Friday, September 4, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 28, 1862

There must soon be collisions in the West on a large scale; but the system of lying, in vogue among the Yankees, most effectually defeats all attempts at reliable computation of numbers. They say we have 150,000 men in Tennessee and Kentucky, whereas we have not 60,000. Their own numbers they represent to be not exceeding 50,000, but I suspect they have three times that number. The shadows of events are crowding thickly upon us, and the events will speak for themselves — and that speedily.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 29, 1862

What we want is a military man capable of directing operations in the field everywhere. I think Lee is such a man. But can he, a modest man and a Christian, aspire to such a position? Would not Mr. Benjamin throw his influence against such a suggestion? I trust the President will see through the mist generated around him.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 30, 1862

Some of the mysterious letter-carriers, who have just returned from their jaunt into Tennessee, are applying again for passports to Baltimore, Washington, etc. I refuse them, though they are recommended by Gen. Winder's men; but they will obtain what they want from the Secretary himself, or his Assistant Secretary.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 31, 1862

What if these men (they have passports) should be going to Washington to report the result of their reconnoissances in Tennessee? The Tennessee River is high, and we have no casemated batteries, or batteries of any sort, on it above Fort Henry.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 108

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: October 18, 1864

Ten pleasant days I owe to my sister. Kate has descended upon me unexpectedly from the mountains of Flat Rock. We are true sisters; she understands me without words, and she is the cleverest, sweetest woman I know, so graceful and gracious in manner, so good and unselfish in character, but, best of all, she is so agreeable. Any time or place would be charming with Kate for a companion. General Chesnut was in Camden; but I could not wait. I gave the beautiful bride, Mrs. Darby, a dinner, which was simply perfection. I was satisfied for once in my life with my own table, and I know pleasanter guests were never seated around any table whatsoever.

My house is always crowded. After all, what a number of pleasant people we have been thrown in with by war's catastrophes. I call such society glorious. It is the windup, but the old life as it begins to die will die royally. General Chesnut came back disheartened. He complains that such a life as I lead gives him no time to think.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 329-30

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 26, 1863

While in the midst of preparation to visit my sisters at W. and S. H., we have been startled by the account of Yankees approaching. They have landed in considerable force at the White House, and are riding over the country to burn and destroy. They have burned the South Anna Bridge on the Central Railroad, and this evening were advancing on the bridge over the South Anna, on this railroad, which is but four miles above us. We have a small force there, and a North Carolina regiment has gone up to-night to reinforce them. We are, of course, in considerable excitement. I am afraid they are ruining the splendid wheat harvests which are now being gathered on the Pamunky. Trusting in the Lord, who hath hitherto been our help, we are going quietly to bed, though we believe that they are very near us. From our army we can hear nothing. No one can go farther than Culpeper Court-House in that direction. Why this has been ordered I know not, but for some good military reason, I have no doubt. It is said that Stuart's cavalry have been fighting along the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad with great success. We can hear no particulars.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 223-4

Charlotte Cross Wigfall: July 8, 1863

We are all excited by the news that came yesterday. Owing to the weather or fear of the trains being taken, we have had no mails from Richmond until yesterday and then only a stray paper, but that tells us there has been another battle. Your father does not think that Halsey was in it — but I can't help feeling anxious till I hear more about it.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 140

Diary of Sarah Morgan: July 27, 1862

I have my bird back! As I waked this morning, I heard a well-known chirp in the streets, and called to mother I knew it was Jimmy. Sure enough it is my bird. Lucy Daigre has had him ever since the shelling, as a negro caught it that day and gave it to her.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 135-6

Diary of Sarah Morgan: July 29, 1862

This town, with its ten thousand soldiers, is more quiet than it was with the old population of seven thousand citizens. With this tremendous addition, it is like a graveyard in its quiet, at times. These poor soldiers are dying awfully. Thirteen went yesterday. On Sunday the boats discharged hundreds of sick at our landing. Some lay there all the afternoon in the hot sun, waiting for the wagon to carry them to the hospital, which task occupied the whole evening. In the mean time these poor wretches lay uncovered on the ground, in every stage of sickness. Cousin Will saw one lying dead without a creature by to notice when he died. Another was dying, and muttering to himself as he lay too far gone to brush the flies out of his eyes and mouth, while no one was able to do it for him. Cousin Will helped him, though. Another, a mere skeleton, lay in the agonies of death, too; but he evidently had kind friends, for several were gathered around holding him up, and fanning him, while his son leaned over him crying aloud. Tiche says it was dreadful to hear the poor boy's sobs. All day our vis-à-vis, Baumstark, with his several aids, plies his hammer; all day Sunday he made coffins, and says he can't make them fast enough. Think, too, he is by no means the only undertaker here! Oh, I wish these poor men were safe in their own land! It is heartbreaking to see them die here like dogs, with no one to say Godspeed. The Catholic priest went to see some, sometime ago, and going near one who lay in bed, said some kind thing, when the man burst into tears and cried, “Thank God, I have heard one kind word before I die!” In a few minutes the poor wretch was dead.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 136

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, November 18, 1864

We were on the road by 8 o'clock and after marching ten miles, lay by until 10 p. m., when we were ordered to fall in again. After an hour's march we came to the Ockmulgee river, which we crossed by pontoons at Ockmulgee Mills. The entire Seventeenth Corps came together again here and at 1 o'clock in the night we went into bivouac on the east side of the river. The Fifteenth Corps crossed the river by the same pontoon bridge. There is fine water power here and there are large mills. The country is very rough.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 229-30

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 27, 1862

The Secretary of War has issued such a peremptory order to Gen. Wise, that the latter has no alternative but to attempt the defense of Roanoke Island with 3000 men against 15,000 and a fleet of gun-boats. The general is quite sick, but he will fight. His son, Capt. O. Jennings Wise, who has been under fire many times already, commands a company on the island. He will deserve promotion. The government seems to have proscribed the great men of the past and their families, as if this government was the property of the few men who happen to wield power at the present moment. Arrogance and presumption in the South must, sooner or later, have a fall. The great men who were the leaders of this revolution may be ignored, but they cannot be kept down by the smaller fry who aspire to wield the destinies of a great and patriotic people. Smith and Lovell, New York politicians and Street Commissioners, have been made major-generals, while Wise and Breckinridge are brigadiers.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: [Friday], October 7, 1864

Saturday. The President will be with us here in Columbia next Tuesday, so Colonel McLean brings us word. I have begun at once to prepare to receive him in my small house. His apartments have been decorated as well as Confederate stringency would permit. The possibilities were not great, but I did what I could for our honored chief; besides I like the man — he has been so kind to me, and his wife is one of the few to whom I can never be grateful enough for her generous appreciation and attention. I went out to the gate to greet the President, who met me most cordially; kissed me, in fact. Custis Lee and Governor Lubbock were at his back.

Immediately after breakfast (the Presidential party arrived a little before daylight) General Chesnut drove off with the President's aides, and Mr. Davis sat out on our piazza. There was nobody with him but myself. Some little boys strolling by called out, “Come here and look; there is a man on Mrs. Chesnut's porch who looks just like Jeff Davis on postage-stamps.” People began to gather at once on the street. Mr. Davis then went in.

Mrs. McCord sent a magnificent bouquet — I thought, of course, for the President; but she gave me such a scolding afterward. She did not know he was there; I, in my mistake about the bouquet, thought she knew, and so did not send her word.

The President was watching me prepare a mint julep for Custis Lee when Colonel McLean came to inform us that a great crowd had gathered and that they were coming to ask the President to speak to them at one o 'clock. An immense crowd it was — men, women, and children. The crowd overflowed the house, the President's hand was nearly shaken off. I went to the rear, my head intent on the dinner to be prepared for him, with only a Confederate commissariat. But the patriotic public had come to the rescue. I had been gathering what I could of eatables for a month, and now I found that nearly everybody in Columbia was sending me whatever they had that they thought nice enough for the President's dinner. We had the sixty-year old Madeira from Mulberry, and the beautiful old china, etc. Mrs. Preston sent a boned turkey stuffed with truffles, stuffed tomatoes, and stuffed peppers. Each made a dish as pretty as it was appetizing.

