On Sept. 25, 1861, Private Oney Foster Sweet wrote to his mother, Caroline Foster Sweet, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He and his comrades in the 1st Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery F, believed the war would be over in a few months, and they would be home by Christmas:
We live tip top, have peaches and cream and peach pie, etc. . . . I expect there will be some fighting near Washington soon and I want to be down there when they fight. . . . Do not worry about me, I will take care of myself. I think I shall like a soldier’s life first rate.
A year later, however, following the Battle of Antietam, he revealed a different mindset:
I went over the field after the fight and the dead and wounded lay so thick you could hardly step. Some had legs, arms, and heads torn off. Some groaning and breathing their last. I never want to see such a sight again and I hope I may never have the bullets fly so close to my head again. I have seen enough of war.
He did not know at the time that the war would last another two and a half years, that he would see that scene repeated many more times.
- San Diego Civil War Round Table, October 21, 2015, 8 p.m.: Guest speaker: Larry Edwards, editor of What the Private Saw: The Civil War Letters & Diaries of Oney Foster Sweet. Location: Palisades Presbyterian Church, 6301 Birchwood St, San Diego, CA 92120, in the Allied Gardens area.
- What the Private Saw: The Civil War Letters & Diaries of Oney Foster Sweet http://whattheprivatesaw.com
- Horses and Mules in the Civil War http://www.amazon.com/Horses-Mules-Civil-War-Complete/dp/0786473630
- Port Hudson: Last Bastion on the Mississippi http://www.specialbooks.com/porthudson.htm
- Raising the Northern Blockade: Submarine Warfare in the Civil War http://www.specialbooks.com/civil_war.htm
- Trumpets in the Morning http://www.amazon.com/Trumpets-Morning-Marian-Julia-Sweet/dp/1501010603