, what will it be like to be in a battle with tens of thousands of soldiers?

Jeremiah: Well I do not know yet. I can guess that it will feel bad, but good also. It would be bad, because once in a while I remember that everyone is fighting for a reason, and when someone falls, it will hurt me inside even though they are a stranger. Good, only because i will be doing what i feel in right and just.

    After I questioned him, we talked about camp and such. I showed him a picture of a campfire that I was at, and it was a lot of fun. We all pretended we had s'mores and roasted sticks instead. We also told ghost stories and had a mini gossip session.

'Till I write again.

From, Mary Ann


marching song

Dear Diary,

When I was at the tent yesterday, some soldiers came by and asked if they had anything to do there that they could help with. I then gave them the lyrics to a marching song I wrote, since I had it memorized. It spread around camp, and here it is:

Marching, marching, all day long

Marching, marching, can't be stopped

Running, running, all day long

Running, running, can't be stopped

We will march, we will run

We are the Union

And we can't be stopped

Drilling, Drilling, all day long

Drilling, drilling, can't be stopped

Starving, starving, all day long

Starving, starving, can't be stopped

We will drill, we will starve

But we are the Union

And we can't be stopped

Running, running, all day long

Running, running, can't be stopped

Marching, marching, all day long

Marching, marching, can't be stopped

We will run, we will march

But we are the Union

And we can't be stopped

Starving, starving, all day long

Starving, starving, can't be stopped

Drilling, drilling, all day long

Drilling, drilling, can't be stopped

We will starve, we will drill

But we are the Union

And we can't be stopped

Do you like it, diary? Well, you better like it. I think I might make another copy and send it to Lucy. Anyways, the soldiers marched into battle today and they documented a picture while they were singing my song into battle. As always, I have it attached. That's all that happened today so, goodbye.

From, Mary Ann



Dear Lucy,

     You have recently mentioned that you were curious of what sicknesses I see at camp.

     This has actually been not very many, even though I am a nurse. Since the beginning of my enlistment, there is one general who does not like me. He constantly accuses me of being a spy, even though no one else at camp feels the same way. He has actually restricted me of curing anything worse than smallpox. Because of that, I have been given full control from my fellow nurses to be in charge of all minor sicknesses. Wonderful, right? Oh, I wish that he would give it up.

     Actually, a soldier that was rather handsome came in the other day and told me that he had the flu, and it turned out to be much worse, and he was taken out of my care immediately. He was sent off to a nearby hospital for serious medical help. Poor boy, he looked to be only about my age.

     So that concludes, and it was not a great conclusion. What sicknesses have you seen at camp? Write back soon.

     From, Mary Ann


home entry

Dear Diary,

     I am finally coming home. My plan is to have a slight detour to my real hometown and see Lucy and my family before going back home.

     I am really going to be thanking god that I can finally go back to my home, but I am also sad that I am leaving. There are so many new friends that I made and I am going to really miss them.

     I also feel like I do not want to go back home anymore. I want this war to be over, and now. I might just have to send a letter to Lee saying to hurry it up already.

     This is going to be fine, and everything will be OK. At least I think so. Well- now what do I do with this journal? Stupid thing had given me a thousand worries- what if it got found? I might have to burn it...

...I WILL burn it.

Well, journal, I guess this is goodbye. Not that I really care.

Good riddance(and I mean it).

Your beloved owner,

Mary Ann