Friday, January 21, 2011


Journal Entry: Nance’s Shop, Virginia; June 23, 1864
I am becoming more and more aware of time; the days, the months, now years spent away from home. Soon, I will turn twenty-four, but I feel as tired and worn as a hobbled greybeard, as though my life has passed; I should be home. I should have lived life, as it was promised. While this war has dragged on and on, approaching its fourth year, there are so many opportunities I have missed. I should have lived a quiet life, instead for riding with the firebrands. I should have watched the red-winged blackbird near the river run, instead of watching red blood turn black on the banks of the Antietam. I should have shared an ale at the Wilderness Tavern with my friends, not buried them there. I should have farmed with my brothers, instead of fighting my other brothers from the northern states. I should have lived by now.

By now, I should have taken on my role as adult, to take care of my mother and father, as they cared for me. I should have built my own home, a small cottage down near the run. By now, I should have married, and danced many a Virginia Reel in the parlor with my dearest Marianna. I should have started a family; the tiny tickle of babies laughing should have filled my rooms, filled my heart.

I should have built a red bank barn and raised a fine stable of Morgan horses by now. In the three years that I have lost, I should have planted and harvested, planted and harvested, and then, planted once more. I should have seen the seasons, the spring growing, the winter resting; all that, I should have lived it.

My list of should could go on and on, but I should not dwell upon it. I will have my time to live that life of simple treasures; I will take note and honor every moment. It is a time that hundreds of thousands of boys will now never have; hundreds of thousands buried far from the life they should have lived.

I should live; I could have died.


  1. This is so powerful, it makes me weep and chills run through my body. Beautiful.

  2. Yes. All those should haves that life does not give us. All the life that war steals. All you can do is live.

  3. I am in awe of this series. How do you become that character,see & feel that landscape ~ portray the mood.
    You make us see & think of things both grand and ordinary that we would otherwise be lost.

    the should have's, how did men return after the horrors to face the reality at home.

    "...should have watched the red-winged blackbirds...on the banks of the Antietam."


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