Happy Independence Day, from our family, to yours.
I know, it's a little awkward, this year.
With the masks, the public shaming, and the cancellation of celebrations, it puts us all in difficult positions. It's tough, to celebrate our freedoms, in this time of subjugation. Domineering Government?
Minor inconvenience? Here's a little different perspective, from a true American.
July 4th, 1863, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Dear Father and Mother,
I will tonight write a few lines that you may know that I am well and still in the land of the living. Last Wednesday night about dark our corps left Manchester, Maryland, marched all night and most of the day Thursday, arriving at Gettysburg just in time to save the Battle of the day. We marched about 40 miles without rest, sleep, or time to make coffee. Arrived and formed quickly in line of battle on the left and repulsed the Enemy with great slaughter.
A big battle raged yesterday. We repulsed them at every point. About dark the lines in front of us went on the charge driving the Rebs back about a mile. It was done most splendidly. Last night our troops were busy all night bringing in the wounded. Some had lied upon the field in the rain and hot sun for 36 hours. We could not get them until the charge was made and the Rebs drove back. This morning we had a smart skirmish and got some shelling and fell back to our old position behind the crude stone wall we had built.
Our troops have been engaged all day burying the dead and bringing in the wounded that lie scattered for miles around amongst the rocks, woods, hills and swamps, also picking up guns and equipment that are thickly strewn all over the field.
This is the greatest battle of the War and the worst looking battlefield I have ever travelled over. I went over it last night by moonlight with others for wounded.
It was a hard sight, far beyond the comprehension of any living person not a witness.
Today is the 4th it has rained hard most all day. Water is scarce, we sit in our tents and fill our canteens with the rain that falls from the heavens. I hope you have all enjoyed the 4th for I could not much. We have a hard chance for comfort and rest and hope soon that this will be decided for the whole Army has had no rest for some time, but exposure and long hard marches carrying heavy loads.
I am in good spirits, give my love to brothers and sisters, and with much love and affection for you, Mother, I am still your loving son,
My 3rd great uncle, Charles Henry Dean.
The first child born in my Mom's house.
He would have welcomed a mask, I bet.
The smell, of 5 or 6 thousand dead soldiers, and piles of dead horses, was probably pretty ripe, in the July sun.
There were a few flies, I imagine.
The blood, of 50,000 wounded, soaked into that gravelly soil, even after 150 years of rain, I bet the dirt is still red, with the rusty iron scars, of all that blood.
He didn't get to celebrate, much, either.
It didn't seem to bring him down, the letter is fairly bright, and positive, like any good son might send to his mother.
All of his letters home conveyed a similar outlook. Don't worry, Mother, I'll be fine.
It's just the right thing to do.
It had to be pretty terrible, in real life.
Uncle Charlie ended up in nasty field hospitals, suffering from every malady of the day. Infection, from an earlier wound.
Fevers, Dysentery, and Measles, to name a few.
He was dying, and he knew it, by the time the next Fourth rolled around.
His father had finally come down, to the Nation's Capitol, and the big, Union hospital, where Charlie was fading away.
He came, to bring him home.
He was on that journey, back to Maine, for his final Independence Day.
I imagine it was a pretty hard ride, in the back of a wagon, being so frail, to start with.
I hope he got to see some fireworks, lighting up the sky, somewhere, along the way.
He did make it home, just in time to die,
in his own bed, July 13, 1864.
Yes, folks, today might be awkward.
People are out of sorts. Aggravated, even. Don't let it get you down.
We are all Americans, and we'll always be Americans. Stay focused. Be proud.
Happy birthday, Old Girl.