All of the following are transcriptions from actual soldier diaries. They appeal to me not only because of what they reveal about the authors and the circumstances in which they found themselves in the defense of Liberty during the American Revolution, but also as the author of the fictional Journal of Constant Belcher. That character could easily have penned such sentiments as these, were he not a figment of my imagination.
[Aug] 20.  [New London, CT] - "Sunday morning we got ready for to go to meeting, and the officers came and said that we must not go to meeting without breeches, and it was so hot that I could not bear to wear them, and I did not go to meeting in the forenoon. I went to see a crazy man and there was a man that he knew him, and he got mad, and I think I never saw such a sight in my life. He was chained and he would spring at us and hallo at us. There was one stout man that said he never saw a man that he was afraid of before. In the afternoon I went to meeting."
- Pve. Simeon Lyman of Sharon CT, in CT Historical Society Collections VII (1899) 111-134.
[Jan] 7  "This day there two men In Cambridge got a bantering who wodd Drink the most and they Drinkd So much that one of them Died In About one houre or two after"
10 "There was two women Drumd out of Camp this fore noon That man was Buried that killed himself Drinking"
12 "There was a man found dead in a room with A.Woman this morning. It is not known what killed him."
-Pve. David How of Methuen, MA, in Col. Sargent's 16th Regiment.
[October] the 6  "The enemy fired between 80 to 90 Canon at our men but killed nine onely cut of one mans arm and killed too cows So much for this day."
November 1775 the 1 "Last night the fire ran over Samuel Hawes's hair and that provoket him to wrath Nothing very remarkable hapnd this day that I know of."
- Pve. Samuel Haws, Wrentham MA
[April] 25th  (New York) "During the Course of last Week I several times visited The Holy Ground, before described. When I visited them at first, I thought nothing could exceed them for impudence and immodesty; but I found the most I was acquainted with them the more they excelled in their Brutallity. To mention the perticulars of their Behaviour would so pollute the Paper I write upon that I must excuse myself.
The whole of my aim in visiting this Place at first was out of Curiosity, as was also that of the chief of the Gentlemen that accompanied; & and it seems strange that any Man can so divest himself of Manhood as to desire an intimate Connexion with these worse than Brutal creatures, yet it is not more strange than true that many of our Officers & Soldiers have been so imprudent as to follow them, notwithstanding the salutory advice of their Friends; till the Fatal Disorder seized them & convinced them of their Error. I am informed that not less than 40 men of one Regt which last Sunday set off for Quebeck were infected with that disorder. What fine order these Men must be in to undergo a fateigueing March through a cold uninhabited Country! Unless there is some care taken of these horrid Wretches by the Genl, he will soon have his Army greatly impaired, for they not only destroy Men by Sickness, but they sometimes inhumanly Murther them; for since Monday last two Men were found inhumanly Murthered & concealed, besides one who was castrated in a barbarous Manner. This so exasperated the Men that in the face of day they assembled and pulled down the houses where the men were thus treated, 7 with great difficulty the Guards dispersed them after they had levelled them to the Ground. This, altogether with the common Riots incident to such Places, made our Men a little more Cautious how the ventured to profaner Holy Ground with their Presense."
29 "...an old Whore who had been so long Dead that she was rotten was this Day found concealing in an out House at the Holy Ground."
- Lt. Isaac Bangs, Col. Bailey's Regt.
[May 7, 1776] (Retreat to Sorrel, Canada) "I am still unwell, very much weakened with the disorder that has attended me these four days past; am obliged to go by water; went with Gen. Wooster who is a kind to me as a father. We set sail at sunset - the other boats to follow - came several leagues; ran on the reefs twice, but through mercy, no damage. Wind high and the current strong, but with great difficulty put into the east shore; went up the high banks to a house at 2 o'clock and slept two hours; The boatmen sing a very pretty air to 'Row the boat, Row' which ran into my head when half asleep, nor could I put it entirely out of mind with all our gloom and terror, with the water up to my knees as I lay in the boat. My difficulty was, one passage I could not get."
- Rev. Ammi Robbins (Norfolk, CT), Col. Burrall's Regiment
[December] the 19th -- "in the morning we marchd to our winter Quarters -- we marchd all Day without Victuals having nothing to Eat -- we went into the woods & Sleept in huts as usual"
[December 20] -- "we found a Corn feild where was Corn which we took & Eat after we Roasted it in the fire some -- we Pounded with two stones & made Samp to thicken our Broth -- Some we Carried to mill & Got it Ground into meal -- towards Night we Drew Some Poor Beef & one Days flower -- this Decembr 20th 1777"
the 21st "Sunday -- we had warm Pleasant weather & Nothing to Eat but a Little flower made with Coarse Indian meal & a Little Flower mixd with it -- at Night the fortune of war Put into our hands a Poor Sheep which we Roasted & boild which Gave the Company a Good Super which we Eat & turnd in"
[December 22] -- "Sleept Qietly untill morning when we Receivd orders to march in fifteen minits -- we Paraded the Regt. & Grounded our arms & Drew flower for one day & Baked it But no meat as yet but a Party of Volenteers turnd out to Goe to get Some Cattle from Toreys -- we had nothing to Eat Untill 10 o clock at Night when we had a Ram Cooked roast & boild which 3 of our Company took & killd as they traveld on their way -- about 10 o clock A Detachment went from here to Goe Down towards the Enemy etc."
23d -- "we turnd out a Party of men to Build huts for
our winter Quarters -- in the afternoon had some mutton Served out to us for one
day & Drumd a whore out of Camp & set her over Schullkill River for
theaft -- this night Capt. Lee took 13
Light horse & 8 Riders of the Enemy & Brought them in."
- Sgt. John Smith, 1st Rhode Island Regiment.