Friday, May 22, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, September 15, 1863

Willard's [washington], Sept. 15, 1863.

I have had a very pleasant hour with Governor Andrew. He talked about Rob and how very fond he had become of him. He said that, at the Williamstown Commencement Dinner, he mentioned him in his speech, and there was not a dry eye in the room. He said too that he meant to live long enough to help finish a monument at Charleston which should be connected in the Nation's heart with Colonel Shaw, as Bunker Hill is with Warren. His tender, affectionate way of saying "Colonel Shaw" touched me very much, — it made me feel like crying too. I wish we had a large-hearted man like Andrew for President. Andrew had been to see Mr. Lincoln to-day about the coloured regiment prisoners, and thinks the right thing will yet be done. I talked with Stanton about them, and find he feels exactly as we do; that we must stop all exchanging till all prisoners are placed on the same footing.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 304-5

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Saturday, December 7, 1861

Another warm, bright day — the roads improving. People come twenty-five miles to take the oath. How much is due to a returning sense of loyalty and how much to the want of coffee and salt, is more than I know. They are sick of the war, ready for peace and a return to the old Union. Many of them have been Secessionists, some of them, soldiers.

Rode Schooley's high-tailed, showy horse twice. Drilled after evening parade. Met the sergeants for instruction tonight.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 156

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, April 9, 1865

April 9, 1865

We all were up, according to habit, about daylight, with horses saddled, having staid near Stute's house for the night. In reply to a summons from Grant, Lee has sent in a note to say that he would meet Grant at ten A.M. to confer on measures for peace. The Lieutenant-General answered that he had no authority in the premises and refused the interview; but repeated his offer to accept the army's surrender on parole. Indeed, we suspected his affairs were from bad to worse, for last night we could hear, just at sunset, the distant cannon of Sheridan. He, with his cavalry, had made a forced march on Appomattox Station, where he encountered the head of the Rebel column (consisting, apparently, for the most part of artillery), charged furiously on it, and took twenty cannon and 1000 prisoners; and checked its progress for that night, during which time the 24th and 5th Corps, by strenuous marching, came up and formed line of battle quite across the Lynchburg road, west of Appomattox C.H. Betimes this morning, the enemy, thinking that nothing but cavalry was in their front, advanced to cut their way through, and were met by the artillery and musketry of two corps in position — (Ah! there goes a band playing "Dixie" in mockery. It is a real carnival!) This seems to have struck them with despair. Their only road blocked in front, and Humphreys's skirmishers dogging their footsteps! Well, we laid the General in his ambulance (he has been sick during the whole week, though now much better) and at 6.30 A.M. the whole Staff was off, at a round trot — (90 miles have I trotted and galloped after that Lee, and worn holes in my pantaloons, before I could get him to surrender!). An hour after, we came on the 6th Corps streaming into the main road from the upper one. A little ahead of this we halted to talk with General Wright. At 10.30 came, one after the other, two negroes, who said that some of our troops entered Lynchburg yesterday; and that Lee was now cut off near Appomattox Court House. This gave us new wings! An aide-de-camp galloped on, to urge Humphreys to press the pursuit, and all waggons were ordered out of the road, that the 6th Corps might close in immediately on his rear. Away went the General again, full tilt, along the road crowded by the infantry, every man of whom was footing it, as if a lottery prize lay just ahead! A bugler trotted ahead, blowing to call the attention of the troops, while General Webb followed, crying, “Give way to the right! Give way to the right!” Thus we ingeniously worked our way, amid much pleasantry. “Fish for sale!” roared one doughboy. “Yes,” joined in a pithy comrade, “and a tarnation big one, too!” The comments on the General were endless. “That's Meade.” “Yes, that's him.” “Is he sick?” “I expect he is; he looks kinder wild!” “Guess the old man hain't had much sleep lately.” The heavy artillery firing we had earlier heard, now had suddenly ceased, and there was a perfect stillness — a suspicious circumstance that gave us new hope. Somewhat before noon we got to General Humphreys, some five miles east of the Court House and at the very head of his men. He reported that he had just struck the enemy's skirmish line, and was preparing to drive them back. At that moment an officer rode up and said the enemy were out with a white flag. “They shan't stop me!” retorted the fiery H.; “receive the message but push on the skirmishers!” Back came the officer speedily, with a note. General Lee stated that General Ord had agreed to a suspension of hostilities, and he should ask for the same on this end, of the line. “Hey! what!” cried General Meade, in his harsh, suspicious voice, “I have no sort of authority to grant such suspension. General Lee has already refused the terms of General Grant. Advance your skirmishers, Humphreys, and bring up your troops. We will pitch into them at once!” But lo! here comes now General Forsyth, who had ridden through the Rebel army, from General Sheridan (under a flag), and who now urged a brief suspension. “Well,” said the General, “in order that you may get back to Sheridan, I will wait till two o'clock, and then, if I get no communication from General Lee, I shall attack!” So back went Forsyth, with a variety of notes and despatches. We waited, not without excitement, for the appointed hour. Meantime, negroes came in and said the Rebel pickets had thrown down their muskets and gone leisurely to their main body; also that the Rebels were “done gone give up.” Presently, the General pulled out his watch and said: “Two o'clock — no answer — go forward.” But they had not advanced far, before we saw a Rebel and a Union officer coming in. They bore an order from General Grant to halt the troops. Major Wingate, of General Lee's Staff, was a military-looking man, dressed in a handsome grey suit with gold lace, and a gold star upon the collar. He was courageous, but plainly mortified to the heart. “We had done better to have burnt our whole train three days ago”; he said bitterly. “In trying to save a train, we have lost an army!” And there he struck the pith of the thing. And so we continued to wait till about five, during which time General Humphreys amused us with presents of Confederate notes, of which we found a barrel full (!) in the Rebel waggons. It was a strange spectacle, to see the officers laughing and giving each other $500 notes of a government that has been considered as firmly established by our English friends!

About five came Major Pease. “The Army of Northern Virginia has surrendered!” Headed by General Webb, we gave three cheers, and three more for General Meade. Then he mounted and rode through the 2d and 6th Corps. Such a scene followed as I can never see again. The soldiers rushed, perfectly crazy, to the roadside, and there crowding in dense masses, shouted, screamed, yelled, threw up their hats and hopped madly up and down! The batteries were run out and began firing, the bands played, the flags waved. The noise of the cheering was such that my very ears rang. And there was General Meade galloping about and waving his cap with the best of them! Poor old Robert Lee! His punishment is too heavy — to hear those cheers, and to remember what he once was! My little share of this work is done. God willing, before many weeks, or even days, I shall be at home, to campaign no more!

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 355-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 23, 1861


No arms yet of any amount from Europe; though our agent writes that he has a number of manufactories at work. The U. S. agent has engaged the rest. All the world seems to be in the market buying arms. Mr. Dayton, U. S. Minister in Paris, has bought 30,000 flint-locks in France; and our agent wants authority to buy some too. He says the French statisticians allege that no greater mortality in battle occurs from the use of the percussion and the rifled musket than from the old smooth-bore flint-lock musket. This may be owing to the fact that a shorter range is sought with the latter.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 75

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: August 1, 1862

FLAT ROCK, N. C. — Being ill I left Mrs. McMahan's for Flat Rock.1 It was very hot and disagreeable for an invalid in a boarding-house in that climate. The La Bordes and the McCord girls came part of the way with me.

The cars were crowded and a lame soldier had to stand, leaning on his crutches in the thoroughfare that runs between the seats. One of us gave him our seat. You may depend upon it there was no trouble in finding a seat for our party after that. Dr. La Borde quoted a classic anecdote. In some Greek assembly an old man was left standing. A Spartan gave him his seat. The Athenians cheered madly, though they had kept their seats. The comment was, “Lacedemonians practise virtue; Athenians know how to admire it.”

