2014 Essay Contest First Place, Junior Division

Trinity, 6th grade

Teacher: Amy Klomparens
School: Homeschool | Washington

Preserving 150 Years of History: Life at War

Are we to forget? Are we to throw away the heartache, pain, horror, and suffering of the soldiers who willingly died for our country? None of us should forget. We should not forget Gettysburg, where we stopped the progress of the Confederate soldiers. We should not forget the drummer boys, who were sometimes no more than nine years old. We should not forget the soldiers, who willingly died for our country. We should honor them.

A soldier’s life was one of hardships, but it was also filled with wonder, glory, and camaraderie. 

There are gruesome stories, like this one from John P. Smith: “Under the dark shade of a towering oak tree near the Dunker Church lay the lifeless form of a drummer boy apparently not more than 17 years of age, flaxen hair and eyes of blue and form of delicate mould. I perceived a bloody mark upon his forehead...It showed where the leaden messenger of death had produced the wound that caused his death.” But, Smith continues: “His lips were compressed, his eyes half open, a bright smile played upon his countenance.” At the end of his life, despite the horrors of war, this young drummer boy had something to smile about.

We should not forget these soldiers. We the students hold the power to erase the past from our memories. If we forget about the soldiers who fought and died, then we will grow callous to the truly sickening situations that the soldiers endured. We must preserve details written by men such as Ezra E. Stickley: “The third shell struck and killed my horse and bursting, blew him to pieces, knocked me down, of course, and tore off my right arm,” so that we do not have a country that feels no compassion towards the men who fought and died.  Many colleges are digitizing Civil War soldier’s diaries. I have read parts of these. They aren’t just museum artifacts that you can only study if you are an expert in the Civil War. Regular kids like me can read them. I hope that you will read these diaries and remember the hardships and the wonders of our fallen heroes.


1. Pvt. J. D. Hicks, Company K, 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers John P. Smith, "History of the Antietam Fight," in Scrapbook of J.P. Smith. Retrieved from page 5 of a document uploaded to the National Parks Service website. http://www.nps.gov/anti/forteachers/upload/Letters%20and%20Diaries%20of%20Soldiers%20and%20Civilians.pdf

2. Pvt. Ezra E. Stickley, Company A, 5th Virginia Infantry "Wounded at Sharpsburg," Confederate Veteran Magazine. Vol XXV, No. 9, September 1917, p. 400. Retrieved from page 8 of a document uploaded to the National Parks Service website. URL link: http://www.nps.gov/anti/forteachers/upload/Letters%20and%20Diaries%20of%20Soldiers%20and%20Civilians.pdf.

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