A 150 años de inciarse la guerra de secesión (sesquicentenario, una palabra usada solo una vez cada 150 años), pongo casi aleatoriamente trozos del diario de un unionista durante la campaña peninsular (1862) en el este de Virginia. El diario es corto, me lo leería todo, pero estoy con poco tiempo.
May 29th, Thursday.
A beautiful morning. About 10 a.m. a lot of rebel prisoners, numbering three hundred and ninety-three, were marched along the Hanover Road, close to our encampment and under a strong guard.
Such a dirty filthy looking set of rascals could not be found in any almshouse in the north, and if all the rag-pickers of Philadelphia could be taken from the gutters and placed in line, they could not present a worse appearance. Scarcely any two were dressed alike. The prevailing colors were gray and dirt color. A majority of them wore slouch hats of no particular shape, a few had caps, and some of them had their heads tied up with dirty handkerchiefs. Most of them were young men, but there were a few old gray haired sinners among them.
About 6 p.m. another gang of rebel prisoners, numbering about a hundred, passed down the road; what their final destination is we do not know, but suppose they will be sent by railroad to White House Landing and from thence by steamers to some safe place for keeping.
It seems mortifying that the government must go to such vast expense and give us all so much trouble to hunt such ignoble game.
It is a pity that we cannot at one fell swoop rid the land forever of the vermin, instead of catching and being obliged to feed and clothe them. No wonder the darkies speak of “poor white trash.”21 I never rightly understood the meaning of the term before I saw these fellows.
June 1st [...]
About 5 o’clock p.m. the body of Colonel James Miller was brought in. It was most horribly disfigured, nearly half of the left side of the head having been blown away. He could not have felt a moment’s pain. He was a true soldier, every inch of him. He fought through the Mexican war and was severely wounded at the storming of Chepultapec, and at last has fallen in battle, bravely fighting for the flag of the Union. Requiescat in pace.
June 7th, Saturday. [...]
The lower classes of white people in Virginia, wherever I have visited, are utterly devoid of education. Many of the men and women can neither read nor write, and yet, they are Americans!!! A couple of boys residing, or perhaps I should say existing, near here visit our tent almost everyday. One of them, a particularly bright and intelligent little fellow about eleven years of age, in reply to some questions I put to him, said that he did not know his letters, there was no one to teach him, his mother could not read, and there were no school teachers anywhere. His father lived down at Squire Jones’ and his mother lived over yah, pointing to a hovel in a field nearby. To the question why his parents did not live together, he replied, “Because they was never married.” Perhaps ten years hence this same boy, then grown to man’s estate, may be seen strutting down Chestnut Street with long hair over his shoulders and flourishing a big stick in his hand, boasting that he is a descendent of the F.F.V.s*,the southern chivalry.
-Well Satisfied with My Position. The Civil War Journal of Spencer Bonsall
Edited by Michael A. Flannery and Katherine H. Oomens
*First families of Virginia