My Civil war Journal

By: Sarah Campbell

My name is Sarah Campbell and I am a nurse in the Civil War and I am 15 years old. I'm from Springfield, Illinois where I lived with my family in a barn. While there I farmed a lot to gather food and help out my family with my sister Ann. While there I made food for my family, make and sew clothes and wash dishes. I am a nurse for the Union side, I don't believe in slavery and I want to help it end. Ann is also in the War, disguised as a guy helping fight in the Union.

The battle of Vicksburg was just fought and I am helping the sick and wounded soldiers currently. Hopefully,  I will not be seeing Ann anytime soon. Thousands of men are coming in, all with bullet wounds and blood stained on their clothes. I have dealt with a lot of men over the past two to three years, hundreds of dead bodies and thousands wounded, some I have not been able to help, others I have put into recovery, but very few completely healed.

Wikipedia. "Clara Barton." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 1 May
2014. <>.

Dialogue between 2 people

Man 1: I'm whipped! Vicksburg was tough, completely played out.

Man 2: Toeing the mark though, could have been worse, hunkey dorey for me compared to our last battle!

Man 1: Hornets flying everywhere, there was a pepperbox lodged in my dead possum's head.

Man 2: Then Greenhorn's are just yellin' at ya to keep fightin', fit to be tied I am. "Skedaddle! Skedaddle!" Is what the other soldiers are sayin' while I'm fightin' and following orders, none of them have horse sense, man, I'm done.

Man 1: Yeah, stupid tights. Well, I'm gonna grab a root, goobers, joy juice, come with?

Man 2:  Bully! Never thought you would ask.

Man 1: My breadbasket is empty, quick-step does something to you.

Man 2: That's a hard case, but I'm hungry and all I want is food and greenbacks.

Dear Mother,

Life has been hard lately. Although I enjoy helping people and healing them, I see too many wounds and lives withering away. It saddens me knowing I can try to help all I want, but some cuts don't heal. My camp is moving up North, we're hoping to collide with the Confederates and weaken them more. I stay with the other nurses and medical staff, we do not march with the soldiers, the General for us at the time would tell us where to go and setup camp. We try not to setup too far from the battlefield, but far enough where the wounded do not have to travel more than a mile to reach safety and get help. A normal day for me is healing soldiers and generals, I wish that I could heal everyone, but I do as much as I can. I also learn new techniques as to how to perform surgeries, new ways to help and heal, and I practice them on lifeless bodies so no harm is actually done. The bodies are piling up and I don't know how much more I can handle, it is starting to take a toll on me. I have not seen Ann yet, thankfully, if she came into my camp, I don't know if I can handle that. I might be coming home soon, I just do not know if I can do it much more. I love you Mother, don't ever forget that, forever and always.

This is what my life has looked like lately from my view of the Medical Tent.

Jeremiah Handley Story

Q: Jeremiah, when you chose to enlist in the Union Army,
what caused you to make that choice?

A: I chose to enlist in the Union Army because, I had sympathy for the slaves, I felt that it was not right for them to go through what they were going through. I knew I had to fight for their rights even though I had always been told slaves were not supposed to have rights, I knew I had to help.

Q: Jeremiah, looking back what is something in your life that you are proud or

happy about?

A: I am happy about staying with my mother. I didn't leave her to die alone with no comfort I was there to help her with her illness, although in the end she did not live or beat the illness, I was proud that I stayed with her. I thought it was the best thing I could have done for my mother.

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

A: If I could change one thing, it would probably be the fact that I decided to try and divide the Confederacy even further. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it led to me being captured and held as a prisoner. But, just because I made one mistake does not mean I regret joining the Union Army as a whole, I just think I should have fought against Lee's army, things could have played out differently.

Q: Jeremiah, how serious is your injury?

A: Well, it all happened when I was in a battle, the flag barrier in front of me had just fallen and it was my job to pick it up and continue on. I had no choice but to, so I grabbed it of course. I had it in my hands for about two minutes, which was a while by the way, and I heard a deafening blast, louder and sharper than I had ever heard before. I figured it was just another cannon, but I felt my legs go weak. When I looked down, I was only standing on one leg. I only had one leg. I fell to the ground and laid there for what seemed like hours. Finally someone picked me up and I was lifted onto a gurnee, where I was carried for quite some time into a tent where nurses and doctors examined me. I was told that for the rest of my life I would only have one leg. If I lived for long enough for the war to even end, they said the cannon was laced with some kind of poisons and that I was not going to live for very long. The cannon left some kind of infection in my body, it was slowly going to run its course through and leave me dead unless I got the medicine needed, which will most likely not

Civil War Song

Way back down in my home land

Life was as calm as soul in heavens land

But I packed my bags and go fight this war,

And I might not ever come back home.

I never going to come back again.

leaving home with my soul in my hand,

going to fight the war we want to end.

