2014 Essay Contest Honorable Mention, Senior Division
Brent, 11th grade
Teacher: Louis Miserendino
School: Calvert Hall College High School | Maryland
Preserving 150 Years of History: Life at War
Imagine the thrill of traveling hundreds of miles for an ideal. Imagine hordes of your comrades dashing into the battlefield toward your sworn enemies, who had months before been your allies. Fiction authors may write of imaginary battles and futuristic fantasy weapons, but these stories pale in comparison to the reality of the Civil War, for our war was waged by real people – Americans who left behind a legacy of printed texts and battlefield artifacts that need our protection today.
In 1861, Eli Landers left his home in Gwinnett County, Georgia to fight Virginia for the Confederate cause. At first, he writes with bright-eyed ambition about his initial engagements in Virginia: “We killed and wounded three or four thousand and was still in pursuit of them with a large body of cavalry and was likely to destroy all of them which I am in hopes they will.”1 But in 1863, his endurance began to be tested: “I stood duty the other night when it was raining hard and I thought of my old feather bed at home. There is many trials and tribulations to undergo here but I prefer it before subjugation.”1 He felt the pangs of homesickness: “I tell you it was a trying case for me to pass so near home and not call but I pondered the matter. I thought sufficiently and thought it was my duty to stick to the company.”1 Yet he ultimately stayed with his company and died a few months later.
The diary of Eli Landers is a perfect example of why preservation is important in understanding our past. Through this diary, we are able to see changes that have occurred and we are also able to see what life was like as a soldier at the time. These are the legacy that has been left behind by fallen Americans for future generations to learn from.
Landers, Eli. "The Personal Story of Life as a Confederate Soldier." Life as a Confederate Soldier. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Jan. 2014.