Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Friday, April 10, 1863

We roused up at daylight, and soon afterwards Colonel Duff paraded some of his best men, to show off the Texan horsemanship, of which they are very proud. I saw them lasso cattle, and catch them by the tail at full gallop, and throw them by slewing them round. This is called tailing. They pick small objects off the ground when at full tilt, and, in their peculiar fashion, are beautiful riders; but they confessed to me they could not ride in an English saddle, and Colonel Duff told me that they could not jump a fence at all. They were all extremely anxious to hear what I thought of the performance, and their thorough good opinion of themselves was most amusing.

At 9 o'clock Colonel Buchel and I rode back to Brownsville; but as we lost our way twice, and were enveloped in clouds of dust, it was not a very satisfactory ride. Poor Captain Hancock must be luxuriating at Bagdad; for with this wind the bar must be impassable to the boldest mariner.
In the evening, a Mr –––, a  Texan Unionist, or renegado, gave us his sentiments at the Consulate, and drank a deal of brandy. He finished, however, by the toast, “Them as wants to fight, let 'em fight — I don't.”

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three months in the southern states: April-June, 1863, p. 20-1

Diary of William Howard Russell: April 27, 1861

Mrs. Trescot, it seems, spent part of her night in attendance on a young gentleman of color, who was introduced into the world in a state of servitude by his poor chattel of a mother. Such kindly acts as these are more common than we may suppose; and it would be unfair to put a strict or unfair construction on the motives of slave owners in paying such attention to their property. Indeed, as Mrs. Trescot says, “When people talk of my having so many slaves, I always tell them it is the slaves who own me. Morning, noon, and night, I'm obliged to look after them, to doctor them, and attend to them in every way.” Property has its duties, you see, madam, as well as its rights.

The planter's house is quite new, and was built by himself; the principal material being wood, and most of the work being done by his own negroes. Such work as window-sashes and panellings, however, was executed in Charleston. A pretty garden runs at the back, and from the windows there are wide stretches of cotton-fields visible, and glimpses of the river to be seen.

After breakfast our little party repaired to the river side, and sat under the shade of some noble trees waiting for the boat which was to bear us to the fishing grounds. The wind blew up stream, running with the tide, and we strained our eyes in vain for the boat. The river is here nearly a mile across, — a noble estuary rather, — with low banks lined with forests, into which the axe has made deep forays and clearings for cotton-fields.

It would have astonished a stray English traveller, if, penetrating the shade, he heard in such an out-of-the-way place familiar names and things spoken of by the three lazy persons who were stretched out — cigar in mouth — on the ant-haunted trunks which lay prostrate by the seashore. Mr. Trescot spent some time in London as attaché to the United States Legation, was a club man, and had a large circle of acquaintance among the young men about town, of whom he remembered many anecdotes and peculiarities, and little adventures. Since that time he was Under-Secretary of State in Mr. Buchanan's administration, and went out with Secession. He is the author of a very agreeable book on a dry subject, “The History of American Diplomacy,” which is curious enough as an unconscious exposition of the anti-British jealousies, and even antipathies, which have animated American statesmen since they were created. In fact, much of American diplomacy means hostility to England, and the skilful employment of the anti-British sentiment at their disposal in their own country and elsewhere. Now he was talking pleasantly of people he had met — many of them mutual friends.”Here is the boat at last!” I had been sweeping the broad river with my glass occasionally, and at length detected a speck on its broad surface moving down towards us, with a white dot marking the foam at its bows. Spite of wind and tideway, it came rapidly, and soon approached us, pulled by six powerful negroes, attired in red-flannel jackets and white straw hats with broad ribbons. The craft itself — a kind of monster canoe, some forty-five feet long, narrow, wall-sided, with high bow and raised stern — lay deep in the water, for there were extra negroes for the fishing, servants, baskets of provisions, water buckets, stone jars of less innocent drinking, and abaft there was a knot of great strong planters, — Elliots all — cousins, uncles, and brothers. A friendly hail as they swept up along-side, — an exchange of salutations.

“Well, Trescot, have you got plenty of Crabs?"

A groan burst forth at his insouciant reply. He had been charged to find bait, and he had told the negroes to do so, and the negroes had not done so. The fishermen looked grievously at each other, and fiercely at Trescot, who assumed an air of recklessness, and threw doubts on the existence of fish in the river, and resorted to similar miserable subterfuges; indeed, it was subsequently discovered that he was an utter infidel in regard to the delights of piscicapture.

“Now, all aboard! Over, you fellows, and take these gentlemen in!" The negroes were over in a moment, waist deep, and, each taking one on his back, deposited us dry in the boat. I only mention this to record the fact, that I was much impressed by a practical demonstration from my bearer respecting the strong odor of the skin of a heated African. I have been wedged up in a column of infantry on a hot day, and have marched to leeward of Ghoorkhas in India, but the overpowering pungent smell of the negro exceeds everything of the kind I have been unfortunate enough to experience.

