2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
 
Private Louis Leon, CSA

"The battle is over, and although we did not succeed in pushing the enemy out of their strong position, I am sure they have not any thing to boast about. They have lost at least as many in killed and wounded as we have. We have taken more prisoners from them than they have from us. If that is not the case, why did they lay still all to-day and see our army going to the rear? An army that has gained a great victory follows it up while the enemy is badly crippled; but Meade, their commander, knows he has had as much as he gave, at least, if not more. As yet I have not heard a word from my brother Morris since the first day's fight."

Private Louis Leon, Company B, 53rd Regiment N.C., CSA
Discussing the Aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg
Diary of a Tar Heel Confederate Soldier, Charlotte, Stone Publishing, 1913


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Lieutenant Randolph Harrison McKim, CSA

"Believing as we did that the war was a war of subjugation, and that it meant, if successful, the destruction of our liberties, the issue in our minds was clearly drawn as I have stated it,--The Union without Liberty, or Liberty without the Union. And if we are reminded that the success of the Federal armies did not involve, in fact, the destruction of liberty, I answer by traversing that statement, and pointing out that during all the long and bitter period of "Reconstruction," the liberties of the Southern States were completely suppressed. Representative government existed only in name. In the end, by the blessing of God, the spirit of the martyred Lincoln prevailed over the spirit of despotism as incarnated in Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner, and after long eclipse the sun of liberty and self-government again shone south of Mason and Dixon's line."

Randolph Harrison McKim, 1st Lieutenant, Army of Northern Virginia, CSA
A Soldier's Recollections: Leaves From The Diary of a Young Confederate,
with an Oration on the Motives and Aims of the Soldiers of the South.
Call number 973.78 M15s 1910 (Davis Library, UNC-CH)


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Sarah Morgan Dawson

Sarah Morgan Dawson

"I was never a Secessionist, for I quietly adopted father's views on political subjects without meddling with them. But even father went over with his State, and when so many outrages were committed by the fanatical leaders of the North, though he regretted the Union, said, "Fight to the death for our liberty." I say so, too. I want to fight until we win the cause so many have died for. I don't believe in Secession, but I do in Liberty. I want the South to conquer, dictate its own terms, and go back to the Union, for I believe that, apart, inevitable ruin awaits both. It is a rope of sand, this Confederacy, founded on the doctrine of Secession, and will not last many years - not five. The North Cannot subdue us. We are too determined to be free. They have no right to confiscate our property to pay debts they themselves have incurred. Death as a nation, rather than Union on such terms. We will have our rights secured on so firm a basis that it can never be shaken. If by power of overwhelming numbers they conquer us, it will be a barren victory over a desolate land. "

Sarah Morgan Dawson
Confederate Girl's Diary, p32.
Call number 973.78 D27c 1913 (Davis Library, UNC-CH)


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Corporal Horatio D. Chapman, USA

"July 3, 1863. ...We built fires all over the battle field and the dead of the blue and gray were being buried all night, and the wounded carried to the hospital. We made no distinction between our own and the confederate wounded, but treated them both alike, and although we had been engaged in fierce and deadly combat all day and weary and all begrimed with smoke and powder and dust, many of us went around among the wounded and gave cooling water or hot coffee to drink. The confederates were surprised and so expressed themselves that they received such kind treatment at our hands, and some of the slightly wounded were glad they were wounded and our prisoners.

But in front of our breastworks, where the confederates were massed in large numbers, the sight was truly awful and appalling. The shells from our batteries had told with fearful and terrible effect upon them and the dead in some places were piled upon each other, and the groans and moans of the wounded were truly saddening to hear. Some were just alive and gasping, but unconscious. Others were mortally wounded and were conscious of the fact that they could not live long; and there were others wounded, how bad they could not tell, whether mortal or otherwise, and so it was they would linger on some longer and some for a shorter time-without the sight or consolation of wife, mother, sister or friend. I saw a letter sticking out of the breast pocket of one of the confederate dead, a young man apparently about twenty-four. Curiosity prompted me to read it. It was from his young wife away down in the state of Louisiana. She was hoping and longing that this cruel war would end and he could come home, and she says, "Our little boy gets into my lap and says, `Now, Mama, I will give you a kiss for Papa.' But oh how I wish you could come home and kiss me for yourself." But this is only one in a thousand. But such is war and we are getting used to it and can look on scenes of war, carnage and suffering with but very little feeling and without a shudder." [21]

Corporal Horatio D. Chapman
Company C, 20th Connecticut Volunteers
Civil War Diary of a Forty-niner, pages 22-24.


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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

"O Captain! my Captain, our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack,
the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear,
the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel,
the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass", Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92

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"Here is a case of a soldier I found among the crowded cots in the Patent-office. He likes to have some one to talk to, and we will listen to him. He got badly hit in his leg and side at Fredericksburgh that eventful Saturday, 13th of December. He lay the succeeding two days and nights helpless on the field, between the city and those grim terraces of batteries; his company and regiment had been compell’d to leave him to his fate. To make matters worse, it happen’d he lay with his head slightly down hill, and could not help himself. At the end of some fifty hours he was brought off, with other wounded, under a flag of truce. I ask him how the rebels treated him as he lay during those two days and nights within reach of them-whether they came to him-whether they abused him? He answers that several of the rebels, soldiers and others, came to him at one time and another. A couple of them, who were together, spoke roughly and sarcastically, but nothing worse. One middle-aged man, however, who seem’d to be moving around the field, among the dead and wounded, for benevolent purposes, came to him in a way he will never forget; treated our soldier kindly, bound up his wounds, cheer’d him, gave him a couple of biscuits and a drink of whiskey and water; asked him if he could eat some beef. This good secesh, however, did not change our soldier’s position, for it might have caused the blood to burst from the wounds, clotted and stagnated. Our soldier is from Pennsylvania; has had a pretty severe time; the wounds proved to be bad ones. But he retains a good heart, and is at present on the gain. (It is not uncommon for the men to remain on the field this way, one, two, or even four or five days.)"

