My Civil War Diary

A diary by Lucy Withers, containing my deepest thoughts and secrets.

April 16

Dear diary,

My name is Lucy Withers, I hope that we can become good friends. I bought you back in Charleston for just this reason. Hoping that when I am in bad times you shall be there to help me through them. I miss my family. I live with my mother, my father and my brother. We don't believe in slavery, we think that all people should be treated equal; don't you agree. We pay our workers to run our farm. It is a bit hard on money, but we were not poor. At least not until Clark broke down. Clark is my big brother and he was our family's main source of money. One day he was working in his shop and he just fell to the floor crying. He wouldn't stop so we took him to the hospital. There I met my best friend Mary-Ann. Her parents are doctors and they helped my brother. Now we are tough on money and I had to do something to help. But it is a good life, it was a good life I guess. I am in the war now. I am unwillingly fighting for the Confederacy but the problem is that I am a young women. I chopped off my hair and dressed like a man. My name is Louis now. Quite a lot of work to do for some money but my family needed my help. I pretend that I am obedient, I pretend that I do not hate them and their ways and it serves me well. I am a corporal but it does not matter my rank for this is my story. One of the only things that keeps me going is Mary-Ann, she is a spy and therefore comes to the site a lot, when she comes we talk all night. Goodbye for now, I must take my temporary leave.

April 17

Dear Diary,

Mary- Ann came to see me today and we finally had time to talk, our conversation went like this.

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.

April 21

Dear Diary,

I am a person who likes to be optimistic but I am truly having trouble looking on the bright side of things right now. Conditions are terrible. I live in a tent next to camp and we are running out of supplies. I am tired, hungry, and sick of sleeping on the ground. All that I want is to go back home and sleep in my nice, warm bed with my kitten. I am sorry that I am being such a downer but I am fit to be tied about this whole situation. It really is hard being a man in the civil war.

Love your dearest friend,

Lucy (well Louis I guess) Withers

Oh, and also; this morning I was in training and I fell over. I was just on my back, in the middle of chaos, and the sky was so pretty and colorful.

April 22

Dear Diary,

Today I met a boy, only a few years younger than me at camp. His name was Jeremiah Handley. We talked for a while about our war stories; and it turned out that his was pretty interesting. Our conversation went like this.

Me: Jeremiah, when you chose to leave your mother at home to fight in the war with your bother, what caused you to make that choice?

Him: Well Louis, (He called me Louis because he didn't know my true identity, only Mary- Ann did.) My ma' went to me one day and she jes' says "Honey bear, ya gotta go with yer big brother. He needs ya more than I do. I'm jes' an ol' women and I might die even with ya here. It don't matter to me. I jes' want yer brother not to be alone out there in this here war." And I told her I would go.

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

Him: I dunno Louie, I'm jes' proud that I made my here ma' and my brother happy and proud. I don't care if I make it through this war long as they know that I love em.

Me: That.... Is... Amazing.... So, Jeremiah, what is one thing about your life you wish had been different?

Him: I'm jes' not sure actually. I guess I wish that I coulda' made sure that ma' was healthy again before I went off on this crazy adventure with ya'll.

Me: I completely understand, and one more thing. How did it feel to have your brother sacrifice himself to the soldiers so that you could secretly escape?

Him: I dunno why but it jes' didnt feel real, still doesn't I bet eventually it'll sink in, and when it does; I betcha I'll never stop crying.

April 23

Dear Diary

Today we sang a new marching song of my own making, it was extremely catchy and annoying but it sounded a little like this.

Sad and cold and wearing gray.

Hungry tired sleeping on hay.

Confederates can't be stopped.

Unless we get the chicken pox.



We'll get to you eventually

So Billy Yank look out

And then we will stop marching

To shoot your eyeballs out



Confederacy's power

The confederacy is strong

Stronger every hour

Stronger all night long



You never see us coming.

We are sneaky and we're sly.

And soon you will be running.

And there'll be bullets in the sky.



(Isn't that the creepiest song ever.)

This morning was beautiful, the sun was shining through the trees in a unique array of colors that I have never seen before. Although the other men saw it as just another sunrise, it felt important to me; like I was meant to see that sunrise. I missed my family and somehow this made me feel closer to them, knowing that they were seeing the same sun.