The vessel was soon moving again, against a ripple, caused by the wind, which blew dead against us; and, notwithstanding the praises bestowed on the boat, it was easy to perceive [t]hat the labor of pulling such a dead-log-like thing through the water told severely on the rowers, who had already come some twelve miles, I think. Nevertheless, they were told to sing, and they began accordingly one of those wild Baptist chants about the Jordan in which they delight, — not destitute of music, but utterly unlike what is called an Ethiopian melody.

The banks of the river on both sides are low; on the left covered with wood, through which, here and there, at intervals, one could see a planter's or overseer's cottage. The course of this great combination of salt and fresh water sometimes changes, so that houses are swept away and plantations submerged; but the land is much valued nevertheless, on account of the fineness of the cotton grown among the islands. “Cotton at twelve cents a pound, and we don't fear the world.”

As the boat was going to the fishing ground, which lay towards the mouth of the river at Hilton Head, our friends talked politics and sporting combined, — the first of the usual character, the second quite new.

I heard much of the mighty devil-fish which frequents these waters. One of our party, Mr. Elliot, sen., a tall, knotty, gnarled sort of man, with a mellow eye and a hearty voice, was a famous hand at the sport, and had had some hair-breadth escapes in pursuit of it. The fish is described as of enormous size and strength, a monster ray, which possesses formidable antennae-like horns, and a pair of huge fins, or flappers, one of which rises above the water as the creature moves below the surface. The hunters, as they may be called, go out in parties, — three or four boats, or more, with good store of sharp harpoons and tow-lines, and lances. When they perceive the creature, one boat takes the lead, and moves down towards it, the others following, each with a, harpooner standing in the bow. The devil-fish sometimes is wary, and dives, when it sees a boat, taking such a long spell below that it is never seen again. At other times, however, it backs, and lets the boat come so near as to allow of the harpooner striking it, or it dives for a short way and comes up near the boats again. The moment the harpoon is fixed, the line is paid out by the rush of the creature, which is made with tremendous force, and all the boats at once hurry up, so that one after another they are made fast to that in which the lucky sportsman is seated. At length, when the line is run out, checked from time to time as much as can be done with safety, the crew take their oars and follow the course of the ray, which swims so fast, however, that it keeps the line taut, and drags the whole flotilla seawards. It depends on its size and strength to determine how soon it rises to the surface; by degrees the line is warped in and hove short till the boats are brought near, and when the ray comes up it is attacked with a shower of lances and harpoons, and dragged off into shoal water to die.

On one occasion, our Nimrod told us, he was standing in the bows of the boat, harpoon in hand, when a devil-fish came up close to him; he threw the harpoon, struck it, but at the same time the boat ran against the creature with a shock which threw him right forward on its back, and in an instant it caught him in its horrid arms and plunged down with him to the depths. Imagine the horror of the moment! Imagine the joy of the terrified drowning, dying man, when, for some inscrutable reason, the devil-fish relaxed its grip, and enabled him to strike for the surface, where he was dragged into the boat more dead than alive by his terror-smitten companions, — the only man who ever got out of the embraces of the thing alive. “Tom is so tough that even a devil-fish could make nothing out of him.”

At last we came to our fishing ground. There was a substitute found for the favorite crab, and it was fondly hoped our toils might be rewarded with success. And these were toils, for the water is deep and the lines heavy. But to alleviate them, some hampers were produced from the stern, and wonderful pies from Mrs. Trescot's hands, and from those of fair ladies up the river whom we shall never see, were spread out, and bottles which represented distant cellars in friendly nooks far away. “No drum here! Up anchor, and pull away a few miles lower down.” Trescot shook his head, and again asserted his disbelief in fishing, or rather in catching, and indeed made a sort of pretence at arguing that it was wiser to remain quiet and talk philosophical politics; but, as judge of appeal, I gave it against him, and the negroes bent to their oars, and we went thumping through the spray, till, rounding a point of land, we saw pitched on the sandy shore ahead of us, on the right bank, a tent, and close by two boats. “There is a party at it!” A fire was burning on the beach, and as we came near, Tom and Jack and Harry were successfully identified. “There's no take on, or they would not be on shore. This is very unfortunate.”

All the regret of my friends was on my account, so to ease their minds I assured them I did not mind the disappointment much. “Hallo Dick! Caught any drum?” “A few this morning; bad sport now, and will be till tide turns again.” I was introduced to all the party from a distance, and presently I saw one of them raising from a boat something in look and shape and color like a sack of flour, which he gave to a negro, who proceeded to carry it towards us in a little skiff. “Thank you, Charley. I just want to let Mr. Russell see a drum-fish.” And a very odd fish it was, — a thick lumpish form, about four and a half feet long, with enormous head and scales, and teeth like the grinders of a ruminant animal, acting on a great pad of bone in the roof of the mouth, — a very unlovely thing, swollen with roe, which is the great delicacy.

