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

Post image for Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L. Castleman.

November 23, 2012

Journal of Surgeon Alfred L Castleman.

23rd.—’Tis too bad!For eight days, we have been without a mail, and to-day, when the big bag was opened, not a scratch for me! I feel shut out from home; but this is only one of the discomforts of a soldier’s life. The soldier, when he enters the field, is presumed to sever all ties of home. What an imagination it must require to presume that he can do any such thing! However, that is the rule, and the theory. But is it not bad, both as rule and theory? True, a man cannot have a home without a country; but what is country without a home, that centre of all his hopes and his affections! The soldier who enlists with the feeling that because he has a family, he has so much the more to fight for, is but poorly paid, when you remind him, that in entering the army he gave up his home and family for the good of his country. Strike from his affections that of home and family, and how much of country will be left? When I get back I’ll ask some old bachelor to tell me.

Through this journal I have freely expressed opinions as to our leading men. When I now look back at my entries, at and after the battle of Williamsburg, on my return from the Peninsula, on leaving Fort Monroe, and in reference to our trip to and from Centreville, in the latter part of August, relative to Generals McClellan, Franklin, Pope and Hancock, and of my fear of the jealousies amongst Generals, and when I compare these entries with revelations on investigation of the Harper’s Ferry surrender, I think my friends must be willing to recall much of the harsh judgment they passed on me for entertaining such opinions “of these great and good men.”

What are we going to do? I am of opinion that we are waiting here for the repair of docks and bridges at Acquia Creek, so that we can land our rolling stock for railroad. I hear some whispers that Burnside cannot advance, because of some disappointment in the arrival of pontoons. Can it be that there are parties already playing false to him. I confess to fears. It will do no harm to venture a prediction as to our course. So soon as we get the railroad repaired, and are running on it, with our bridges across the Rappahannock, we shall take Fredericksburg, at all hazards, then push forward to Saxton’s Junction, cutting off Richmond from all its northern connections, then rest for the winter. This can be done; and if treason can only be kept out of our ranks, I verily believe it will be done, and that before the 20th of December, we shall be in winter quarters, around Saxton’s.

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