My Journal

By: Antonia Ford


April 12, 1861

My name is Antonia Ford. I am a private in the army but know body knows that I am a girl and I try to keep it a secret. I love to be in the army, but it is also scary. Since I am against slavery, I am on the Union side. My husband and my 5 year old daughter, named Isabella. In my hometown in New York, I used to be an artist. I love to paint and draw all the time. When I went to war I brought my sketchbook with me just so I can draw and write letters back home to my family. My husband and I work so we can pay for Isabella's school and so we can pay of our small cabin and everything in it.


Reb: Howdy possum

  • You look whipped

Reb: I been hard knocked by those graybacks

  • I’m also played out.

Reb: I ran out of hornets and had to use my bayonet, that skunk wouldn’t let us retreat

  • You’ve been through a mill!

Reb: We took a jailbird though

  • Hunkey Dorey! Thats first rail

Reb: I was just toeing the mark

  • Soon you will look fit as a fiddle

Reb: Yea I hope so


The camp has lots of green trees, grass, and bushes. In the forest, there is a river that goes through most of the camp. At camp, we have our tents set up everywhere and inside we have a blanket, pillow, and the rest of our belongings. The higher ranked officers bring tables and chairs with them so they can play cards, have there food, or to relax and have a drink. Sometimes in the card games, they invite different soldiers to play with them. We also get ready for battle. Everyone has to follow the general and listen to their commands. If someone doesn't follow along or doesn't behave, they will get punished. These punishments include going to prison, wearing signs that say what you did, wearing a barrel with cut outs to put you hands and legs, and many more. We would also pitch our tents. Sometimes we had to sleep outside because there wasn't enough tents or enough space. Once in a while we would fish in the river and hunt in the forest and eat what we had caught and save the rest of our food. When it rained we would try to make a "ceiling" with everything we had so none of our weapons would get wet. Camp grounds don't always go so easily. We always have to keep on moving.

When I wake up in the morning I see the sun trying to appear from behind the many trees.  I love to see the sun in the morning and knowing it's a good day. Hearing the birds chirp in the morning always makes me smile, even though I had a bad day before. Sometimes everyone has to wake up really early for drills or if we are going to battle. Waking up on those type of days is always hard because I never know if I am going to come back hurt alive.


letter home:

Dear Isabella,

I have fought in lots of battles and I am excited to come home. Nothing here feels like home. I miss you so much! I hope to see you soon! How has your life been? I hope everything is going well over there. I have see so many things on the way to different battles. I still have to fight in more though. Hopefully will come home soon. So many soldiers have died and I will try not to for you. Some people got shot in the head, arm, leg, and other places. Some people have died from diseases, too. I have been careful on what I eat, drink, and touch. I can't wait to come home.

                                                                                                                                Your mother,



Jeremiah, when you chose to stay home with your mother, what caused you to make that choice?

I didn't want to leave my mother alone by herself when she is sick.

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

I am happy about joining the Union army because I always knew slavery was wrong. When I went to the army I saw so many escaped and runaway slaves over there.

Jeremiah, what is one thing about your life you wish had been different?

I wish that I took more care of my mother. I feel like I was one of the reasons my mother passed away, even though I took care of her the best I could.

Jeremiah, did you ever think that you would have been caught by the Confederates, or did you think something else?

I thought I could pass them. One Confederate soldier had shot me in the leg. I fell down and then I couldn't fight anymore,


(to the tune of A Whole New World from Aladdin)

There will be a whole newwww world

If we win there there will be no slavery

There will be a whole newwww world

We will march to freedom

And fight for what is right

There will be a whole newwww world

The grey coats will fall to the ground

While we wave our flag in victory

A whole newwww world

We shoot our cannons and our guns

More than two people have to work together and fire the cannons to the enemy.


I always hated the food that there was at camp. I tried not to eat so much and to be careful on what I ate. Lots and lots of people kept getting sick because they would find either bugs or raw food. Desiccated vegetables were just one of many gross food dishes there was at camp. It had an assortment of beans, onions, turnips, carrots, and beets. You then would make into "bland cakes." If you look at the cake closely you can see roots, stalks, and leaves. Another thing we ate at camp was called hardtack. Hardtack are biscuits that are really thick and hard to eat. They would sometimes have worms and weevils in them which would also make someone sick. Here is a recipe for Hardtack.

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

Necessary Supplies for Johnny Cake:

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cookie Sheet

Instructions for Making Hardtack 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.2. Add all dry ingredients into the mixing bowl, and then add wet ingredients. Mix all ingredients together. Use extra flour if necessary to make sure the dough is no longer sticky. However, be careful not to make the dough too dry. If you add too much flour, add slightly more water.

3. Knead the dough until it is easy to work with.

4. Spread the dough onto the ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangular shape. Hardtack was around a half inch thick, so don’t worry about making the dough thin.6. Bake the dough for 30 minutes.7. Take the dough out of the oven and cut it into large squares (around 3 inches by 3 inches). Use a fork to poke 16 to 20 holes into each square.8. Flip the squares and return to the oven for 30 more minutes.9. Allow the hardtack to completely cool inside the oven. Be careful when biting into a cracker, as they do get very hard when completely cool.


There are so many diseases and illnesses that are the cause of death. In the Civil War, the biggest cause of death was diarrhea. "995 out of every 1000 men suffered from diarrhea."  Not just the Union, but the Confederacy wasn't prepared to fight and deal with these sicknesses. The medicines that doctors had didn't help so much. Dysentery was another disease. People with that would be given lots of things, from whiskey and blackberry juice to turpentine and strychnine. Strychnine is now a rat poison. Lots of soldiers fell sick from the dirty water they drank. The water was from the swamps and rivers there were near by. The food also had some disgusting things inside them. There was worms, bugs, and other gross stuff in them which caused diseases.

Union and Confederacy play against each other in a game of baseball.


Finally the day I have been waiting for. The day I get to go home. I've missed my family so much that you can't imagine. I have also made some new friends but I won't miss them a whole lot. Since nobody new I am a girl, I tried to quickly get home before someone noticed. I have been writing letters to my family back home during the war. My daughter, Isabella, is who I'm most excited to see. My husband is always at work so he hasn't gotten the time to write to me. The last few days have been pretty exciting. After we (the Union) had won, all the former slaves had finally gotten free and are trying to find homes of their own. I won't miss the food at all! My family said that when I get back home, we will move to a bigger and better house. I had some money in my bag and i decided to get my daughter a necklace. I can't wait to get home. I hope everyone is excited to see me and I hope everything is okay over there. I am going on a horse carriage on my way home.

On my way home finally! This is the horse carriage I get to go home on.

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