“No chance till the tide turned,” — but that would be too late for our return, and so unwillingly we were compelled to steer towards home, hearing now and then the singular noise like the tap on a large unbraced drum, from which the fish takes its name. At first, when I heard it, I was inclined to think it was made by some one in the boat, so near and close did it sound; but soon it came from all sides of us, and evidently from the depths of the water beneath us, — not a sharp rat-tat-tap, but a full muffled blow with a heavy thud on the sheepskin. Mr. Trescot told me that on a still evening by the river side the effect sometimes is most curious, — the rolling and pattering is audible at a great distance. Our friends were in excellent humor with everything and everybody, except the Yankees, though they had caught no fish, and kept the negroes at singing and rowing till at nightfall we landed at the island, and so to bed after supper and a little conversation, in which Mrs. Trescot again explained how easily she could maintain a battalion on the island by her simple commissariat, already adapted to the niggers, and that it would therefore be very easy for the South to feed an army, if the people were friendly

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 141-6

Monday, November 23, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 15, 1862

Gen. Beauregard has written to Gen. Wise, offering him a command in his army, if the government will consent to it. It will not be consented to.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 120

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 16, 1862

Troops are being concentrated rapidly in Virginia by Gen. Lee.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 120

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 24, 1865

I have been ill, but what could you expect? My lines, however, have again fallen in pleasant places. Mrs. Da Vega is young, handsome, and agreeable, a kind and perfect hostess; and as to the house, my room is all that I could ask and leaves nothing to be desired; so very fresh, clean, warm, and comfortable is it. It is the drawing-room suddenly made into a bedroom for me. But it is my very own. We are among the civilized of the earth once more.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 369

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: January 3, 1864

Entered on the duties of my office on the 30th of December. So far I like it well. “The Major” is very kind, and considerate of our comfort; the duties of the office are not very onerous, but rather confining for one who left school thirty-four years ago, and has had no restraint of the kind during the interim. The ladies, thirty-five in number, are of all ages, and representing various parts of Virginia, also Maryland and Louisiana. Many of them are refugees. It is melancholy to see how many wear mourning for brothers or other relatives, the victims of war. One sad young girl sits near me, whose two brothers have fallen on the field, but she is too poor to buy mourning. I found many acquaintances, and when I learned the history of others, it was often that of fallen fortunes and destroyed homes. One young lady, of high-sounding Maryland name, was banished from Baltimore, because of her zeal in going to the assistance of our Gettysburg wounded. The society is pleasant, and we hope to get along very agreeably. I am now obliged to visit the hospital in the afternoon, and I give it two evenings in the week. It is a cross to me not to be able to give it more time; but we have very few patients just now, so that it makes very little difference.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 250-1

Parole of Louis T. Wigfall, alias J. A. White, April 10, 1865

appomattox Court House, Va.,
April 10th, 1865.

The Bearer, pri. J. A. White, of Co. M. First Regt. of Texas Vols., a paroled Prisoner of the Army of Northern Virginia, has permission to go to his home, and there remain undisturbed.

Jno. N. Wilson, Capt.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 243

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Saturday, October 18, 1862

Last night mother arrived from Clinton with Gibbes and Lydia, who had gone there the day before to get her to go to Baton Rouge.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 260

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, February 2, 1865

This is a beautiful morning and we started early on our march. We had better roads than yesterday, on higher ground, and covered thirteen miles. We drove the rebels forward all day, doing some lively skirmishing in the front. The rebels have all crossed the Salkehatchie river, but have possession of the two bridges about eight miles apart. We went into camp near the river. We lost some good officers and brave men in the skirmishing today. It makes one sorrowful to think that they have to be buried here in this God-forsaken swamp country.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 250

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Friday, February 3, 1865

It rained quietly nearly all day, and we remained in camp until 1 p. m., when we received marching orders. Our division under General Giles E. Smith then made ready to wade and swim the river midway between the two bridges. The river is one and one-fourth miles wide, having at least one hundred and thirty-three different channels or branches, from two to four feet deep. It took us an hour and a half to cross over, General Smith leading on foot, for no horse could go across. We were not allowed to talk or let our accouterments make any noise. We found the rebel pickets on the opposite side, but they fired only a single shot each and made for tall timber. We remained here on guard. The First and Third Divisions crossed the river above us and also drove in the rebel pickets.1 Our teams and batteries were left in the rear.

