Friday, July 31, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 8, 1861

I saw Mr. Benjamin to-day, and asked him what disposition he intended to make of Mr. Custis. He was excited, and said with emphasis that he was investigating the case. He seemed offended at the action of Gen. Winder, and thought it was a dangerous exercise of military power to arrest persons of such high standing, without the clearest evidence of guilt. Mr. Custis had signed the ordinance of secession, and that ought to be sufficient evidence of his loyalty.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 99

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 19, 1864

A new experience: Molly and Lawrence have both gone home, and I am to be left for the first time in my life wholly at the mercy of hired servants. Mr. Chesnut, being in such deep mourning for his mother, we see no company. I have a maid of all work.

Tudy came with an account of yesterday's trip to Petersburg. Constance Cary raved of the golden ripples in Tudy's hair. Tudy vanished in a halo of glory, and Constance Cary gave me an account of a wedding, as it was given to her by Major von Borcke. The bridesmaids were dressed in black, the bride in Confederate gray, homespun. She had worn the dress all winter, but it had been washed and turned for the wedding. The female critics pronounced it “flabby-dabby.” They also said her collar was only "net," and she wore a cameo breastpin. Her bonnet was self-made.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 300-1

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: March 18, 1863

This evening, when leaving Richmond, we were most unexpectedly joined at the cars by our friend Nannie Packard. Dear child, we had not seen her since her father's family left their home, some weeks before we left ours. Well do I remember the feeling of misery which I experienced at seeing them go off. We have all suffered since that time, but none of us can compare with them in that respect. They are living in desolated Fauquier. There they have buried their lovely little Kate, and N's principal object in visiting this country now is to see the grave of her eldest brother, a victim of the war, and to see the lady at whose house he died, and who nursed him as though he had been her son We enjoy her society exceedingly, and linger long over our reminiscences of the past, and of home scenes. Sadly enough do we talk, but there is a fascination about it which is irresistible. It seems marvellous that, in the chances and changes of war, so many of our “Seminary Hill” circle should be collected within the walls of this little cottage. Mrs. Packard has once been, by permission of the military authorities, to visit her old home; she found it used as a bakery for the troops stationed around it. After passing through rooms which she scarcely recognized, and seeing furniture, once her own, broken and defaced, she found her way to her chamber. There was her wardrobe in its old place; she had left it packed with house-linen and other valuables, and advanced towards it, key in hand, for the purpose of removing some of its contents, when she was roughly told by a woman sitting in the room not to open that wardrobe, “there was nothing in it that belonged to her.” Oh, how my blood would have boiled, and how I should have opened it, unless put aside by force of arms, just to have peeped in to see if my own things were still there, and to take them if they were! But Mrs. P., more prudently, used a gentle remonstrance, and finding that nothing could be effected, and that rudeness would ensue, quietly left the room. We bide our time.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 199

Louise Wigfall to Francis H. Wigfall, November 9, 1862

November 9, 1862

We had quite a snow-storm day before yesterday, and it is still very cold. I am afraid our poor soldiers will suffer dreadfully from the weather this winter, as I heard yesterday that we had upwards of 10,000 men without shoes!

Genl. Johnston is improving, and speaks of reporting for duty in two weeks, but Papa says he doubts if he is able.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 90-1

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Monday, June 17, 1862

Yesterday, and day before, boats were constantly arriving and troops embarking from here, destined for Vicksburg. There will be another fight, and of course it will fall. I wish Will was out of it; I don't want him to die. I got the kindest, sweetest letter from Will when Miriam came from Greenwell. It was given to her by a guerrilla on the road who asked if she was not Miss Sarah Morgan.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 81-2

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, October 14, 1864

At Adairsville we took a train composed of box cars and left for Resaca, where we arrived about 4 o'clock this morning. We at once left the cars and formed a line of battle. Here we lay all day. The remainder of our corps soon arrived, and later the Fourteenth Army Corps came up. The first division of our corps was sent out after the rebels. They found them on the railroad about six miles out between Resaca and Dalton, where they already had destroyed about fifteen miles of track. Our troops engaged in a skirmish there in which the Seventeenth Iowa were taken prisoners, but were at once paroled. It is reported that the commander of the post at Dalton surrendered the place without firing a gun. It is thought that the rebels are making for the mountains, and if they succeed in getting there before we do, it will be hard to trap them, as they are in their own country and among friends.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 221-2

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 7, 1861

Quite a commotion has been experienced in official circles by the departure of Mr. W. H. B. Custis, late Union member of the Virginia Convention, without obtaining a passport to leave the city. Some of his secession constituents being in the city, reported that they knew it was his purpose to return to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and avow his adherence to the United States authorities, alleging that he had signed the ordinance of secession under some species of duress, or instruction. Under these representations, it seems Gen. Winder telegraphed to Norfolk, whither it was understood Custis had gone, to have him arrested. This was done; and it is said he had passports from Gen. Huger to cross the Chesapeake Bay. I must doubt this. What right has a military commander to grant such passports?

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 98-9

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 18, 1864

Went out to sell some of my colored dresses. What a scene it was — such piles of rubbish, and mixed up with it, such splendid Parisian silks and satins. A mulatto woman kept the shop under a roof in an out-of-the-way old house. The ci-devant rich white women sell to, and the negroes buy of, this woman.

After some whispering among us Buck said: “Sally is going to marry a man who has lost an arm, and she is proud of it. The cause glorifies such wounds.” Annie said meekly, “I fear it will be my fate to marry one who has lost his head.” “Tudy has her eyes on one who has lost an eye. What a glorious assortment of noble martyrs and heroes!” “The bitterness of this kind of talk is appalling.”

General Lee had tears in his eyes when he spoke of his daughter-in-law just dead—that lovely little Charlotte Wickham, Mrs. Roony Lee. Roony Lee says “Beast” Butler was very kind to him while he was a prisoner. The “Beast” has sent him back his war-horse. The Lees are men enough to speak the truth of friend or enemy, fearing not the consequences.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 300

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: March 15, 1863

Weather dark and cloudy. We had a good congregation in our little church. Mr. ––– read the service. The Bishop preached on “Repentance.” Richmond was greatly shocked on Friday, by the blowing up of the Laboratory, in which women, girls, and boys were employed making cartridges; ten women and girls were killed on the spot, and many more will probably die from their wounds. May God have mercy upon them! Our dear friend Mrs. S. has just heard of the burning of her house, at beautiful Chantilly. The Yankee officers had occupied it as head-quarters, and on leaving it, set fire to every house on the land, except the overseer's house and one of the servants' quarters. Such ruthless Vandalism do they commit wherever they go! I expressed my surprise to Mrs. S. that she was enabled to bear it so well. She calmly replied, “God has spared my sons through so many battles, that I should be ungrateful indeed to complain of any thing else.” This lovely spot has been her home from her marriage, and the native place of her many children, and when I remember it as I saw it two years ago, I feel that it is too hard for her to be thus deprived of it. An officer (Federal) quartered there last winter, describing it in a letter to the New York Herald, says the furniture had been “removed,” except a large old-fashioned sideboard; he had been indulging his curiosity by reading the many private letters which he found scattered about the house; some of which, he says, were written by General Washington, “with whom the family seems to have been connected.” In this last surmise he was right, and he must have read letters from which he derived the idea, or he may have gotten it from the servants, who are always proud of the aristocracy of their owners; but not a letter written by General Washington did he see, for Mrs. S. was always careful of them, and brought them away with her; they are now in this house. The officer took occasion to sneer at the pride and aristocracy of Virginia, and winds up by asserting that “this establishment belongs to the mother of General J. E. B. Stuart,” to whom she is not at all related.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 198-9

Lieutenant-General James Longstreet to Louis T. Wigfall, November 7, 1862

Culpeper c. H., Nov. 7th, 1862.
My dear General,

Your kind favor of 17th ulto. was duly received. I have been waiting to have your son's decision before writing. . . .