April 24

Dear Diary,

One word to describe camp? I don't really know but Mary- Ann would say boring. I am just so scared that I thought that I would not have time to be bored. I WAS WRONG!!!! At camp the food is disgusting, but the bread isn't that bad. I make bread every weekend. All you do is mix up some flour, yeast and other things and then let it rise, knead it and put it in the oven. Mary- Ann used to come and help me but she has a new job now. She is going to be a nurse in the Union for three months, I miss her already. Camp life is worse than ever. The men are dirty and smelly and weird and gross and I am not very fond of any of them. Well for except for Zayden. Zayden is my new friend. I met him yesterday when I was kneading a loaf of bread. He just understands me and the only problem is that I am Louis to him; I want to be Lucy. But I can not. I may die before I can ever be Lucy again. But enough sadness, camp is fun every once in a while. I am in the choir and it is so hard to make my voice sound like a tenor's. Zayden is also in choir, but he is a baritone. There is an old swing in the forest and all of us soldiers go and swing around on it in our free time. We always have so much fun.

April 25

Dear Diary,

This morning I saw a man walk for the first time in months, he had been shot in the leg twice in December and it didn't heal right. It was a terrible sight to see. Seeing the man walk just reminded me of all the horrors I've seen. I hope you don't mind if I tell you about these tings. Well here goes, one day I was fighting and the man next to me just got shot in the chest, it was bloody and terrible and one of the worst things that I have ever witnessed. I tried to save him but it was too late. Another time, a boy named Johnny (one of my room mates) came up to me and said that he didn't feel well so I told him to lay down. Once he did, he just curled up in a ball and started coughing up blood until you couldn't see white in the sheets. I'm not a nurse, so I don't know much; but luckily I did know how to keep him alive until the nurses came. I sat him up and tilted his head forward so he wouldn't choke and he was okay until the doctors treated him.

April 25 (night)

Dear diary,

I know I already wrote in you this morning but I just thought that I really should catch you up. The worst thing has happened... The Union came to our camp! Luckily, Zayden is okay. We are fighting together, but I am still so scared! I just can't stop thinking about death. I haven't been in such a serious battle. We are in the midd-

Later... I'm not sure when

Dear Diary

I'm in the infirmarary. Zayden is by my side, writing for me. I am terferied. (This is Zayden, I'm not a gud speller.) He tells me (he being Zayden) that I have been shot in the leg, rite bello the knee. I don't no if I will serviv, let alone wok again. (What happens nekst is our conversasin.)

(my diary drops)

Me: Oh my gosh, don't pick it up!

Zayden: Why? (he picks it up and flips though it) Oh..... ummm.... oh... uhhhh... Lucy?

Me: Ummm..... yes, (we are both whispering now so no one can hear us.) Zayden, you have to promise me that you won't tell anyone. I really need this for my family. Everything that I've ever told you is true, except the little fact that I am not Louis Withers. I am Lucy Withers and I really need you not to freak out.

Zayden: Ohhhhh.... Ummmmmmmm. Ooooookkkkkaaaayyyyy..... I guess.

Me: Will you help me write a letter to my friend, please.

Zayden: (smiles) Sure... Lucy.

We wrote to Mary- Ann explaining what happened, I hope she got back. I told her that I loved the sun and that I had a new friend named Zayden. We were going to write more but a doctor came in and told me that I should be resting so we sent it. I have never been this terrified, but I guess it could be worse. The doctor said that as long as I stay on bed rest for a week or so, I had an 80% chance of walking normally again and that I should be hopeful. Trust me doc, I am. The sweetest thing about this is the fact that Zayden won't leave my side. He's like my new Mary- Ann. It's nice to have someone with me that knows my secret.

April 28

The doctors said that I am allowed to be medically discharged but I refused. Instead I asked if I could just have a week or so in a farm just off of camp where Zayden and my parents would be allowed. Then, I would go back to war. It is nice to have a break from the rigorous training but my leg hurts so bad. Soon though, I think I'll be able to walk on it. I miss my parents, but they will be here tomorrow. So will Clark. I love my family, but I also miss my home. I hope tat I will make it through  this war, and see my home again.

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