Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day, 1862

The July 4th entry from Sam Cox's diary speaks of picnics and pickets as Duty trumps Glory for  Company A, Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry. 

We had a grand review today, but our Company being on duty did not go out.  I think they had quite a dusty time judging from the appearance on their return.

How different I spent this day from last Fourth.  One year ago today, I was enjoying myself in the company of the fair sex of Kentucky at a picnic near the mouth of Barren River, and today I am on picket guard one mile from Athens, Alabama, and do not know at what moment I may hear a "minnie ball"[sic] come whistling through the timber searching for my precious body.

I was in hopes of passing this 4th with my friends and relatives in Kentucky, but alas, this cruel war has lasted much longer than anyone anticipated, and, Heaven only knows when it will end now.  We hope, however, that it may close soon and that we may once more meet friends at home.

Heard on yesterday evening that McClellan had taken Richmond with 40,000 prisoners.  I do not believe it, it is too good to be true.*

Recall that Wilbur Condit, in his letter dated May 22 had also expressed an expectation to be home by July 4th.  Surely he, too was disappointed to be in northern Alabama with no end of the war in sight.  Especially if he knew that Lincoln had just called for 300,000 more volunteers to fight the secessionists.

Editor's Note:  This Independence Day marks the first invasion of Kentucky by John Hunt Morgan.  From Knoxville, he slashed through southeastern Kentucky capturing 1,200 prisoners and hundreds of horses while destroying important Federal supplies.  The horses he kept, but the prisoners were paroled.

*Cox,Samuel K. Civil War Diary 1862-1865 of Captain Samuel Kennedy Cox, courtesy of Daviess County Public Library, Kentucky Room, archived manuscript, p.18.

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