Nathan Davis happened accidentally to be at the station at Greenville. He took immediate charge of Molly and myself, for my party had dwindled to us two. He went with us to the hotel, sent for the landlord, told him who I was, secured good rooms for us, and saw that we were made comfortable in every way. At dinner I entered that immense dining-room alone, but I saw friends and acquaintances on every side. My first exploit was to repeat to Mrs. Ives Mrs. Pickens's blunder in taking a suspicious attitude toward men born at the North, and calling upon General Cooper to agree with her. Martha Levy explained the grave faces of my auditors by saying that Colonel Ives was a New Yorker. My distress was dire.

Louisa Hamilton was there. She told me that Captain George Cuthbert, with his arm in a sling from a wound by no means healed, was going to risk the shaking of a stagecoach; he was on his way to his cousin, William Cuthbert's, at Flat Rock. Now George Cuthbert is a type of the finest kind of Southern soldier. We can not make them any better than he is. Before the war I knew him; he traveled in Europe with my sister, Kate, and Mary Withers. At once I offered him a seat in the comfortable hack Nathan Davis had engaged for me.

Molly sat opposite to me, and often when I was tired held my feet in her lap. Captain Cuthbert's man sat with the driver. We had ample room. We were a dilapidated company. I was so ill I could barely sit up, and Captain Cuthbert could not use his right hand or arm at all. I had to draw his match, light his cigar, etc. He was very quiet, grateful, gentle, and, I was going to say, docile. He is a fiery soldier, one of those whose whole face becomes transfigured in battle, so one of his men told me, describing his way with his company. He does not blow his own trumpet, but I made him tell me the story of his duel with the Mercury's reporter. He seemed awfully ashamed of wasting time in such a scrape.

That night we stopped at a country house half-way toward our journey's end. There we met Mr. Charles Lowndes. Rawlins Lowndes, his son, is with Wade Hampton.

First we drove, by mistake, into Judge King's yard, our hackman mistaking the place for the hotel. Then we made Farmer's Hotel (as the seafaring men say).

Burnet Rhett, with his steed, was at the door; horse and man were caparisoned with as much red and gold artillery uniform as they could bear. He held his horse. The stirrups were Mexican, I believe; they looked like little sidesaddles. Seeing his friend and crony, George Cuthbert, alight and leave a veiled lady in the carriage, this handsome and undismayed young artillerist walked round and round the carriage, talked with the driver, looked in at the doors, and at the front. Suddenly I bethought me to raise my veil and satisfy his curiosity. Our eyes met, and I smiled. It was impossible to resist the comic disappointment on his face when a woman old enough to be George Cuthbert's mother, with the ravages of a year of gastric fever, almost fainting with fatigue, greeted his vision. He instantly mounted his gallant steed and pranced away to his fiancée. He is to marry the greatest heiress in the State, Miss Aiken. Then Captain Cuthbert told me his name.

At Kate's, I found Sally Rutledge, and then for weeks life was a blank; I remember nothing. The illness which had been creeping on for so long a time took me by the throat. At Greenville I had met many friends. I witnessed the wooing of Barny Heyward, once the husband of the lovely Lucy Izard, now a widower and a bon parti. He was there nursing Joe, his brother. So was the beautiful Henrietta Magruder Heyward, now a widow, for poor Joe died. There is something magnetic in Tatty Clinch's large and lustrous black eyes. No man has ever resisted their influence. She says her virgin heart has never beat one throb the faster for any mortal here below — until now, when it surrenders to Barny. Well, as I said, Joseph Heyward died, and rapidly did the bereaved beauty shake the dust of this poor Confederacy from her feet and plume her wings for flight across the water.

[Let me insert here now, much later, all I know of that brave spirit, George Cuthbert. While I was living in the winter of 1863 at the corner of Clay and Twelfth Streets in Richmond, he came to see me. Never did man enjoy life more. The Preston girls were staying at my house then, and it was very gay for the young soldiers who ran down from the army for a day or so. We had heard of him, as usual, gallantly facing odds at Sharpsburg.2 And he asked if he should chance to be wounded would I have him brought to Clay Street.

He was shot at Chancellorsville,3 leading his men. The surgeon did not think him mortally wounded. He sent me a message that “he was coming at once to our house.” He knew he would soon get well there. Also that “I need not be alarmed; those Yankees could not kill me.” He asked one of his friends to write a letter to his mother. Afterward he said he had another letter to write, but that he wished to sleep first, he felt so exhausted. At his request they then turned his face away from the light and left him. When they came again to look at him, they found him dead. He had been dead for a long time. It was bitter cold; wounded men lost much blood and were weakened in that way; they lacked warm blankets and all comforts. Many died who might have been saved by one good hot drink or a few mouthfuls of nourishing food.

One of the generals said to me: “Fire and reckless courage like Captain Cuthbert's are contagious; such men in an army are invaluable; losses like this weakened us, indeed.” But I must not linger longer around the memory of the bravest of the brave — a true exemplar of our old regime, gallant, gay, unfortunate. — M. B. C]
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1 Flat Rock was the summer resort of many cultured families from the low countries of the South before the war. Many attractive houses had been built there. It lies in the region which has since become famous as the Asheville region, and in which stands Biltmore.


2 The battle of Sharpsburg, or Antietam, one of the bloodiest of the war, was fought in western Maryland, a few miles north of Harper's Ferry, on September 16 and 17, 1862, the Federals being under McClellan, and the Confederates under Lee.

3 The battle of Chancellorsville, where the losses on each side were more than ten thousand men, was fought about fifty miles northwest of Richmond on May 2, 3, and 4, 1863. The Confederates were under Lee and the Federals under Hooker. In this battle Stonewall Jackson was killed.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 210-4

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 15, 1862

Yesterday was the only day for three weeks that we have been free from the hated presence of Yankees[.]  Aaron, whom we sent for Mr. C, was not allowed to pass the picket-post, so we took the body of our poor young captain and buried it ourselves in the S. H. grave-yard, with no one to interrupt us. The girls covered his honoured grave with flowers. He and our precious W. lie side by side, martyrs to a holy cause.

We have heard nothing from General Stuart; he had 5,000 men and three guns. The pickets have disappeared from around us. The servant we sent for Mr. C. says that General S. burnt the encampment near the Old Church, on Saturday evening, killed many horses, and severely wounded a captain, who refused to surrender; the men scampered into the woods. He represents the Yankees as very much infuriated, vowing vengeance upon our people, from which we hope that they have been badly used. We feel intensely anxious about our brigade.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 143-4

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 18, 1863

Went on the street to hear some news; found that a dispatch had been received, ordering a body of men to go on to Pattonsburg to burn down the fine bridge over the James river, to prevent Averill's escape ; Averill is at Salem with 4000 men.

At 11 o'clock, Imboden's cavalry and artillery passed through. It is the first time I have seen an army. Poor fellows ! with their broken down horses, muddy up to the eyes, and their muddy wallets and blankets, they looked like an army of tatterdemalions; the horses looked starved. Then came the Home Guard, drenched and muddy, as if they had seen hard service, though they had only been out four days; but such weather! It rained terribly, the rain part of the time freezing as it fell; and they were out in it all: stood round their fires all night, or lay down in the puddles of water. At 3 P. M. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry (2700) passed through. Their horses were in better condition. All the men in both divisions looked in fine spirits, and cheered vociferously as the ladies waved scarves and handkerchiefs on their passing. People brought out waiters of eatables for the poor tired men. I put our dinner, which was just ready, on a waiter, and sent it down to them. Found Bro. E. and brought him home to dinner, and filled his haversack. All went on to Collierstown last night . Bro. W. is Lt. Col. of the Home Guards. They were all sent on for the protection of Lexington last night, it being supposed that Averill would advance upon us from Salem. An exciting day indeed.