A mob of small boys only came to pay their respects to the President. He seemed to know how to meet that odd delegation.

Then the President's party had to go, and we bade them an affectionate farewell. Custis Lee and I had spent much time gossiping on the back porch. While I was concocting dainties for the dessert, he sat on the banister with a cigar in his mouth. He spoke very candidly, telling me many a hard truth for the Confederacy, and about the bad time which was at hand.

SOURCES: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 328-9; The date for this entry comes from Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, edited by C. Vann Woodward, p. 649, October 7, was in fact a Friday.

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 8, 1863

We have had a cavalry fight near Culpeper Court-House. We drove the enemy back, but I am afraid that our men won no laurels, for we were certainly surprised most shamefully.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 222

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 16, 1863

The morning papers gave a telegram from General Lee, announcing that General Early's Brigade had taken Winchester by storm. So again Winchester and all that beautiful country, Clarke, etc., are disenthralled.

It is said that our army will go to Pennsylvania. This I dread; but it is in God's hands, I believe, for good and not for evil.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 222-3

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 21, 1863

We hear of fights and rumours of fights. It is said that Ewell's Division captured 6,000 prisoners at Winchester, and that General Edward Johnson went to Berryville and captured 2,000 that were on their way to reinforce Millroy. They have driven the enemy out of the Valley, so that now we have possession of it once more. Our cavalry has been as far as Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, but I do not know what they have accomplished.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 223

Lieutenant Francis H. Wigfall to Senator Louis T. Wigfall, July 7, 1863

Camp near Williamsport, Maryland,
July 7th, 1863
Dear Papa,

Since the 13th of June, inclusive, there has not been a day on which we have not marched. Our battery and two guns of McGregor's were with the cavalry, Fitz and W. H. F. Lee's brigades and Hampton's on the expedition round the enemy. We started on the march the 24th of June and reached our lines at Gettysburg the 2nd of July just before night. Genl. Hampton captured a train of 200 wagons and burnt some of them within seven miles of Georgetown, the Yankee army lying at Frederick. We brought into our lines at Gettysburg one hundred and sixty odd. We reached this place yesterday afternoon while a fight was going on for the possession of the ford, the enemy endeavoring to drive us from it. The battery was not engaged however. Orders have just come to move.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 139-40

Lieutenant Francis H. Wigfall to Senator Louis T. Wigfall, July 8, 1863

July 8th.

We are now near Funkstown. Young Winston is going over the river this morning and may go as far as Hanover. Everything is wet around, it having rained nearly all night and there is not much chance for elegant letter writing. We were engaged on the third day of the fight at Gettysburg with a battery of the enemy at long range. It was opposite the left of our line where the Cavalry was fighting. Tell Mama to write to L. for me if she is not with you and until we halt for a day or two at least you may not expect to hear much or often from me. Give my best love to dearest Mama and L. and little F. Good-bye dear Papa and believe me as ever,

Your affectionate son,

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 140

Diary of Sarah Morgan: July 25, 1862

An old gentleman stopped here just now in a carriage and asked to see me. Such a sad, sick old man! He said his name was Caldwell, and that passing through East Feliciana, Mrs. Flynn had asked him to deliver a message to us. Had we heard from our brothers? I told him the message from Mr. Bell. He commenced crying. There was one of them, he said, who got hurt. I held my breath and looked at him. He cried more still, and said yes, it was Gibbes — in the hand — not dangerous — but — Here I thought he meant to tell me worse; perhaps he was dead; but I could not speak, so he went on saying Lydia and the General had gone on to Richmond instantly, and had probably reached there before today. He took so long to tell it, and he cried so, that I was alarmed, until I thought perhaps he had lost one of his own sons; but I dared not ask him. Just then one of the horses fell down with sunstroke, and I begged the old gentleman to come in and rest until they could raise the horse; but he said no, he must go on to the river. He looked so sick that I could not help saying he looked too unwell to go beyond, and I wished he would come in. But he burst into tears, saying, “Yes, my child, I am very, very sick, but I must go on.” Poor old man, with his snow-white beard!

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 134-5

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, November 17, 1864

We broke camp at 5 o'clock, marched eighteen miles, and went into bivouac for the night. Our regiment was train guard and the Sixteenth Iowa was rear guard of our brigade. We marched through some fine country today, and though heavily timbered, it is well improved. It is good country for foraging. We found plenty of fresh pork and all the sweet potatoes we could carry. The weather is delightful and there is no rebel in our front yet.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 229

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 24, 1862

Beauregard has been ordered to the West. I knew the doom was upon him! But he will make his mark even at Columbus, though the place seems to me to be altogether untenable and of no practicable importance, since the enemy may attack both in front and rear. It would seem that some of the jealous functionaries would submit to any misfortune which would destroy Beauregard's popularity. But these are exceptions: they are few and far between, thank Heaven!

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 106

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 25, 1862

The French players have been permitted by the Secretary to leave the country. But British subjects are now refused passports.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 26, 1862

President Tyler has been elected to Congress -by an overwhelming majority.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 107

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: October 1, 1864

Mary Cantey Preston's wedding day has come and gone and Mary is Mrs. John Darby now. Maggie Howell dressed the bride's hair beautifully, they said, but it was all covered by her veil, which was of blond-lace, and the dress tulle and blond-lace, with diamonds and pearls. The bride walked up the aisle on her father's arm, Mrs. Preston on Dr. Darby's. I think it was the handsomest wedding party I ever saw. John Darby1 had brought his wedding uniform home with him from England, and it did all honor to his perfect figure. I forget the name of his London tailor — the best, of course! “Well,” said Isabella, “it would be hard for any man to live up to those clothes.”

And now, to the amazement of us all, Captain Chesnut (Johnny) who knows everything, has rushed into a flirtation with Buck such as never was. He drives her every day, and those wild, runaway, sorrel colt's terrify my soul as they go tearing, pitching, and darting from side to side of the street. And my lady enjoys it. When he leaves her, he kisses her hand, bowing so low to do it unseen that we see it all.

1 After the war, Dr. Darby became professor of Surgery in the University of the City of New York; he had served as Medical Director in the Army of the Confederate States and as Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the University of South Carolina; had also served with distinction in European wars.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 327-8

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 7, 1863

We are living in fear of a Yankee raid. They have a large force on York River, and are continually sending parties up the Pamunky and Mattapony Rivers, to devastate the country and annoy the inhabitants. Not long ago a party rode to the house of a gentleman on Mattapony; meeting him on the lawn, the commander accosted him: “Mr. R., I understand you have the finest horses in King William County?” “Perhaps, sir, I have,” replied Mr. R. “Well, sir,” said the officer, “I want those horses immediately.” “They are not yours,” replied Mr. R, “and you can't get them.” The officer began to curse, and said he would burn every house on the place if the horses were not produced. Suiting the action to the word, he handed a box of matches to a subordinate, saying, “Burn!” In half an hour Mr. R. saw fourteen of his houses in a light blaze, including the dwelling, the kitchen, corn-houses and barn filled with grain, meat-house filled with meat, and servants' houses. Scarcely any thing was saved, not even the family clothes. But he did not get the horses, which were the objects of his peculiar wishes; the faithful servants had carried them away to a place of safety. How strange it is that we can be so calm, surrounded as we are by danger!

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 222

Lieutenant Francis H. Wigfall to Charlotte Cross Wigfall, June 18, 1863

Rector's X Road, June 18th, 1863.
Dear Mama,

I have written L. twice in the last two weeks and the reason I did not write you after the fight (Brandy Station) was that you were so close (Orange C. H.) I did not think you would feel uneasy at not hearing from me. The best proof you can have of my safety, except hearing so positively, is by hearing nothing. Moving with the Cavalry here to-day and there to-morrow, it is impossible to keep up a regular correspondence.

