My favorite personality for the Civil War is a private named Richard Headley Clow who was at the front lines of Petersburg from Feb. 1865 through April, 1865 and then went on to Appomattox.
My reasons for this are the following: 1. Richard Clow wrote a series of thirteen letters to his sister Agnes Clow who was in Boston, while he was in training, at his embarkation, and while going on patrols and assalting the bastion of defences around Petersburg, VA. Thus I can read his actual words and understand how a young seventeen year old boy decided to enlist and how he learned the hazardous ropes of the game of war while pulling picket duty and sneaking around Confederate defenses on the front lines. 2. I am still, after six years of work on my book, “Rough Enough” amazed that a seventeen year old would have the audacity to fill out his enlistment papers with the direct lies of age: nineteen (it was actually seventeen), residence: Rhode Island (he was actually born in Nova Scotia, Canada and at the time of his enlistment resided with his older sister, Agnes, in Boston, and inreality was running away from a rather posh life that he had lived into the depths of the dregs of humanity at war. 3. I have always been intrigued by his references in his letters to the girl he left behind, Reina, who disappears into the mists of history. 4. I love the way Richard describes some of the minute details of his surroundings, to include the facts of berry picking, the flocks of ducks, the sunken hulks in the James River and the meeting up with his brother at the Grand Review after the war.
As if these were not enough, I am intrigued by the personality of a young man, who, having been through terrifying experiences in battle, returns home briefly and then reenlists to join the 13th infantry on the frontiers of Montana and the Dakotas to fight Indians. His letter and brief diary make it apparent that he endured immense hardships, was able to triumph over these and the deaths of friends and family members to go on to become a successful gold miner and dairy farmer in Deadwood, S.D. and then once again take off on the “wild goose chase” with his young wife and children to sheep ranch in Idaho, gold mine, farm and run a hotel in Oregon, and eventually die of old age in Eugene, Oregon.
Richard Clow’s personality through history is a guiding light to me as I pursue my own “wild goose chase around the planet.
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