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Civil War Diary
March 30, 1861
I write in you today to profess my many sins. I now consider myself beneath the beggars and the thieves of the world. But you must understand that my actions are based on the righteous love I have towards my wife, Emily, and my two children, Mary and Susan. Although I am the only person to blame for my appalling actions, I would not be in my current position without the “help” of my brother-in-law, George. He grew up with seven sisters, my wife being one of them. They lived in an old mansion, right down the road from where my family and I currently reside, in Maine. His mother and father never cared for him the way they cared for their daughters. Perhaps this is why he has always behaved like such a rebel. When his parents passed on, they left all of their fortune to their daughters, leaving nothing for him. In all of my 46 years of life, I have never met a more insubordinate man than he.
This brings me to how we both came to be in our current business positions. Although to the faithful citizens of Maine I am a member of Congress, the majority of my income comes from my secret line of work of which I have been involved in for the last three years. During this time, I have been on my top behavior in the public’s eye.
They see me as the antislavery Republican who gladly voted for fellow Republican Abraham Lincoln for president. Although I did vote for Lincoln, I am really a devoted follower of John Breckinridge and found Lincoln’s election most unfortunate.
In the eyes of the citizens of Maine, I am a strong objector towards slavery. In actuality, slavery is where I receive my greatest profits. And thus is my secret profession: capturing runaways. I now return to my brother-in-law, also known, to me, as my partner in crime. There are few members of Congress that are not enormous gossips. George found out about this, and developed of plan to make him very wealthy. I was unfortunately the key necessity for this plan.
I am known for being dreadfully easy to persuade, and this was sadly the case when George came to me with a business proposition. The deal was for me to eavesdrop on conversations taking place between Congressmen, and gather information about the whereabouts of runaway slaves. I would then pass on this information to George, he would capture the slave, and the slave’s owner would provide him with a reward, which we would split 50/50. We would both remain completely anonymous.
Now dear diary, you may believe that only a cruel heartless fool would accept this deal, and I would agree with your thinking. But you must understand that Congressmen do not get paid nearly as much as you would think. Plus, I have a family to support- children who need a proper education and a wife whose few enjoyments include purchasing gowns and pearls. Well, these gowns and pearls cannot be obtained without money, and so I accepted my brother-in-law’s proposal.
And now, I regret the choice I made three years ago, and feel that I need to change my current habits. But a war is brewing and appears to be inevitable. The North and the South have been dissimilar since the time of America’s founding fathers, and the sectionalism that has grown between the two regions has produced and unavoidable war. America is headed towards a time of change and perhaps I am also.
Douglas B. Sherman
April 18, 1861
The members of Congress are driving me near hysterics, mainly because everyone is trying to hide their own hysteria. They joke about how the Confederacy is now where near as skilled as the Union. They’re even placing bets on how many weeks it will take them to surrender. Even though no one has placed a bet over nine weeks, I feel as is there is always a tension in the air of the Congressmen, and that they are all secretly worrying about losing vast amount of soldiers during this possibly gory war.
Congressmen are also upset with Lincoln because he did not consult the legislative branch before sending supply ships to Fort Sumter. They seem too occupied with their petty feelings of being left out of his decision to put themselves in his shoes and consider what they would have done in his situation. The supply ships that he sent were apparently seen to the Confederates as a threat, so they attacked the fort before the supply ships arrived. Nearly a day and a half later, the North surrendered the fort to the South.
I am hiding all of this news from my family, in fear that my wife will put the pieces of the puzzle together and realize that the country is headed toward a devastating war. Unfortunately, I am suspicious that she has started gossiping with the neighborhood wives, one of which I am positive has a cousin fighting for the Confederates. I have not heard from my brother-in-law for the last two weeks, and I am worried that he has taken off to the South. Sadly, it seems like the kind of rambunctious, spontaneous thing that he would do. I am still undecided on my position towards slavery.
Douglas B. Sherman
July 22, 1861
I sense that the Northern Congressmen are beginning to realize the enormity of the war against the South. All previously made bets on the length of the war have been called off because it seems that all of the guessed amounts of time were far too short. After this morning’s Congress session, I do not think that there is a single person who still considers this war to be a joke. The morning unfolded like so: I arrived at Congress, eavesdropped on a few of my fellow Congressmen’s conversations, and, once items were about to be discussed, a messenger ran in claiming that he had news about the war. Low and behold, he ended up having a letter straight from President Lincoln! It contained information about a battle at took place yesterday. The North had apparently attacked the South near the creek called Bull Run. There was an enormous gasp heard throughout the room when it was read that the South had fought back and ended up winning the battle. Congressmen left for home, not talking, everyone caught up in their new thoughts, opinions, and views of the war.