The wounded are always sent to the rear and if I am ever unfortunate enough to be placed in that category I shall certainly let you know. So till you hear positively to the contrary make your mind easy on my account. We marched from Starke's Ford the day your letter is dated (14th) and came up by Amisville, Gaines' X Roads, Flint Hill, Orleans, Piedmont on the Manassas Gap R.R., Paris, Upperville and Middleburg to Dover Mills, which we reached yesterday afternoon and where we engaged the Yankee Cavalry and Artillery. I was detached from the battery in command of the Whitworth gun of my section. This piece lost none. The other piece of my section and one of Johnston's three pieces each lost one man killed. These were the only men of the battery lost. The drivers of the Whitworth in trotting through a gate ran against one of the posts and snapped the pole short off. . . .We were falling back at the time so there was no chance to repair it. The enemy was flanking us so we were forced to fall back, making a circuitous route and striking the turnpike between Upperville and Middleburg late last night. The battery is about to move now, so good-bye. You must not expect to hear from me regularly but write yourself frequently.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 138-9

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Thursday July 24, 1862

Yes; that must be the date, for one day and two nights have passed since I was writing here. Where shall I begin the story of my wanderings? I don't know that it has a beginning, it is all so hurried and confused.

But it was Tuesday evening that the Federals were seized with a panic which threw the whole town in alarm. They said our troops were within eight miles, ten thousand in number. The report was even started that the advance guard was skirmishing with the Federals; the shots were heard distinctly, a dozen people were ready to swear. The Yankees struck their tents, galloped with their cannon through the streets with the most terrific din, troops passed at double-quick on their way to the Garrison, everything was confusion. Mr. Tunnard told us yesterday he was present when part of them reached the gate of the Garrison, and saw one of the officers spring forward, waving his sword, and heard him cry, “Trot, men! Gallop, I say! Damn you! run in!” — with a perfect yell at the close; whereupon all lookers-on raised a shout of laughter, for the man was frightened out of his wits. A Federal officer told him that their fright was really a disgrace; and if one thousand of our men had come in town, the whole thirty-five hundred would have been at their mercy. Even the naval officers denounce it as a most arrant piece of cowardice; for instead of marching their troops out to meet ours, they all rushed into the Garrison, where, if attacked, their only retreat would have been into the river. The gunboats were ordered into the middle of the stream, in front of the Garrison; and cooped up there, these valiant men awaited the assault in such trepidation that yesterday they freely said the force could be purchased for fifty cents, they are so ashamed of their panic.

Imagine what effect this had on the inhabitants! Soon, an exodus took place, in the direction of the Asylum, and we needs must follow the general example and run, too. In haste we packed a trunk with our remaining clothes, — what we could get in, — and the greatest confusion prevailed for an hour. Beatrice had commenced to cry early in the evening, and redoubled her screams when she saw the preparations; and Louis joining in, they cried in concert until eight o'clock, when we finally got off. What a din! Lilly looked perfectly exhausted; that look on her face made me heartsick. Miriam flew around everywhere; mother always had one more article to find, and the noise was dreadful, when white and black assembled in the hall ready at last. Charlie placed half of the trunks on the dray, leaving the rest for another trip; and we at last started off. Besides the inevitable running-bag, tied to my waist, on this stifling night I had my sunbonnet, veil, comb, toothbrush, cabas filled with dozens of small articles, and dagger to carry; and then my heart failed me when I thought of my guitar, so I caught it up in the case; and remembering father's heavy inkstand, I seized that, too, with two fans. If I was asked what I did with all these things, I could not answer. Certain it is I had every one in my hands, and was not very ridiculous to behold.

Seventeen in number, counting white and black, our procession started off, each loaded in their own way. The soldiers did not scruple to laugh at us. Those who were still waiting in front of the churches to be removed laughed heartily, and cried, “Hello! Where are you going? Running? Good-bye!” Fortunately they could not see our faces, for it was very dark. One stopped us under a lamp-post and wanted us to go back. He said he knew we were to be attacked, for the Confederates were within five miles; but we were as safe at home as at the Asylum. He was a very handsome, respectable-looking man, though dirty, as Yankee soldiers always are, and in his shirt-sleeves besides. We thanked him for his kindness, and went on. All stopped at the Brunots', to see that they were ready to fly; but the two parties were so tremendous that we gladly divided, and Miriam and I remained with them until they could get ready, while our detachment went on.
Wagons, carts, every vehicle imaginable, passed on to places of safety, loaded with valuables, while women and children hurried on, on foot. It took the Brunots as long to prepare as it did us. I had to drag Sophie out of her bed, where she threw herself, vowing she would not run; and after an interminable length of time, we were at last ready and started, with the addition of Mrs. Loucks and her sons in our train. The volunteer, whose sole duty seems to be to watch the Brunots, met us as we got out. He stopped as he met the first, looked in silence until Sophie and I passed, and then burst out laughing. No wonder! What a walk it was! Nobody hesitated to laugh, even though they meant to run themselves, and we made fun of each other, too, so our walk was merry enough.

When we reached there, the Asylum was already crowded — at least, it would have been a crowd in any other place, though a mere handful in such a building. The whole house was illuminated, up to the fifth story, and we were most graciously received by the director, who had thrown the whole house open to whoever chose to come, and exerted himself to be accommodating. It looked like a tremendous hotel where every one is at home; not a servant or one of the deaf and dumb children was to be seen; we had all the lower story to ourselves. Wasn't it pleasant to unload, and deposit all things in a place of safety! It was a great relief. Then we five girls walked on the splendid balcony which goes around the house until we could no longer walk, when I amused myself by keeping poor Sophie standing, since she would not sit down like a Christian, but insisted on going to bed like a lazy girl, as she is. When I finally let her go, it did not take her many minutes to undress, and soon we were all ready for bed. The Brunots had beds on the parlor floor; across the wide hall, we had a room opposite; and next to ours, Lilly and the children were all sleeping soundly. I ran the blockade of the hall in my nightgown, and had a splendid romp with the girls after rolling Sophie out of bed, and jerking Nettie up. Mother and Mrs. Brunot cried, “Order,” laughing, but they came in for their share of the sport, until an admiring crowd of females at the door told us by their amused faces they were enjoying it, too; so I ran the gauntlet again, and got safely through the hall, and after a few more inroads, in one of which Miriam accompanied me, and on which occasion I am sure we were seen in our nightgowns, we finally went to bed. I won't say went to sleep, for I did not pretend to doze. All our side of the house had bars, except me; and the mosquitoes were unendurable; so I watched mother and Miriam in their downy slumbers and lay on my hard bed for hours, fighting the torments with bare arms.

Every now and then I heard a stir among the females above, indicating that some few were anticipating a panic. Once they took a rush from the fourth story, and cried they heard the cannon; twenty guns had been fired, etc. I lay still, determined not to believe it; and presently all subsided. I lay there for hours longer, it seemed, when Nettie at last wandered in disconsolate to find if we were asleep; for with the exception of Sophie, they, too, had been awake all night. I went to the parlor with her, when she, Dena, and I, decided to dress at once and sit on the balcony, since sleep was hopeless. Behold me in a blue muslin flounced to the waist, with a cape, too! What a running costume! Miriam only had time to take off her white dress before starting. All dressed, we went to the northwest corner, as far as possible from the rest of the household, and sat in a splendid breeze for hours. It was better than fighting insatiable mosquitoes; so there we sat talking through the greater part of a night which seemed to have borrowed a few additional hours for our benefit. We'll have no Leap Year in '64; the twenty-four extra hours were crowded in on 'that occasion, I think.