1 Our division, after successfully crossing the river, effected a lodgment on the main Charleston road Just before the arrival of eight regiments which had been sent up to make good the enemy's position at this bridge.—A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 250

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, February 4, 1865

We remained in line of battle all night, not being allowed to build any fires. This morning we moved out about two miles nearer the upper bridge, the rebels having left the vicinity during the night. We remained here, fortifying the bridge. Our teams and batteries came across the bridge this morning. General Mower's division lost several men here at the bridge yesterday morning about the time that we were crossing below.1

1 There was a concerted move by the Union army all along the line. —Ed.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 250

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Sunday, February 5, 1865

The atmosphere is clear and it is getting quite warm. We remained in our rifle pits all day, but had to put up our shelter tents, for we actually suffered from the heat. All is quiet in front. We had company inspection this morning and dress parade in the evening. We drew two days' rations to last ten days, but we have an abundance of forage. The boys brought in smoked bacon by the wagon load, also great quantities of corn meal, sweet potatoes, honey and other good things.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 250-1

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Monday, February 6, 1865

The weather changed again, and we had a rather cold, drizzling rain nearly all day. We left our trenches at 7 o'clock this morning and were all day in marching ten miles, the country being so very swampy. We had a great deal of corduroy to build, and the rebels blocked our way by burning a bridge over a deep channel in the swamp. There was some skirmishing in the front. We were ordered to leave all our surplus bacon in the company parade ground, and the quartermaster would send a wagon with the extra forage for us; but we were skeptical and carried all that our haversacks would hold.1

1 Our company alone left a load of the finest bacon, besides other articles. It was the last we saw of our store of surplus forage. We learned later that the officers took that way of having the forage left for the negroes and poor people of the vicinity, for we had cleaned the vicinity of everything. — A. G. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 251

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Thursday, April 9, 1863

Captain Hancock and Mr Anderson left for Bagdad in Mr Behnsen's carriage at noon.

I crossed over to Brownsville at 11.30, and dined with Colonels Luckett, Buchel, and Duff, at about one o'clock. As we were all colonels, and as every one called the other colonel tout court, it was difficult to make out which was meant. They were obliged to confess that Brownsville was about the rowdiest town of Texas, which was the most lawless state in the Confederacy; but they declared they had never seen an inoffensive man subjected to insult or annoyance, although the shooting-down and stringing-up systems are much in vogue, being almost a necessity in a thinly-populated state, much frequented by desperadoes driven away from more civilised countries.

Colonel Luckett gave me a letter to General Van Dorn, whom they consider the beau ideal of a cavalry soldier. They said from time immemorial the Yankees had been despised by the Southerners, as a race inferior to themselves in courage and in honourable sentiments.

At 3 P.M. Colonel Buchel and I rode to Colonel Duffs camp, distant about thirteen miles. I was given a Mexican saddle, in which one is forced to sit almost in a standing position. The stirrups are very long, and right underneath you, which throws back the feet.

Duff's regiment is called the Partisan Eangers. Although a fine lot of men, they don't look well at a foot parade, on account of the small amount of drill they have undergone, and the extreme disorder of their clothing. They are armed with carbines and six-shooters.

I saw some men come in from a scouting expedition against the Indians, 300 miles off. They told me they were usually in the habit of scalping an Indian when they caught him, and that they never spared one, as they were such an untamable and ferocious race. Another habit which they have learned from the Indians is, to squat on their heels in a most peculiar manner. It has an absurd and extraordinary effect to see a quantity of them so squatting in a row or in a circle.

The regiment had been employed in quelling a counter revolution of Unionists in Texas. Nothing could exceed the rancour with which they spoke of these renegadoes, as they called them, who were principally Germans.
When I suggested to some of the Texans that they might as well bury the body of Mongomery a little better, they did not at all agree with me, but said it ought not to have been buried at all, but left hanging as a warning to other evil-doers.

With regard to the contentment of their slaves, Colonel Duff pointed out a good number they had with them, who had only to cross the river for freedom if they wished it.

Colonel Buchel and I slept in Colonel Duffs tent, and at night we were serenaded. The officers and men really sang uncommonly well, and they finished with "God save the Queen!"

Colonel Duff comes from Perth. He was one of the leading characters in the secession of Texas; and he said his brother was a banker in Dunkeld.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three months in the southern states: April-June, 1863, p. 18-20

Diary of William Howard Russell: April 26, 1861

Bade good-by to Charleston at 9:45 A. M., this day, and proceeded by railway, in company with Mr. Ward, to visit Mr. Trescot's Sea Island Plantation. Crossed the river to the terminus in a ferry steamer. No blockading vessels in sight yet. The water alive with small silvery fish, like mullet, which sprang up and leaped along the surface incessantly. An old gentleman, who was fishing on the pier, combined the pursuit of sport with instruction very ingeniously by means of a fork of bamboo in his rod, just above the reel, into which he stuck his inevitable newspaper, and read gravely in his cane-bottomed chair till he had a bite, when the fork was unhitched and the fish was landed. The negroes are very much addicted to the contemplative man's recreation, and they were fishing in all directions.

