Charles Johnson was born in Sweden but raised in the United States from the age of ten. Largely self-educated, he nevertheless is one of the most articulate and thoughtful of the private soldiers who wrote of their experience in the American Civil War.
With the Hawkins Zouaves, he fought at the amphibious attack, the Battle of Roanoke Island, at South Mountain, Acquia Creek, and more. His description of his first time in battle is vivid, heartfelt, and honest. He seems never to have become inured to the sight of mangled comrades and writes with great feeling. His diary is a pleasure to read.