By Michelle Shocklee
Does that name sound familiar? Ring any historical bells in your mind? If you've read my latest release, Under the Tulip Tree, it might. He made a cameo appearance on pages 236 and 237, just before the Battle of Nashville began.
But who was Albert Underwood. Was he a famous general? A hero whose name we should remember?
Albert was, in fact, one of millions of young men who fought in the Civil War. His record and journey is no more remarkable than most other soldiers who did their job during a time when countrymen fought against countrymen. The thing that solidifies Albert's place in our country's history is the simple fact that he recorded his thoughts, his feelings, the weather, and important details regarding his whereabouts and what was happening around him in a diary.
|An old diary like the one Albert kept|
My interest in Albert's diary came when I was researching the Battle of Nashville for my book. I'd read about the battle in history books and on historical websites, but I wanted more. I wanted to know how the soldiers felt as they waited for the battle to begin. I wanted to know about the weather, about the sounds, about the smells.
Finding Albert's diary online was like finding gold! Written in pencil, he kept it from January 1, 1864 to January 11, 1865. As you read bits and pieces of his entries, imagine a young man, far from home, fighting a war he, like everyone else, hoped would end soon.
- New Year's Day 1864 found him in Huntingdon, Tennessee, 60 miles from Union City. "Clear and cold this morning. The thermometer stood at 10 degrees above zero this morning. It continued cold all day. A quiet New Year's Day."
- " Fri. Jan 15: The weather still continues very delightful for the time of year."
- "Mon. Feb 1: Bockett and I went up town this morning to get our breakfast. Took a 50 cent breakfast at a restaurant. Saw an orange stand and got about a half dozen."
The year continues, with the 9th traveling from Tennessee down to Mississippi.
- "Sat. Jun 18: Beautiful weather. Rather lonesome times now. Orders were received to remain in camp for the paymaster would be out to pay us off, but he has not come. We have been disappointed every day for about 2 weeks now. It has been the talk every day since we have been here that we would get our pay tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes."
- "Tues. Jun 21: Considerable stir this morning among the veteran boys getting ready to go home."
- "Sat. Oct 29: I finished reading the Bible the second time."
- "Sun. Dec 11: Very cold here in camp. I went down to the city and went to the Baptist Church in the morning. I then took a walk out to the forts in the south part of the city."
Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at michelleshocklee.com.
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