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Selected Excerpts from Sirene Bunten's Diary

January 26, 1863. Walter was at home last night, he could not stay but one night. He started for camp this morning, and we may not see him again for some time. William Curry has the smallpox, I think if it spreads we will have something besides war to think of. The war is still raging. It seems that we will know what war is after while, everything is swallowed up in the all absorbing topic war. I do hope we will hear that General McClellan has command of the army again. I think that the President ought to know better than to keep changing the commanders so often. I guess he thinks he is right but I do not. I would like to see him and tell him about it.

April 27, 1863. What a night we spent last night, just before dark Claude Lee came up from town and said they were cannonading the town, but it was not so. A little after dusk some of the 3d Va come here and they said Walter was coming, they was going to stand on picket out on the hill till their Regt. came up. We got supper in a hurry. We said that the enemy were at Middlefork bridge and our men were fighting them. I have not heard from there since. We did not go to bed until 12 oclock. I think H will wish she was at home.

April 30, 1863. Harriet and May came home Monday. The secesh are in Buckhannan now, there was four went by here this morning. I do not know where they were going. I don't see what we will do if they stay there long, it is a dreadful thing to think of. I have heard the cannon this morning very plain but cannot tell where it was. If General Milroy and his army was only here to fight them. I think Stonewall Jackson has the command if the rebel forces here. There is some at Maxwells Mills. Ah me.

May 1, 1863. 18 or 20 more of the enemy went by here and some two hundred went up to Slab Camp road. I don't know what they are going to do. I heard that they were going back to Buchanan to day. One of them came in the yard to get water and one stopped at the gate. They were very polite then. I do want to hear from`our forces so bad. Mrs. Upton is here and I will stop and see what she has to say.

May 10, 1863. It is the Sabbath day but we did not go to meeting. I doubt if there was any. It is a light beautiful day, the sun shines warm and the little birds are filling the air with music; the apple trees are in blossom. Going to have fruit if the rebels do not get it. Have not heard any very reliable news to day. I heard that the troops were on their way from Clarksburg to Buchanan but we hear a thousand and one tales and don't know whether to believe one. The next union soldier I see I intend to take a good look at him, I have not seen one for so long.

May 18, 1863. A squad of cavalry went by this morning, they were scouting I guess. I hope the mail will come up tomorrow, we have not had any for a long time. Perhaps it will come. It was the general opinion that the Stars and Stripes were floating over Richmond but it has been disputed, but I do hope so. If it is it will be a great blow to the so called "Confederate States of America." I hope they captured Jeff Davis when they took the Capitol. I think the war will soon be over. Whew but it is cold today, as Aunt Heckiah says it is recessively cold. We'll freeze into an iceberg, ha ha.

May 30, 1863. Have not heard anything more from Vicksburg. I would like to know if it is true that we have it. It is the general supposition that the rebels (Imboden and Jones) will have to come back here, that they cannot get out any other way. I hope if they start they will meet some of the "Yankee Boys" ad will have to surrender. It would be a terrible blow to the chivalry, take down their pride a little I think. There is meeting at the Dillin House this afternoon. Rev. Mr. King, Methodist.

July 1, 1863. George Moore was up today, he said that part of company B was out on a scout somewhere in Braxton. I believe maybe they will catch these rebels that have left here for Dixie. I wish they would. The rebels are making a raid into Penn. and Md. I never seen the like in my life and such a time as our new state is having. Lots of rebels in it trying to destroy it, but never mind it will shine as bright as any of the thirty-five after a while. Oh what a glorious flag is ours, if I were only a man to help fight for it. I believe I could fight.

July 2, 1863. Three thousand secesh at Huttonsville. They captured our pickets, they mean to try to get to Buchanan but there is one Regt of infantry, Ewings battery and some cavalry at Beverly. If they make a stand they cannot get here that way and if it is managed right they cannot come at all. Some of our citizens are on picket tonight. I believe the rebels like this part of West Virginia better than the other parts. They visit it often anyway. Oh if I only had the power to stop them. Rumor says Gen. Milroy has been put out because he let his army get cut up so at Winchester. I declare it is enough to drive one mad. He was such a good Gen., but that is just the way they do., take the good and leave the bad. The rebels have cut the telegraph wire between Beverly and Buchanan.

