Francis Marion Wilcox Journal
The mails had been stopped. No news from home could be obtained. Neither could we send any to our home in Kentucky. We longed for word from home but none could we obtain. We were now made to realize that we were entirely cut off and all lines of direct communication severed. That disease called homesickness was not beginning to get a hold of one who had never known what it was before and whether we can fully describe the disease to those who have not endured its pangs we know not, but will make an attempt right now.
We viewed ourselves in the light of a child after the first six weeks of absence from our parental roof where we had thought ourselves full grown and independent at all times. We were among friends but not our parents. We could see our uncles, aunts, but not our father, mother and brothers and sisters. The tables of our kith and kin were loaded down, attractive and free. Yet 'twas not our Old Fall Loaf groaning under its loads of spare ribs, sweet potatoes, corn bread and Rio coffee as mother used to place there three times a day. No, I would listen but no welcome "Nevo Wee" from a mother's lips could I hear calling me to come to dinner.
I'd climb up to the summit of different hills, picking up chestnuts all the way, only to be forcibly reminded that I was away from home. No Father or Mother or Brothers or Sisters to share them. They were good, but not relished because I could not share those chestnuts with those whose faces had always given back a smile on sharing a portion of our gatherings of nuts, grapes, etc. Homesick now, all over homesick in the land of the Confederacy. What must I do! I was a boy away from home. Oh how I would have enjoyed a letter telling me all were well, but it never came. Willingly would our parents sent one but no mails were allowed to come through. Rebellion meant separation in more than one sense. We could climb to the loftiest mountains where we could look over one hundred miles over almost innumerable hills and even the rays of the golden sun shining upon their crests in the direction of home could only bring a sigh and a wish for dear old home. Yet far away beyond our northern vision for reaching it our lingering gazes in the direction of home would turn and we would return to our place os stopping, to lay down and dream and think of home. Father and Mother and the children were continually before me.
The old Shanghai Rooster's voice would have offered a plaintive strain, the bark of "Catch" would have been more music for me that all the piano in Dixieland. Oh we wished, we longed and prayed for home, but home was beyond the Cumberland Mountains in the would be neutral state of Kentucky. This neutrality could not be maintained and by the aid of Federal bayonets, Kentucky was kept in the Union and was saved the everlasting disgrace and shame of secession. Our homesickness continued to get no better. We say that it was a chronic case and will state here the best way is to never contract it. Leaving home by young and old especially the former, always places one in a worse condition than remaining at home and leaves those away from to hunger and thirst after those they leave.
We saw we were entirely cut off now, no chance to get back. So we had better go to work and make the best of it. Consequently, we hired ourselves out by the day and got 50 cents per day for gathering corn and took it in homemade Janes [sic] to make us a new winter suit. The James was blue and black mixed; coat long tailed and a pretty good fit, made by Aunt Dicy Trivett for which I paid her $1.00 - also pants and vests accordingly.
Next I worked myself out a pair of homemade boots. These boots cost $6.00 and to pay for them I cleared the land for W.H. Trivett and then got one, James Cooper, to make them for me. He forgot to put the stiffening in the shank and they were always annoying me and at bed time they were hard to pull off. These boots were long-legged Kip, looked well enough, but were not so easily managed as by Doghide and Groundhog skin moccasins were at home years before while I was driving old Brick and Berry, my favorite ox team, whose names I give to held in lasting remembrance.
After paying for these boots and some other clothing, I in the early Spring hired to one Nathan Waugh at Old Fields to work on his farm a dry month (60 days). That is, it required 60 days to get in a full dry month. For this month's labor I was paid $13.00. Thirteen whole big, long Confederate dollars, god in Dixie for its face value. Yet its face value was not very high even among the lovers of States Rights Law Rebellion. Yet it was money then I owned $13.00 of the wherewith, worth less than $5.00 in genuine money.
Right here I want to say for the benefit of my children, "Beware of paper presenting a money face and appearance with nothing of value to back that face! Paper representing money in dollars without an equivalent in gold or silver or its full value become only circulating medium for a time and is only a means to cheat and fraud, robbing the laborer of his earnings under the guise of "law". Money must in all countries have a base value equivalent to the amount represented and circulated or it becomes only as dead matter and filthy rags. Children, go in for the paper dollar backed by gold or silver and no other and in the end you'll be all right."