This year one of the most incredible gifts that I received came from my Aunt Judy. My aunt and uncle began working on our genealogy several years ago and gifted us with a terrific volume of information which they continue to keep up. This year though they added a whole new element. In their travels, they discovered that one of our relatives William H. Shaw kept a war diary between the years of 1861 - 1865. She got permission to borrow the hand written document and transcribed the entire document into a typewritten document which she had copied and spiral bound for all of the branches of the family.
I actually spent my Christmas Day reading this diary. Some days are boring and quick, but many pass on information that made me cry and cringe. Stories of men dying, their blood splattering across him. Stories of stealing split rail fences to make fires. Stories of penning notes for fallen comrades. This is a Christmas present that will be cherished not just by me but for generations to come.
I'm thinking if I could find one of the many letters William H. Shaw talks of writing, I could possible say thank you well enough.
Here are the notes from his diary on December 31st, 1864 that should make you realize how truly blessed we are:
"31st, Saturday. Stormy, some snow, this is the last day of the year. How many commenced the year with high hopes and expectations? but how soon blasted. How many who commenced the coming year will live to see its close. Shall I? God grant that I may live to see my friends once more."
FYI - he does live to see his family again, except a daughter who dies while he is in service. The second to last entry on Sunday, July 2nd, 1965 says, Pleasant, we were paid off and got our discharge papers today, and it has been one of the happiest days of my life. A free man and a citizen once more.
May you all be blessed in this coming year and may none of you endure what our relatives did during that bloody time in our history.