Winter 1862 No. 13
Posted On June 17, 2016
In the year of 1862, Johanna Cardiff was becoming a young woman; her country was split by war. This is her journal; these are her journeys.
You may recollect that as children you teased that I talked “just to hear my head rattle.” That may have been true, at the time, but now, I find myself without words.
I have read several reports on the most recent battle, the battle of Antietam and the reported horribleness of it takes my words from me. All of the calculations and recording of casualties I have done in the past, pale when compared to the destruction this past September. In honesty, the words are powerful but I truly did not conceive of the uselessness of battle until I gazed upon the photographs submitted by a Mister Mathew Brady in the New York Times. The photographs are images of the Confederate dead. I find them to be repulsive and addictive simultaneously.
I have heard Generals at town hall meetings describe battle as a glorious endeavor. I recall recruiters saying carrying forth the might of our nation as an honor. I remember Luke going on and on about the grand adventure of going to war.
Of all the emotions I felt in my breast, while studying those photographs, the words those emotions forced into my mouth, never included “glorious,” “honor,” and “adventure.”
As I studied the images, I took note of the bodies, now broken by violence and empty of the spirit and intelligence that once made them men; I could not stop myself from thinking of the loved ones in their lives. Each of those men had mothers and fathers, who will never see them again, on this side of the veil. Many, I’m sure had wives and some of those married had children. Many more undoubtedly had young women waiting for them to return. How disappointed they must be. How empty their lives have now become.
As I was swept away with my study, I suddenly realized I knew those men. I don’t mean I recognized one or two of them, as I certainly did not, but I knew them all the same. Those broken, wasted bodies of men in grey uniforms were you, my brothers. They were no different than you, we are. Their dreams undoubtedly were the same as ours, a productive life and a family. I have heard of no report that accuses the southerners of being anything but Christian in their beliefs. While they might have mispronounced the words, they spoke English, or at least a form of the language. I am broken hearted for them and their families.
I cut out two photographs and will keep them with this entry. I understand Mister Brady has a studio in New York City, which is crowded to extreme every day with visitors, all wanting to see his captured images. Mother would never make such a trip, but I plan to beseech Patsy to accompany me to visit the gallery.