REVIEW: No Regrets: A Civil War Diary by David Day, edited by Pamela Cummings
Dear Ms Cummings,
Thank you for finding and taking the time to edit and publish what might have remained a little read glimpse into the daily life of David Day. Day, though a middle aged man at the time and also one having a wife and four children to support, didn’t hesitate to answer his country’s call to arms. Enlisting for a three year term of service, he saw action in now little heralded encounters along the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia. His diary shows him as a hardworking man who never shirked his military duty yet also a man of intellect and education who possessed a dry sense of humor much appreciated by the men with whom he fought. His thoughts on citizenship and a man’s duty to try and preserve the union for which our forefathers had fought so hard were forthright and strongly stated without turning into a sermon.
His daily accounts of the differences between North and South were delightful to read and truly showed how distant the regions of the country were before the age of mass communication. As a resident of North Carolina, I found it amusing that he saw fit to remark that the only things he was impressed with here were the size of insects and the intensity of our rainstorms. The summer heat here apparently also didn’t find favor with the men from Massachusetts.
I agree that modern readers might be shocked at some of the terms Day used for African Americans but for him and the rest of America at that time, those were the standard words to use. The effort Day put into helping the colored soldiers invalided out at the same hospital where he recovered from his illnesses shows, I think, that he was not a prejudiced man.
There are enough memoirs of the great men of that age and conflict to show the war from the point of view of the officers but I appreciate seeing it from the standing of the men actually slogging through the mud and dealing with the pitiful rations. B