At night my husband came; the Cadets were water bound; some of them waded to their waists in water, building bridges for artillery. Mr. P. says he saw one marching along in his naked feet. This is "glorious war "!

Received a note from A. enclosing a Flag of Truce letter from J. Thankful that my dear father is better.  J. says, “It doesn't matter how soon all of us go.” She would feel so indeed, if she were in the midst of such war scenes as now surround us.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 173-4

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, July 22, 1864

The citizens remaining in town, after so long a time, have become quite reconciled. Nothing new from the front.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Major Henry L. Higginson, September 14, 1863

Centreville, Virginia, Sept. 14, 1863.

My Dear Henry, — I was glad to see your fist on an envelope some weeks ago. I ought to have written you sooner, but it is so infernally quiet here now that to get together material for a letter is a labour.

I am glad, old fellow, to hear that your wound is at length convalescent. It would have been a bore to carry a ball in it all your life, with a chance of its giving you a twinge any minute. . . .

You ask me no end of questions about the army. As if we take interest in the army. We are an independent, fancy department, whereof I command the cavalry, and we take no interest in wars or rumours of wars. I have seen men who profess to be going to and from the “front,” — but where is the “front”? We are in the “front” whenever General Halleck has an officer's application for leave to endorse. Stanton is so fond of us, however, that he keeps us on the safe “front” —  the “front” nearest Washington, whereby I am debarred from the rightful command of a brigade of five regiments in Gregg's division, which Gregg offered me, and which he applied for me to take, my own regiment being one of the five. But Stanton is very fond of us, and keeps us where it is safe.1

. . . I hope you will be kept at home until next January, for between now and then I mean to be married (if President Lincoln and General Lee do not interfere), and I shall be glad to have your countenance, so do not let your wound heal itself too rapidly. What do you hear from Frank? Give him my love, when you write. Tell him I gave him myself as a sample to be avoided, and I now give him Rob Shaw as a pattern to be followed. I am glad Frank remained in that regiment. It is historic. The Second Massachusetts Cavalry and some others are more mythic. . . .

About coloured regiments, I feel thus, — I am very glad at any time to take hold of them, if I can do more than any other available man in any place. I will not offer myself or apply for a place looking to immediate or probable promotion. If one goes into the black business he must go to stay. It will not end by the war. It will open a career, or at any rate give experience which will, inevitably almost, consign a man to ten or twenty years' hard labour in Government employ, it seems to me. Since Shaw's death I have had a personal feeling in the matter to see black troops made a success; a success which would justify the use (or sacrifice) made of them at Wagner.

Do you know the President is almost ready to exchange your brother Jim, and leave Cabot (it might have been Frank just as well) in prison at Charleston, after all the promises that have been made by the officers of the Administration? This is disgraceful beyond endurance almost.2
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1 The Government and Major-General Heintzelman, commanding the Department of Washington, fully appreciated the advantage of having so efficient a cavalry commander and well disciplined a force in the neighbourhood. But they had to resist other competitors, for, besides the desires of General Gregg to have Lowell and his regiment in the Army of the Potomac, another general repeatedly importuned the War Department for them. Major-General N. P. Banks (Department of the Gulf), in his report to General Halleck, March 27, 1863, speaking of his need of cavalry, says: —

I feel especially the loss of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, raised expressly for my expedition; for, besides its strength, I relied upon Colonel Lowell to infuse the necessary vigour into the whole cavalry service.”

Again, April 18, 1863, General Banks sends the following message to Major-General Halleck: —

“I beg leave, at the risk of being considered importunate, to repeat my earnest request that more cavalry be sent to this department.  . . . If you will send me the Second Massachusetts Cavalry, raised expressly for my command, with their arms and equipments, I will mount them here from the horses captured on this expedition. Its commander, Colonel Lowell, is personally nearly as important to us as his regiment."

As late as September, General Banks was still pleading for the cavalry. General Halleck answered: “In regard to Colonel Lowell's regiment, I need simply to mention the fact that it is the only one we have for scouts and pickets in front of Washington.”

2 The officers here spoken of are Captain James J. Higginson, of the First Massachusetts Cavalry (who was captured in the fight at Aldie, where his brother, the Major, was wounded), and Captain Francis Lee Higginson, his younger brother, and Captain Cabot J. Russel, both of the Fifty-Fourth. As has been said, Captain Russel's family were not sure of his death. When the news of the raising of coloured troops was heard in the South, it had been threatened that captured privates should be sold to slavery and the officers treated as felons. This threat was not carried out, but difficulties arose about exchanges; and in this matter, and that of their payment, the course of the Administration and of Congress was for a long time timid and discreditable.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 302-4, 443-4

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Friday, December 6, 1861

A warm, bright day. The chaplain returned today; not an agreeable or useful person. He has been absent over two months. I wish he had not returned.

Colonel Scammon gave me a good, long confidential talk. Like all men having some trifling peculiarities which are not pleasant but who are sterling in all important things, he is best liked when best known. He is a gentleman by instinct as well as breeding and is a most warm-hearted, kindly gentleman; and yet many of the men think him the opposite of all this. I must take more pains than I have [taken] to give them just ideas of him.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 156

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, April 8, 1865

April 8, 1865

We have been making our usual little picnic to-day — say nineteen miles — and have got about half-way between Burkeville Junction and Lynchburg. Did you ever see that Washburn, Colonel in Louis Cabot's regiment, rather a well-looking young man? He was sent the day before yesterday, by Ord, from Burkeville Junction, with a small infantry and cavalry force, to destroy the Farmville bridges, to keep back the Rebels and head them off; but he found the enemy there before him; they attacked him, got him in the forks of two runs and killed or took most of his command, after a really desperate fight; Washburn getting a bullet through the cheeks and a sabre cut in the head. Then the Rebels crossed from Farmville to the other side and then they burnt the bridges in our faces. Last night was a white frost, as my toes, under the blankets, suggested to me in the morning. We left betimes, before six, to wit; for we had to get all the way back to High Bridge and then begin our march thence. After crossing the river beside the bridge (whereof the last three spans had been burnt by the enemy), we bore to the right, into the pine woods, then kept to the left, through a poor wood road, and emerged on the main road, about a mile east of the Piedmont coal mine, just as Humphreys's rear guard were marching on. As they had supposed, the enemy had retreated during the night and now we looked forward to a day's stern chase. At the coal mine we found General Humphreys, wearing much the expression of an irascible pointer, he having been out on several roads, ahead of his column, and getting down on his knees and peering at foottracks, through his spectacles, to determine by which the main body had retreated. Here we got a great excitement, on learning that, last night, General Williams had conveyed a note from Grant to Lee, demanding his surrender. That, furthermore, Lee had made a reply, and that now General Williams had just gone forward, with a flag, to send an answer. All this looked favorable and gave a new aspect to the whole question! The original idea of sending a note came from the language used by Ewell and his Staff, captured on the 6th. These officers had stated that their position was hopeless and that Lee might surrender, if summoned. The good Williams's mission came near being fatal to the messenger of peace; for, as he got in sight of the rear Rebel videttes and was waving away, to attract their attention, they shot at him and wounded his orderly. However, he persevered, and, with a little care, got his note delivered.

