Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Enlisted

This entry is from Brother of Mine, The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie, edited by Hampton Smith.

William and Thomas Christie were half brothers, 13 years apart in age.  They served in the same Regiment,  the 1st Minnesota.

Soldiers must have had various reasons for enlisting.  In this entry, Thomas, the elder of the two brothers, writes home shortly after enlisting explaining to his family why.

October 21, 1861
. . . .I shall not deny that motives other than strictly patriotic have had an influence upon me; but I don't think these other motives are wrong.  I  do want to 'see the world,' to get out of the narrow circle inwhich I have always lied, to 'make a man of myself,' and to have it to say in days to come that I, too, had a part in this great struggle. I lay all these workings of my mind frankly before you; it is for you to say if they are wrong.  You know, my dear father, that I have never concealed anything from you.  Do forgive me, and have Mother forgive me, for acting now in a way to pain you. I feel sure, even as I write, that  you will not only give me your blessings -- but that you will even be glad to have your son enrolled among the Defenders of the Union.  But whether that be so or not, I must go. . . .

2 unidentified soldiers in Union shell jackets, from Library of Congress collection.

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