I heard yesterday that you and the President had had an unpleasant interview. It is no business of mine, but I would like to take the liberty to beg you not to allow anything to bring about any difference between you. We think that all our hopes rest upon you and the hopes of the country rest upon the army. You will readily perceive what weight you have to carry.

Most truly and sincerely yours,
j. B. Longstreet.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 89-90

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Monday, June 16, 1862

"I hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide!"

There is no use in trying to break off journalizing, particularly in “these trying times.” It has become a necessity to me. I believe I should go off in a rapid decline if Butler took it in his head to prohibit that among other things.  . . . I reserve to myself the privilege of writing my opinions, since I trouble no one with the expression of them.  . . . I insist, that if the valor and chivalry of our men cannot save our country, I would rather have it conquered by a brave race than owe its liberty to the Billingsgate oratory and demonstrations of some of these “ladies.” If the women have the upper hand then, as they have now, I would not like to live in a country governed by such tongues. Do I consider the female who could spit in a gentleman's face, merely because he wore United States buttons, as a fit associate for me? Lieutenant Biddle assured me he did not pass a street in New Orleans without being most grossly insulted by ladies. It was a friend of his into whose face a lady spit as he walked quietly by without looking at her. (Wonder if she did it to attract his attention?) He had the sense to apply to her husband and give him two minutes to apologize or die, and of course he chose the former.1 Such things are enough to disgust any one. “Loud” women, what a contempt I have for you! How I despise your vulgarity!

Some of these Ultra-Secessionists, evidently very recently from “down East,” who think themselves obliged to “kick up their heels over the Bonny Blue Flag,” as Brother describes female patriotism, shriek out, “What! see those vile Northerners pass patiently! No true Southerner could see it without rage. I could kill them! I hate them with all my soul, the murderers, liars, thieves, rascals! You are no Southerner if you do not hate them as much as I!” Ah ça! a true-blue Yankee tell me that I, born and bred here, am no Southerner! I always think, “It is well for you, my friend, to save your credit, else you might be suspected by some people, though your violence is enough for me.” I always say, “You may do as you please; my brothers are fighting for me, and doing their duty, so that excess of patriotism is unnecessary for me, as my position is too well known to make any demonstrations requisite.”

This war has brought out wicked, malignant feelings that I did not believe could dwell in woman's heart. I see some of the holiest eyes, so holy one would think the very spirit of charity lived in them, and all Christian meekness, go off in a mad tirade of abuse and say, with the holy eyes wondrously changed, “I hope God will send down plague, yellow fever, famine, on these vile Yankees, and that not one will escape death.” O, what unutterable horror that remark causes me as often as I hear it! I think of the many mothers, wives, and sisters who wait as anxiously, pray as fervently in their faraway homes for their dear ones, as we do here; I fancy them waiting day after day for the footsteps that will never come, growing more sad, lonely, and heart-broken as the days wear on; I think of how awful it would be if one would say, “Your brothers are dead”; how it would crush all life and happiness out of me; and I say, “God forgive these poor women! They know not what they say!” O women! into what loathsome violence you have abased your holy mission! God will punish us for our hard-heartedness. Not a square off, in the new theatre, lie more than a hundred sick soldiers. What woman has stretched out her hand to save them, to give them a cup of cold water? Where is the charity which should ignore nations and creeds, and administer help to the Indian and Heathen indifferently? Gone! All gone in Union versus Secession! That is what the American War has brought us. If I was independent, if I could work my own will without causing others to suffer for my deeds, I would not be poring over this stupid page; I would not be idly reading or sewing. I would put aside woman's trash, take up woman's duty, and I would stand by some forsaken man and bid him Godspeed as he closes his dying eyes. That is woman's mission! and not Preaching and Politics. I say I would, yet here I sit! O for liberty! the liberty that dares do what conscience dictates, and scorns all smaller rules! If I could help these dying men! Yet it is as impossible as though I was a chained bear. I can't put out my hand. I am threatened with Coventry because I sent a custard to a sick man who is in the army, and with the anathema of society because I said if I could possibly do anything for Mr. Biddle — at a distance — (he is sick) I would like to very much. Charlie thinks we have acted shockingly in helping Colonel McMillan, and that we will suffer for it when the Federals leave. I would like to see any man who dared harm my father's daughter! But as he seems to think our conduct reflects on him, there is no alternative. Die, poor men, without a woman's hand to close your eyes! We women are too patriotic to help you! I look eagerly on, cry in my soul, “I wish —“; you die; God judges me. Behold the woman who dares not risk private ties for God's glory and her professed religion! Coward, helpless woman that I am! If I was free—!

1 This passage was later annotated by Mrs. Dawson as follows: “Friend (Farragut). Lady (I know her, alas!). Husband (She had none!).”

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 78-81

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, October 13, 1864

We left our teams behind at Kingston and they did not catch up with us till this morning. We lay here in camp all day. About sundown we received marching orders and our division started for Adairsville, some fifteen miles distant from Rome. We left our teams and all artillery behind and marching through on a by-road, reached Adairsville by midnight.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 221

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to John M. Forbes, October 17, 1864

Cedar Creek, Oct. 17, '64.

There's really nothing to tell here; I never have anything to tell even to E. We are in a glorious country, with fine air to breathe and fine views to enjoy; we are kept very active, and have done a good deal of good work; I have done my share, I think, — but there's nothing to make a letter of.

We hear to-day that Pennsylvania and Indiana are all right. Poor Grant seems to have a hard task at Richmond: he hasn't the same army now that he started with in May, and I shall not be surprised if he is obliged to go into winter-quarters soon and re-organize, or at least drill. If so, people must be patient; we are going quite fast enough. I only write this to make you write to me. Isn't it lucky that I keep always well and hearty? My friends never feel any anxiety on that account and I never have to write letters to tell them how I am.1

1 General Sheridan had travelled by night, reached Washington on the morning of the 17th, had his interview with the powers there, and left at noon, reaching Martinsburg at night by rail. On the 18th, he rode twenty-eight miles to Winchester, where, hearing by courier from General Wright that all was quiet at his camp, he spent the night. Next morning, he planned to make some examinations with regard to repairing the Manassas Gap Railroad, with two engineer officers sent with him from Washington.

Meantime, let us see what was going on at Cedar Creek. From the abrupt mountain Three Top, close by Early's army, the camp of Sheridan's army, the division of the forces and guns, the river and creek, the fords and roads, could be plainly seen in bird's-eye view. Early saw that the Union left flank was less strongly guarded, as the country was more difficult than on their right, and yet was accessible to his infantry. He determined to flank it, and take the camp there in reverse by surprise before daylight, and sent Gordon on that errand, while his cavalry was to demonstrate on the left, and he, with Kershaw and Wharton and his artillery, attack simultaneously in front. He even hoped the master-stroke of capturing Sheridan (of whose absence he did not know), by the rush of his flanking party around his headquarters. I am permitted to quote the striking description of the scene before the battle, from Mr. George E. Pond's book, The Shenandoah Valley in 1864, in Scribner's "Campaigns of the Civil War."

