Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Wednesday, 5th—An order from the War Department came today, ordering the mustering out of all the soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee. All is quiet.

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July 5th, 1865.—We had a grand time at Greenwood last night. The Shakespeare Club is the most entertaining mode of amusement I ever tried. I had a sore throat and could not read so my part was given to one of the other girls, Nora Holland, it was. That being the case I had a better opportunity of judging the rest. Most of the readers did remarkably well; all were educated and all were more or less accomplished, and well-read. The readers made a pretty picture as they sat around the big kerosene lamps which were a new acquisition in the Holland household, for four years we have had lights of domestic manufacture only, so these looked quite grand.

I sat in an open window and listened and looked, but I fear my attention was somewhat distracted from the subject in hand, because, just outside, on the porch, some one was kneeling, talking of far different matters. Having heard that the next meeting would be held at Uncle Tom’s we adjourned for supper. Cousin Peggy is a famous housekeeper and this was a fair sample of her skill. It has been a long time since the southern housekeeper felt that she could be spared from the camp and the hospital for entertainments, but our soldiers are at home now and we must give them the very best we have.

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4th. After breakfast had a siege of chess with Mr. Barney. A very hot day. A great many friends around St. Louis. Remained in camp till evening when I went to city. Saw fire works and got ice cream. Met Albert Hinman.

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July 4th. A great parade and reception to our regiment. The welcome home was a grand time. During the march, on the parade, many people were in tears, and we knew the reason why. Their husbands and boys did not come home. While we were happy we did not forget the good fellows and the homes that contained a vacant chair. It was a great day in old Norwich. A Fourth that cannot be forgotten by those who participated in the parade. It was the last parade of the Eighteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. Our guns and equipments were laid aside. No more cruel war for us.

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July 4th.—Saturday I was in bed with one of my worst headaches. Occasionally there would come a sob and I thought of my sister insulted and my little sweet Williams. Another of my beautiful Columbia quartette had rough experiences. A raider asked the plucky little girl, Lizzie Hamilton, for a ring which she wore. “You shall not have it,” she said. The man put a pistol to her head, saying, “Take it off, hand it to me, or I will blow your brains out.” “Blow away,” said she. The man laughed and put down his pistol, remarking, “You knew I would not hurt you.” “Of course, I knew you dared not shoot me. Even Sherman would not stand that.”

There was talk of the negroes where the Yankees had been—negroes who flocked to them and showed them where silver and valuables had been hid by the white people. Ladies’-maids dressed themselves in their mistresses’ gowns before the owners’ faces and walked off. Now, before this every one had told me how kind, faithful, and considerate the negroes had proven. I am sure, after hearing these tales, the fidelity of my own servants shines out brilliantly. I had taken their conduct too much as a matter of course. In the afternoon I had some business on our place, the Hermitage. John drove me down. Our people were all at home, quiet, orderly, respectful, and at their usual work. In point of fact things looked unchanged. There was nothing to show that any one of them had even seen the Yankees, or knew that there was one in existence.

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July 4 — When the first rays of the rising sun gilded the Massanutten I had already commenced my last day’s tramp. About four o’clock this afternoon I stood on top of the Massanutten Mountain, and once more fondly looked with enraptured gaze over the land of my native home, the grand old Valley of the Shenandoah, with its pleasant fields, winding, tree-fringed streams and verdant hills. Man and nature have both been busy in obliterating the ugly scars of war since the last sound of battle has died away.

The broad landscape, dotted with a thousand harvest fields and diversified with fields of growing corn, is fast shaking off the ashes of war and spreading its summer treasures in the golden sunshine, and ere long General Sheridan’s “waste and howling wilderness” will again blossom as the rose. Summer with lavish hand has already spread a verdant robe on the fields and hillsides where charging squadrons devastated nature’s finest handiwork on the ornate and adorning garb and where camp-fires blazing on emerald hearths stained and flecked the living carpet.

If I have written anything that may ruffle the placid temperament of my Northern brethren who stood in the forefront of their country’s ranks and bravely bared their breasts to Southern bullets, I wish them always to remember that the sentiments expressed are but the honest thoughts of a humble private who stood in the ranks and fought for home and native land. There and then these reflections and impressions were woven into a variegated tapestry, while the gloomy war cloud shrouded my native skies and dipped low over the land that gave me birth while now and then the fire of battle flashed fiercely across the forming woof. No, no, I never bowed at the shrine of a Southern fire-eater nor learned at the feet of a political Gamaliel who thought he knew it all; neither did I worship at the footstool of an out-and-out disunionist, nor welcome the last arguments of kings and potentates; nor did I applaud or wink at the expressed sentiments of traitors that boldly proclaimed the Constitution of the United States a “League with Hades.”

I arrived at home this evening, and unslung the very same blanket that I started with to the war, on the 19th of July, 1861. Fifteen days more and I would have been in service just four years, and in all that time I never saw the inside of a hospital.

Now that our common country has been drenched with human blood, may the costly sacrifice so nurture our Liberty-tree that it will bloom brighter and bear sweeter fruit than it ever did before, and may it exhale and diffuse the incense of brotherly love, unity, and harmony, unalloyed by the poisonous breath of sectional hatred, which never fails to breed an arrogant and selfish spirit of I am better and holier than thou.

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Tuesday, 4th—General Sherman reviewed the Army of the Tennessee today for the last time, our division passing in review at 9 a. m. He made a short speech—a farewell address—to all the troops. He told us that we had been good soldiers, and now that the war is over and the country united once more, we should go home, and as we had been true soldiers, we should become good citizens. This is a rather dull Fourth. I stayed in camp the rest of the day after the review, but in the evening I went down town to a theater—Wood’s theater—for the first time in my life.

For a while today there was a lively time in camp when a lot of the boys tried to break through the guard line. When they failed at that, they next made a raid on the sutlers, who have been doing a big business since our arrival at Louisville. Before the officer of the day could get guards to the sutlers’ tents, the boys had secured a considerable amount of booty.

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Spring Green, Tuesday, July 4. A happy day to the happy family. Fourteen of us filled the old family wagon and crossed the river to Spring Green where I met several of my Battery chums. A pleasant picnic passed off here for the benefit of the soldier boys. It was great gratification to know that our old friends welcomed us home so cordially. I read the Declaration of Independence and Reverend Phillips addressed.

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July 4th, 1865. Never in all my life have I known a Fourth of July, which did not mean a frolic for both white and black. Today there is no barbecue. We are not going to listen to spread-eagle oratory of the Glorious Fourth. To be sure we have not observed this ceremonial during the four years of war, but in days gone by we were most particular to observe the day.

I wonder what the negroes think of this change of program? I would like to know how they are spending the day? I haven’t much time for such speculations, for Josie Evans is spending the summer with us and I love to be in her company. She is a delightful companion and a veritable star in all social gatherings. She has a marvellously beautiful, sweet and powerful voice and she has made a study of music. It was her intention to go on the stage but her mother would not permit it. I am sorry, for she would be wonderful on the stage, she has just the pose of an actress and her fine figure and graceful bearing would make for success. Isn’t it strange that appearance means so much? She is a fine elocutionist and her reading tonight will be well worth listening to.

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3rd. Peck came up in evening. Played chess and checkers. Have had several very pleasant visits with Mrs. Searle and Miss Tripp. Mrs. Forbes too, is very kind to me. No letter from home.

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