We now trotted along what had been, years since, a fine stage road; but the present condition was not exactly favorable to waggons with delicate springs — the road at present being playfully variegated with boulders, three feet high, which had inconvenienced the Rebel trains, as many a burnt waggon testified. Toiling along past the trains in rear of the Second Corps, we were caught by General Grant, who was in high spirits, and addressed General Meade as “Old Fellow.” Both Staffs halted for the night at Stute's house, and, as Grant's waggons could not get up, we fed him and his officers and lent them blankets. Grant had one of his sick headaches, which are rare, but cause him fearful pain, such as almost overcomes even his iron stoicism. To show how really amiable he is, he let the officers drum on the family piano a long while before he even would hint he didn't like it. Towards sundown we could hear rapid artillery from direction of Appomattox Station, which made us anxious; for we knew it was Sheridan, and could not know the result.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 353-5

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 22, 1861

Immediate is still there; but the Secretary has not yet been to the council board, though yesterday was cabinet day. Yet the President sends Capt. Josselyn regularly with the papers referred to the Secretary. These are always given to me, and after they are “briefed,” delivered to the Secretary. Among these I see some pretty sharp pencil marks. Among the rest, the whole batch of Tochman papers being returned unread, with the injunction that “when papers of such volume are sent to him for perusal, it is the business of the Secretary to see that a brief abstract of their contents accompany them.”

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 74

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: July 21, 1862

Jackson has gone into the enemy's country. Joe Johnston and Wade Hampton are to follow.

Think of Rice, Mr. Senator Rice,1 who sent us the buffalo-robes. I see from his place in the Senate that he speaks of us as savages, who put powder and whisky into soldiers' canteens to make them mad with ferocity in the fight. No, never. We admire coolness here, because we lack it; we do not need to be fired by drink to be brave. My classical lore is small, indeed, but I faintly remember something of the Spartans who marched to the music of lutes. No drum and fife were needed to revive their fainting spirits. In that one thing we are Spartans.

The Wayside Hospital2 is duly established at the Columbia Station, where all the railroads meet. All honor to Mrs. Fisher and the other women who work there so faithfully! The young girls of Columbia started this hospital. In the first winter of the war, moneyless soldiers, sick and wounded, suffered greatly when they had to lie over here because of faulty connections between trains. Rev. Mr. Martin, whose habit it was to meet trains and offer his aid to these unfortunates, suggested to the Young Ladies' Hospital Association their opportunity; straightway the blessed maidens provided a room where our poor fellows might have their wounds bound up and be refreshed. And now, the “Soldiers' Rest” has grown into the Wayside Hospital, and older heads and hands relieve younger ones of the grimmer work and graver responsibilities. I am ready to help in every way, by subscription and otherwise, but too feeble in health to go there much.

Mrs. Browne heard a man say at the Congaree House, “We are breaking our heads against a stone wall. We are bound to be conquered. We can not keep it up much longer against so powerful a nation as the United States. Crowds of Irish, Dutch, and Scotch are pouring in to swell their (armies. They are promised our lands, and they believe they will get them. Even if we are successful we can not live without Yankees.” “Now,” says Mrs. Browne, “I call that man a Yankee spy.” To which I reply, “If he were a spy, he would not dare show his hand so plainly.” “To think,” says Mrs. Browne, “that he is not taken up. Seward's little bell would tinkle, a guard would come, and the Grand Inquisition of America would order that man put under arrest in the twinkling of an eye, if he had ventured to speak against Yankees in Yankee land.”

General Preston said he had “the right to take up any one who was not in his right place and send him where he belonged.” “Then do take up my husband instantly. He is sadly out of his right place in this little Governor's Council.” The general stared at me and slowly uttered in his most tragic tones, “If I could put him where I think he ought to be!” This I immediately hailed as a high compliment and was duly ready with my thanks. Upon reflection, it is borne in upon me, that he might have been more explicit. He left too much to the imagination.

Then Mrs. Browne described the Prince of Wales, whose manners, it seems, differ from those of Mrs. –––, who arraigned us from morn to dewy eve, and upbraided us with our ill-bred manners and customs. The Prince, when he was here, conformed at once to whatever he saw was the way of those who entertained him. He closely imitated President Buchanan's way of doing things. He took off his gloves at once when he saw that the President wore none. He began by bowing to the people who were presented to him, but when he saw Mr. Buchanan shaking hands, he shook hands, too. When smoking affably with Browne on the White House piazza, he expressed his content with the fine cigars Browne had given him. The President said: “I was keeping some excellent ones for you, but Browne has got ahead of me.” Long after Mr. Buchanan had gone to bed, the Prince ran into his room in a jolly, boyish way, and said: “Mr. Buchanan, I have come for the fine cigars you have for me.”

As I walked up to the Prestons', along a beautiful shaded back street, a carriage passed with Governor Means in it. As soon as he saw me he threw himself half out and kissed both hands to me again and again. It was a whole-souled greeting, as the saying is, and I returned it with my whole heart, too. “Good-by,” he cried, and I responded “Good-by.” I may never see him again. I am not sure that I did not shed a few tears.

General Preston and Mr. Chesnut were seated on the piazza of the Hampton house as I walked in. I opened my batteries upon them in this scornful style: “You cold, formal, solemn, overly-polite creatures, weighed down by your own dignity. You will never know the rapture of such a sad farewell as John Means and I have just interchanged. He was in a hack,” I proceeded to relate, “and I was on the sidewalk. He was on his way to the war, poor fellow. The hackman drove steadily along in the middle of the street; but for our gray hairs I do not know what he might have thought of us. John Means did not suppress his feelings at an unexpected meeting with an old friend, and a good cry did me good. It is a life of terror and foreboding we lead. My heart is in my mouth half the time. But you two, under no possible circumstances could you forget your manners.”

Read Russell's India all day. Saintly folks those English when their blood is up. Sepoys and blacks we do not expect anything better from, but what an example of Christian patience and humanity the white “angels” from the West set them.

The beautiful Jewess, Rachel Lyons, was here to-day. She flattered Paul Hayne audaciously, and he threw back the ball.

To-day I saw the Rowena to this Rebecca, when Mrs. Edward Barnwell called. She is the purest type of Anglo-Saxon — exquisitely beautiful, cold, quiet, calm, lady-like, fair as a lily, with the blackest and longest eyelashes, and her eyes so light in color some one said “they were the hue of cologne and water.” At any rate, she has a patent right to them; there are no more like them to be had. The effect is startling, but lovely beyond words.

Blanton Duncan told us a story of Morgan in Kentucky. Morgan walked into a court where they were trying some Secessionists. The Judge was about to pronounce sentence, but Morgan rose, and begged that he might be allowed to call some witnesses. The Judge asked who were his witnesses. “My name is John Morgan, and my witnesses are 1,400 Confederate soldiers.”

Mrs. Izard witnessed two instances of patriotism in the caste called “Sandhill tackeys.” One forlorn, chills, and fever-freckled creature, yellow, dirty, and dry as a nut, was selling peaches at ten cents a dozen. Soldiers collected around her cart. She took the cover off and cried, “Eat away. Eat your fill. I never charge our soldiers anything.” They tried to make her take pay, but when she steadily refused it, they cheered her madly and said: “Sleep in peace. Now we will fight for you and keep off the Yankees.” Another poor Sandhill man refused to sell his cows, and gave them to the hospital.
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1 Henry M. Rice, United States Senator from Minnesota, who had emigrated to that State from Vermont in 1835.

2 Of ameliorations in modern warfare, Dr. John T. Darby said in addressing the South Carolina Medical Association, Charleston, in 1873: “On the route from the army to the general hospital, wounds are dressed and soldiers refreshed at wayside homes; and here be it said with justice and pride that the credit of originating this system is due to the women of South Carolina. In a small room in the capital of this State, the first Wayside Home was founded; and during the war, some seventy-five thousand soldiers were relieved by having their wounds dressed, their ailments attended, and very frequently by being clothed through the patriotic services and good offices of a few untiring ladies in Columbia. From this little nucleus, spread that grand system of wayside hospitals which was established during our own and the late European wars."