We discussed our favorite books, characters, authors, repeated scraps here and there of the mock sentimental, talked of how we would one day like to travel, and where we would go; discussed love and marriage, and came to the conclusion neither was the jest it was thought to be. (O wise young women!) Poor Nettie retired in despair, and we two watched alone for hours longer. The sun must have been arrested by some Joshua on the road; couldn't make me believe it was doing its duty as usual. We wandered around the balconies, through the grounds in the dim starlight (for it was cloudy), and finally, beholding a faint promise of morning, sat still and waited for the coming of the lazy sun. What was still more aggravating was that every time we looked in at the others showed them sleeping peacefully. Miriam lay her full length with outstretched arms, the picture of repose, looking so comfortable! When the sun finally made his appearance (he was out on a spree, I found, for his eyes were not half opened, and he looked dull and heavy as he peeped from behind his bed curtains), others began to stir, and in an hour more, we were ready to leave. Those who had slept, came out with swelled eyes and drowsy looks; while we three, who had been up all night, were perfectly calm, though rather pale; but I am seldom otherwise.

Were we not thankful to see home still standing! I did not feel tired much, but somehow, when it struck half-past six, and I found myself alone here (Miriam having stopped at Mrs. Day's), I suddenly found myself divested of my flounces, and most other articles, and involuntarily going towards the bed. I could not sleep, wasn't thinking of such a thing; meant to — there was an end of my soliloquy! Where I went, I don't know. As the clock struck eight, I got up as unaccountably, and discovered I had lost all idea of time in sleep. If it had not been for the clock, I should have said I had slept a day and a night, and it was now Thursday morning. A giant refreshed, I rose from my slumbers, took a hasty cup of coffee, and set to work packing Lilly's trunk, for I was crazy to see the children off as soon as possible. It was no short work, but we all hurried, said goodbye, and saw them go with a feeling of relief. By the experience of the night before, we knew that when the real moment came it would be impossible to get them off in time to escape danger. Poor Lilly! we miss her sadly; but are thankful to know that she is out of danger with her poor little children. She looked heartbroken at the idea of leaving us alone; but then, when one weak woman has five small babies to take care of, is it fair to impose three big ones on her? I'd never stay here, if she sacrificed her children to take care of us who need no protection. I was very lazy after they left; and sat reading until a note was brought from Charlie saying they were safe beyond the lines.

Last night came another alarm. Some fifty cannon were fired somewhere above, reports came that a body of our troops were a few miles out, so a thousand of these men took courage and went out to reconnoitre. Mrs. Brunot and mother insisted on going again to the Asylum for protection against the coming attack, though we at first begged and pleaded to stay at home. But we had to follow, and I don't think any of us were in the best of humors, as we were all conscious of doing a foolish thing.

We were cordially received again, and got quite gay. Sleeping accommodations no better than before, as far as I was concerned. Sophie, Miriam, and I had but one bar between us, so we placed two mattresses side by side, and by dint of chairs and strings, stretched the net as far as possible over them. Those two were well enough; but to my share fell a baby's mattress two feet by four, placed between the wall and the other great bed, with the end of the bar a foot above my face, and one sheet to do the duty of two — however, they had only one, also. Well! I believe I am tall, so my bed did not fit me. As it was two inches higher than theirs, there was no sharing. In spite of a heavy rain that was now pouring, my warm place was intolerable, and the perspiration streamed from my face so as to be disagreeable, to say the least. It drove me to walk in my sleep, I am afraid, for I have an indistinct recollection of finding myself standing at the window trying to breathe. It was a very, very little piece of sleep I got after all, and that little by no means refreshing.

Up at sunrise again, but it took some time to get ready, for I had to get some clothes out of the trunk, to send home. Well, ever since I reached here I have been writing, and I am ashamed to say how long it is. As the time grows more exciting, my book grows shorter, to my great distress. What will I do?

We all vowed that would be the last time we would run until we heard the cannon, or had some better reason than a Yankee panic to believe the Confederates were coming; though if we listened to mother, she would go there every night if this lasted for a whole year. Kind Phillie Nolan wrote insisting on our staying with them on the plantation until it was over, but we cannot do it; the time is too uncertain; if we knew it was to come this week, we might stay that long with her; but to go for an indefinite period, Miriam and I would not hear of.

I have kept for the last a piece of news I received with thankfulness, when I finally heard it; for, though known to the whole family and all the town on Tuesday night, no one thought it worth while to tell me until I heard it by accident last evening. It was that a Mr. Bell, writing to his wife, says Gibbes asked him to send word to mother that he, George, and Jimmy were in the fight of the l0th and 11th, and all safe. God be praised!

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 125-34

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, November 16, 1864

Reveillé sounded early this morning, and after marching twenty-five miles we went into bivouac tired and worn. Our division marched all day over a by-road on the inside of the right wing, and although the country was heavily timbered, yet we had a good road. We passed by some fine plantations, well improved with some good buildings. The Fourteenth and Twentieth Corps form the left wing and the Fifteenth and Seventeenth the right, both flanks being covered by the cavalry. There was some skirmishing off on our right in front of the Fifteenth Corps, but all is quiet in our front.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 229

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Elizabeth Adams Lusk, October 25, 1861

October 25th, 1861.
My dear Mother:

It is with extreme pleasure I write you to-day. We are still at Fort Monroe, and of course I do not know how long we are to remain here, but Old Point Comfort has proved itself such to me. I think few up to the present time have served under greater disadvantages in the army than I. A member of a Scotch Regiment strong in its foreign prejudices, introduced as I was by, a man greatly unpopular among the men, I have enjoyed little prestige or favor. We have had hard work to do, and for four months I have suffered from extremes of heat and cold, from hunger and wet, and sleepless nights — from all the hardships of outpost life — have had the credit which I felt was due, denied, and have waited patiently, though sometimes against hope. After Col. Stevens became Brig.-Gen., our Regiment fell to the command of . . . Morrison, who sought to exhibit his authority by all sorts of petty and irritating acts of insolence toward myself. The life became intolerable, and I sent in my resignation. I have written you how kindly Gen. Stevens acted in the matter. I withdrew the resignation temporarily, however, on learning from Gen. Stevens the probability of a speedy action.

When Gen. Stevens was detached from our Brigade to command one stationed at Annapolis, I was left, almost without appeal from the insults of . . . Morrison. I found my rights taken away, and favors bestowed on low, ignorant rowdies. I then obtained a furlough, meaning to arrange some plan of honorable escape while on a visit home.

Suddenly a despatch came ordering our Regiment to meet Gen. Stevens at Annapolis, and it was whispered our destination was to be some place on the Southern coast. I thereupon pocketed all affronts, gave up all thoughts of a leave of absence, and resolved to be resigned to the painfulness of my position, and to perform any duties that might be allotted me. A few days ago I was appointed officer of the day. The duties of the day were arduous, and for twenty-four hours I had no sleep. It was about 7½ in the morning and my duties had nearly expired, when Gen. Stevens desired to see the officer of the day. I supposed it was to perform some business in connection with my position. On reporting myself he said, “Mr. Lusk I wish to have a few words with you.” “Yes,” said I, “but be quick as my time has nearly expired.” “Oh!” said he, “I only wish to tell you that you are appointed my Aide-de-camp. You know my peculiarities, and if we are satisfied with each other I think you will have no reason to repent of your appointment.” I thanked him, told him I was proud to accept the appointment. So now, Mother, with best love to all the dear ones at home, I subscribe myself,

Your affectionate son,
Capt. W. T. Lusk,
Aide-de-camp to Gen. Stevens,
Sherman's Division.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 93-4

Colonel William F. Bartlett to Harriett Plummer Bartlett, Sunday, March 8, 1863

A beautiful day. In the afternoon Ben and I took a ride down to the town. A great many troops have come up lately. I suppose we shall move up the river before long. After dress parade I formed a hollow square and read the services. The Doctor dined with us to-night. We had a good beefsteak, fried potatoes, onions, tea, and rice. I don't know what more you could ask for. For breakfast this morning I had the same thing you did, fried hasty pudding, with better molasses. To-morrow morning it will be fried rice, and the next day fried hominy, then back to Indian pudding again. A variety you see. I am very well all over. Love to all.

