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WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
Copyright, 1913, by Warrington Dawson
A Philadelphian had been talking with my mother of
North and South, and had alluded to the engagement
between the Essex and the Arkansas, on the Mississippi,
as a brilliant victory for the Federal navy. My mother
protested, at once; said that she and her sister Miriam,
and several friends, had been witnesses, from the levee,
to the fact that the Confederates had fired and
abandoned their own ship when the machinery broke
down, after two shots had been exchanged: the
Federals, cautiously turning the point, had then captured
but a smoking hulk. The Philadelphian gravely corrected
her; history, it appeared, had consecrated, on the
strength of an official report, the version more agreeable
to Northern pride.
"But I wrote a description of the whole, just a few
hours after it occurred!" my mother insisted. "Early in the
war I began to keep a diary, and continued until the very
end; I had to find some vent for my feelings, and I would
not make an exhibition of myself by talking, as so many
women did. I have written while resting to recover breath in
the midst of a stampede; I have even written with shells
A CONFEDERATE GIRL'S
SARAH MORGAN DAWSON
AND WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press Cambridge
All rights reserved
Published September 1913
THOSE WHO ENDURED AND FORGAVE
From a daguerreotype in the possession of the family.
From a daguerreotype in the possession of the family.
From a daguerreotype in the possession of the family.
Sully's portrait of Mrs. Morgan.
Built by General A. G. Carter in 1848, now the home of his grandson, Howell Morgan. This was a Spanish grant and has always remained in the family.
On Church Street, Baton Rouge, La., now the property of St. Joseph Academy, and used as an annex.
IT IS perhaps due to a chance conversation, held some
seventeen years ago in New York, that this Diary of the
Civil War was saved from destruction.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
Copyright, 1913, by Warrington Dawson
A Philadelphian had been talking with my mother of North and South, and had alluded to the engagement between the Essex and the Arkansas, on the Mississippi, as a brilliant victory for the Federal navy. My mother protested, at once; said that she and her sister Miriam, and several friends, had been witnesses, from the levee, to the fact that the Confederates had fired and abandoned their own ship when the machinery broke down, after two shots had been exchanged: the Federals, cautiously turning the point, had then captured but a smoking hulk. The Philadelphian gravely corrected her; history, it appeared, had consecrated, on the strength of an official report, the version more agreeable to Northern pride.
"But I wrote a description of the whole, just a few hours after it occurred!" my mother insisted. "Early in the war I began to keep a diary, and continued until the very end; I had to find some vent for my feelings, and I would not make an exhibition of myself by talking, as so many women did. I have written while resting to recover breath in the midst of a stampede; I have even written with shells
bursting over the house in which I sat, ready to flee but waiting for my mother and sisters to finish their preparations."
"If that record still existed, it would be invaluable," said the Philadelphian. "We Northerners are sincerely anxious to know what Southern women did and thought at that time, but the difficulty is to find authentic contemporaneous evidence. All that I, for one, have seen, has been marred by improvement in the light of subsequent events."
"You may read my evidence as it was written from March 1862 until April 1865," my mother declared impulsively.
At our home in Charleston, on her return, she unstitched with trembling hands a linen-bound parcel always kept in her tall, cedar-lined wardrobe of curled walnut. On it was scratched in ink "To be burned unread after my death"; it contained, she had once told me, a record of no interest save to her who had written it and lacked the courage to re-read it; a narrative of days she had lived, of joys she had lost; of griefs accepted, of vain hopes cherished.
From the linen, as the stitches were cut, fell five blank books of different sizes. Two, of convenient dimensions, might have been intended for diaries; the other three, somewhat unwieldy, were partly used ledgers from Judge P. H. Morgan's office. They were closely written in a clear, firm hand; the ink, of poor quality, had faded in many places to a pale brown scarcely darker than the deep yellow to
which time had burned the paper. The effort to read under such conditions, and the tears shed over the scenes evoked, might well have cost my mother her sight; but she toiled for many weeks, copying out the essential portions of the voluminous record for the benefit of the Northerner who really wished to know.
Her transcription finished, she sent it to Philadelphia. It was in due course returned, with cold regrets that the temptation to rearrange it had not been resisted. No Southerner at that time could possibly have had opinions so just or foresight so clear as those here attributed to a young girl. Explanation was not asked, nor justification allowed: the case, tried by one party alone, with evidence seen from one standpoint alone, had been judged without appeal.
Keenly wounded and profoundly discouraged, my mother returned the diaries to their linen envelope, and never saw them again. But my curiosity had been roused by these incidents; in the night, thoughts of the records would haunt me, bringing ever the ante-bellum scent of the cedar-lined wardrobe. I pleaded for the preservation of the volumes, and succeeded at last when, beneath the injunction that they should be burned, my mother wrote a deed of gift to me with permission to make such use of them as I might think fitting.
Reading those pages for myself, of late, as I transcribed them in my turn, I confess to having
blamed the Philadelphian but lightly for his skepticism.