On the move again. Took our places in the Charleston and Savannah Railway for Pocotaligo, which is the station for Barnwell Island. Our fellow-passengers were all full of politics — the pretty women being the fiercest of all — no! the least good-looking were the most bitterly patriotic, as if they hoped to talk themselves into husbands by the most unfeminine expressions towards the Yankees.

The country is a dead flat, perforated by rivers and watercourses, over which the rail is carried on long and lofty trestle-work. But for the fine trees, the magnolias and live-oak, the landscape would be unbearably hideous, for there are none of the quaint, cleanly, delightful villages of Holland to relieve the monotonous level of rice swamps and wastes of land and water and mud. At the humble little stations there were invariably groups of horsemen waiting under the trees, and ladies with their black nurses and servants who had driven over in the odd-looking old-fashioned vehicles, which were drawn up in the shade. Those who were going on a long journey, aware of the utter barrenness of the land, took with them a viaticum and bottles of milk. The nurses and slaves squatted down by their side in the train, on perfectly well-understood terms. No one objected to their presence — on the contrary, the passengers treated them with a certain sort of special consideration, and they were on the happiest terms with their charges, some of which were in the absorbent condition of life, and dived their little white faces against the tawny bosom of their nurses with anything but reluctance.

The train stopped, at 12:20, at Pocotaligo; and there we found Mr. Trescot and a couple of neighboring planters, famous as fishers for “drum,” of which more by and by. I had met old Mr. Elliot in Charleston, and his account of this sport, and of the pursuit of an enormous sea monster called the devil-fish, which he was one of the first to kill in these waters, excited my curiosity very much. Mr. Elliot has written a most agreeable account of the sports of South Carolina, and I had hoped he would have been well enough to have been my guide, philosopher, and friend in drum-fishing in Port Royal; but he sent over his son to, say that he was too unwell to come, and had therefore despatched most excellent representatives in two members of his family. It was arranged that they should row down from their place and meet us to-morrow morning at Trescot's Island, which lies above Beaufort, in Port Royal Sound and River.

Got into Trescot's gig, and plunged into a shady lane with wood on each side, through which we drove for some distance. The country, on each side and beyond, perfectly flat — all rice lands — few houses visible — scarcely a human being on the road — drove six or seven miles without meeting a soul. After a couple of hours or so, I should think, the gig turned up by an open gateway on a path or road made through a waste of rich black mud, “glorious for rice,” and landed us at the door of a planter, Mr. Heyward, who came out and gave us a most hearty welcome, in the true Southern style. His house is charming, surrounded with trees, and covered with roses and creepers, through which birds and butterflies are flying. Mr. Heyward took it as a matter of course that we stopped to dinner, which we were by no means disinclined to do, as the day was hot, the road was dusty, and his reception frank and kindly. A fine specimen of the planter man; and, minus his broad-brimmed straw hat and loose clothing, not a bad representative of an English squire at home.

Whilst we were sitting in the porch, a strange sort of booming noise attracted my attention in one of the trees. “It is a rain-crow,” said Mr. Heyward; “a bird which we believe to foretell rain. I'll shoot it for you.” And, going into the hall, he took down a double-barrelled fowling-piece, walked out, and fired into the tree; whence the rain-crow, poor creature, fell fluttering to the ground and died. It seemed to me a kind of cuckoo — the same size, but of darker plumage. I could gather no facts to account for the impression that its call is a token of rain.

My attention was also called to a curious kind of snake-killing hawk, or falcon, which makes an extraordinary noise by putting its wings point upwards, close together, above its back, so as to offer no resistance to the air, and then, beginning to descend from a great height, with fast-increasing rapidity, makes, by its rushing through the air, a strange loud hum, till it is near the ground, when the bird stops its downward swoop and flies in a curve over the meadow. This I saw two of these birds doing repeatedly to-night.

After dinner, at which Mr. Heyward expressed some alarm lest Secession would deprive the Southern States of “ice,” we continued our journey towards the river. There is still a remarkable absence of population or life along the road, and even the houses are either hidden or lie too far off to be seen. The trees are much admired by the people, though they would not be thought much of in England.

At length, towards sundown, having taken to a track by a forest, part of which was burning, we came to a broad muddy river, with steep clay banks. A canoe was lying in a little harbor formed by a slope in the bank, and four stout negroes, who were seated round a burning log, engaged in smoking and eating oysters, rose as we approached, and helped the party into the “dug-out,” or canoe, a narrow, long, and heavy boat, with wall sides and a flat floor. A row of one hour, the latter part of it in darkness, took us to the verge of Mr. Trescot's estate, Barnwell Island; and the oarsmen, as they bent to their task, beguiled the way by singing in unison a real negro melody, which was as unlike the works of the Ethiopian Serenaders as anything in song could be unlike another. It was a barbaric sort of madrigal, in which one singer beginning was followed by the others in unison, repeating the refrain in chorus, and full of quaint expression and melancholy:—

“Oh, your soul! oh, my soul! I'm going to the churchyard to lay this body down;
Oh, my soul! oh, your soul! we're going to the churchyard to lay this nigger down.”