“Stealthily, an hour after midnight, the Confederate columns moved forward. Since silence was essential to success, swords and canteens were left in camp, lest their clinking should betray the march; while the artillery was massed on the pike at Fisher's Hill, there to wait until the hour set for the infantry attack, when it was to move at a gallop through the town [Strasburg] to Hupp's Hill; for an earlier advance might betray the secret by the rumbling of the heavy wheels, in the dead of night, over the macadamized road. Early accompanied Kershaw, his centre column, and ‘came in sight of the Union fires at 3.30 o'clock; the moon,’ he adds, ‘was now shining, and we could see the camps.’ Kershaw was halted under cover, and while his men shivered in the chill night air, Early, during the hour that followed, pointed out precisely how and when this part of the attack should be made. Kershaw was to ‘cross his division over the creek as quietly as possible, and to form it into column of brigades as he did so, and advance in that manner against the enemy's left breastwork.’ The scene was memorable. The Union camps, on the hills beyond the creek, wrapped in slumber; a corps of infantry, Jackson's old corps, and a brigade of cavalry, stealing along the base of Massanutten [Mountain], to gain the rear of its unsuspecting foes; in the background, forty guns and more awaiting the signal to rush down the pike; an infantry division creeping over Hupps, and another crouching yonder nearer the creek. Before five o'clock Early ordered Kershaw forward again, and after a time came the welcome sound of a light crackle of musketry on the Confederate right, where Union picket-stations had been set, near the fords at which Gordon was crossing. This petty sound did not disturb the dreaming camps, but to the attent ears of Kershaw and Wharton it was the signal of attack. Kershaw quickly moved down to the creek; and meanwhile, as if Nature had enlisted to aid this enterprise, the moon had vanished and a thick fog, clouding the landscape, now hid from sight the Confederate march.”

Sheridan, at Winchester, was considering the questions of the Manassas Gap Railroad with the engineers, when, at seven o'clock, it was reported that some artillery firing could be heard in the direction of Cedar Creek. This was supposed to be from a reconnoissance, but later the sound grew nearer, and the General, mounting with his staff and escort, rode rapidly towards his camp. The heavy cannonade of a battle became unmistakable, and before long he met wagons and stragglers in great numbers. Mr. Pond continues: Hastily giving orders to park the retreating trains, and to use the spare brigade at Winchester to form a cordon across the pike and fields, so as to stop the stragglers, Sheridan dashed up the pike with an escort of twenty men. He called to the fugitives to turn about and face the enemy, and, as he well phrases it, ‘hundreds of men, who, on reflection, found they had not done themselves justice, came back with cheers.’ On reaching the army, then eleven and a half miles from Winchester, he was received with a tempest of joy.”

In the text of Colonel Lowell's Life, some account of the part played by his brigade in the action has been given. Below, I give extracts from General Sheridan's official report of the battle to General Grant, and also from the reports, to their respective superiors, of Generals Torbert, Merritt, and Devin, in which they pay tribute to the memory of Colonel Lowell.

General Sheridan, at ten o'clock on the night of the battle, wrote: —

“I have the honour to report that my army at Cedar Creek was attacked this morning before daylight, and my left was turned and driven in confusion: in fact, most of the line was driven in confusion, with the loss of twenty pieces of artillery. I hastened from Winchester, where I was, on my return from Washington, and joined the army between Middletown and Newtown, [it] having been driven back about four miles. Here I took the affair in hand, and quickly united the corps; formed a compact line of battle just in time to repulse an attack of the enemy's, which was handsomely done, about I P. M. At 3 P. M., after some changes of the cavalry from the left to the right flank, I attacked with great vigour, driving and routing the enemy, capturing, according to last reports, forty-three pieces of artillery and very many prisoners. Wagon trains, ambulances, and caissons in large numbers are in our possession.

"Affairs at times looked badly, but by the gallantry of our brave officers and men, disaster has been converted into a splendid victory. Darkness again intervened, to shut off greater results.”

And in his second report from the battlefield, written the next day, he speaks of “a great victory — a victory won from disaster.  . . . The attack on the enemy was made about 3 P. M. by a left half-wheel of the whole line, with a division of cavalry turning each flank of the enemy, the whole line advancing. The enemy, after a stubborn resistance, broke and fled, and were pushed with vigour.  . . . At least 1600 prisoners have been brought in, also wagons and ambulances in large numbers.  . . . I have to regret the loss of many valuable officers killed and wounded, among them  . . . Colonel C. R. Lowell, commanding Reserve Cavalry Brigade, killed.”

General Torbert, Chief of Cavalry, reports :—

“As soon as the cavalry was in position on the left, they attacked the enemy. Colonel Lowell, commanding the Reserve Brigade, First Division, dismounted a part of his little band, and they advanced to a strong position behind a stone wall, from which the enemy's infantry failed to drive them after repeated attempts. About 12 M. the cavalry was moved to the left about 300 yards, thus bringing it to the left of the pike. Thus matters stood with the cavalry until 3 P. M., holding on to this ground with more than their usual dogged persistence, displaying gallantry which has never been surpassed, while most of the infantry was reforming several miles to their right and rear.  . . . About 2 P. M. Major-General Sheridan arrived on the ground. . . . On the left, the battle was going well for us; in fact, it could not be otherwise, with the cool and invincible Merritt on the ground, supported by such soldiers as Devin and Lowell."

[Sheridan had come on the field, and communicated with Lowell and the Sixth Corps commanders before noon, but probably General Torbert had not seen him personally. In his report he also makes a mistake as to the circumstances of Colonel Lowell's first wounding, so I omit that part.] He goes on : —

“About 4.15 o'clock a general advance of the army was made, and it was truly grand to see the manner in which the cavalry did their part. In this general advance Colonel Lowell,  . . . while charging at the head of his brigade, received a second wound, which proved to be mortal. Thus the service lost one of its most gallant and accomplished officers. He was the beau ideal of a cavalry commander, and his memory will never die in the command. . . . The cavalry advanced on both flanks, side by side with the infantry, charging the enemy's lines with an impetuosity which they could not stand. The rebel army was soon routed, and driven across Cedar Creek in confusion; the cavalry, sweeping on both flanks, crossed Cedar Creek about the same time, charged, and broke the last line the enemy attempted to form (it was now after dark), and put out at full speed for their artillery and trains.”

General Wesley Merritt, Lowell's immediate commander, said in his report: —

No one in the field appreciated his worth more than his division commander. He was wounded painfully in the early part of the day, soon after which I met him; he was suffering acutely from his wound, but to ask him to leave the field was to insult him almost. A more gallant soldier never buckled sabre. His coolness and judgment in the field were unequalled. An educated and accomplished gentleman, his modest, amiable yet independent demeanour endeared him to all his superiors in rank. His inflexible justice, temperate yet unflinching conduct of discipline, made him respected and loved by his subordinates. He was upright as a man, pure as a patriot, and eminently free from the finesse of the politician. Young in years, he died too early for his country.”

Lastly, Brigadier-General Thomas C. Devin, who commanded the Second Brigade of Merritt's Division, ends his report thus: —

“During the early part of the engagement at Cedar Creek, when all seemed lost, I did not see a single cavalry straggler, and the men stood up nobly under a most withering fire. When obliged to retire, the movement was effected in perfect order and new lines formed, as if on parade.

I respectfully trust that it may not be considered out of place here to mention the hearty and brave cooperation that was at all times extended to me by the brave and lamented Colonel Lowell, commanding the Reserve Brigade. In him the service lost an estimable gentleman and gallant soldier, whose future was bright with promise.”

