This is part of a story i wrote about life as a Civil War soldier.
September 9, 1863
The Woods in Maryland
Tonight Commander ordered me to eat, for he told me he wasn’t sure if the food trains could catch up to us. I slowly ate my hard tack and gulped down some water. My fellow “tent-mate” Mark did the same. I looked at him wearily and slowly got up. My knees ached and my head started spinning. I quickly sat back down. “Why did I ever join this army?” I asked Mark.
“To serve our Union…” Mark said quietly, as I could hear the wind blow outside. I sighed, and attempted to stand again. My head began to spin, but I told myself I had to make it to bed.
Timidly I walked over the clothes that lay strewn on the floor of our tent. I plopped down on the cot and wiped my sweaty forehead. My breathing was hard and I became extremely thirsty.
“Mark, can you pass me the canteen?” I asked.
Mark smiled and bent over to get the canteen and tossed it to me. I swiftly popped the cork and chugged my water. It felt like heaven.
“Oh God, what did I do?”
I closed my eyes and I found myself awakened by Mark at dawn. The sun’s vibrant light was just peeking over the hills.
“Quickly!” Mark yelled at me, “Peter, next door, just saw Confederate soldiers!” Hearing this, I jolted out of bed, pulled on my uniform and put on my shoes. Mark darted out of the tent and off into the brush. I did the same. My shoes, squishing in the mud, made the most obnoxious sound I had ever heard. Finally I lost my patience with my shoes and tossed them aside and ran barefoot.
“John, we’re safe here...” His voice wavered. He was nervous; I could feel it. I half smiled and looked around in front of me to find five Confederate soldiers. They bore weapons, which gave Mark and me a disadvantage if they were to find us. We crept through the bush, making sure not to be seen or heard. Then all of a sudden, I don’t know what happened, but the one soldier turned his head toward where Mark and I lay. He marched over to where we were. He readied his gun; I could smell the powder in the air. I gulped. Then, I heard a shot. Mark went limp beside me. Stunned, I didn’t know what to do, I tapped his shoulder, and he didn’t move. I laid him down and saw that he was dead.
My mouth went dry as reality sunk in. Tears began to form in my eyes; I sniffed to hold them back. I turned to see the Confederate soldier had vanished. Quickly, I ran out of the bush and dragged Mark’s body with me. I hoisted him onto my back and ran until I found the rest of our regiment. I gasped for air as I put his body on the ground. I heaved a deep sigh. The men’s faces around me were mixed. Some were confused, others were scared.
“We were caught off guard...” I began, “this Confederate soldier came with his companions….”
I don’t quite remember what I said; the memory is blurry. After I finished my story the men began to talk amongst themselves. Then the General appeared and ordered me to bury Mark’s body right where it was. I agreed and did so.
My eyes filled with tears as I looked down at the fresh grave in which I had buried my best friend. It was a ditch that I covered with soil. I had gotten tree bark and etched his name in it. I had then staked it at the top of the tomb. My face was hot from the work, and was now burning with the tears that were falling. The night was drawing near, so I quickly laid a flower on Mark’s grave and walked back to my tent to sleep.
When I arrived at my quarters I found that there were already four boys there. They were all peacefully sleeping. I quietly jumped over them to my own cot. I huddled under the covers, which had now been infested by “bed bugs”. Now I must go to bed for I am exhausted. Good night.
September 10, 1863
This morning I awoke to a chirpy voice. I rolled out of bed and wiped my eyes. “Hi!” a voice came from below. I looked down wearily and saw one of the boys on the floor. He held a cracker in his hand.
“Sure…” I replied with a stretch. He handed me one and I easily stuffed it in my mouth. My stomach rumbled as I chewed it and swallowed. “Thank you.” He nodded and continued talking. ”Hey…where are you guys from?” I asked.
The boy who gave me the cracker answered, “Boston, Massachusetts.” Then I heard three other voices. They all echoed “Boston, Massachusetts” Confused, I looked at them. I had not realized from yesterday that they looked like two pairs of twins. I stared at them.
Over time I learned their names and got to know them better. The oldest ones were James and Nathan. Then there was Matt and Peter.
I stared at them, swallowing, trying to make my throat moist again.
Then I heard a retched sound that blared in my ear. Screams came out of no where. I turned to find that we had been attacked by the Confederates. Tired of battle, I just stayed put. The boys around me panicked and quickly the life in the tent became hectic. I knew I had to act. “GUYS!” I said in a loud voice, “STOP!”
They all froze. “If you want to live, follow me, this way.” I pointed and ran out of the tent.
“Where are we going?” Peter asked, his voice really nervous.
“Shush, Pete.” James replied. Quickly I scurried behind a massive oak tree. My breath was heavy as I sat down. My palms were sweaty. I looked at the four figures next to me who were also panting.
“We should be safe here.” They meekly smiled.
“What has happened to our belongings?”
“I don’t think we have belongings anymore, Matt,” I answered solemnly. Then all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. I looked down to see blood oozing out. I looked behind the tree to find a Confederate soldier aiming his gun right at my face. “GET UP!” he yelled at me. I realized he had not seen my companions. I looked back at them and gave them a motion to run away. They did as I signaled. They disappeared into the brush. Relieved, I smiled, totally forgetting about the soldier that lay in my presence. Another sharp pain went through my arm. My head started to swirl. I turned to find the soldier with his gun pointing right at my chest. “GET UP I SAID!” Without a word, I stood up, wincing in pain. I held my wounds with my hand, to try to prevent too much blood from being spilled. Now, feeling a little nauseous, I fell down to the ground. I managed to look up to see two pairs of feet. I heard a faint noise.
“This one is done for.” Then one of them kicked my head with something, which made me black out. I don’t know how long I was unconscious, but I know I awoke in a tent. Confused, I tried to stand up, but a great hand pulled me down.
“You better not try to stand up now, you hear?” a low voice told me. I think I nodded, not speaking and then laid back down.
I opened my eyes to find it was pitch black, and still I was in the same tent. The man who had advised me to rest lay asleep on a chair next to me. Then timidly I got up and got my journal, in which I am now writing. Today has been a bad day for me. My arm and shoulder are still in pain, but they have gotten better. For now, I think I can live with it. Right now I must get some rest. Good night.
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