And then some appeal to the difficulty of passing “the Jawdam,” constituted the whole of the song, which continued with unabated energy through the whole of the little voyage. To me it was a strange scene. The stream, dark as Lethe, flowing between the silent, houseless, rugged banks, lighted up near the landing by the fire in the woods, which reddened the sky — the wild strain, and the unearthly adjurations to the singers' souls, as though they were palpable, put me in mind of the fancied voyage across the Styx.

“Here we are at last.” All I could see was a dark shadow of trees and the tops of rushes by the river side. “Mind where you step, and follow me close.” And so, groping along through a thick shrubbery for a short space, I came out on a garden and enclosure, in the midst of which the white outlines of a house were visible. Lights in the drawing-room — a lady to receive and welcome us — a snug library — tea, and to bed: but not without more talk about the Southern Confederacy, in which Mrs. Trescot explained how easily she could feed an army, from her experience in feeding her negroes.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 137-40

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: April 14, 1862

There will soon be hard fighting on the Peninsula.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 120

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: March 21, 1865

CHESTER, S. C. – Another flitting has occurred. Captain Ogden came for me; the splendid Childs was true as steel to the last. Surely he is the kindest of men. Captain Ogden was slightly incredulous when I depicted the wonders of Colonel Childs's generosity. So I skilfully led out the good gentleman for inspection, and he walked to the train with us. He offered me Confederate money, silver, and gold; and finally offered to buy our cotton and pay us now in gold. Of course, I laughed at his overflowing bounty, and accepted nothing; but I begged him to come down to Chester or Camden and buy our cotton of General Chesnut there.

On the train after leaving Lincolnton, as Captain Ogden is a refugee, has had no means of communicating with his home since New Orleans fell, and was sure to know how refugees contrive to live, I beguiled the time acquiring information from him. “When people are without a cent, how do they live?” I asked. “I am about to enter the noble band of homeless, houseless refugees, and Confederate pay does not buy one's shoe-strings.” To which he replied, “Sponge, Sponge. Why did you not let Colonel Childs pay your bills?” “I have no bills,” said I. “We have never made bills anywhere, not even at home, where they would trust us, and nobody would trust me in Lincolnton.” “Why did you not borrow his money? General Chesnut could pay him at his leisure?” “I am by no means sure General Chesnut will ever again have any money,” said I.

As the train rattled and banged along, and I waved my handkerchief in farewell to Miss Middleton, Isabella, and other devoted friends, I could only wonder if fate would ever throw me again with such kind, clever, agreeable, congenial companions? The McLeans refused to be paid for their rooms. No plummet can sound the depths of the hospitality and kindness of the North Carolina people.

Misfortune dogged us from the outset. Everything went wrong with the train. We broke down within two miles of Charlotte, and had to walk that distance; which was pretty rough on an invalid barely out of a fever. My spirit was further broken by losing an invaluable lace veil, which was worn because I was too poor to buy a cheaper one—that is, if there were any veils at all for sale in our region.

My husband had ordered me to a house in Charlotte kept by some great friends of his. They established me in the drawing-room, a really handsome apartment; they made up a bed there and put in a washstand and plenty of water, with everything refreshingly clean and nice. But it continued to be a public drawing-room, open to all, so that I was half dead at night and wanted to go to bed. The piano was there and the company played it.

The landlady announced, proudly, that for supper there were nine kinds of custard. Custard sounded nice and light, so I sent for some, but found it heavy potato pie. I said: “Ellen, this may kill me, though Dover's powder did not.” “Don't you believe dat, Missis; try.” We barricaded ourselves in the drawing-room that night and left the next day at dawn. Arrived at the station, we had another disappointment; the train was behind time. There we sat on our boxes nine long hours; for the cars might come at any moment, and we dared not move an inch from the spot.

Finally the train rolled in overloaded with paroled prisoners, but heaven helped us: a kind mail agent invited us, with two other forlorn women, into his comfortable and clean mail-car. Ogden, true to his theory, did not stay at the boarding-house as we did. Some Christian acquaintances took him in for the night. This he explained with a grin.