Here was a girl who, by her own admission, had known but ten months' schooling in her life, and had educated herself at home because of her yearning for knowledge; and yet she wrote in a style so pure, with a command of English so thorough, that rare are the pages where she had to stop for the alteration of so much as one word. The very haste of noting what had just occurred, before more should come, had disturbed the pure line of very few among these flowing sentences. There are certain uses of words to which the twentieth century purist will take exception; but if he is familiar with Victorian literature he will know that these points have been solved within the last few decades - and not all solved to the satisfaction of everyone, even now.
But underlying this remarkable feat of style, are a fairness of treatment and a balance of judgment incredible at such a period and in an author so young. On such a day, we may note an entry denouncing the Federals before their arrival at Baton Rouge; another page, and we see that the Federal officers are courteous and considerate, we hear regrets that denunciations should have been dictated by prejudice. Does Farragut bombard a town occupied by women and children, or does Butler threaten to arm negroes against them? Be sure, then, that this Southern girl will not spare adjectives to condemn them! But do Southern
women exaggerate in applying to all Federals the opprobrium deserved by some? Then those women will be criticized for forgetting the reserve imposed upon ladies. This girl knew then what history has since established, and what enlightened men and women on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line have since acknowledged: that in addition to the gentlemen in the Federal ranks who always behaved as gentlemen should, there were others, both officers and privates, who had donned the Federal uniform because of the opportunity for rapine which offered, and who were as unworthy of the Stars and Stripes as they would have been of the Stars and Bars.
I can understand, therefore, that this record should meet with skepticism at the hands of theorists committed to an opinion, or of skimmers who read guessing the end of a sentence before they reach the middle. But the originals exist to-day, and have been seen by others than myself; and I pledge myself here to the assertion that I have taken no liberties, have made no alterations, but have strictly adhered to my task of transcription, merely omitting here and there passages which deal with matters too personal to merit the interest of the public.
Those who read seriously, and with unbiased mind, will need no external guarantees of authenticity, however; for the style is of that spontaneous quality which no imitation could attain, and which
attempted improvement could only mar. The very construction of the whole - for it does appear as a whole - is influenced by the circumstances which made the life of that tragic period.
The author begins with an airy appeal to Madame Idleness - in order to forget. Then, the war seemed a sacred duty, an heroic endeavor, an inevitable trial, according as Southerners chose to take it; but the prevailing opinion was that the solution would come in victory for Southern arms, whether by their own unaided might or with the support of English intervention. The seat of war was far removed, and but for the absence of dear ones at the front and anxiety about them, Southern women would have been little disturbed in their routine of household duties. But presently the roar of cannon draws near, actual danger is experienced in some cases, suffering and privation must be accepted in all. Thenceforth, the women are part of the war; there may be interludes of plantation life momentarily secure from bullets and from oppression, yet the cloud is felt hanging ever lower and blacker. Gradually, the writer's gay spirit fails; an injury to her spine, for which adequate medical care cannot be found in the Confederacy, and the condition of her mother, all but starving at Clinton, drive these Southern women to the protection of a Union relative in New Orleans. The hated Eagle Oath must be taken, the beloved Confederacy must be renounced at least in words. Entries in the Diary become briefer and briefer, yet
are sustained unto the bitter end, when the deaths of two brothers, and the crash of the Lost Cause, are told with the tragic reserve of a broken heart.
I have alluded to passages omitted because too personal. That the clearness of the narrative may not suffer, I hope to be pardoned for explaining briefly, here, the position of Sarah Morgan's family at the outbreak of the Civil War.
Her father, Judge Thomas Gibbes Morgan, had been Collector of the Port of New Orleans, and in 1861 was Judge of the District Court of the Parish of Baton Rouge. In complete sympathy with Southern rights, he disapproved of Secession as a movement fomented by hotheads on both sides, but he declared for it when his State so decided. He died at his home in Baton Rouge in November, 1861, before the arrival of Farragut's fleet.
Judge Thomas Gibbes Morgan's eldest son, Philip Hickey Morgan, was also a Judge, of the Second District Court of the Parish of Orleans. Judge P. H. Morgan (alluded to as "Brother" and his wife as "Sister" throughout the Diary) disapproved of Secession like his father, but did not stand by his State. He declared himself for the Union, and remained in New Orleans when the Federals took possession, but refused to bear arms against his brothers and friends. His position enabled him to render signal services to many Confederate prisoners suffering under Butler's rule. And it was a conversation
of his with President Hayes, when he told the full, unprejudiced truth about the Dual Government and the popular sentiment of Louisiana, which put an end to Reconstruction there by the Washington Government's recognition of General Francis T. Nicholls, elected Governor by the people, instead of Packard, declared Governor by the Republican Returning Board of the State. Judge P. H. Morgan had proved his disinterestedness in his report to the President; for the new Democratic régime meant his own resignation from the post of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana which he held under the Republicans. He applied then to himself a piece of advice which he later was to give a young relative mentioned in the pages of this Diary: "Always remember that it is best to be in accord with the sentiments of the vast majority of the people in your State. They are more apt to be right, on public questions of the day, than the individual citizen."
