The Common Soldier’s Nightmare

Will Burns, History/ Secondary Education Major, 2016

U.S history has always been a fascinating subject for me and growing up in Connecticut gave me opportunities to visit sites of the American Revolution, as well as reading letters and diaries of the minuteman fighting off British tyrants for our freedom.  However, the Civil War is a different story. Our once mighty nation was divided and for the first time in American history, brother fought against brother.

John Haley’s account of the Civil War gives us an in depth look at the common soldier’s experience. Through his journal we are able to follow his journey from the beginning of his enlistment on August 7, 1862 when Haley writes “I grew homesick for the first time in my life” to his return home on June 10, 1865 describing his experience as “a hideous dream.”

In class today we discussed women and the home front during the war, however throughout our discussion Haley’s words remained in my mind “How fortunate for the peace of mind of the women of our land that they do not know all these things. In giving their sons and brothers to such a cause how little they know what they are doing” (John Haley December 13, 1862).

I believe this exhibit will make Maine residents proud of their state’s contribution to the war and I am very happy to be a part of this project.

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