It has been remarked of Lowell that, in each new place or kind of work to which his path of life led him, his new acquaintances believed that in him they had discovered a remarkable man, made for just that place. Yet all soon saw the performance of the work in hand was but a low power of a force dimly seen behind.

Many years after the war, General Sheridan wrote the following letter to his friend, Mr. John M. Forbes : —

Chicago, Ill., Dec. 31, 1881.

My Dear Mr. Forbes, — Your letter in reference to the late General Lowell is received. Among those who fell in my Shenandoah Valley Campaign there was no better soldier or brighter man than young Charles Lowell. Youthful in appearance and only twenty-three [sic] years of age,2 he united the rare judgment and good eye of a leader to the unflinching courage which marked so many others. Commanding one of the best brigades of the army, comprised of three regiments of Regulars and his own, — the 2d Mass. Cavalry, raised by himself, — he was always found at the front in the advance. He had three horses killed under him in the first battle of Winchester (Opequan, Sept. 19, 1864), and in the morning of Oct. 19th, Cedar Creek, same year, he was mortally wounded while holding an advance position with his brigade on the left of the retreating army in the village of Middletown. On my arrival on the field, my first order was sent to Gen. Lowell through an aide-decamp to hold the position he then occupied, if it was possible. His reply was that he would. And when the final charge was made by the whole line in the evening, he was lifted on his horse, but could only whisper his last order for his men to mount and advance against the enemy. I watched him closely during the campaign and, had he survived that day at Cedar Creek, it was my intention to have more fully recognized his gallantry and genius by obtaining for him promotion in rank, and a command which would have enlarged his usefulness and have given more scope to his remarkable abilities as a leader of men. I am, my dear Mr. Forbes,

Sincerely and truly your friend,
P. H. Sheridan,
Lt. -General.

Perhaps a fitting close is this extract from a letter written by Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Forbes, returning to his regiment after imprisonment in the South: —

“Oh, you don't know how I missed Colonel Lowell as soon as I rejoined the regiment! Every time the bugles sounded in the morning, I half looked to see his light figure in the saddle leading the column; and each night when, the day's hard marching done, we gathered round the camp fires, whose charm used to be doubled by his presence and conversation, and listened to the band playing the tunes we used to listen to with him, the choking feeling would come, and it always will with me, whenever I think of him. Every one else is a dead weight in comparison."

2 His age was twenty-nine.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 364-5, 475-83

Official Reports of the Battle of Gettysburg: No. 223. Reports of Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, U.S. Army, commanding Sixth Army Corps.

No. 223.

Reports of Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, U.S. Army, commanding Sixth Army Corps.

Warrenton, Va., August 8, 1863.

GENERAL: I respectfully submit the following report of the operations of the Sixth Corps in the engagements near Gettysburg and since:

This command arrived on the field of Gettysburg on the afternoon of July 2, after a march of more than 30 miles.

Wheaton's and Eustis' brigades, of the third Division, temporarily commanded by Brigadier-General Wheaton, and Bartlett's brigade, of Wright's division, went into action about 5 p.m. on the left center, between divisions of the Fifth Corps, and assisted in repulsing the assault of the enemy. Russell's and Torbert's brigades, of Wright's division, were held in reserve that night. Neill's brigade, of Howe's division, was sent to the right of the line, reporting to Major-General Slocum, and Grant's brigade, of the same division, was posted on the extreme left of the general line. Shaler's brigade, of Wheaton's division, was held in reserve near the left center. The artillery of the corps was placed under the orders of the chief of artillery of the Army of the Potomac.

On the next morning and subsequently the following changes were made in the positions stated above: Russell's brigade was sent to the extreme left of the line, General Wright taking command of the troops of this corps there stationed. Subsequently it was returned to the left center, and on the following day it was placed in position, relieving a brigade of the Fifth Corps. Torbert's brigade was sent to the center, reporting to Major-General Newton, and remained in position until the morning of the 5th. Eustis' brigade was sent to the right center, also reporting to Major-General Newton. Shaler's brigade was also ordered to the left, and then to the right, and subsequently returned to the left center, and held in reserve.

During these movements the troops were more or less exposed to the fire of the enemy's artillery, but, with the exception of the evening of July 2, they were at no time seriously engaged.

On July 5, Wright's division, supported by the rest of my command, was sent forward to determine the position of the enemy, who was discovered to be in retreat through Fairfield in the direction of Hagerstown. The rear of the column was shelled for a short time in the morning, and in the evening a brisk artillery fire was opened upon his wagon trains in the vicinity of Fairfield, while the infantry pursued the rear guard, which was posted to protect the passage of the trains; 250 prisoners were captured during the day.

On the following day the enemy continued his retreat through the mountain pass, with a strong rear guard well posted, with artillery in position.
During the night the corps marched to Emmitsburg, with the exception of Neill's brigade, which was detached and sent in pursuit of the retreating column. From Emmitsburg I marched by way of Hamburg to Middletown, and thence to Boonsborough, Md.

On July 11, the enemy was posted near Funkstown, Md., and the corps moved up and took position, after crossing Beaver Creek. The Vermont Brigade (Grant's, of the Second Division) were deployed as skirmishers, covering a front of over 2 miles, and during the afternoon repulsed three successive attacks made in line of battle. The remarkable conduct of the brigade on this occasion deserves high praise.

On July 13, my command was placed in the general line of battle in the vicinity of Hagerstown, connecting with the Eleventh Corps on the right and the Fifth Corps on the left, and continued in this position, with occasional sharp skirmishing, until the enemy retired from the front and during the night recrossed the Potomac. He was closely followed to the river by Wright's division and the rest of the command.

On the day following the retreat of the enemy, I moved by way of Boonsborough and Middletown to Berlin, and crossed the river in rear of the army, and continued my march by way of Union, Rectortown, and Barbee's Cross-Roads to Manassas Gap, and thence by way of Barbee's Cross-Roads to Warrenton.

During the operations herein reported, the conduct of the troops was admirable. The marches were very severe, and the hardships undergone were greater than in any previous campaign.
The casualties of the corps were as follows.* A nominal list has been already forwarded.

Very respectfully,
 Major-General, Commanding Sixth Army Corps.
 Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

* Embodied in revised statement, p. 182.

September 12, 1863.

GENERAL: In compliance with Special Orders, No. 227, Paragraph III, Headquarters Army of the Potomac, August 24, 1863, I respectfully report that no guns were captured by or captured from my command during the recent operations in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

I am, general, very respectfully,

 Major-General, Commanding Sixth Corps.
 Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

October 8, 1863.

GENERAL: I respectfully report that the number of Confederates buried by this command at Gettysburg was 4 officers and 91 enlisted men; total, 95.

I am, general, very respectfully,
Major-General, Commanding Sixth Corps.
 Brig. Gen. S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1 (Serial No. 43),  p. 663-4

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B Hayes: Tuesday, January 14, 1862

My old veteran orderly, Gray, says it makes his flesh creep to see the way soldiers enter officers’ quarters, hats on, just as if they were in civil life! [The] Twenty-sixth Regiment left today. Three or four inches snow. Some winter!

Spent the afternoon looking over a trunk full of letters, deeds, documents, etc., belonging to General Alfred Beckley. They were buried in the graveyard near General Beckley's at Raleigh. Some letters of moment showing the early and earnest part taken by Colonel Tompkins in the Rebellion. The general Union and conservative feeling of General Beckley shown in letters carefully preserved in his letter-book. Two letters to Major Anderson, full of patriotism, love of Union and of the Stars and Stripes — replies written, one the day after Major Anderson went into Sumter, the other much later. His, General Beckley's, desire was really for the Union. He was of West Point education. Out of deference to popular sentiment he qualified his Unionism by saying, “Virginia would stay in the Union as long as she could consistently with honor.”