W. F. B.

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 70-1

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, October 1, 1862

Called this morning at the White House, but learned the President had left the city. The porter said he made no mention whither he was going, nor when he would return. I have no doubt he is on a visit to McClellan and the army. None of his Cabinet can have been aware of this journey.

Relieved Davis and appointed D. D. Porter to the Western Flotilla, which is hereafter to be recognized as a squadron. Porter is but a Commander. He has, however, stirring and positive qualities, is fertile in resources, has great energy, excessive and sometimes not over-scrupulous ambition, is impressed with and boastful of his own powers, given to exaggeration in relation to himself, — a Porter infirmity, — is not generous to older and superior living officers, whom he is too ready to traduce, but is kind and patronizing to favorites who are juniors, and generally to official inferiors. Is given to cliquism but is brave and daring like all his family. He has not the conscientious and high moral qualities of Foote to organize the flotilla, and is not considered by some of our best naval men a fortunate officer; has not in his profession, though he may have personally, what the sailors admire, “luck.” It is a question, with his mixture of good and bad traits, how he will succeed. His selection will be unsatisfactory to many, but his field of operation is peculiar, and a young and active officer is required for the duty to which he is assigned; it will be an incentive to juniors. If he does well I shall get no credit; if he fails I shall be blamed. No thanks in any event will be mine. Davis, whom he succeeds, is more of a scholar than sailor, has gentlemanly instincts and scholarly acquirements, is an intelligent but not an energetic, driving, fighting officer, such as is wanted for rough work on the Mississippi; is kind and affable, but has not the vim, dash, — recklessness perhaps is the better word, — of Porter.

Dahlgren, whose ambition is great, will, I suppose, be hurt that Porter, who is his junior, should be designated for the Mississippi command; and the President will sympathize with D., whom he regards with favor, while he has not great admiration or respect for Porter. Dahlgren has asked to be assigned to the special duty of capturing Charleston, but Du Pont has had that object in view for more than a year and made it his study. I cannot, though I appreciate Dahlgren, supersede the Admiral in this work.

The Emancipation Proclamation has, in its immediate effects, been less exciting than I had apprehended. It has caused but little jubilation on one hand, nor much angry outbreak on the other. The speculations as to the sentiments and opinions of the Cabinet in regard to this measure are ridiculously wild and strange. When it was first brought forward some six or eight weeks ago, all present assented to it. It was pretty fully discussed at two successive Cabinet-meetings, and the President consulted freely, I presume, with the members individually. He did with me. Mr. Bates desired that deportation, by force if necessary, should go with emancipation. Born and educated among the negroes, having always lived with slaves, he dreaded any step which should be taken to bring about social equality between the two races. The effect, he said, would be to degrade the whites without elevating the blacks. Demoralization, vice, and misery would follow. Mr. Blair, at the second discussion, said that, while he was an emancipationist from principle, he had doubts of the expediency of such a movement as was contemplated. Stanton, after expressing himself earnestly in favor of the step proposed, said it was so important a measure that he hoped every member would give his opinion, whatever it might be, on the subject; two had not spoken, —alluding to Chase and myself.

I then spoke briefly of the strong exercise of power involved in the question, and the denial of Executive authority to do this act, but the Rebels themselves had invoked war on the subject of slavery, had appealed to arms, and they must abide the consequences. It was an extreme exercise of war powers, and under the circumstances and in view of the condition of the country and the magnitude of the contest I was willing to resort to extreme measures and avail ourselves of military necessity, always harsh and questionable. The blow would fall heavy and severe on those loyal men in the Slave States who clung to the Union and had most of their property in slaves, but they must abide the results of a conflict which we all deplored, and unless they could persuade their fellow citizens to embrace the alternative presented, it was their hard fortune to suffer with those who brought on the War. The slaves were now an element of strength to the Rebels, — were laborers, producers, and army attendants; were considered as property by the Rebels, and, if property, were subject to confiscation; if not property, but persons residing in the insurrectionary region, we should invite them as well as the whites to unite with us in putting down the Rebellion. I had made known my views to the President and could say here I gave my approval of the Proclamation. Mr. Chase said it was going a step farther than he had proposed, but he was glad of it and went into a very full argument on the subject. I do not attempt to report it or any portion of it, nor that of others, farther than to define the position of each when this important question was before us. Something more than a Proclamation will be necessary, for this step will band the South together, make opponents of some who now are friends and unite the Border States firmly with the Cotton States in resistance to the Government.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 157-60

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Wednesday, October 1, 1862

Seward came to Department and we talked over foreign relations, particularly as connected with cotton. Showed him my reply to his note of yesterday. He thought it would not answer, as his assurances, coupled with Butler's and Grant's Orders, committed us too far. I said I would modify it. After he left, altered my reply and sent it.

Examined Regulations concerning trade with blockaded ports, and War Orders.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 100

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Thursday, October 2, 1862

Seward came to my house with letter to Stuart, vindicating the course of the Treasury Department concerning Trade Orders and Regulations. I approved the whole; but suggested that as the regulations embraced the coal order substantially, and as Great Britain took exception to that as particularly intended for her, he might say that, to prove the absence of such intention and as a proof of the entire absence of any wish to vex trade, the coal order would be rescinded.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 100

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Friday, October 3, 1862

The President still absent at McClellan's Army. I expect little good from this visit.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 100

Diary of Salmon P. Chase: Saturday, October 4, 1862

Mr Harrington left this morning for New-York. He is instructed to hasten increase of issue of Postage Currency to $100,000 per day. Expects to go to Boston in “Miami.”

SOURCE: Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1902, Vol. 2, p. 100

Captain Charles Fessenden Morse, September 10, 1862

Near Darnestown, September 10, 1862.

I have time to write a word to say that I'm safe and well. We are on the move all the time and have not had a real rest yet.

I have been considerably used up with fatigue, but am feeling better now. We are with Sumner's corps and have been beside the Twentieth Massachusetts several days. I expect we shall see some some [sic] fighting in a day or two. We move toward Frederick in about half an hour.

SOURCE: Charles Fessenden Morse, Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865, p. 85

Major Wilder Dwight: October 14, 1861

pleasant Hill, October 14, 1861.

I was looking, last evening, at the bright gold of the western sky, and the frosty silver of the evening star, and was marking the cold glitter of the moonlight, when Mr. Spiegel appeared with my buffalo-robe in great glee. It was an opportune visitor, and I must not let our quartermaster go to Washington without a line of acknowledgment from me. Tell father that size is anything but an objection. I cannot hope to grow to it, but I will bring it to my model, and compose myself as comfortably as a warrior in his martial cloak. It will be glorious o' nights when we bivouac by camp-fires, as I hope we must soon.

We have had a glorious October day. Drill in the morning, drill in the afternoon. Questions of suttler's prices, of commissary's authority to settle rations, of quartermaster's allowance of stationery, &c., &c., &c., — the family jars of our little family. I wish I could write you a letter about' something in particular? but just now there is “nothing special.” I think the order to cook rations and hold ourselves in readiness to march came direct from McClellan, and was a precaution against an expected attack or resistance by the enemy opposite Washington. If so, that danger has blown over, and we may lie still for another week. They have, however, in this division, an organized secrecy, which covers everything with a drop-curtain. I received yesterday a letter from Judge Abbott, congratulatory on my expected promotion. I hope your ambition did not wilt when you heard that things stood still. It is much better for the regiment that they should, and far better for me, and I experienced a rebound from my quite decided depression when I found that the danger of losing our colonels was over.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 116-7

Major-General John Sedgwick to Brigadier-General Seth Williams, March 10, 1864

March 10, 1864.
Brig. Gen. S. Williams,
Assistant Adjutant-General,
Army of the Potomac.