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 205-9

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 14, 1862

While quietly sitting on the porch yesterday evening, I saw a young man rapidly approaching the house, on foot; at first we took it for granted that he was a Yankee, but soon found from his dress that he was one of our soldiers, and from his excited manner that there was something unusual the matter. He was Lieutenant Latane, of Stuart's Brigade. They had been fighting on the road from Hanover Court-House to the Old Church, and his brother, the captain of the Essex Troop, had been killed about two miles from W. The mill-cart from W. soon after passed along, and he put his brother's body into it, and brought it to W. There he found a Yankee picket stationed. C. immediately took the dead soldier into her care, promising to bury him as tenderly as if he were her brother; and having no horse left on the place, (the enemy had taken them all,) sent him here, by a private way, to elude the vigilance of the picket, to get M's only remaining horse — for the poor fellow had given up his to a soldier whose horse had been killed. The horse was soon ready, and as soon as we saw him safely off, we went over to W. to assist in preparing the body for the burial. Oh, what a sad office! This dear young soldier, so precious to many hearts, now in the hands of sorrowing, sympathizing friends, yet, personally, strangers to him! He looked so young — not more than twenty years of age. He was shot in four places; one ball had entered the region of his heart and passed out at the back. We cut a large lock of his hair, as the only thing we could do for his mother. We have sent for Mr. Carraway to perform the funeral services, and shall bury him by our dear Willie Phelps, another victim to this unholy war.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 142-3


"The Burial of Latané"
by William D. Washington, 1864

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 6, 1863

Again the Cadets and Home Guard are summoned out; they started yesterday; and Mr. P. went early this morning. It is a cold raw day, and they will find marching and bivouacing in the open air very disagreeable. The reports are that the enemy is advancing upon the Valley from four different points. When will these alarms cease? I am in despair about the war.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172-3

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, July 21, 1864

The same thing over and over, again and again.1 All the available rooms in town have now been turned into hospital wards. We have single, iron cots with good mattresses, and the sheets and pillows are kept nice and clean.
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1 On this day the Iowa Brigade made a charge on Bald Hill, in front of Atlanta. — A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, September 10, 1863

Centreville, Sept. 10, 1863.

I to-day had to call attention in a general order to the prevalence of profanity in the command, and at the same time to add that perhaps I had not set them a good example in this respect. I don't swear very much or very deep, — but I do swear, more often at officers than men, and there is a great deal of swearing in the regiment which I wish to check: of course, I shall stop it in myself entirely; I shall enforce the Articles of War if necessary. . . .

I think we must make up our minds to a long war yet, and possibly to a war with some European power. For years to come, I think all our lives will have to be more or less soldierly, — i. e. simple and unsettled; simple because unsettled.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 301

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Thursday, December 5, 1861

Fayetteville, Virginia. — Another bright, warm day; the afternoon was like spring. Held the first meeting of regimental officers in the adjutant's office last evening. Went over guard duty in the “Regulations.” I learned something and think the others did.

Today a foolish young countryman came in with apples, pies and bread, [and] tobacco. Undertook to sell apples at ten cents per dozen, pies twenty cents. The soldiers got mad and robbed the apple cart in the streets. I got mad; paid the F. F. V. five dollars out of my own pocket; got Colonel Eckley to do likewise; had the colonel informed and the thing suitably noticed.

Drilled after parade in a few simple movements; got along tolerably.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 155-6

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, April 7, 1865

April 7, 1865

The country about Deatonsville (a cluster of half-adozen brick farmhouses) is a great improvement, full of hills, not high but steep, with a nice brook in every hollow; the air begins too to sniff of the distant mountains, one or two of whose outlying spurs may hence be seen. We started from camp about eight in the morning, and, on the ridge, just beyond Sailor's Run, we came on the 5th Corps, moving from right to left, in rear of the 2d and 6th Corps, and taking the road towards Prince Edward Court House. Sailor's Run is a considerable brook in the bottom of a deep, precipitous hollow, where the Rebel train, closely followed by Humphreys, had come to a hopeless deadlock. The road thither, for several miles, showed that their animals were giving out. The way was completely strewed with tents, ammunition, officers' baggage, and, above all, little Dutch ovens — such a riches of little Dutch ovens never was seen! I suppose they bake hoe-cakes in them. You saw them lying about, with their little legs kicked up in the air, in a piteous manner! But, when we got to the Run, there was a complete mess! Waggons, ambulances, cannon filled the hollow near the bridge! The hillside was white with Adjutant-General's papers scattered from sev eral waggons of that department; here and there lay a wounded Rebel, while everywhere lay broken boxes, trunks, ammunition-cases and barrels. It was strange to see the marks on the waggons, denoting the various brigades, once so redoubtable! At 10.30 the 2d Corps, after some firing, crossed the Appomattox, at High Bridge, where we too arrived at eleven. Nothing can more surprise one than a sudden view of this great viaduct, in a country like Virginia, where public works are almost unknown. It is a railway bridge, nearly 2500 feet long, over the valley of the Appomattox, and is supported by great brick piers, of which the central ones are about 140 feet high. The river itself is very narrow, perhaps seventy-five feet wide, but it runs in a fertile valley, a mile in width, part of which is subject to overflow. At either end the Rebels had powerful earthworks (on which they were still laboring the day before). In these they abandoned eighteen pieces of artillery, and, in one, they blew up the magazine, which made a sad scene of rubbish. . . .

At four P.M. we heard heavy firing across the river from Humphreys, who had gone towards the Lynchburg stage road and had there struck the whole of Lee's army, entrenched and covering his trains. Nothing daunted, he crowded close up and attempted to assault one point with a brigade, but was repulsed with heavy loss. A despatch was sent in haste to Wright, to push on to Farmville, cross the river and attack the enemy in rear; but, when he got there, behold the 24th Corps before, the bridges burnt and everything at a standstill. A division of cavalry forded and attacked, but the Rebel infantry sent them to the right-about in short order. And so we got to camp at nine P.M., at Rice's Station.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 351-2

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 21, 1861

Called in again by the Secretary to-day, I find the ominous communication to the President still there, although marked immediate. And there are no indications of Mr. Walker's quitting office that I can see.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 74

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: July 13, 1862

Halcott Green came to see us. Bragg is a stern disciplinarian, according to Halcott. He did not in the least understand citizen soldiers. In the retreat from Shiloh he ordered that not a gun should be fired. A soldier shot a chicken, and then the soldier was shot. “For a chicken!” said Halcott. “A Confederate soldier for a chicken!”

Mrs. McCord says a nurse, who is also a beauty, had better leave her beauty with her cloak and hat at the door. One lovely lady nurse said to a rough old soldier, whose wound could not have been dangerous, “Well, my good soul, what can I do for you?” “Kiss me!” said he. Mrs. McCord's fury was “at the woman's telling it,” for it brought her hospital into disrepute, and very properly. She knew there were women who would boast of an insult if it ministered to their vanity. She wanted nurses to come dressed as nurses, as Sisters of Charity, and not as fine ladies. Then there would be no trouble. When she saw them coming in angel sleeves, displaying all their white arms and in their muslin, showing all their beautiful white shoulders and throats, she felt disposed to order them off the premises. That was no proper costume for a nurse. Mrs. Bartow goes in her widow's weeds, which is after Mrs. McCord's own heart. But Mrs. Bartow has her stories, too. A surgeon said to her, “I give you no detailed instructions: a mother necessarily is a nurse.” She then passed on quietly, “as smilingly acquiescent, my dear, as if I had ever been a mother.”

Mrs. Greenhow has enlightened Rachel Lyons as to Mr. Chesnut's character in Washington. He was “one of the very few men of whom there was not a word of scandal spoken. I do not believe, my dear, that he ever spoke to a woman there.” He did know Mrs. John R. Thompson, however.

