Sunday, July 1, 2012

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: Tuesday, April 15, 1862

Prescott is too clever ever to be a bore; that was proved to-day, for he stayed two hours; as usual, Mr. Chesnut said “four.”  Trescott was very surly; calls himself ex-Secretary of State of the United States; now, nothing in particular of South Carolina or the Confederate States. Then he yawned, “What a bore this war is. I wish it was ended, one way or another.”  He speaks of going across the border and taking service in Mexico. “Rubbish, not much Mexico for you,” I answered. Another patriot came then and averred, “I will take my family back to town, that we may all surrender together. I gave it up early in the spring.”  Prescott made a face behind backs, and said: “Lache!”

The enemy have flanked Beauregard at Nashville. There is grief enough for Albert Sidney Johnston now; we begin to see what we have lost. We were pushing them into the river when General Johnston was wounded. Beauregard was lying in his tent, at the rear, in a green sickness — melancholy — but no matter what the name of the malady. He was too slow to move, and lost all the advantage gained by our dead hero.1  Without him there is no head to our Western army. Pulaski has fallen. What more is there to fall?

Mrs. Middleton: “How did you settle Molly's little difficulty with Mrs. McMahan, that ‘piece of her mind’ that Molly gave our landlady?”  "Oh, paid our way out of it, of course, and I apologized for Molly!”

Gladden, the hero of the Palmettos in Mexico, is killed. Shiloh has been a dreadful blow to us. Last winter Stephen, my brother, had it in his power to do such a nice thing for Colonel Gladden. In the dark he heard his name, also that he had to walk twenty-five miles in Alabama mud or go on an ammunition wagon. So he introduced himself as a South Carolinian to Colonel Gladden, whom he knew only by reputation as colonel of the Palmetto regiment in the Mexican war. And they drove him in his carriage comfortably to where he wanted to go — a night drive of fifty miles for Stephen, for he had the return trip, too. I would rather live in Siberia, worse still, in Sahara, than live in a country surrendered to Yankees.

The Carolinian says the conscription bill passed by Congress is fatal to our liberties as a people. Let us be a people “certain and sure,” as poor Tom B. said, and then talk of rebelling against our home government.

Sat up all night.  Read Eothen straight through, our old Wiley and Putnam edition that we bought in London in 1845. How could I sleep? The power they are bringing to bear against our country is tremendous. Its weight may be irresistible — I dare not think of that, however.

1 The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg Landing, in Tennessee, eighty-eight miles east of Memphis, had been fought on April 6 and 7, 1862. The Federals were commanded by General Grant who, on the second day, was reenforced by General Buell. The Confederates were commanded by Albert Sidney Johnston on the first day, when Johnston was killed, and on the second day by General Beauregard.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 155-7

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