Civil War Digital Scrapbook

Joseph Roberts

December 13, 1860

Today has been a great day. I went quail hunting with my father. I shot the most I ever have in one day: 16 in all! Okay, I lied, only 12. Someday in the future I want to take my servant Benjamin with us. I asked Father this morning, but he said that Ben would not have fun because he is very young. He was right, little Benjamin is only seven and a little sheepish of firearms, but someday he may be able to hunt with me. Between running the farm and everything that is going on these days, my father and I like to find time about twice a month to hunt. Anyways, when we got back to the house Mother was so excited to see how well father and I did. She called Esther, Abigail, and Daniel to come outside and see. They were all so happy to see that I had done so well. After the three had gotten back to what they were doing, Mother told me that she would cook all of the quail into a stew and also make pie. I was so excited, I have always said that Mother makes the best pie in all of Richmond. She had to leave to see how Joel was doing. He is only eight months old and needs a lot of care. Father was out with Bucephalus (his horse), so I was alone. Today has been good, though I am wishful that tomorrow might be even better.

I sketched Bucci’s head while he was grazing yesterday afternoon.

August 22, 1861

Much has happened since my last entry. The North has been trying to get rid of slaves and rid us of our way of life. Virginia has seceded from the United States and has joined the Confederate States. The Yankees plan to force us into submission. They came south to Manassas on the 29th of July and fought our men. We won. It is so angering that the Union is trying to take our livelihoods away from us. I fear that I can sit and wait no longer for this country to stop harassing my friends and family. I have concluded three things:

  1. I am a Confederate man.

  2. I will sneak away and join the Confederate army.

  3. I will take this sketch my brother drew of my mother to remember her by.

May 20, 1862

Today I have been at camp. It is a beautiful place on a creek about fifty miles west of Alexandria. In the time I was not running around delivering papers and food for officers, I talked with my good friend Isaiah. We like to talk about really anything that comes to mind, our families, politics, and how much we hate Solomon (a boy about sixteen years old that steals our food regularly ). We also like to play cards with some of the older soldiers when they are bored enough to let us, and sometimes he will play his fife and I will my drums to a song we both know. I have been thinking about the war. The Yankees are crushing the South. Grant has taken Fort Henry, Nashville and Shiloh. It seems to me that they are trying to take the Mississippi. If we are going to win this war, we need to get Europe on our side. I have no doubt that Europe will not join with the CSA, considering their people’s love for American cotton. But I should not worry myself with such matters. Sadly though, music and conversation can only go so far. I am still very bored and very hungry. Sketching has also been helping me pass time. Here is my drum.

September 2, 1862

I don’t think that I can go through another battle. It was all so terrifying and exciting at the same time. I feel as if nothing in this world can hurt me, because if anything was bound to, it would have already come. Under a new general named Robert E. Lee, our forces were able to overcome the North at Manassas. Everything was so loud and intense. After the battle, the field was covered, both in bodies and in a haze, a mix of smoke and lost souls. In other news, my mother has tracked me down and written me. She has apparently come to terms with me sneaking away from home, though I can tell she is very worried about me. I opened the paper and I came to the most pleasant surprise: My mother is expecting another child! She says that all is well. She knits socks almost everyday. She told me that Father is now serving in congress. It does not surprise me that he got elected. My father was very well respected back in Richmond. I can’t think of any man who was not friends with my father come to think of it. Mother asked if I needed anything. I asked for some jeans with fleece on the inside of the legs and some new playing cards. I probably will not need the pants until late November, but I don’t want to be late about getting them. It is getting late and Taps is coming soon, time for me to hit the hay.

My tent (and all of my belongings)

Jan 3, 1863

I am so glad that I got my mother to send me these jeans. It is very cold and I have been bored all day. After drilling this morning, I went to Officer's tents and delivered papers to men in other tents until about 11 o’clock. While running errands and just standing near the leaders in grey uniforms, I overheard many conversations about trying to free our slaves and a proclamation. Afterwards I went to Isaiah’s tent to tell him about the news. He already knew more than me. Apparently, the Union’s president, Lincoln, issued a proclamation saying that all of the Confederacy’s slaves are freed. I asked him how they can take our slaves. Isaiah responded saying that that wasn’t what Lincoln was trying to do. All he was doing was making the abolition of slavery a primary goal of the North. I thought for a long time then said “Those Yankees have had that primary goal since before we were born!”.

The Forest: Joseph Roberts

April 20, 1865

I am finally home! After the surrender at Appomattox I got my gun and the three days worth of food (Provided by the northern devil Ulysses S. Grant) and started to walk home to Richmond. The walk from Appomattox took about seven days. I was able to stretch the food to five days, and I could usually get a piece of cornbread or some greens from a farmer. But I didn’t starve, after all, I was a confederate soldier. Anyways, when I got home I was greeted with my worried mother. She didn’t know if I was okay (I guess she was justified. our last correspondence was the letter I sent her back in September of 1862). Everyone is in good health. After I had seen everyone, my parents told me the big news. The Unio-- sorry, The president was assassinated. I was shocked. They calmed me down and told me that the vice president is taking over. These times are very troubling, though I am just happy to be home.

You never realize how much you love home until you leave.