General Beckley's note from “J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of War,” informing him of his appointment as a cadet at West Point, and many other mementos, carefully preserved, were in the trunk. Title papers and evidence relating to a vast tract of land, formerly owned by Gideon Granger and now by Francis Granger and brother, were also in it. All except a few letters as to the Rebellion were undisturbed.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 187

Francis Lieber to Senator Charles Sumner, June 16, 1864

Day Of The Battle Of Ligny, June 16, 1864.

My Dear Don Carlos, — If your eye should alight on Mr. Pruyne's remarks in “The Globe,” in which he states that State sovereignty makes it impossible to abolish slavery by an amendment of the Constitution, in which he was supported by Magnus Apollo Fernando Wood, pray send them marked to me. Such things are classical. They serve as the symbolism of State-rights doctrine. A hyper-Calvinist once declared, in my hearing, that God could not save the predestined lost ones, even if he would. I desire much to have this debate — at least, Mr. Pruyne's hyper-Calhounlstic remarks. . . .

SOURCE: Thomas Sergeant Perry, Editor, The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber, p. 348

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 6, 1861

It is rumored to-day, I know not on what authority, that the President mentioned the matter of the Drainsville disaster to the Secretary of War, and intimated that it was attributed to the machinations of the Union men discharged from prison here. It is said Mr. Benjamin denied it — denied that any such men had been discharged by Gen. Winder, or had been concerned in the affair at all. Of course the President had no alternative but to credit the solemn assertions of his confidential adviser. But my books, and the register of the prisons, would show that the Drainsville prisoners sent hither by Gen. Joseph E. Johnston were discharged by Gen. Winder, and that their expenses home were paid by the government; and officers of unimpeachable veracity are ready to testify that Gen. Stuart was misled by these very men.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 98

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 15, 1864

Old Mrs. Chesnut is dead. A saint is gone and James Chesnut is broken-hearted. He adored his mother. I gave $375 for my mourning, which consists of a black alpaca dress and a crape veil. With bonnet, gloves, and all it came to $500. Before the blockade such things as I have would not have been thought fit for a chamber-maid.

Everybody is in trouble. Mrs. Davis says paper money has depreciated so much in value that they can not live within their income; so they are going to dispense with their carriage and horses.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 299-300

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: March 5, 1863

Spent last night in Richmond with my friend Mrs. R. This morning we attended Dr. Minnegerode's prayer-meeting at seven o'clock. It is a blessed privilege enjoyed by people in town, that of attending religious services so often, particularly those social prayer-meetings, now that we feel our dependence on an Almighty arm, and our need of prayer more than we ever did in our lives. The President has issued another proclamation, setting aside the 27th of this month for fasting and prayer.

Again I have applied for an office, which seems necessary to the support of the family. If I fail, I shall try to think that it is not right for me to have it. Mr. –––'s salary is not much more than is necessary to pay our share of the expenses of the mess. Several of us are engaged in making soap, and selling it, to buy things which seem essential to our wardrobes. A lady who has been perfectly independent in her circumstances, finding it necessary to do something of the kind for her support, has been very successful in making pickles and catsups for the restaurants. Another, like Mrs. Primrose, rejoices in her success in making gooseberry wine, which sparkles like champagne, and is the best domestic wine I ever drank; this is designed for the highest bidder. The exercise of this kind of industry works two ways: it supplies our wants, and gives comfort to the public. Almost every girl plaits her own hat, and that of her father, brother, and lover, if she has the bad taste to have a lover out of the army, which no girl of spirit would do unless he is incapacitated by sickness or wounds. But these hats are beautifully plaited of rye straw, and the ladies' hats are shaped so becomingly, that though a Parisian milliner might pronounce them old-fashioned, and laugh them to scorn, yet our Confederate girls look fresh and lovely in them, with their gentle countenances and bright, enthusiastic eyes; and what do we care for Parisian style, particularly as it would have to come to us through Yankeeland? The blockade has taught our people their own resources; but I often think that when the great veil is removed, and reveals us to the world, we will, in some respects, be a precious set of antiques. The ladies occasionally contrive to get a fashion-plate “direct from France,” by way of Nassau; yet when one of them, with a laudable zeal for enhancing her own charms by embellishments from abroad, sends gold to Nassau, which should be kept in our own country, and receives in return a trunk of foreign fabrics, she will appear on the street immediately afterwards in a costume which seems to us so new and fantastic, that we are forced to the opinion that we would appear to the world ludicrously passé. A gentleman, lately from Columbia, tells me that the South Carolina girls pride themselves on their palmetto hats; and the belle of large fortune, who used to think no bonnet presentable but one made by the first New York or Parisian milliner, now glories in her palmetto. The balmoral, too, the product of our own spinning-wheel and loom, would show well with the prettiest imported ones. I have seen several, which the young wearers told me were “dyed in the wool, spun, and woven by the poor of our own neighbourhood. The dye-stuffs were from our own woods.” These are little things, but, proving the independence of our people, I rejoice in them. The croakers are now indulging themselves with fears of famine; they elongate their gloomy visages, and tell us, in sad accents, that butter was $3.50 per pound in market this morning, and other things in proportion. I am sorry to say that it is true, and that it is evident we must have scarcity, particularly of such things as butter, for the cattle must go to feed the army. The soldiers must be fed; our gardens will give us vegetables; God will give us the fruits of the earth abundantly, as in days past, and if we are reduced, which 1 do not anticipate, to bread and water, we will bear it cheerfully, thank God, and take courage:

"Brought safely by his hand thus far,
Why should we now give place to fear?”

The poor, being well supplied with Government work, are better off than usual.

All quiet in the army. This may portend a storm. Several pieces of cannon passed this morning on the Fredericksburg train. Raids still continue in the Northern Neck, keeping us very uneasy about our friends there.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 195-8

Jefferson Davis to Louis T. Wigfall, October 11, 1862

executive Mansion,
richmond, Va.,
Oct. 11, 1862.
genl. L. T. Wigfall,

My dear Sir:

It has been suggested to me that you thought Holmes had failed in his duty at Malvern Hill, by being too slow in getting into position, and in that connection I wish to say to you that he was ordered up from his position on the South side of James River to aid in the attack upon McClellan's Army and if possible to prevent it from reaching the James River. It being then supposed that the enemy would endeavor to reach a landing some distance above Curl's Neck. He moved down the River Road, taking Gen. Wise and his brigade with him, to the position indicated, where I found him on Monday morning, most advantageously posted. He had made a thorough reconnoissance and fully explained to me his position and plan of operations. He was then about a mile to the right of the place where I found you with Gen. Longstreet's staff and where I met Genl. Lee. Genl. Lee had ascertained that the enemy was taking a different route by what was known as the Quaker Road and he ordered Genl. Holmes to advance and take position on that road to intercept the enemy's retreat. He did so promptly, and waited at the place indicated with his infantry for the approach of the enemy. They did not come, but halted and offered battle before reaching Poindexter's farm. Genl. Holmes thus fulfilled all his orders and proved as well his gallantry, as his candor, by subsequently expressing his regret that no one knew enough of the ground to have indicated to him what afterward was found to have been feasible, to wit, an attack upon the enemy's left and rear. It may be that such remarks have led you to suppose that he was directed to do something which he failed to perform. If so, I am sure that your fairness needs only to have the facts distinctly pointed out to you. Genl. Lee reconnoitred the ground as far as he was able and I did the same thing in person —whilst Genl. Holmes was in position and under a heavy fire from the enemy's gunboats. Genl. Lee certainly attributed no shortcoming to Genl. Holmes and it never occurred to me that any blame was fairly to be attached to him. I write this in justice to the individual but am urged much more by the consciousness of his peculiar fitness for the command to which he has been assigned.

