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

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An Artilleryman’s Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones

July 18, 2015

An Artilleryman's Diary–Jenkin Lloyd Jones, 6th Battery, Wisconsin Artillery.

Madison, Tuesday, July 18. The rolls have returned with Lieutenant Colonel Giddings’ (mustering officer) signature annexed, and the military tie which bound us together as the 6th Battery has ceased to exist.

10 A. M. we assembled once more and in the yard in front of Captain Simpson’s office, in the city of Madison, signed the final pay rolls, and received the much-coveted scrip “Discharge”, bearing date of July 18. “Mustered out of United States service on the 3rd of July”. It was not an hour of noisy demonstration, but happiness too sweet for utterance prevails, the emotion of thankfulness filling the dullest breast, “Free! Free!” was the exclamation of many as they became possessors of the prizes.

But to me it brought many dark and serious thoughts to mind. Yes, free, but for the first time in my life I am my only dictator as to what course to pursue. Have arrived at age with life’s issue fairly before me, and undecided what course to pursue. Inclination and duty seem strangely at variance. The importance of such questions is almost oppressive. But I must strive to attain the highest good that lies in my power. The dictates of conscience shall be my guide. To-night I retrace my steps to my quiet valley home. The many tender ties which bind me to my comrades of the march, battle and camp, are more than likely forever broken on this earth. And the diary which I have kept unbroken is hereby ended with the end of my service, having lived two years and eleven months in the service of my country. Three of the best years of my life have been lost to self-instruction, and the plans and hopes of my childhood have been ruthlessly toppled down, but the time has not been lost. I have no regrets for the way it has been spent. My prayer is that the remainder of my life may be as usefully spent. So, dear Diary, good-bye!

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