My husband was at the Chester station with a carriage. We drove at once to Mrs. Da Vega's.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 367-9

Friday, November 20, 2015

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: Sunday, January 1, 1864

A melancholy pause in my diary. After returning from church on the night of the 13th, a telegram was handed me from Professor Minor, of the University of Virginia, saying, “Come at once, Colonel Colston is extremely ill.” After the first shock was over, I wrote an explanatory note to Major Brewer, why I could not be at the office next day, packed my trunk, and was in the cars by seven in the morning. That evening I reached the University, and found dear R. desperately ill with pneumonia, which so often follows, as in the case of General Jackson, the amputation of limbs. Surgeons Davis and Cabell were in attendance, and R's uncle, Dr. Brockenbrough, arrived the next day. After ten days of watching and nursing, amid alternate hopes and fears, we saw our friend Dr. Maupin close our darling's eyes, on the morning of the 23d; and on Christmas-day a military escort laid him among many brother soldiers in the Cemetery of the University of Virginia. He died in the faith of Christ, and with the glorious hope of immortality. His poor mother is heart-stricken, but she, together with his sisters, and one dearer still, had the blessed, and what is now the rare privilege, of soothing and nursing him in his last hours. To them, and to us all, his life seemed as a part of our own. His superior judgment and affectionate temper made him the guide of his whole family. To them his loss can never be supplied. His country has lost one of its earliest and best soldiers. Having been educated at the Virginia Military Institute, he raised and drilled a company in his native County of Berkeley, at the time of the John Brown raid. In 1861 he again led that company to Harper's Ferry. From that time he was never absent more than a week or ten days from his command, and even when wounded at Gaines's Mills, he absented himself but three days, and was again at his post during the several last days of those desperate fights. His fatal wound was received in his nineteenth general engagement, in none of which had he his superior in bravery and devotion to the cause. He was proud of belonging to the glorious Stonewall Brigade, and I have been told by those who knew the circumstances, that he was confided in and trusted by General Jackson to a remarkable degree.

Thus we bury, one by one, the dearest, the brightest, the best of our domestic circles. Now, in our excitement, while we are scattered, and many of us homeless, these separations are poignant, nay, overwhelming; but how can we estimate the sadness of heart which will pervade the South when the war is over, and we are again gathered together around our family hearths and altars, and find the circles broken? One and another gone. Sometimes the father and husband, the beloved head of the household, in whom was centred all that made life dear. Again the eldest son and brother of the widowed home, to whom all looked for guidance and direction; or, perhaps, that bright youth, on whom we had not ceased to look as still a child, whose fair, beardless cheek we had but now been in the habit of smoothing with our hands in fondness—one to whom mother and sisters would always give the good-night kiss, as his peculiar due, and repress the sigh that would arise at the thought that college or business days had almost come to take him from us. And then we will remember the mixed feeling of hope and pride when we first saw this household pet don his jacket of gray and shoulder his musket for the field; how we would be bright and cheerful before him, and turn to our chambers to weep oceans of tears when he is fairly gone. And does he, too, sleep his last sleep? Does our precious one fill a hero's grave? 0 God! help us, for the wail is in the whole land!" Rachel weeping for her children, and will not be comforted, because they are not." In all the broad South there will be scarcely a fold without its missing lamb, a fireside without its vacant chair. And yet we must go on. It is our duty to rid our land of invaders; we must destroy the snake which is endeavouring to entwine us in its coils, though it drain our heart's blood. We know that we are right in the sight of God, and that we must

“With patient mind our course of duty run.
God nothing does, or suffers to be done,
But we would do ourselves, if we could see
The end of all events as well as He."

The Lord reigneth, be the earth never so unquiet.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 248-50

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lydia McLane Johnston: March 15, 1865

Charlotte, North Carolina, March 15th, 1865,

Charlotte is in a state of great excitement to-day, at the arrival of the President's family, on their way South. What does it mean? Everybody seems to think it is the prelude to the abandonment of Richmond. How sad it seems after such a struggle as that noble army has made to keep it! These terrible dark hours, when will they be past?

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 241-2

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Thursday, October 16, 1862

It seems an age since I have opened this book. How the time has passed since, I have but a vague idea, beyond that it has passed very pleasantly. . . . Once since, I have been with Mrs. Badger to a Mr. Powell, who has started quite an extensive shoemaking establishment, in the vain attempt to get something to cover my naked feet. I am so much in need that I have been obliged to borrow Lydia's shoes every time I have been out since she returned. This was my second visit there, and I have no greater satisfaction than I had at first. He got my measure, I got his promise, and that is the end of it, thus far. His son, a young man of about twenty-four, had the cap of his knee shot off at Baton Rouge. Ever since he has been lying on his couch, unable to stand; and the probability is that he will never stand again. Instead of going out to the manufactory, Mrs. Badger has each time stopped at the house to see his mother (who, by the way, kissed me and called me “Sissie,” to my great amusement) and there I have seen this poor young man. He seems so patient and resigned that it is really edifying to be with him. He is very communicative, too, and seems to enjoy company, no matter if he does say “her’n” and “his’n.” Wonder why he doesn't say shisen too? The girls are highly amused at the description I give of my new acquaintance, but still more so at Mrs. Badger's account of the friendship of this poor young cripple, and his enjoyment of my visits. Of course it is only her own version, as she is very fond of jokes of all kinds.