GENERAL: My attention has been called to several articles which have recently appeared in the papers, insinuating or charging the General commanding the Army of the Potomac with ordering or favoring a retreat of the army on the evening of July 2, at Gettysburg.

I took no minutes of the council of corps commanders held on the evening of that day, but my present recollection is that three questions, viz, of attacking the enemy, of sustaining an attack, or taking up a new position, were submitted. The council was unanimous – with, I think, one exception – to sustain the attack in our then present position.

At no time in my presence did the general commanding insist or advise a withdrawal of the army, for such advice would have great weight with me, and I know the matter did not engage my serious attention.

I am positive that the general commanding could not have insisted, much less have given the order, to withdraw the army from its position. In a council on the evening of the 3d, the two questions of following the enemy or moving on parallel lines were submitted, and I think the council were unanimous, and their decision adopted by the general, of moving parallel to the enemy, and attacking him when possible.

I am, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.

SOURCES: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 176-7; The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1 (Serial No. 43), p. 125

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: February 1, 1862

Camp Union, Fayette, Virginia. — Rain all night last night; mud indescribable and unfathomable. Lieutenant Avery and Secesh prisoners start today.

At 2 P. M., having heard that General Schenck would perhaps reach camp in a day or two, and fearing that he would object to my absence (he having himself been away two months and over!!) I started on the doctor's stumbling gray for Loup Creek Landing. It rained a cold storm, mud deep. Thomas, the gay, dramatic colored servant of Dr. Webb, and my orderly (Barney) in a waggon with my baggage. I got to Loup Creek Landing, sixteen miles, after dark alone. Stayed there in a cabin, fitted up with bunks for soldiers, with Lieutenant Avery's guard of the seventeen Secesh prisoners. Bill Brown the life of the party. Poor accommodations for sleeping. Little sleeping done. So ends the first

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 197-8

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: January 23, 1862

Again the Northern papers give the most extravagant numbers to our army in Kentucky. Some estimates are as high as 150,000. I know, and Mr. Benjamin knows, that Gen. Johnston has not exceeding 29,000 effective men. And the Secretary knows that Gen. J. has given him timely notice of the inadequacy of his force to hold the position at Bowling Green. The Yankees are well aware of our weakness, but they intend to claim the astounding feat of routing 150,000 men with 100,000! And they suppose that by giving us credit for such a vast army, we shall not deem it necessary to send reinforcements. Well, reinforcements are not sent.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 106

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: September 24, 1864

These stories of our defeats in the valley fall like blows upon a dead body. Since Atlanta fell I have felt as if all were dead within me forever. Captain Ogden, of General Chesnut's staff, dined here to-day. Had ever brigadier, with little or no brigade, so magnificent a staff? The reserves, as somebody said, have been secured only by robbing the cradle and the grave — the men too old, the boys too young. Isaac Hayne, Edward Barnwell, Bacon, Ogden, Richardson, Miles are the picked men of the agreeable world.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 327

Diary of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire: June 6, 1863

We have been interested lately by a visit to this village of our old friend, Mrs. Thornton, of Rappahannock County, She gives most graphic descriptions of her sojourn of seven weeks among the Yankees last summer. Sixty thousand surrounded her house, under command of General Siegel. On one occasion, he and his staff rode up and announced that they would take tea with her. Entirely alone, that elegant old lady retained her composure, and with unruffled countenance rang her bell; when the servant appeared, she said to him, “John, tea for fourteen.” She quietly retained her seat, conversing with them with dignified politeness, and submitting as best she could to the General's very free manner of walking about her beautiful establishment, pronouncing it “baronial,” and regretting, in her presence, that he had not known of its elegancies and comforts in time, that he might have brought on Mrs. Siegel, and have made it his head-quarters. Tea being announced, Mrs. T., before proceeding to the dining-room, requested the servant to call a soldier in, who had been guarding her house for weeks, and who had sought occasion to do her many kindnesses. When the man entered, the General demurred: “No, no, madam, he will not go to table with us.” Mrs. T. replied, “General, I must beg that you will allow this gentleman to come to my table, for he has been a friend to me when I have sadly wanted one.” The General objected no farther; the man took tea with the master. After tea, the General proposed music, asking Mrs. T. if she had ever played; she replied that “such was still her habit.” The piano being opened, she said if she sang at all she must sing the songs of her own land, and then, with her uncommonly fine voice, she sang “The Bonnie Blue Flag,” “Dixie,” and other Southern songs, with great spirit. They listened with apparent pleasure. One of the staff then suggested that the General was a musician. Upon her vacating the seat he took it, and played in grand style; with so much beauty and accuracy, she added, with a twinkle of her eye, that I strongly suspected him of having been a music-master. Since that time she has heard that he was once master of that beautiful art in Mobile. Well, he was at least a more innocent man then than now. Almost every woman of the South, or at least of Virginia, will have her tale to tell when this “cruel war is over.” The life of too many will be, alas! as a “tale that is told;” its interest, its charm even its hope, as far as this world is concerned, having passed away. Their crown of rejoicing will be in the public weal, which their loved and lost have fought, bled, and died to establish; but their own hearts will be withered, their hearths deserted.

Mrs. Greenhow Daniel, of Fredericksburg, has been giving some amusing incidents of her sudden departure from her home. She had determined to remain, but when, on the night of the bombardment, a shell burst very near her house, her husband aroused her to say that she must go. They had no means of conveyance, and her two children were both under three years of age, and but one servant, (the others having gone to the Yankees,) a girl twelve years old. It so happened that they had access to three straw carriages, used by her own children and those of her neighbours. They quickly determined to put a child in each of two carriages, and to bundle up as many clothes as would fill the third. The father drew the carriage containing one child, the mother the other child, and the little girl drew the bundle of clothes. They thus set out, to go they knew not whither, only to get out of the way of danger. It was about midnight, a dark, cold night. They went on and on, to the outskirts of the town, encountering a confused multitude rushing pell-mell, with ever and anon a shell bursting at no great distance, sent as a threat of what they might expect on the morrow. They were presently overtaken by a respectable shoemaker whom they knew, rolling a wheelbarrow containing a large bundle of clothes, and the baby. They were attracted by the poor little child rolling off from its elevated place on the bundle, and as Mrs. D. stopped, with motherly solicitude for the child, the poor man told his story. In the darkness and confusion he had become separated from his wife and other children, and knew not where to find them; he thought he might find them but for anxiety about the baby. Mrs. D. then proposed that he should take her bundle of clothes with his in the wheelbarrow, and put his child into the third straw carriage. This being agreed to, the party passed on. When they came to our encampment, a soldier ran out to offer to draw one carriage, and thus rest the mother; having gone as far as he dared from his regiment, then another soldier took his place to the end of his line, and so on from one soldier to another until our encampment was passed. Then she drew on her little charge about two miles farther, to the house of an acquaintance, which was wide open to the homeless. Until late the next day the shoemaker's baby was under their care, but he at last came, bringing the bundle in safety. As the day progressed the cannon roared and the shells whistled, and it was thought advisable for them to go on to Chancellorsville. The journey of several miles was performed on foot, still with the straw carriages, for no horse nor vehicle could be found in that desolated country. They remained at Chancellorsville until the 2d or 3d of May, when that house became within range of cannon. Again she gathered up her little flock, and came on to Ashland. Her little three-years old boy explored the boarding-house as soon as he got to it, and finding no cellar he became alarmed, and running to his mother, exclaimed, “This house won't do, mother; we all have no cellar to go into when they shell it!” Thus our children are born and reared amid war and bloodshed! It seemed so sad to me to see a bright little girl, a few days ago, of four years old, stop in the midst of her play, when she heard distant thunder, exclaiming, “Let me run home, they are firing!” Poor little child, her father had been a sacrifice; no wonder that she wanted to run to her mother when she thought she heard firing. Tales far more sad than that of Mrs. D. are told, of the poor assembled by hundreds on the roadside in groups, having no shelter to cover them, and often nothing to eat, on that dark winter's night.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 218-22

Charlotte Cross Wigfall to Lieutenant Francis H. Wigfall, June 27, 1863

orange C. H., June 27th, 1863.