Walked up and down the college campus with Mrs. McCord. The buildings all lit up with gas, the soldiers seated under the elms in every direction, and in every stage of convalescence. Through the open windows, could see the nurses flitting about. It was a strange, weird scene. Walked home with Mrs. Bartow. We stopped at Judge Carroll's. Mrs. Carroll gave us a cup of tea. When we got home, found the Prestons had called for me to dine at their house to meet General Magruder.

Last night the Edgefield Band serenaded Governor Pickens. Mrs. Harris stepped on the porch and sang the Marseillaise for them. It has been more than twenty years since I first heard her voice; it was a very fine one then, but there is nothing which the tooth of time lacerates more cruelly than the singing voice of women. There is an incongruous metaphor for you.

The negroes on the coast received the Rutledge's Mounted Rifles apparently with great rejoicings. The troops were gratified to find the negroes in such a friendly state of mind. One servant whispered to his master, “Don't you mind ’em, don't trust ’em” — meaning the negroes. The master then dressed himself as a Federal officer and went down to a negro quarter. The very first greeting was, “Ki! massa, you come fuh ketch rebels? We kin show you way you kin ketch thirty to-night.” They took him to the Confederate camp, or pointed it out, and then added for his edification, “We kin ketch officer fuh you whenever you want ’em.”

Bad news. Gunboats have passed Vicksburg. The Yankees are spreading themselves over our fair Southern land like red ants.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 203-5

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 13, 1862


Good news at last. Four letters were received last night by way of Ashland. We learn that we certainly whipped the Yankees on the 31st of May and 1st of June, and that Jackson has had a most glorious campaign in the Valley. We are grieved to hear that the gallant Ashby has been killed, and trust that it is a mere rumour, and that God has spared his valuable life. My sons were not in the late fight, but are stationed at Strawberry Hill, the home of my childhood. Every thing is being stolen on these two places and elsewhere. A lieutenant on General Porter's staff rode up this evening to ask M. to sell him butter, fowls, eggs, etc. She told him that her poultry-yard had been robbed the night before by some of his men. He professed great horror, but had not gone fifty yards when we heard the report of a pistol, and this wonderfully proper lieutenant of a moment before had shot the hog of an old negro woman who lives here.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 142

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: November 26, 1863

Had 12 hogs killed today.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: November 27, 1863

Busy with putting up pork. Got a wretched cold.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 2, 1863

All day Sunday sick in bed; not much better on Monday; and today still hors du combat. Weather very cold; river frozen.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 4, 1863

Bro. E. came up yesterday on business; bought 150 lbs. of brown sugar, and gave for it $450.

Bad news from Bragg and the Southwest, and everybody discouraged.

A recent fight on the Rapidan; one of our neighbors had a son killed; one other person from the town also killed.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: December 11, 1863

Sister had a letter last night, giving positive information of William Cocke's death. He was instantly killed on July 3d and fell without a groan. She bears this confirmation of her worst fears better than we could have expected; the long suspense has broken the shock in some measure.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, July 20, 1864

Have had pleasant weather for a week now. Most of the citizens remaining here have been moved out of town, for the purpose of using their homes for hospitals. No news.1
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1 On this day David Hobaugh of my company was killed on the skirmish line. Our entire army moved forward making an advance on Atlanta. — A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, September 2, 1863

Centreville, Sept. 2d.

Did I tell you that I saw my classmate, William J. Potter, in Washington? Potter was settled as clergyman in New Bedford, was drafted, preached an excellent sermon on the “draft,” saying he should go if accepted, and that meanwhile (previous to the examination) he should use every means to improve his muscle and should feel much humiliation if rejected as unfit to fight for his country.1 Some one sent the sermon to Stanton; Stanton wrote asking him to come at once to Washington. Potter declined, saying “if accepted he should be under orders, but he preferred to take his chance with others.” He was accepted, and just afterward received another letter from Stanton asking him as a particular favour to come on and confer with him; so Potter was in Washington as an enlisted man on furlough, in a full suit of black. Stanton had had one “conference” with him, and finding that he did not think himself very fit for a chaplaincy with a regiment, had told him he wanted to keep him in Washington, that he wanted such men there, and had proposed to make him chaplain to a hospital, pro forma, with outside duties, — Potter was to see him again in the evening and to breakfast with him the next morning. Such little things as that make me like Stanton, with all his ferocity of manner. He acts on impulses. and is often wrong, but oftener right; on large questions, he is almost always right, I believe. I think . Stanton must have the credit in the Cabinet of having carried through the “Negro Army,” in spite of great opposition there, and some doubts at the White House. It was very pleasant to see old Potter again, coming out all right.
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1 Mr. William [James] Potter, of Quaker ancestry and great virtues and gifts, was pastor of a large, intelligent, and rich society in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and highly esteemed. On July 3, 1863, he was drafted for a soldier, under the new Conscription Act. On the following Sunday he preached to his people a manly sermon, “The Voice of the Draft,” from the text “Make full proof of thy ministry (2 Tim. iv, 5), strongly stating the duty and privilege, even for scholars and men with no natural military tastes, to serve in such a war, in such an emergency of the country. Secretary Stanton read it, and had it at once published in the Army and Navy Gazette, as the word for the hour. He set Mr. Potter the important task of visiting and inspecting all the U. S. hospitals in or near Washington, which he did well and thoroughly, reporting their needs. Then, as chaplain to the convalescent hospital, he lived there in a little hut with his young wife, but resigned to join in the vast and beneficent work of the Sanitary Commission. Afterwards he returned to his church in New Bedford. He was one of the founders and chief workers in the Free Religious Association.

When young Potter was in college, he began to feel strongly drawn to the ministry, yet sorely doubting his fitness. “What society or sect must I go with, believing with none? I have in my mind, it is true, an ideal minister, different from any real one whom it was ever my lot to know.” His success was in the measure he approached this ideal.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 299-301, 442-3

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, December 2, 1861

Fayetteville, Virginia, December 2, 1861.

Dearest: — . . . Dr. Joe made up his mind to go by the first wagon to Gauley on his way to Cincinnati. Won't the boys jump to see him!

I should like a first-rate pair of military boots — not so high as common — high in the instep and large. Two or three military books — good reading books. We have Halleck1 and Scott's dictionary and don't want them. . . .

Affectionately,
R.
Mrs. Hayes.
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1 Henry Wager Halleck, “Elements of Military Art and Science

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 155

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, April 6, 1865

Headquarters Army Of Potomac
Richmond and Burkeville R.R.
10 miles north of Burkeville
April 6, 1865

