Free Time in Wartime

Free Time in Wartime

After the initial attack on Fort Walker in November 1861, which secured the Union foothold on Hilton Head Island, the area became a largely peaceful place for the remainder of the war. However, as a central location for the maintenance of the Union blockade, and the central supply depot in the Department of the South, this area became of critical importance to protect.  Turner’s action in the war revolved around the protection of the renamed Fort Welles on Hilton Head and the surrounding areas, as opposed to the military advancement that other companies of the Rhode Island 3rd Regiment engaged in.  Rather than being under the constant threat of danger, Turner remained in a stable location that afforded him significant amounts of free time which allowed him to become an avid letter writer. This is not to say that Turner’s service was not important or admirable because he engaged in few active battles. Instead, Turner’s experience provided him with a different quality of life that altered his perspectives on the nature of the war. Turner’s experience in the war is reflected by the levity that characterized many of his letters. 

Turner’s free time is a common element in his writing, as many of his letters discuss his free time, social activities, and his overall happiness with his experience as a soldier. Since Turner remained in a relatively stable and secure location throughout the majority of his enlistment, he was shielded from many of the deadly and grisly aspects of the war. Turner’s limited exposure to these active conflicts made the horrors of war that characterize the letters of other soldier’s conspicuously absent from the majority of his letters.  Turner’s experience in the war is unlike those that are found in the typical canon of Civil War stories, but are a unique perspective on a well known conflict.

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