. . . I was very glad to get your note of the 18th June, and only wish I knew where you were now. We are all an anxious set of women at present. Mrs. Gordon (J. B.) leaves to-day for Winchester to try and hear something of her husband. He commands Lawton's old brigade. . . .

We are all much delighted with the accounts from the Yankee papers — of their alarm and dismay — but it seems unaccountable, after their disgraceful and barbarous treatment of our people that we should not be repaying them in their own coin.

SOURCE: Louise Wigfall Wright, A Southern Girl in ’61, p. 137

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Tuesday July 22, 1862

Another such day, and there is the end of me! Charlie decided to send Lilly and the children into the country early to-morrow morning, and get them safely out of this doomed town. Mother, Miriam, and I were to remain here alone. Take the children away, and I can stand whatever is to come; but this constant alarm, with five babies in the house, is too much for any of us. So we gladly packed their trunks and got them ready, and then news came pouring in.

First a negro man just from the country told Lilly that our soldiers were swarming out there, that he had never seen so many men. Then Dena wrote us that a Mrs. Bryan had received a letter from her son, praying her not to be in Baton Rouge after Wednesday morning, as they were to attack to-morrow. Then a man came to Charlie, and told him that though he was on parole, yet as a Mason he must beg him not to let his wife sleep in town to-night; to get her away before sunset. But it is impossible for her to start before morning. Hearing so many rumors, all pointing to the same time, we began to believe there might be some danger; so I packed all necessary clothing that could be dispensed with now in a large trunk for mother, Miriam, and me, and got it ready to send out in the country to Mrs. Williams. All told, I have but eight dresses left; so I'll have to be particular. I am wealthy, compared to what I would have been Sunday night, for then I had but two in my sack, and now I have my best in the trunk. If the attack comes before the trunk gets off, or if the trunk is lost, we will verily be beggars; for I pack well, and it contains everything of any value in clothing.

The excitement is on the increase, I think. Everybody is crazy to leave town.

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 124-5

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Sunday, November 13, 1864

We started early this morning for Atlanta and after marching twenty miles went into camp for the night. A detachment of the Twentieth Army Corps is stationed at the railroad bridge crossing the Chattahoochee river. They will soon destroy the bridge, and also the track clear to Atlanta. All is quiet in the front. We burned everything in our camp yesterday that we did not need, and it seems that everything in sight is being burned. Every man seems to think he has a free hand to touch the match. The nice little town of Marietta which we left behind this morning will doubtless be burned before the last of Sherman's army leaves the place.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 228

Monday, August 31, 2015

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Monday, November 14, 1864

This morning was cool and pleasant. We started early and marched five miles, going into camp a mile south of Atlanta. We tore up the railroad tracks through Atlanta and burned all the public buildings. There was a fine large station here, and a splendid engine house, but both were burned. Very few citizens are left in Atlanta. The Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth and Twentieth Army Corps are in bivouac in the vicinity of Atlanta. They are concentrating here for the purpose of making a grand raid down South. We are to take forty days' rations with us, consisting of hardtack, coffee, sugar, salt and pepper, candles and soap, but we are to forage for meat as we march through the country. All is quiet.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 228-9

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, November 15, 1864

Started early this morning for the Southern coast, somewhere, and we don't care, so long as Sherman is leading us. The Army of the Tennessee forms the right, while the Army of the Cumberland is moving off in the direction of Milledgeville, Georgia. There are about sixty thousand men of all arms, and they are in fine spirits and well clothed for the campaign. The roads are good and the weather fine for marching. We went into bivouac for the night about twelve miles from Atlanta. The country is very thinly settled and there is nothing to forage. All is quiet at the front — none of the rebels in sight.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 229

Horace Greeley to James S. Pike, August 13, 1860

New York, August 13, 1860.

Friend Pike: I very cheerfully contribute this $20 toward the Maine election fund, providing that you will see it honestly expended. I don't trust the average run of Maine politicians, who are thievish (even the priests) and beggarly (even the leading editors). They are a poor lot, and will swallow all the funds they can get hold of.

I did not know nor suspect what Dana's opinion was on the point in dispute, but I consider him a better judge than Old Buck or Cushing.

I shall be greatly disappointed as well as grieved if you lose your district. Think of Frank Blair, and be ashamed of your doubts and quickened in your works.

Horace Greeley.
James S. Pike, Esq., Calais, Maine.

SOURCE: James Shepherd Pike, First Blows of the Civil War: The Ten Years of Preliminary Conflict in the United States from 1850 to 1860, p. 524

Governor Francis W. Pickens to Christopher Memminger, approximately February 27, 1861

Received your telegram to-day. But am sure if you do not act immediately and appoint a commander-in-chief to take charge, it will be too late. Act quickly, now, or I shall be compelled to act. Send your Commissioners on to Washington now, right off, and telegraph me, or it will be beyond your control. Things look bad in Washington.

F. W. P.

SOURCE: Samuel Wylie Crawford, The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861, p. 248

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Diary of William Howard Russell: April 22, 1861

To-day was fixed for the visit to Mr. Pringle's plantation, which lies above Georgetown near the Pedee River. Our party, which consisted of Mr. Mitchell, an eminent lawyer of Charleston, Colonel Reed, a neighboring planter, Mr. Ward, of New York, our host, and myself, were on board the Georgetown steamer at seven o'clock, A. M., and started with a quantity of commissariat stores, ammunition, and the like, for the use of the troops quartered along the coast. There was, of course, a large supply of newspapers also. At that early hour invitations to the “bar” were not uncommon, where the news was discussed by long-legged, grave, sallow men. There was a good deal of joking about “old Abe Lincoln's paper blockade,” and the report that the Government had ordered their cruisers to treat the crews of Confederate privateers as “pirates” provoked derisive and menacing comments. The full impulses of national life are breathing through the whole of this people. There is their flag flying over Sumter, and the Confederate banner is waving on all the sand-forts and headlands which guard the approaches to Charleston.

A civil war and persecution have already commenced. “Suspected Abolitionists” are ill-treated in the South, and “Suspected Secessionists” are mobbed and beaten in the North. The news of the attack on the 6th Massachusetts, and the Pennsylvania regiment, by the mob in Baltimore, has been received with great delight; but some long-headed people see that it will only expose Baltimore and Maryland to the full force of the Northern States. The riot took place on the anniversary of Lexington.

The “Nina” was soon in open sea, steering northwards and keeping four miles from shore in order to clear the shoals and banks which fringe the low sandy coasts, and effectually prevent even light gunboats covering a descent by their ordnance. This was one of the reasons why the Federal fleet did not make any attempt to relieve Fort Sumter during the engagement. On our way out we could see the holes made in the large hotel and other buildings on Sullivan's Island behind Fort Moultrie, by the shot from the fort, which caused terror among the negroes “miles away.” There was no sign of any blockading vessel, but look-out parties were posted along the beach, and as the skipper said we might have to make our return-journey by land, every sail on the horizon was anxiously scanned through our glasses.

Having passed the broad mouth of the Santee, the steamer in three hours and a half ran up an estuary, into which the Maccamaw River and the Pedee River pour their united waters.