Your friend
Jeffer. Davis.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 88-9

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Monday, June 16, 1862

My poor old diary comes to a very abrupt end, to my great distress. The hardest thing in the world is to break off journalizing when you are once accustomed to it, and mine has proved such a resource to me in these dark days of trouble that I feel as though I were saying good-bye to an old and tried friend. Thanks to my liberal supply of pens, ink, and paper, how many inexpressibly dreary days I have filled up to my own satisfaction, if not to that of others! How many disagreeable affairs it has caused me to pass over without another thought, how many times it has proved a relief to me where my tongue was forced to remain quiet! Without the blessed materials, I would have fallen victim to despair and “the Blues” long since; but they have kept my eyes fixed on “Better days a-coming” while slightly alluding to present woes; kept me from making a fool of myself many a day; acted as lightning rod to my mental thunder, and have made me happy generally. For all of which I cry, “Vivent pen, ink, and paper!” and add with regret, “Adieu, my mental Conductor. I fear this unchained lightning will strike somewhere, in your absence!”

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 76-7

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, October 12, 1864

We started early this morning and marched to within five miles of Rome by midnight, when we went into bivouac for the rest of the night. We had to move very slowly on account of the teams giving out. Our horses and mules are getting very thin. This is because of the scarcity of forage, and then, too, the roads are very rough, which made it hard on them. Hood's force is thought to be about thirty thousand, while our army numbers fifty thousand men, of all arms, and the men are in fine shape. We received a large mail at Kingston, when passing through there this evening.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 221

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Charles E. Perkins, October 17, 1864

Cedar Creek, Oct. 17, 1864.

I hope and trust and believe that you are doing all you can for Lincoln, — and I believe that McClellan's election would send this country to where Mexico and South America are. Do what you can to prevent it.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 362

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to John M. Forbes, October 17, 1864

Cedar Creek, Oct. 17, 1864.

In spite of Will's anxiety to be back with us, and of our desire to have him back, I cannot but hope for your sake that he may somehow be delayed till we are safely in winter-quarters. Mails are very irregular up and down the Valley, and during active operations I am sure you and Mrs. Forbes would be constantly anxious about him, — more even than you can be now. Let him come back in time to open the Spring with us; that will be early enough to “retrieve all disasters” that you speak of. It was very kind of you to write me as you did about Billy; I know how you feel about him. I will tell you, what I believe I did not tell Alice, that I got off and walked some time before finally deciding to take him into the charge where he was hit, and that I had three orderlies' horses killed or disabled under me that day. I tried to use him as I knew you and Will would wish him used. He was a dear little horse, — did not always have a sore back, had got over that weakness bravely, — you see he was improving to the last day of his life.

I get the Chaplain's “Army and Navy Journal” for the present, — shall subscribe myself when he returns, — I have generally liked its articles about operations before Richmond, as they told me all I ever learned about that campaign. Its notices about this Shenandoah campaign have not been very good: it has been wrong in some most important facts and in some of its criticisms. It has been entirely wrong too in praising ——— so constantly; ——— from the beginning has been the laughing-stock here, — his absurd newspaper reporter may have caused this, — but worse than that, his false despatches to the General and his constant habit of having “infantry” in front of him, and of falling back “pressed,” have on two occasions come very near causing great disasters.

I am very glad, my dear Mr. Forbes, that we have not a handy writer among us. The reputation of regiments is made and is known in the Army, — the comparative merits are well known there. Such a notice as I saw of the —th ——— Cavalry makes a regiment ridiculous, besides giving the public false history, — yet I have no doubt the writer meant to be honest.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 362-4

Major-General John Sedgwick to his Sister, July 26, 1863

Warrenton, Virginia, July 26, 1863.
My dear sister:

Since I last wrote you we have been marching every day over the worst roads, and about the hottest days, except when raining, that I have ever seen or felt. Since we left Fredericksburg, now six weeks since, it has been the same thing, marching almost day and night, for many of our hardest marches have been made by night. We have done an incredible amount of labour, if we have accomplished but little. If the people of Pennsylvania had risen as they should have done, they might have done more injury to the enemy after the battle of Gettysburg than our army did at the battle. But it will scarcely be believed that not ten thousand men turned out, and then refused to follow into Maryland. New York sent more men to Harrisburg that followed up the enemy to the Potomac than Pennsylvania did, and the extortion to our troops, the sick and wounded included, surpasses belief. I am worn out. I have not had any clothes off since leaving the Rappahannock, and the army and animals are exhausted. Whether we are to have some rest here is uncertain. I regard it as an unsafe position; it is the one that Pope occupied last year, and we are but a little stronger. All of the reports in the papers regarding the demonstration of their army are untrue; at least, there is but little evidence of it. We have had no mail in the last week, and I know nothing that has been going on. A mail is expected to-night. The riots in New York have been suppressed, but their effect must have been more disastrous than the loss of a great battle. This is a beautiful country, but has not been cultivated this year; fences all down, houses deserted, and everything denoting the presence of both armies last fall, and the fear of both coming again; there are no such articles as vegetables or groceries to be had. We captured twelve thousand head of cattle and eight thousand head of sheep that the enemy had driven from Pennsylvania. Amongst the cattle were many cows and calves, which have been divided. One cow fell to my lot, which comes in good time, as at Berlin, Maryland, I gave mine to a parson who had his only one killed by our soldiers. Has the draft taken place in Connecticut?

With much love, I am
Your affectionate brother.
John Sedgwick.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 137-8

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B Hayes: January 13, 1862

As commander of the post have charge of the pass business. Have deputized to do the clerkly part, and private Gray, Company I, to do the orderly and department part, an erect, neat, fine old soldier; like him much. . . .

The Twenty-sixth preparing to leave. Will take William Smith, a crack shot and well known bushwhacker, to Charleston or Columbus. James Phillips the owner of this cottage was in the habit of going to Miller's Ferry to shoot at our men. Mr. Mauser opposed it, said the town would be burned. To no purpose. Phillips kept at the business.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 186-7

Francis Lieber to Major-General Henry W. Halleck, June 13, 1864

New York, June 13,1864.

. . . In reply to your letter of yesterday, the following: I was informed by Major A. Bolles that my opinion would be very acceptable to General Dix, as well as to himself, on the following question, “Can any military court or commission, in a department not under martial law, take cognizance of, and try a citizen for, any violation of the law of war, such citizen not being conneeted in any wise with the military service of the United States?” I answered, that undoubtedly a citizen under these conditions can, or rather must, be tried by military courts, because there is no other way to try him and repress the crime which may endanger the whole country; it is very difficult to say how far martial law extends, or in what degree it extends, in cases of great danger arising out of war; and that it must never be forgotten that the whole country is always at war with the enemy; that is to say, every citizen is an enemy to the opposing belligerent, and that there is in case of war — especially in a free country where no “cabinet wars” are carried on — by no means that distinction between soldier and citizen which many people either believe to exist or desire, — as though the citizen could quietly carry on all possible mischief with reference to the army, which is in fact his own army, and with reference to the war, which is as much his war as that of the army. . . .

