***All Photographs by Ken***
July 19th, 1864
The events that have transpired over the past day have caused me to reflect. Our time on this earth is so precious, so deserving of note. I started my day well enough, with Father contacting a photographer in the early morning to have our likeness taken. The color of my blue silk dress appeared bright in the picture! I shall treasure it.
After supper we sat quietly in the parlor. Father had mentioned a possible skirmish near the house, though he knew not when. We tried our best to stay calm, with Mother calling to me to find her a book. I handed her the volume closest to me, one that my sister had been most attentive to in the past few days. It was my good fortune that they did not glance behind my magazine, as I had smuggled a romance into the house for entertainment.
Oh dearest diary, I made the greatest error! In handing the book to my Mother, I unwittingly revealed my sister's great secret; during our visit this Christmas to Annapolis, my Aunt Sarah had given her a fashion magazine, Godey's Ladies' Book. I now understand my sister's recent longing for a silk ball gown and new bonnet. I tried to stop Mother from reading once I realized my mistake, but it was too late. They were most angry with her, citing The Mother's Book to punish her. My sister pretended to understand, but I could see the sadness in her eyes. I knew that I had to make peace with my sister!
Immediately after her lecture, we heard a commotion outdoors. We came to the window to see the fuss, but Father shooed us away. Union soldiers! In our town! My Father was certainly angry, as he is a great supporter of the Confederacy. In all of the excitement, I revealed to my sister my own great secret; I planned to impersonate a man to join the Union army, just like the character from my romance story! She looked away and laughed at my jest, a moment I will never forget. If only she had believed me!
Within an hour I found an old outfit of Father's and sneaked over to the camp. With my hair tucked away, the commanding office did not notice my feminine features. He gave me a uniform quickly, as he predicted a battle soon and he required more recruits. I felt so free in men's clothing, but I feared what Mother would say about my indecency! I stood in line with the troops, remembering the bravery of the heroine in my novel.
We marched to the battle, and at the crack of the guns I knew such fear. I had a little experience with a gun, so I was able to shoot a few rounds. When the confederates returned with a volley, I felt a ball hit my side. The romance novel did not prepare me for the pain! I bled onto the dirt, preparing for death. My neatly hidden hair fell out of its restraints, revealing my secret to the other troops. They immediately sent two men to find my family.
Mother and Father came at once to the battlefield, terrified after I had gone missing earlier in the day. My dearest Mother sobbed over my wound while the military doctor explained that it had passed through without major harm. I simply needed time to heal! Father was very embarrassed by my indiscretion, especially when our neighbors noticed my pain. I suspect that once my wounds heal, he will give me a whipping that I will never forget!
As I write this entry I am propped up in bed with bandages and tea. Dearest Candace keeps finding reasons to bring me hidden sweets, though I know not why. After all, I revealed her secret! Candace's husband was one of the men that informed Father of my wounded state, a great debt that Father repaid by allowing Candace to keep her position despite her Union loyalty. I suppose my folly did not harm her as much as I expected.
I am now growing weary from the excitement of this day, though I see Mother nodding off in the chair beside me. There is just enough candle for me to start my next adventure...
A very precious day indeed