Our vessel proceeded along-shore to a small jetty, at the end of which was a group of armed men, some of them being part of a military post, to defend the coast and river, established under cover of an earthwork and palisades constructed with trunks of trees, and mounting three 32-pounders. Several posts of a similar character lay on the river banks, and from some of these we were boarded by men in boats hungry for news and newspapers. Most of the men at the pier were cavalry troopers, belonging to a volunteer association of the gentry for coast defence, and they had been out night and day patrolling the shores, and doing the work of common soldiers — very precious material for such work. They wore gray tunics, slashed and faced with yellow, buff belts, slouched felt hats, ornamented with drooping cocks' plumes, and long jackboots, which well became their fine persons and bold bearing, and were evidently due to “Cavalier” associations. They were all equals. Our friends on board the boat hailed them by their Christian names, gave and heard the news. Among the cases landed at the pier were certain of champagne and pâtés, on which Captain Blank was wont to regale his company daily at his own expense, or that of his cotton broker. Their horses picketed in the shade of trees close to the beach, the parties of women riding up and down the sands, or driving in light tax-carts, suggested images of a large picnic, and a state of society quite indifferent to Uncle Abe's cruisers and Hessians.” After a short delay here, the steamer proceeded on her way to Georgetown, an ancient and once important settlement and port, which was marked in the distance by the little forest of masts rising above the level land, and the tops of the trees beyond, and by a solitary church-spire.

As the "Nina" approaches the tumble-down wharf of the old town, two or three citizens advance from the shade of shaky sheds to welcome us, and a few country vehicles and light phaetons are drawn forth from the same shelter to receive the passengers, while the negro boys and girls who have been playing upon the bales of cotton and barrels of rice, which represent the trade of the place on the wharf, take up commanding positions for the better observation of our proceedings.

There is about Georgetown an air of quaint simplicity and old-fashioned quiet, which contrasts refreshingly with the bustle and tumult of American cities. While waiting for our vehicle we enjoyed the hospitality of Colonel Reed, who took us into an old-fashioned, angular, wooden mansion, more than a century old, still sound in every timber, and testifying, in its quaint wainscotings, and the rigid framework of door and window, to the durability of its cypress timbers and the preservative character of the atmosphere. In early days it was the grand house of the old settlement, and the residence of the founder of the female branch of the family of our host, who now only makes it his halting-place when passing to and fro between Charleston and his plantation, leaving it the year round in charge of an old servant and her grandchild. Rose-trees and flowering shrubs clustered before the porch and filled the garden in front, and the establishment gave one a good idea of a London merchant's retreat about Chelsea a hundred and fifty years ago.

At length we were ready for our journey, and, in two light covered gigs, proceeded along the sandy track which, after a while, led us to a road cut deep in the bosom of the woods, where silence was only broken by the cry of a woodpecker, the scream of a crane, or the sharp challenge of the jay. For miles we passed through the shades of this forest, meeting only two or three vehicles containing female planterdom on little excursions of pleasure or business, who smiled their welcome as we passed. Arrived at a deep chocolate-colored stream, called Black River, full of fish and alligators, we find a flat large enough to accommodate vehicles and passengers, and propelled by two negroes pulling upon a stretched rope, in the manner usual in the ferry-boats in Switzerland.

Another drive through a more open country, and we reach a fine grove of pine and live-oak, which melts away into a shrubbery guarded by a rustic gateway: passing through this, we are brought by a sudden turn to the planter's house, buried in trees, which dispute with the green sward and with wild flower-beds the space between the hall-door and the waters of the Pedee; and in a few minutes, as we gaze over the expanse of fields marked by the deep water-cuts, and bounded by a fringe of unceasing forest, just tinged with green by the first life of the early rice-crops, the chimneys of the steamer we had left at Georgetown, gliding as it were through the fields, indicate the existence of another navigable river still beyond.

Leaving the veranda which commanded this agreeable foreground, we enter the mansion, and are reminded by its low-browed, old-fashioned rooms, of the country houses yet to be found in parts of Ireland or on the Scottish border, with additions, made by the luxury and love of foreign travel, of more than one generation of educated Southern planters. Paintings from Italy illustrate the walls, in juxtaposition with interesting portraits of early colonial governors and their lovely womankind, limned with no uncertain hand, and full of the vigor of touch and naturalness of drapery, of which Copley has left us too few exemplars; and one portrait of Benjamin West claims for itself such honor as his own pencil can give. An excellent library — filled with collections of French and English classics, and with those ponderous editions of Voltaire, Rousseau, the “Mémoires pour Servir,” books of travel and history which delighted our forefathers in the last century, and many works of American and general history — affords ample occupation for a rainy day.

It was five o'clock before we reached our planter's house — White House Plantation. My small luggage was carried into my room by an old negro in livery, who took great pains to assure me of my perfect welcome, and who turned out to be a most excellent valet. A low room hung with colored mezzotints, windows covered with creepers, and an old-fashioned bedstead and quaint chairs, lodged me sumptuously; and after such toilet as was considered necessary by our host for a bachelor's party, we sat down to an excellent dinner, cooked by negroes and served by negroes, and aided by claret mellowed in Carolinian suns, and by Madeira brought down stairs cautiously, as in the days of Horace and Maecenas, from the cellar between the attic and the thatched roof.

Our party was increased by a neighboring planter, and after dinner the conversation returned to the old channel — all the frogs praying for a king — anyhow a prince — to rule over them. Our good host is anxious to get away to Europe, where his wife and children are, and all he fears is being mobbed at New York, where Southerners are exposed to insult, though they may get off better in that respect than Black Republicans would down South. Some of our guests talked of the duello, and of famous hands with the pistol in these parts. The conversation had altogether very much the tone which would have probably characterized the talk of a group of Tory Irish gentlemen over their wine some sixty years ago, and very pleasant it was. Not a man — no, not one — will ever join the Union again! “Thank God!” they say, “we are freed from that tyranny at last.” And yet Mr. Seward calls it the most beneficent government in the world, which never hurt a human being yet!

But alas! all the good things which the house affords, can be enjoyed but for a brief season. Just as nature has expanded every charm, developed every grace, and clothed the scene with all the beauty of opened flower, of ripening grain, and of mature vegetation, on the wings of the wind the poisoned breath comes borne to the home of the white man, and he must fly before it or perish. The books lie unopened on the shelves, the flower blooms and dies unheeded, and, pity ’tis, ’tis true, the old Madeira garnered ’neath the roof, settles down for a fresh lease of life, and sets about its solitary task of acquiring a finer flavor for the infrequent lips of its banished master and his welcome visitors. This is the story, at least, that we hear on all sides, and such is the tale repeated to us beneath the porch, when the moon while softening enhances the loveliness of the scene, and the rich melody of mockingbirds fills the grove.

Within these hospitable doors Horace might banquet better than he did with Nasidienus, and drink such wine as can be only found among the descendants of the ancestry who, improvident enough in all else, learnt the wisdom of bottling up choice old Bual and Sercial, ere the demon of oidium had dried up their generous sources forever. To these must be added excellent bread, ingenious varieties of the galette, compounded now of rice and now of Indian meal, delicious butter and fruits, all good of their kind. And is there anything better rising up from the bottom of the social bowl? My black friends who attend on me are grave as Mussulman Khitmutgars. They are attired in liveries and wear white cravats and Berlin gloves. At night when we retire, off they go to their outer darkness in the small settlement of negro-hood, which is separated from our house by a wooden palisade. Their fidelity is undoubted. The house breathes an air of security. The doors and windows are unlocked. There is but one gun, a fowling-piece, on the premises. No planter hereabouts has any dread of his slaves. But I have seen, within the short time I have been in this part of the world, several dreadful accounts of murder and violence, in which masters suffered at the hands of their slaves. There is something suspicious in the constant never-ending statement that “we are not afraid of our slaves.” The curfew and the night patrol in the streets, the prisons and watch-houses, and the police regulations, prove that strict supervision, at all events, is needed and necessary. My host is a kind man and a good master. If slaves are happy anywhere, they should be so with him.

These people are fed by their master. They have half a pound per diem of fat pork, and corn in abundance. They rear poultry and sell their chickens and eggs to the house. They are clothed by their master. He keeps them in sickness as in health. Now and then there are gifts of tobacco and molasses for the deserving. There was little labor going on in the fields, for the rice has been just exerting itself to get its head above water. These fields yield plentifully; the waters of the river are fat, and they are let in whenever the planter requires it by means of floodgates and small canals, through which the flats can carry their loads of grain to the river for loading the steamers.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 127-32