I am Emily and I am currently twenty two years old. I am on the Union side of the war. I live on the coast of New Jersey, and today's date is December 29, 1862, to January 2, 1863. I live with my husband, Derick Daniels, he is my loved on who is participating in the war. He is stationed with his brother Jack in Virginia.
I woke up early this morning to get an early start on the day. I had to take my ten year old daughter Olivia to town to buy a new dress for school. On our way into the General Store we were confronted by some men asking for money to support the war effort. I donated three dollars because I know that a little money goes a long way in this war. I found a beautiful dress and bonnet for Olivia After we finished shopping I went to pick up Olivia's best friend and cousin Violet. I took the girls to their primary school and then went to the local factory to begin my job of manufacturing soldiers uniforms.I work there three days a week for ten hours to support my daughter while Derick is at war. After a long day of working at the factory I picked up Violet and Olivia from school and took them to my sister Grace's house to spend the night. Then I went home and caught up on the housework and the mending. After hours of factory work and house work I was exhausted and fell into bed with my eyes already closed.
Dear Derick Daniels,
How is the war going? Jack's wife ,Grace, and I decided to send our letters of love now because of the recent news from the war front. We were both quite concerned after hearing the news of the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou in Mississippi. I heard those terrible confederates won the battle this time. Are you hurt? I don't want this to get your spirits down my love. The newspapers said Another Confederate Victory, "On December 26, three Union divisions under Sherman disembarked at Johnson's Plantation on the Yazoo River to approach the Vicksburg defenses from the northeast while a fourth landed farther upstream on December 27. On December 27, the Federals pushed their lines forward through the swamps toward the Walnut Hills, which were strongly defended. On December 28, several futile attempts were made to get around these defenses. On December 29, Sherman ordered a frontal assault, which was repulsed with heavy casualties, and then withdrew. This Confederate victory frustrated Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's attempts to take Vicksburg by a direct approach." It all sounds like such terrible news but we're all trying to have hope. The war can't last much longer and then you can come home to Olivia and I. Olivia needs her father and Violet misses her uncle. I can't wait until this terrible war is over and we can all be one big family once again. I go to the factory Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to support Olivia's schooling and to support the war effort in the small way I can. More free slaves are crossing the borders into the free states every day and this gives us all hope. We give them food and try to help them get to the Canadian border. It's getting late and the candle is running out. I love you and I pray for your safe return.
This morning Grace and Violet came over to eat breakfast. The one good thing about this war seems to be that it is pulling our families closer together. Violet and Olivia have become the best of friends. I took Violet and Olivia to school. Because it is my day off I then went to the local printing shop where the major newspaper is published. I went to see the head editor because he pays me to write articles about the war and the war effort.Most of the money I make from doing this I donate back to the war effort. After that I had a support meeting with other women who have husbands, sons, fathers, friends, and cousins fighting in the war. We talked about our fears and all the ways we've been trying to give out support to the war. All of us women try to give each other support which we then pass onto out men that are fighting the war. After the meeting I picked up Violet and Olivia from school. Then Olivia, Violet and I went to the town square participate in packing support packages to send to our beloved ones on the war front. Then I went home where Grace and I made dinner for the children. Grace and Violet spent the night again because it gets so lonely at their house without Jack around.
Today I finally received a letter from my dear Derick. He wrote, "Dear Emily, The war has all of us men tired. Spirits in camps are low and faith in the fight has slowly begun to dwindle. Thank you for your encouraging words and thank you for continuing to write. To answer you question ,yes I am okay and was not hurt in the recent battle. I would like to include some details about the Battle of Front Royal because I know you could use them to write for the newspaper. We fought on December 31, 1862. It is known as the Battle of Stone's River. Union Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland marched from Nashville, Tennessee to challenge General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. On December 31, each army commander planned to attack his opponent's right flank, but Bragg struck first. A massive assault by the corps of Maj. Gen. William J. Hardee, followed by that of Leonidas Polk, overran the wing commanded by Maj. Gen. Alexander M. McCook. A stout defense by the division of Brig. Gen. Philip Sheridan in the right center of the line prevented a total collapse and the Union assumed a tight defensive position backing up to the Nashville Turnpike. Repeated Confederate attacks were repulsed from this concentrated line, most notably in the cedar "Round Forest" salient against the brigade of Col. William B. Hazen. Bragg attempted to continue the assault with the corps of Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge, but the troops were slow in arriving and their multiple piecemeal attacks failed. I know it's not much but from where I was standing it was all blast and flashes of light. Please tell Grace that Jack is doing well and is safe. It gives me pride to know that even though you can't be on the battlefield beside me you are still doing your best to help slaves at home. I have to you now because we are going to be marching early in the morning. Please give my love to Olivia, Violet, and Grace. I will be home soon, I love you. Love Derick".
Just the arrival of the letter gave me great joy and I was crying as I read it. Every time a letter from Virginia arrives my heart almost stops because I know it may carry bad news but I have been fortunate so far. I told Olivia that her Daddy was okay and that her missed her and she started laughing for happiness. She grabbed the letter from my hands and tried to read it. Just the look in her eyes was enough to make me break down. I wish this terrible war would be over so my baby girl can have her father back.
I have great news! Yesterday Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation and all the slaves are free! This is the day every Northerner has been waiting for for years. This means that the war is almost over and that my Derick will be coming home soon. I was happy when my preacher delivered the news in person today. the news paper he gave me said Slaves are Free " all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Another paper was headed Emancipation Proclamation Signed!
I told Olivia that the slaves were free and that her father was coming home and she started jumping up and down from joy. I don't think she fully understands the war or what is going on but she perfectly understands that she misses her pa. And now thanks to our wonderful president he gets to come home. i am cooking a feast to celebrate such amazing news.
The whole town was just one big bundle of laughter and joy when we all heard that news. People were running in the streets and laugh out of pure excitement. Also shockingly the towns black population seems to have increased overnight. it appears that hundreds of blacks have been living under our noses and only now dare to come out of hiding. It's amazing how this war has pulled us together and hopefully now we can begin a unity with the former slaves.