The Making of a Soldier
The author gained custody of his great grandfather’s Civil War diary at age seven. He then bought his CW musket from his grandfather for $25.00. He spent years translating the diary from Welsh to English and adding family history, starting with their immigration from Wales in 1825. The author briefly had the pleasure of knowing his great grandmother, Sarah. He still remembers her tiny pipe. More
At age one, John Wesley Williams, the descendant of a long line of carpenters and woodworkers emanating from Wales in the 1830's, was transported, along with his mother, westward into the wilderness of Western Pennsylvania. It was there that his father, Maicaigah, homesteaded a niche that he and his wife had carved out of the dense forest to raise their six children as real pioneers. Maicaigah used his God given talent, honed as a boy, working with his father, to build what they needed: a real deluxe log cabin, a new school, a post office and furniture, as well as all their own outbuildings, teaching anyone who wanted to learn, including his son, John Wesley. At age sixteen, John decided it was his patriotic duty to enlist in the army, substituting for a young attorney who was willing to put up $300 to someone who would go in his stead. However, the gut rendering tales told by veterans and older soldiers who had been in battle quickly dispelled much of the illusion of glory, particularly after the newer enlistees were engaged in battle facing hordes of rebels with muskets belching lead and smoke, plus cannon balls exploding in their ranks and no place to go except forward. Orders to charge the enemy before daylight with fixed bayonets and no charge in weapons must have been pretty challenging for a boy of sixteen, with an already serious wound from a mini-ball caught in the shoulder and a still-hanging-on southern general headed south, who had to be stopped before he could hook up with more southern troops headed north. All of this, with a bloom or bust romance trying to hatch out in the wings, offers some pretty exciting reading, especially when laced with ‘word for word’ excerpts from a soldier’s one hundred forty year old diary. The author, John Wesleys’ great grandson, inherited this diary at age seven and studied, coddled, and protected it for sixty-five years before beginning to write this book.
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