Night before last Lydia got playing the piano for me in the darkened parlor, and the old tunes from her dear little fingers sent me off in a sea of dreams. She too caught the vision, and launched off in a well-remembered quadrille. The same scene flashed on us, and at each note, almost, we would recall a little circumstance, charming to us, but unintelligible to Anna, who occupied the other side. Together we talked over the dramatis persona. Mrs. Morgan, Jr., in dark blue silk with black flounces, a crimson chenille net on her black hair, sits at the piano in her own parlor. On the Brussels carpet stands, among others, Her Majesty, Queen Miriam, in a lilac silk, with bare neck and arms save for the protection afforded by a bertha of appliqué lace trimmed with pink ribbon, with hair à la madonna, and fastened low on her neck. Is she not handsome as she stands fronting the folding doors, her hand in tall Mr. Trezevant's, just as she commences to dance, with the tip of her black bottine just showing? Vis-à-vis stands pretty Sophie, with her large, graceful mouth smiling and showing her pretty teeth to the best advantage. A low neck and short-sleeved green and white poplin is her dress, while her black hair, combed off from her forehead carelessly, is caught by a comb at the back and falls in curls on her shoulders. A prettier picture could not be wished for, as she looks around with sparkling eyes, eager for the dance to begin. There stands calm Dena in snuff-colored silk, looking so immeasurably the superior of her partner, who, I fancy, rather feels that she is the better man of the two, from his nervous way of shifting from one foot to the other, without saying a word to her. Nettie, in lilac and white, stands by the mantel laughing undisguisedly at her partner, rather than with him, yet so good-humoredly that he cannot take offense, but rather laughs with her. Lackadaisical Gertrude, whose face is so perfect in the daytime, looks pale and insipid by gaslight, and timidly walks through the dance. Stout, good-natured Minna smiles and laughs, never quite completing a sentence, partly from embarrassment, partly because she hardly knows how; but still so sweet and amiable that one cannot find fault with her for so trifling a misfortune. At this point, Lydia suggests, “And Sarah, do you forget her?” I laugh; how could I forget? There she stands in a light blue silk checked in tiny squares, with little flounces up to her knee. Her dress fits well, and she wears very pretty sleeves and collar of appliqué. Lydia asks if that is all, and how she looks. The same old song, I answer. She is looking at Miriam just now; you would hardly notice her, but certainly her hair is well combed. That is all you can say for her. Who is she dancing with? A youth fond of "dreams"; futile ones, at that, I laughingly reply. He must be relating one just now, for there is a very perceptible curl on her upper lip, and she is looking at him as though she thought she was the tallest. Lydia dashes off into a lively jig. “Ladies to the right!” I cried. She laughed too, well knowing that that part of the dance was invariably repeated a dozen times at least. She looked slyly up: “I am thinking of how many hands I saw squeezed,” she said. I am afraid it did happen, once or twice.

Eighteen months ago! What a change! One who was prominent on such occasions — Mr. Sparks — they tell me is dead. May God have mercy on his soul, in the name of Jesus Christ! I did not ask even this revenge.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 256-60

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Monday, January 30, 1865

We marched about three miles this morning and then went into bivouac to await further orders. The report is that we are now ready to make the grand raid through South Carolina. The Seventeenth and Fifteenth Corps are to form the right wing, as in the campaign through Georgia, with General O. O. Howard in command. General Slocum is in command of the left wing, composed of the other two corps, the Fourteenth and Twentieth, while Kilpatrick's cavalry will take the flanks as rear guard. General Sherman is in chief command. General Foster, it is said, is either to remain here or move to Charleston.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 249

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, January 31, 1865

We remained in bivouac all day and have heard no news. We drew some clothing today. Our camp is located about thirty miles northwest of Beaufort. The country is very level and heavily timbered, chiefly with pine. It is thinly settled and the farms are small with nothing of consequence raised on them. The people are poor, the women and children being left destitute, as the men have all gone off to the war.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 249

Diary of 5th Sergeant Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, February 1, 1865

We left camp early this morning for the grand raid through South Carolina, under the command of General Sherman. But our march will not be an easy one, for the rebels will do their best to hold us in check. There are one hundred thousand men within a radius of twenty miles, and there's no telling how the campaign will end or who will be left dead or mortally wounded upon the field without a friend near. Cannon began booming in less than an hour, but we had no losses today. We moved fo[r]ward about eight miles through Whiffy Swamp, driving the rebels all the way. On account of the bad road we had to travel, our division could not keep up with the rest of the corps, but went into camp about four miles in the rear. The Fifteenth Corps came up on our left to Hicky Hill, making a march of twenty miles.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 249