Walt Whitman
1892
Prose Works

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"In one of the late movements of our troops in the valley, (near Upperville, I think,) a strong force of Moseby’s mounted guerillas attack’d a train of wounded, and the guard of cavalry convoying them. The ambulances contain’d about 60 wounded quite a number of them officers of rank. The rebels were in strength, and the capture of the train and its partial guard after a short snap was effectually accomplish’d. No sooner had our men surrender’d, the rebels instantly commenced robbing the train and murdering their prisoners, even the wounded. Here is the scene or a sample of it, ten minutes after. Among the wounded officers in the ambulances were one, a lieutenant of regulars, and another of higher rank. These two were dragg’d out on the ground on their backs, and were now surrounded by the guerillas, a demoniac crowd, each member of which was stabbing them in different parts of their bodies. One of the officers had his feet pinn’d firmly to the ground by bayonets stuck through them and thrust into the ground. These two officers, as afterwards found on examination, had receiv’d about twenty such thrusts, some of them through the mouth, face, &c. The wounded had all been dragg’d (to give a better chance also for plunder,) out of their wagons; some had been effectually dispatch’d, and their bodies were lying there lifeless and bloody. Others, not yet dead, but horribly mutilated, were moaning or groaning. Of our men who surrender’d, most had been thus maim’d or slaughter’d.

At this instant a force of our cavalry, who had been following the train at some interval, charged suddenly upon the secesh captors, who proceeded at once to make the best escape they could. Most of them got away, but we gobbled two officers and seventeen men, in the very acts just described. The sight was one which admitted of little discussion, as may be imagined. The seventeen captur’d men and two officers were put under guard for the night, but it was decided there and then that they should die. The next morning the two officers were taken in the town, separate places, put in the centre of the street, and shot. The seventeen men were taken to an open ground, a little one side. They were placed in a hollow square, half-encompass’d by two of our cavalry regiments, one of which regiments had three days before found the bloody corpses of three of their men hamstrung and hung up by the heels to limbs of tress by Moseby’s guerillas, and the other had not long before had twelve men, after surrendering, shot and then hung by the neck to limbs of trees, and jeering inscriptions pinn’d to the breast of one of the corpses, who had been a sergeant. Those three, and those twelve, had been found, I say, by these environing regiments. Now, with revolvers, they form’d the grim cordon of the seventeen prisoners. The latter were placed in the midst of the hollow square unfasten’d, and the ironical remark made to them that they were now to be given "a chance for themselves." A few ran for it. But what use? From every side the deadly pills came. In a few minutes the seventeen corpses strew’d the hollow square. I was curious to know whether some of the Union soldiers, some few, (some one or two at least of the youngsters,) did not abstain from shooting on the helpless men. Not one. There was no exultation, very little said, almost nothing, yet every man there contributed his shot.

Multiply the above by scores, aye hundreds-verify it in all the forms that different circumstances, individuals, places, could afford-light it with every lurid passion, the wolf’s, the lion’s lapping thirst for blood-the passionate, boiling volcanoes of human revenge for comrades, brothers slain-with the light of burning farms, and heaps of smutting, smouldering black embers-and in the human heart everywhere black, worse embers-and you have an inkling of this war."

Walt Whitman
1892
Prose Works


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Captain Henry T. Owen, CSA

Captain Henry T Owen

"Far away to the front, I saw the dim outlines of lofty hills, broken rocks, and frightful precepts which resembled Gettysburg. As we advanced further, I found we were fighting that great battle over again and I saw something before me like a thin shadow which I tried to get around and go by. But it kept in front of me and whichever way I turned, it still appeared between me and the enemy. Nobody else seemed to see or notice the shadow which looked as thin as smoke and did not prevent my seeing the enemy distinctly through it. I felt troubled and oppressed but still the shadow went on before me. I pushed forward in the thickest of the fray trying to lose sight of it and went all through the battle of Gettysburg again with this shadow forever before me and between me and the enemy.

And when I came out behind the danger of shot, it spoke to me and said, "I am the angel that protected you. I will never leave nor forsake you."

The surprise was so great, that I awoke and burst into tears. What had I done that should entitle me to such favor beyond the hundreds of brave and reputed men who had fallen on that day leaving widowed mothers and widowed wives, orphaned children and disconsolate families to mourn their fates?"

Captain Henry T. Owen
Speaking of a dream in a letter to his wife
Six Months after Pickett's Charge
Gettysburg Audio Tour as Read by Wayne Motts
Travelbrains, Inc


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Charles Dickens

"So the case stands, and under all the passion of the parties and the cries of battle lie the two chief moving causes of the struggle. Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many other evils. The quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel."

Charles Dickens,
"All The Year Round"
December 28, 1861