When I arrived home, I headed straight towards my study, but my wife stopped me and demanded that I inform her on the news that had sent me home early. I reluctantly told her and her reaction matched that of the Congressmen; she gasped and headed upstairs to check on the children. I entered the study and began writing in you, dear diary, hoping to straighten out my thoughts, and I have come to one conclusion: this war will not be over quickly.
Douglas B. Sherman
January 2, 1863
I am debating over whether or not all of the Congressmen are insane or if they are all just oblivious to the obvious. Yesterday, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. When my colleagues were first told this, they began shouting cries of joy and jumping up and down. I joined then, but only rejoiced halfheartedly, knowing something that everyone else seemed to have overlooked. Lincoln’s decree freed slaves only in the rebel states. This means that all other slaves are still property to their owners. Plus, how can the president of the Union enforce government decrees in an area that broke away from the Union? Their only chance of freeing any slaves is by sending armed soldiers to the Southern plantations, but, as people have apparently failed to notice, the soldiers are currently busy fighting battles against the Southern soldiers! My wife also does not believe the faults I spotted in the proclamation. When I informed her of my views on this news, she mumbled something about having to learn to walk before you can run, and then left to attend to our children. I feel as if I am the only reasonable person in all of Maine!
I have decided to discontinue my slave capturing business. You may think that it is because my morals are worth more to me than my earnings. But to you I shall be honest, dear diary; if my brother-in-law was still keeping contact with me or if the business was still profitable, I am positive that morals would mean nothing to me. But I have made my decision, and I am a man of my word, so even if the Confederates do end up winning the war, I shall not resume my dealings. At least, I hope that I am not tempted to too much...or I might accidentally accept...
Douglas B. Sherman
January 5, 1865
The whereabouts of my brother-in-law have become known. In a letter that I received from him this morning explains his sudden change of heart towards slavery. He was delivering a runaway slave to a plantation owner, and when the slave’s owner saw the runaway for the first time, he shot him, and the slave fell over, dead. Since then, George explained, he had joined the Union army, and was assigned to march from Atlanta, GA to Savannah, GA under the command of my cousin, William Tecumseh Sherman. I must admit that upon reading this fact, I felt quite betrayed.
Before my cousin began his brigade through the South, he had written me a letter informing me of his plans, most likely to show off his high military position (He was always jealous of my being a politician). I wrote him a letter back, sharing my opposition towards his military plans. He had said that he was going to march his troops through the South and destroy everything in his path. He said his estimated mileage was around 700 miles. His boastfulness was obvious as he said that he was going to free every enslaved African-American on his way. This was the only part of his plan that I respected. If his head was not so heavy, he would realize that he was killing innocent citizens of the United States of America! He complains that sectionalism has divided the country, and states that his ultimate goal is to bring the North and the South back together and end discrimination towards colored men. But I ask him, is it not discriminatory to kill people and set fire to their homes and possessions, simply because of their location? I would say more, dear diary, but I am afraid that by writing this down, my anger has become so high and intense, that I am going to go and locate my wife and ask her to help me to calm my nerves. I know that she will always follow my suggestions even though my brother-in-law may not.
Douglass B. Sherman
April 10, 1865
The end of the war brings many joys and sorrows. Today I received word of remarkable information. This morning at Congress, we were told that the war was over. It took approximately four seconds for the Congressmen, myself included, to comprehend the enormity of what they were being told, at which point everyone stood up and cheered at they threw their hats into the air. After the hooting and hollering wore down, we were told the details of the South’s surrender. The Union army, led by General Grant, followed the Confederate army, led by General Lee, from Richmond, Virginia to Petersburg, Virginia. This led Lee to surrender. I feel that he made the right choice at the right time, seeing as how his army was becoming weak and did not have a chance left of defeating the Union army. So, yesterday, Lee and Grant met in Appomattox Court House, where they arranged the terms of Lee’s surrender. I felt a great amount of affection towards General Grant for being kind to the Confederate soldiers after they surrendered. I feel that he has made the most important step in mending the North and the South back together, so that the United States may become whole once again.
But the news of the Confederate surrender was not the only news that I received today. When I returned from Congress, my wife gave me a letter that the carrier had said was very urgent. I opened it and learned that my brother-in-law, George, had been killed in battle. It burns me to admit that he is gone, but I feel that he has caused me enough grief over the years, that I shall not be mourning him for very long. As I began writing in you, dear diary, as a way to channel my feelings towards the war and my work with George, and as both of these topics are now concluded, I do not believe that I shall write in you any more. I thank you for the support that you have lent me through these hard years, and pray that you never fall into the wrong hands. Perhaps one day I shall share you with my children. I will now conclude my time with you by bidding you my final adieu.
Douglass B. Sherman