SOURCE: Thomas Sergeant Perry, Editor, The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber, p. 347-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 5, 1861

The account of the Drainsville massacre was furnished me by an officer of the 6th S. C. Regiment, which suffered severely. The newspaper accounts of the occurrence, upon which, perhaps, the history of this war will be founded, give a different version of the matter. And hence, although not so designed at first, this Diary will furnish more authentic data of many of the events of the war than the grave histories that will be written. Still, I do not aspire to be the Froissart of these interesting times: but intend merely to furnish my children, and such others as may read them, with reliable chronicles of the events passing under my own observation.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 98

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 12, 1864

An active campaign has begun everywhere. Kilpatrick still threatens us. Bragg has organized his fifteen hundred of cavalry to protect Richmond. Why can't my husband be made colonel of that? It is a new regiment. No; he must be made a general!

“Now,” says Mary Preston, “Doctor Darby is at the mercy of both Yankees and the rolling sea, and I am anxious enough; but, instead of taking my bed and worrying mamma, I am taking stock of our worldly goods and trying to arrange the wedding paraphernalia for two girls.”

There is love-making and love-making in this world. What a time the sweethearts of that wretch, young Shakespeare, must have had. What experiences of life's delights must have been his before he evolved the Romeo and Juliet business from his own internal consciousness; also that delicious Beatrice and Rosalind. The poor creature that he left his second best bedstead to came in second best all the time, no doubt; and she hardly deserved more. Fancy people wondering that Shakespeare and his kind leave no progeny like themselves! Shakespeare's children would have been half his only; the other half only the second best bedstead's. What would you expect of that commingling of materials? Goethe used his lady-loves as school-books are used: he studied them from cover to cover, got all that could be got of self-culture and knowledge of human nature from the study of them, and then threw them aside as if of no further account in his life.

Byron never could forget Lord Byron, poet and peer, and mauvais sujet, and he must have been a trying lover; like talking to a man looking in the glass at himself. Lady Byron was just as much taken up with herself. So, they struck each other, and bounded apart.

[Since I wrote this, Mrs. Stowe has taken Byron in hand. But I know a story which might have annoyed my lord more than her and Lady Byron's imagination of wickedness — for he posed a fiend, but was tender and kind. A clerk in a country store asked my sister to lend him a book, he “wanted something to read; the days were so long.” “What style of book would you prefer?” she said. “Poetry.” “Any particular poet?” “Brown. I hear him much spoken of.” “Browningr?” “No; Brown — short — that is what they call him.” “Byron, you mean.” “No, I mean the poet, Brown.”]

“Oh, you wish you had lived in the time of the Shakespeare creature!” He knew all the forms and phases of true love. Straight to one's heart he goes in tragedy or comedy. He never misses fire. He has been there, in slang phrase. No doubt the man's bare presence gave pleasure to the female world; he saw women at their best, and he effaced himself. He told no tales of his own life. Compare with him old, sad, solemn, sublime, sneering, snarling, fault finding Milton, a man whose family doubtless found “les absences délicieuses. That phrase describes a type of man at a touch; it took a Frenchwoman to do it.

“But there is an Italian picture of Milton, taken in his youth, and he was as beautiful as an angel.” “No doubt. But love flies before everlasting posing and preaching — the deadly requirement of a man always to be looked up to — a domestic tyrant, grim, formal, and awfully learned. Milton was only a mere man, for he could not do without women. When he tired out the first poor thing, who did not fall down, worship, and obey him, and see God in him, and she ran away, he immediately arranged his creed so that he could take another wife; for wife he must have, a la Mohammedan creed. The deer-stealer never once thought of justifying theft simply because he loved venison and could not come by it lawfully. Shakespeare was a better man, or, may I say, a purer soul, than self-upholding, Calvinistic, Puritanic, king-killing Milton. There is no muddling of right and wrong in Shakespeare, and no Pharisaical stuff of any sort.'”

Then George Deas joined us, fresh from Mobile, where he left peace and plenty. He went to sixteen weddings and twenty-seven tea-parties. For breakfast he had everything nice. Lily told of what she had seen the day before at the Spottswood. She was in the small parlor, waiting for someone, and in the large drawing-room sat Hood, solitary, sad, with crutches by his chair. He could not see them. Mrs. Buckner came in and her little girl who, when she spied Hood, bounded into the next room, and sprang into his lap. Hood smoothed her little dress down and held her close to him. She clung around his neck for a while, and then, seizing him by the beard, kissed him to an illimitable extent. “Prettiest picture I ever saw,” said Lily. “The soldier and the child.”
John R. Thompson sent me a New York Herald only three days old. It is down on Kilpatrick for his miserable failure before Richmond. Also it acknowledges a defeat before Charleston and a victory for us in Florida.

General Grant is charmed with Sherman's successful movements; says he has destroyed millions upon millions of our property in Mississippi. I hope that may not be true, and that Sherman may fail as Kilpatrick did. Now, if we still had Stonewall or Albert Sidney Johnston where Joe Johnston and Polk are, I would not give a fig for Sherman's chances. The Yankees say that at last they have scared up a man who succeeds, and they expect him to remedy all that has gone wrong. So they have made their brutal Suwarrow, Grant, lieutenant-general.

Doctor at the Prestons' proposed to show me a man who was not an F. F. V. Until we came here, we had never heard of our social position. We do not know how to be rude to people who call. To talk of social position seems vulgar. Down our way, that sort of thing was settled one way or another beyond a peradventure, like the earth and the sky. We never gave it a thought. We talked to whom we pleased, and if they were not comme il faut, we were ever so much more polite to the poor things. No reflection on Virginia. Everybody comes to Richmond.

Somebody counted fourteen generals in church to-day, and suggested that less piety and more drilling of commands would suit the times better. There were Lee, Longstreet, Morgan, Hoke, Clingman, Whiting, Pegram, Elzey, Gordon, and Bragg. Now, since Dahlgren failed to carry out his orders, the Yankees disown them, disavowing all. He was not sent here to murder us all, to hang the President, and burn the town. There is the note-book, however, at the Executive Office, with orders to hang and burn.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 296-9

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: February 28, 1863

To-day we are all at home. It is amusing to see, as each lady walks into the parlour, where we gather around the centre-table at night, that her work-basket is filled with clothes to be repaired. We are a cheerful set, notwithstanding. Our winding “reel, too, is generally busy. L. has a very nice one, which is always in the hands of one or the other, preparing cotton for knitting. We are equal to German women in that line. Howitt says that throughout Germany, wherever you see a woman, you see the “everlasting knitting;” so it is with Confederate women. I only wish it was “everlasting,” for our poor soldiers in their long marches strew the way with their wornout socks.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 195

Mary Boykin Chesnut to Charlotte Cross Wigfall, late January 1863

My dear friend,

My heart is heavier to-day than it has been since this murderous war began. I daresay I have told you, over and over, as I always talk of what is uppermost, that my cronies in Columbia, my bosom friends, were Mrs. Preston, Mrs. McCord and Mrs. Izard. Captain Cheves McCord, only son of my friend, lies dead at a Mr. Meyers' only a few doors below us. I did not know he was here. Mr. Chesnut had a letter from him yesterday dated Fredericksburg. He was wounded at the Second Manassas, two balls in his leg, and one in his head. Contrary to the advice of his doctors, he had rejoined his company, and this is the end. He died in convulsions from a pressure on the brain. His mother is expected by every train — poor thing — I could not sleep for thinking of her. She seemed to have but one thought in this world — “My Son.” He is barely twenty-one—is married— his wife a beautiful girl—unfortunate and miserable and wretched is it all!