July 7, 1863. Letter from Watson today. He is at Snyder's Bluff, Miss., 12 miles north of Vicksburg. He was not very well. If all stories are true Vicksburg is ours, it is currently reported anyway, but not believed. "The 20th of June 1863, is the natal day of this last born of the ever glorious galaxy of states constituting the American Union." I copied that out of the Wheeling Intelligencer. There is much more to it, but it is too long to copy. West Va is in its infancy now, I wonder what her motto will be.

July 14, 1863. Good news to day, our army has been victorious in Penn. The war will soon be over. Lee's army is badly cut up and good news comes in from every side, enough to make one rejoice I think. The Stars and Stripes are floating over Vicksburg as I hope it soon will be over the whole of the U. S. A. The glorious star spangled banner. Letters from Aunt Elsey, James, and Lorenzo. Some rain last night.

September 6, 1863. Received letters from [my brothers] Watson and Walter this evening. Walter was at Beverly and was well. Watson was in Miss., he talks about getting a furlough but does not think he could come home in the time given him. Oh if he only could and Walter could be here at the same time how glad I would be. Once I hoped to see all three but never shall I welcome one home again, and how many more sisters can say the same. This dreadful war, when will it end? When the sun is set and all is still I get to thinking of dear brothers far away, and it seems like I can't wait another year, and tears fall thick and fast for perhaps before it passes away something will happen. I cannot, must not think of it. Oh if I could see you tonight my brothers and listen to your loved voices how happy I would be, but many nights more must pass.

July 6, 1864. Oh who would have believed one week ago that Walter would be a prisoner. He was captured at Green Springs with twelve others of that Co. Oh it is too much to be true. To think my brother will have to suffer in a southern jail, perhaps never see the outside of it. Dreadful thought but we will hope for the best.

July 10, 1864. We have not heard anything from the prisoners, they were taken the 26th of June. Oh Walter my brother will you have to be kept and starved to death as Cousin Ezra was. I can not think it possible, but this suspense is terrible, perhaps never knew what has become of them. Only one brother left us now. There is a rumor that Capt Gould is killed. I hope it is not so.

December 14, 1864. Oh my dear journal, once again I am called upon to mourn the loss of a beloved brother. We heard to-day that Walter is dead, starved to death by a set of fiends. There may be some mistake, oh if I only knew, this agonizing suspense is worse than certainty. My brother my brother how can I give you up. Our father help us.

December 19, 1864. Have not heard any more from Walter. The dark cloud that has been hanging over us so long has grown darker. Oh when will the sun once more appear. It is dreadful to think we will never know when Walter died or where. Oh Walter I did not think of this one short year ago.

January 1, 1865. And to-day is New Year, it is cold oh very cold. The old year went out with storm and wind, the snow forming a burial shroud for the dying year. The greatest snowstorm of the season, one foot and one inch deep. Several of the militia have come home and some of them saw Walter in Sep. and said he was well then, and do not think it can be so about his being dead. Hope we will hear soon and hope it will be joyful news, a happy new year it would be then.

April 15, 1865. One short week ago and we were rejoicing over the fall of Richmond, now everything is changed. The nation is shrouded in mourning, for our president was this morning killed, shot dead. O what dreadful news it is to write, words fail me to express the deep sorrow that has fallen on our nation. To think that Abraham Lincoln our President, who has for four years governed us well and wisely, was deliberately shot this morning. Also, Sec. Seward died of sickness this morning. I can hardly realize this great loss it was so sudden.

Source: Cresswell, Stephen, ed. We Will Know What War Is: The Civil War Diary of Sirene Bunten. Buckhannon: West Virginia Wesleyan Press, 1993.

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