Long way from home, fighting for our country and a families

Time to go we need to stop these rebel army

Shot after shot rang in my ear

Forever tearing our ol’ country apart


Never goin’ back home

To my safe ol’ family

Fightin’ for my country

For what I believe

Fighting my way through

To make it right

To make it fair

To make it safe and sound

Things are a winding down

Startin’ to calm

Gunshots disappearing

And the world a ticking time bomb


I can feel things changing

Endin’ quickly

With the Lord on my side

I walked away free


"Civil War Reenactment." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, n.d. Web. 12 May 2014.


Dear Mother,

Life on camp is not very well lately. Its about three years into the war so rations are running low, and the food is poisoning my stomach. My favorite thing to eat is the hardtack, although it is very hard and not to easy to consume, I enjoy  that it is hard and I can just keep it in my mouth for a while, almost like candy. If you would like to try one Mother, I have a recipe for you. Get hard corn, non baked or anything, hard peas, and hard bread and mix it together. That's all you have to do, I get enough food and it satisfies me. Sometimes it is not enough and I have to eat the raw meat provided to us, which is not good for you and since my job is about health, I do not like to eat it so I try not to as much as possible. When I am not treating the wounded, I enjoy talking to the soldiers. It calms me, I find myself talking to them for hours. They tell me their stories about the battle, seeing their friends die right in front of them. It makes me feel very thankful for everyone and everything in my life. They also talk about when the war could end, they say a few months, but I personally think a year. The soldiers also talk about how they eavesdrop on the Generals to see what is happening. They say that the Confederates are slowly deteriorating, falling into a pit of oblivion that they cannot get out of. I will keep you updated as the war continues, thank you for being the mother anyone would want. If you have information on Ann please tell me.  I love you, forever and always.


This is the view from my tent, a battle is about to commence.

Dear Mother,

As a nurse I experience some pretty nasty things, diseases and illnesses alike. About everyday, I see people come in with injuries and sicknesses  I know cannot be cured. Since the war is a couple years in, people are not donating money anymore and therefore we cannot keep up with the medicine and cures needed to save these peoples lives. We set them down on a gurnee and try to keep them alive for  as long as possible with supplies we have. Sometimes it doesn't work and they die very soon. The worst part is when you have to address the parents and families that their child died. Most people die from any kind of illness, they can range from  diarrhea to even a simple case of pink eye, which one soldier died from, I am not sure why. Even the medical team who goes out on the battle field get wounded and sick, bullets are riddled with disease and bugs, and dead soldiers still infected get them. They are even harder to treat, so we often do not treat them, there is not  cure. My job is a lot more gruesome than I ever thought it would be, I do not care about the greenbacks anymore, I just want to get through this war and back home to you Mama,  I can hear the other nurses calling my name so I must go Mama, but please keep in touch and tell me about Ann if you can. I love you forever and always.

May, 1865

Dear Mother,

I normally do not write the date on these letters. Here in the war, time does not exist. Everything we do is not based on time, but rather urgency. Although same cannot be said for the soldiers, medical officials are (were) very strict on how to do things, until now. The war has ended they say, it is done, General Lee and General Grant have signed a peace treaty. The war is over Mama, I'm coming home. Despite the news of the war, I learned some tragic news. Ann died. My beloved sister, who had been there for me since day one, who had been my shoulder to cry on, who had helped me with my troubles back at home, who had been my other half. I have cried for days, my eyes are rung out and they are lined with purple bags from no sleep, they are bloodshot from the tears, but most of all, they are empty because Ann was the light of my soul. I have tried to focus on my work ever since I found out but nothing is working, I just cannot help myself but to think of her. I try talking to other soldiers who dealt with loss, but it doesn't help me, Ann is forever on my mind and in my heart. But aside from her, I cannot begin to explain what it has been like to be a nurse, I have experienced the most gruesome and revolting things. I will try to explain it when I arrive back home, I am ecstatic to be coming back to you and the rest of my beloved family. Being a Union nurse truly was an indescribable experience, from the things I have seen, the Confederates fought long and hard. The injuries I have seen will never escape my mind, it is truly horrifying. The generals say that the Confederates ran out of money so they could not even begin to repair their soldiers. So I guess the Union won in ever aspect. The amount of people who have died in this war is astonishing. Rumors say more than half a million died, but that's not just a number, its hundreds of thousands of people, of families who will never get their beloved one back, no matter what side you were on, may your soul rest in peace. The generals say that the effects of the war should start to take place soon, slavery dying out, finally. I do not blame the Confederate side for their beliefs, I do not have the same thoughts but I am not one to discriminate, so Mama, do not blame them. It is their own thoughts, even though you might not like it, I have learned that it should not matter to us if their opinions are not the same. I'm sorry if this letter is a mess, but I am sitting in a cloud of despair and depression but also excitement and anxiety, so it is not very organized but I can explain everything later.  I am so thankful to be alive, Mama, I made it.   I love you forever and always, see you soon.

For the last time,



The women who were fighting in the war, one last picture before we all go home.

Lederle, Cheryl. "“The home guard” White Mountain rangers, ca. 1861."
Library of Congress. libraryofcongress, 19 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 May 2014.


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