. . . I will try to see you as soon as possible, but I will not, as I had hoped, take the box with you. This unhappy boy, lying dead so near me, makes the thought of theatres hateful to me just now.  . . . I feel you are too true hearted a mother not to sympathize.

Your friend,
M. B. C.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 83-4

EDITOR’S NOTE: Captain Langdon Cheves McCord, son of David James McCord and Louisa Susannah Cheves, died January 23rd 1863.  This undated letter, citing the fact that Captain McCord “lies dead at a Mr. Meyers' only a few doors below us,” it is evident this letter was written shortly after his death and before his burial.

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Louise Wigfall, Sunday, June 29, 1862

Sunday, 29th.

Another note from your dear father this morning. It was written last night, the other side of the Chickahominy at Headquarters. He says they were still driving the enemy before them and that operations would begin again at daybreak, and that he hoped it would be over to-day. I shall not expect him back until it is entirely concluded. He says the slaughter has been terrible, but our success glorious.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 83

Diary of Sarah Morgan: June 11, 1862

Last evening mother and Miriam went to the Arsenal to see if they would be allowed to do anything for the prisoners. General Williams received them, and fascinated Miriam by his manner, as usual. Poor Miriam is always being fascinated, according to her own account. He sent for little Nathan Castle and Willie Garig, and left them alone in the room with them, showing his confidence and delicacy by walking away. The poor young men were very grateful to be remembered; one had his eyes too full of tears to speak. Mr. Garig told Miriam that when the story of her refusing the escort was told in camp, the woods rang with shouts of “Three cheers for Miss Morgan!” They said they were treated very well, and had no want, except clean clothes, and to let their mothers know they were well and content. I have been hard at work mending three or four suits of the boys' clothing for those poor young men. Some needed thread and needle very much, but it was the best we could do. So I packed them all up — not forgetting a row of pins — and sent Tiche off with the bundle, perched real Congo fashion on her many-colored head-handkerchief, which was tied in the most superb Creole style in honor of the occasion.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 75-6

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, October 11, 1864

The weather has been cool and pleasant for several days. Our entire corps started early this morning at 2 o'clock, going as we suppose, to Kingston. We marched through to Cartersville, where we went into camp for the night.

We hear that there was a hard fight at Altoona yesterday with fearful loss of life on both sides, but Hood had to give up trying to capture the place. It is reported that Hood is now moving toward Rome, Georgia.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 221

Monday, July 27, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: December 4, 1861

We are now tasting the bitter fruits of a too indulgent treatment of our enemies. Yesterday Gen. Stuart's cavalry and the 6th Regiment S. C. volunteers met with a bloody disaster at Drainsville. It appears that several of the traitors arrested and sent hither by Gen. Johnston were subsequently discharged by Gen. Winder, under the instructions of Mr. Benjamin, and sent to their homes, in the vicinity of Drainsville, at the expense of the government. These men, with revenge rankling in their breasts, reported to Gen. Stuart that a large amount of forage might be obtained in the vicinity of Drainsville, and that but a few companies of the enemy were in the neighborhood. The general believing these men to be loyal, since they seemed to have the confidence of the War Department, resolved to get the forage; and for that purpose started some 80 wagons early the next morning, escorted by several regiments of infantry and 1000 cavalry, hoping to capture any forces of the enemy in the vicinity. Meantime the Drainsville traitors had returned to their homes the preceding evening, and sent off intelligence to the headquarters of the enemy of the purpose of Gen. Stuart to send out in that direction, early the next day, a foraging party consisting of so many wagons, and small forces of infantry, artillery, and cavalry. - The enemy hastened away to Drainsville an overwhelming force, and ambuscaded the road, where it entered the woods, with artillery and men of all arms. Their line was the shape of a horseshoe, and completely concealed from view.

Gen. Stuart had not entered far into the jaws of this trap, before some of his trusty scouts reported the presence of the enemy. Believing it to be only the pickets of the few companies previously reported, the general advanced still farther; but at the same time ordering the wagons to retire. He was soon undeceived by a simultaneous and concentric fire of artillery and musketry, which brought down many of his men. Nevertheless, he charged through the lines in one or two places, and brought his guns to bear with effect on such portions of the enemy's line as were not wholly protected by the inequalities of the ground and the dense growth of woods. He quickly ascertained, however, that he was contending against vastly superior numbers, and drew off his forces in good order, protecting his wagons. The enemy did not pursue, for Stuart had rather more men than the informers reported to the enemy. But we lost 200 men, while the enemy sustained but little injury; their killed and wounded not exceeding 30.

This is the first serious wound inflicted on the country by Mr. Benjamin's policy.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 97-8

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 11, 1864

Letters from home, including one from my husband's father, now over ninety, written with his own hand, and certainly his own mind still. I quote: “Bad times; worse coming. Starvation stares me in the face. Neither John's nor James's overseer will sell me any corn.” Now, what has the government to do with the fact that on all his plantations he made corn enough to last for the whole year, and by the end of January his negroes had stolen it all? Poor old man, he has fallen on evil days, after a long life of ease and prosperity.

To-day, I read The Blithedale Romance. Blithedale leaves such an unpleasant impression. I like pleasant, kindly stories, now that we are so harrowed by real life. Tragedy is for our hours of ease.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 296

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: February 26, 1863

In the city again yesterday. B. improving. The morning papers report firing upon Vicksburg. Several steamers have arrived lately, laden for the Confederacy. Blockade-running seems to be attended with less danger than it was, though we have lately lost a most valuable cargo by the capture of the “Princess Royal.” The “Alabama” continues to perform the most miraculous feats, and the “Florida” seems disposed to rival her in brilliant exploits. They “walk the water,” capturing every thing in their way, and know no fear, though many vessels are in pursuit. I am grieved to hear that my dear little J. P. has been ordered to Charleston. While he was on James River, I felt that I could be with him if he were wounded; but he is in God's hands:

“Be still, my heart; these anxious cares
To thee are burdens, thorns, and snares.”

The papers full of the probable, or rather hoped for, intervention of France. The proposition of the Emperor, contained in a letter from the Minister to Seward, and his artful, wily, Seward-like reply, are in a late paper. We pause to see what will be the next step of the Emperor. Oh that he would recognize us, and let fanatical England pursue her own cold, selfish course!

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 194-5

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Louise Wigfall, Saturday, June 28, 1862

Saturday, 28th.

Your father did not come last night, dear L. I got a note from him early this morning. Thank God, he was unhurt! and remained to look up our wounded Texans. So far our victory has been brilliant, but oh! at what sacrifice of life! Poor Col. Marshall (1st Texas) is killed; so is Lieut. Col. Warwick. His poor mother's heart will be broken, I fear. (He was an only child.) The Major of the Regiment, too, is dangerously wounded. Genl. Hood is not hurt or was not when your father wrote. God grant your father may be safe now! He expected to be up all night collecting and caring for our wounded. We have heard no cannon to-day and don't know whether the fighting has continued or not. Cousin Lewis has just been here and says he hears 1,500 prisoners have already arrived, and among them 2 generals. There are all sorts of reports, one, that we have taken eighty officers above the rank of major. Your father thought the battle would be over today. I am almost afraid to believe it. Halsey has not been at all in the direction of the fight. He is guarding the batteries on the extreme right, and the contest has all been on the left. He has got his commission for 2nd Lieutenant — or rather, I have got it here for him.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 82-3