We are pelting after Old Lee as hard as the poor doughboys' legs can go. I estimate our prisoners at 16,000, with lots of guns and colors. At six A.M. the three infantry corps advanced in line of battle, on Amelia Court House; 2d on the left; 5th in the centre; and 6th on the right. Sheridan's cavalry, meantime, struck off to the left, to head off their waggon-trains in the direction of the Appomattox River. We did not know just then, you perceive, in what precise direction the enemy was moving. Following the railroad directly towards Amelia C.H., General Meade received distinct intelligence, at nine o'clock, that the enemy was moving on Deatonsville, intending probably to cross the Appomattox at High Bridge. Instantly General Meade gave orders for the 6th Corps to face about and move by the left flank and seek roads in the direction of High Bridge, with the idea of supporting the cavalry in their attempt to head off the enemy; the 2d Corps were turned into the left-hand road nearest Jetersville, and directed to push on and strike the enemy wherever they could. At nine we got to the left-hand road lying some way beyond Jetersville, and here the 5th Corps was turned in, with orders to follow the road through Paineville and attack whatever they found. These prompt dispositions ensured the grand success of the day, which the newspapers have gracefully handed over to General Sheridan! Here I may as well say that Lee was trying to escape with his large artillery and waggon trains. At first he thought to move directly along the railroad, through Burkeville, to Danville. Cut off by the 5th Corps and the cavalry, he now was trying to march “cross lots” and get to the Danville road, somewhere below us.  . . . At ten, we got back to Jetersville, a collection of half-a-dozen houses with a country church. From the second story of a house I witnessed a most curious spectacle — a fight, four miles off in a straight line! At that point was a bare ridge, a little above Deatonsville, and there, with my good glass, I could see a single man very well. It was just like a play of marionettes! and the surrounding woods made side scenes to this stage. At first, I saw only the Rebel train, moving along the ridge towards Deatonsville, in all haste: there now goes a pigmy ambulance drawn by mouse-like horses, at a trot. Here come more ambulances and many waggons from the woods, and disappear, in a continuous procession, over the ridge. Suddenly — boom! boom! and the distant smoke of Humphreys' batteries curls above the pine trees. At this stimulus the Lilliputian procession redoubles its speed (I am on the point of crying “bravo!” at this brilliant stroke of the gentleman who is pulling the wires). But now enter from the woods, in some confusion, a good number of Rebel cavalry; they form on the crest — but, boom! boom! go the cannon, and they disappear. Ah! here come the infantry! Now for a fight! Yes, a line of battle in retreat, and covering the rear. There are mounted officers; they gallop about, waving their tiny swords. Halt! The infantry form a good line on the crest; you can't scare them. What are they carrying? Spears? No, rails; that's what it is, rails for to revet a breastwork. They scramble about like ants. You had better hurry up, Yanks, if you want to carry that crest! (The stage manager informs me the Yanks are hurrying and the next act will be — Enter Duke Humphrey, in haste.) Hullo! There come six fleet mice dragging something, followed by more: yes, a battery. They unlimber: a pause: Flash! — (count twenty-two seconds by Captain Barrows's watch) then, bang! — flash! flash! bang! bang! There come in their skirmishers! running for their lives; certainly the Yanks are in those woods. Now they turn their guns more to the left; they are getting flanked. Their officers gallop wildly. You seem to hear them shout, "Change front to the rear!" anyhow they do so, at a double-quick. Then one volley of musketry, and they are gone, guns and all! The next moment our skirmishers go swarming up the hill; up goes a battery, and down goes the curtain.

There is no rest for the wicked. All day long the peppery Humphreys, glaring through those spectacles, presses hotly in their rear; the active Sheridan is felling trees across their front; on their right is the Appomattox, impassible; and now, as the afternoon closes, here comes the inevitable Wright, grimly on their left flank, at Sailor's Creek. The 6th Corps charges; they can't be stopped — result, five Rebel generals; 8600 prisoners, 14 cannon; the Rebel rear-guard annihilated! As we get to our camp, beyond Deatonsville, there comes a Staff officer with a despatch. “I attacked with two divisions of the 6th Corps. I captured many thousand prisoners, etc., etc. P. H. Sheridan.” “Oh,” said Meade, “so General Wright wasn't there “Oh, yes!” cried the Staff officer, as if speaking of some worthy man who had commanded a battalion, “Oh, yes, General Wright was there.” Meade turned on his heel without a word, and Cavalry Sheridan's despatch proceeded — to the newspapers!

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 348-51

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 20, 1861

Secretary Walker returned last night, having heard of the death of Col. Jones before reaching his destination. I doubt whether the Secretary would have thought a second time of what had been done in his absence, if some of his friends had not fixed his attention upon it. He shut himself up pretty closely, and none of us could see or hear whether he was angry. But calling me into his room in the afternoon to write a dispatch which he dictated, I saw, lying on his table, an envelope directed in his own hand to the President. Hints had been circulated by some that it was his purpose to resign. Could this communication be his resignation? It was placed so conspicuously before me where I sat that it was impossible not to see it. It was marked, too, “immediate.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 74

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: July 12, 1862

At McMahan's our small colonel, Paul Hayne's son, came into my room. To amuse the child I gave him a photograph album to look over. “You have Lincoln in your book!” said he. “I am astonished at you. I hate him!” And he placed the book on the floor and struck Old Abe in the face with his fist.

An Englishman told me Lincoln has said that had he known such a war would follow his election he never would have set foot in Washington, nor have been inaugurated. He had never dreamed of this awful fratricidal bloodshed. That does not seem like the true John Brown spirit. I was very glad to hear it — to hear something from the President of the United States which was not merely a vulgar joke, and usually a joke so vulgar that you were ashamed to laugh, funny though it was. They say Seward has gone to England and his wily tongue will turn all hearts against us.

Browne told us there was a son of the Duke of Somerset in Richmond. He laughed his fill at our ragged, dirty soldiers, but he stopped his laughing when he saw them under fire. Our men strip the Yankee dead of their shoes, but will not touch the shoes of a comrade. Poor fellows, they are nearly barefoot.

Alex has come. I saw him ride up about dusk and go into the graveyard. I shut up my windows on that side. Poor fellow!

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 202-3

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 11, 1862

Yesterday evening we had another visit from the Lancers: they fed their horses at M's barn, ripping off the planks that the corn might roll out. The door was opened by the overseer, but that was too slow a way for thieves and robbers. They encamped for the night in front of W.  C. was detained here yesterday by rain, and was not at home all day, and they took that opportunity for searching every thing. While they were filling the wagons at the bam, four officers went over every part of the house, even the drawers and trunks. They were moderate in their robberies, only taking some damask towels and napkins from the drawers, and a cooked ham and a plate of rolls from the pantry. These men wore the trappings of officers! While I write, I have six wagons in view at my brother's barn, taking off his corn, and the choice spirits accompanying them are catching the sheep and carrying them off. This robbery now goes on every day. The worst part of our thraldom is, that we can hear nothing from our own army

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 141-2

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: November 25, 1863

Last night Sister and P. came: Sister does not allude in any way to William, nor have we mentioned his name to her. She must surely believe in her heart that he has perished, though she will not allow it to herself.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 172

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, July 19, 1864

It is the same thing over and over. My fever is broken now and I am getting better. I just learned that there are three others of my company here in the hospital, all in different wards. They are Lieutenant Alfred Carey, Thomas R. McConnoll and John Zitler, all wounded on the skirmish line on June 15th at Noon-day creek at the foot of Kenesaw mountain.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, April 5, 1865

April 5, 1865

Last night, at 9.30, came a note from Sheridan, dated at Jetersville, saying that he was there, entrenched, with the 5th Corps and a part of the cavalry; that the whole Rebel army was in his front trying to get off its trains; that he expected to be attacked, but, if the remaining infantry could be hurried up, there was a chance of taking the whole of the enemy. Although the 2d Corps had only gone into bivouac at eight in the morning, and had no rations at that moment, General Meade issued orders for them to move at one at night and push on for Jetersville, followed by the 6th Corps, which lay just behind. The distance was fifteen or sixteen miles. I was sleeping on the floor, in the same room with the General, to look out for him in case he needed anything; for he had a distressing cough and a high fever, but would not give in, for he has a tremendous nervous system that holds him up through everything. General Webb was worn out with want of sleep, so I was up most of the night, writing and copying and receiving the despatches. The General talked a great deal and was very excited in his thoughts, though his head was perfectly clear. General Humphreys had slept, I don't know when — but there he was, as sturdy as ever, issuing orders for the advance, with his eyes wide open, as much as to say; “Sleep — don't mention it!” At one in the morning, sure enough, he moved; but had not got a mile, when, behold the whole of Merritt's division of cavalry, filing in from a side road, and completely closing the way! That's the way with those cavalry bucks: they bother and howl about infantry not being up to support them, and they are precisely the people who always are blocking up the way; it was so at Todd's Tavern, and here again, a year after. They are arrant boasters, and, to hear Sheridan's Staff talk, you would suppose his ten thousand mounted carbineers had crushed the entire Rebellion. Whereas they are immediately cleaned out, the moment they strike a good force of foot-men, and then they cry wolf merrily. The plain truth is, they are useful and energetic fellows, but commit the error of thinking they can do everything and that no one else does do anything. Well, Humphreys could not stir a step till seven next morning, but, meantime, his men got rest by the roadside and his rations were, with incredible exertions, gotten up to him, over fearful roads. At about nine o'clock we put the General in his four-horse waggon, wherein he can lie down, and followed the column, first along the main Namozine road, and then, striking off to the right, across the fields to Jetersville. At ten, we got word that the enemy were still near Amelia Court House, and the infantry were continually ordered to press on, the General stirring up the halting brigades, as he rode past. Some four miles this side of Childer's house (where Sheridan was) we came upon General Humphreys, at a large house of one Perkinson. Near by were several hundred Rebel prisoners, looking pretty gaunt, for we had nothing to give, and but little food for our own troops. I think that we have been obliged to give mule meat to some of our prisoners, during this campaign, to keep them alive till they could get to supplies; and some of our own men have gone very hungry, because, in the haste of pursuit, they marched straight away from the waggons.  . . . At 1.30 we found General Sheridan at the house, which was perhaps a mile south of Jetersville. Along the front was the 5th Corps, strongly entrenched, while the cavalry covered the flanks. A little before three, Sheridan rode off to the left, to help in Davies whom the enemy's infantry was trying to cut off. Before this, at two, the head of the 2d Corps was up and the troops went rapidly into position; for, a couple of hours later, Mr. Sheridan (and still more his officers) had a stampede that Lee was coming on top of us. For once in my life I will say I knew better than that, and laughed the cavalry Staff to scorn; for I was dead certain it was only a demonstration, to protect their trains and find our strength. In truth they never came even in sight of our infantry pickets. Though he was not fit for the saddle, General Meade insisted on riding out beyond the lines to talk with Sheridan. He treated him very handsomely and did not avail of his rank to take command over his cavalry, but merely resumed the 5th Corps — a generosity that General Sheridan has hardly reciprocated!


SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 345-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 19, 1861

The Secretary has gone to Orange C. H., to see Col. Jones, of the 4th Alabama, wounded at Manassas, and now in a dying condition.

Meeting with Mr. Benjamin this morning, near the Secretary's door, I asked him if he did not think some one should act as Secretary during Mr. Walker's absence. He replied quickly, and with interest, in the affirmative. There was much pressing business every hour; and it was uncertain when the Secretary would return. I asked him if he would not speak to the President on the subject. He assented; but, hesitating a moment, said he thought it would be better for me to see him. I reminded him of my uniform reluctance to approach the Chief Executive, and he smiled. He then urged me to go to the presidential mansion, and in his, Mr. B.'s name, request the President to appoint a Secretary ad interim. I did so, for the President was in the city that day, and fast recovering from his recent attack of ague.

Arrived at the mansion in Clay Street, I asked the servant if I could see the President. He did not know me, and asked my name, saying the President had not yet left his chamber. I wrote my business on a card with a pencil, not omitting to use the name of Mr. Benjamin, and sent it up. A moment after the President came down, shook hands with me, and, in his quick and rather pettish manner, said “send me the order.” I retired immediately, and finding Mr. Benjamin still in the hall of the department, informed him of my success. Then, in conformity with his suggestion, I repaired to Adjutant-General Cooper, who wrote the order that A. T. Bledsoe discharge the duties of Secretary of War during the absence of Mr. Walker. This I sent by a messenger to the President, who signed it.

Then I informed Col. Bledsoe of what had been done, and he proceeded without delay to the Secretary's office. It was not long before I perceived the part Mr. Benjamin and I had acted was likely to breed a storm; for several of the employees, supposed to be in the confidence of Mr. Walker, designated the proceeding as an “outrage;” and some went so far as to intimate that Mr. Benjamin's motive was to have some of his partisans appointed to luerative places in the army during the absence of the Secretary. I know not how that was; but I am sure I had no thought but for the public service. The Secretary ad in. made but few appointments this time, and performed the functions quietly and with all the dignity of which he was capable.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 73-4

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: July 10, 1862

My husband has come. He believes from what he heard in Richmond that we are to be recognized as a nation by the crowned heads across the water, at last. Mr. Davis was very kind; he asked him to stay at his house, which he did, and went every day with General Lee and Mr. Davis to the battle-field as a sort of amateur aide to the President. Likewise they admitted him to the informal Cabinet meetings at the President's house. He is so hopeful now that it is pleasant to hear him, and I had not the heart to stick the small pins of Yeadon and Pickens in him yet a while.

Public opinion is hot against Huger and Magruder for McClellan's escape. Doctor Gibbes gave me some letters picked up on the battlefield. One signed “Laura,” tells her lover to fight in such a manner that no Southerner can ever taunt Yankees again with cowardice. She speaks of a man at home whom she knows, “who is still talking of his intention to seek the bubble reputation at the cannon's mouth.” “Miserable coward!” she writes, “I will never speak to him again.” It was a relief to find one silly young person filling three pages with a description of her new bonnet and the bonnet still worn by her rival. Those fiery Joan of Arc damsels who goad on their sweethearts bode us no good.

Rachel Lyons was in Richmond, hand in glove with Mrs. Greenhow. Why not? “So handsome, so clever, so angelically kind,” says Rachel of the Greenhow, “and she offers to matronize me.”
Mrs. Philips, another beautiful and clever Jewess, has been put into prison again by “Beast” Butler because she happened to be laughing as a Yankee funeral procession went by.

Captain B. told of John Chesnut's pranks. Johnny was riding a powerful horse, captured from the Yankees. The horse dashed with him right into the Yankee ranks. A dozen Confederates galloped after him, shouting, “Stuart! Stuart!” The Yankees, mistaking this mad charge for Stuart's cavalry, broke ranks and fled. Daredevil Camden boys ride like Arabs!

Mr. Chesnut says he was riding with the President when Colonel Browne, his aide, was along. The General commanding rode up and, bowing politely, said: “Mr. President, am I in command here?” “Yes.” “Then I forbid you to stand here under the enemy's guns. Any exposure of a life like yours is wrong, and this is useless exposure. You must go back.” Mr. Davis answered: “Certainly, I will set an example of obedience to orders. Discipline must be maintained.” But he did not go back.

Mr. Chesnut met the Haynes, who had gone on to nurse their wounded son and found him dead. They were standing in the corridor of the Spotswood. Although Mr. Chesnut was staying at the President's, he retained his room at the hotel. So he gave his room to them. Next day, when he went back to his room he found that Mrs. Hayne had thrown herself across the foot of the bed and never moved. No other part of the bed had been touched. She got up and went back to the cars, or was led back. He says these heartbroken mothers are hard to face.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 201-2

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 9, 1862

Yankee wagons about all day, looking for corn and fodder. I am thankful to say that M. has none for them, the flood of last year having destroyed W's corn crop. I felt to-day our short-sightedness; what they considered a calamity when the flood came, we feel now to be a blessing, as we are not able to furnish food for our foes. God forgive me for my feelings towards them; but when I see insolent fellows riding around and around our dwellings, seeking what they may devour, every evil feeling of my heart is kindled against them and their whole nation. They, the murderers of our husbands, sons, fathers, thinking themselves at liberty to riot over our homesteads! They got their wagons filled from my brother's barn, aid in return pretended to give a bond, which they know is not worth the paper on which it is written. One had the assurance to tell C. that her husband would be paid if he took the oath of allegiance. She told him that he would not do that for all the corn in the Southern Confederacy. Within two or three days they have become very bold; they ride up and demand the key of the corn-house or meat-house, and if it is not immediately given, they break open the door and help themselves.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 141