If Judge Thomas Gibbes Morgan's eldest son stayed within the Union lines because he would not sanction Secession, his eldest daughter - Lavinia - was on the Federal side also, married to Colonel Richard Coulter Drum, then stationed in California, and destined to become, in days of peace, Adjutant-General under President Cleveland's first administration. Though spared the necessity of fighting against his wife's brothers, Colonel Drum was largely instrumental in checking the Secession movement
in California which would probably have assured the success of the South.
In the early days of Secession agitation, another son of Judge T. G. Morgan, Henry, had died in a duel over a futile quarrel which busybodies had envenomed. The three remaining sons had gone off to the war. Thomas Gibbes Morgan, Jr., married to Lydia, daughter of General A. G. Carter and a cousin of Mrs. Jefferson Davis, was Captain in the Seventh Louisiana Regiment, serving under Stonewall Jackson; George Mather Morgan, unmarried, was a Captain in the First Louisiana, also with Jackson in Virginia. The youngest, James Morris Morgan, had resigned from Annapolis, where he was a cadet, and hurried back to enlist in the Confederate navy.
At the family home in Baton Rouge, only women and children remained. There was Judge Morgan's widow, Sarah Fowler Morgan; a married daughter, Eliza or "Lilly," with her five children; and two unmarried daughters, Miriam and Sarah. "Lilly's" husband, J. Charles La Noue, came and went; unable to abandon his large family without protector or resources, he had not joined the regular army, but took a part in battles near whatever place of refuge he had found for those dependent on him. We note, for instance, that he helped in the Confederate attack on Baton Rouge, together with General Carter, whose age had prevented him from taking regular service.
A word more as to the author of this Diary, and I have finished.
The war over, Sarah Morgan knitted together the threads of her torn life and faced her present, in preparation for whatever the future might hold. In South Carolina, under Reconstruction, she met a young Englishman, Captain Francis Warrington Dawson, who had left his home in London to fight for a cause where his chivalrous nature saw right threatened by might. In the Confederate navy under Commodore Pegram, in the Army of Northern Virginia under Longstreet, at the close of the war he was Chief Ordnance officer to General Fitzhugh Lee. But although the force of arms, of men, of money, of mechanical resources, of international support, had decided against the Confederacy, he refused to acknowledge permanent defeat for Southern ideals, and so cast his lot with those beside whom he had fought. His ambition was to help his adopted country in reconquering through journalism and sound politics that which seemed lost through war. What he accomplished in South Carolina is a matter of public record to-day. The part played in this work by Sarah Morgan as his wife is known to all who approached them during their fifteen years of a married life across which no shadow ever fell.
Sarah Morgan Dawson was destined to outlive not only her husband, but all save three of her eight brothers and sisters, and most of the relatives and
friends mentioned in the pages which follow; was destined to endure deep affliction once more, and to renounce a second home dearer than that first whose wreck she recorded during the war. Yet never did her faith, her courage, her steadfastness fail her, never did the light of an almost childlike trust in God and in mankind fade from her clear blue eyes. The Sarah Morgan who, as a girl, could stifle her sobs as she forced herself to laugh or to sing, was the mother I knew in later years.
I love most to remember her in the broad tree-shaded avenues of Versailles where, dreaming of a distant tragic past, she found ever new strength to meet the present. Death claimed her not far from there, in Paris, at a moment when her daughter in America, her son in Africa, were powerless to reach her. But souls like unto hers leave their mark in passing through the world; and, though in a foreign land, separated from all who had been dear to her, she received from two friends such devotion as few women deserve in life, and such as few other women are capable of giving.
She had done more than live and love: - she had endured while endurance was demanded; and, released from the house of bondage, she had, without trace of bitterness in her heart, forgiven those who had caused her martyrdom.
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA,
March 9th, 1862.
HERE I am, at your service, Madame Idleness, waiting for any suggestion it may please you to put in my weary brain, as a means to pass this dull, cloudy Sunday afternoon; for the great Pike clock over the way has this instant struck only half-past three; and if a rain is added to the high wind that has been blowing ever since the month commenced, and prevents my going to Mrs. Brunot's before dark, I fear I shall fall a victim to "the blues" for the first time in my life. Indeed it is dull. Miriam went to Linewood with Lydia yesterday, and I miss them beyond all expression. Miriam is so funny! She says she cannot live without me, and yet she can go away, and stay for months without missing me in the slightest degree. Extremely funny! And I - well, it is absurd to fancy myself alive without Miriam. She would rather not visit with me, and yet, be it for an hour or a month, I never halfway enjoy myself without her, away from home. Miriam is my "Rock ahead" in life; I'll founder on her yet. It's a grand sight for people out of reach, who will not come in contact with the breakers, but it is quite
another thing to me, perpetually dancing on those sharp points in my little cockleshell that forms so ludicrous a contrast to the grand scene around. I am sure to founder!
I hold that every family has at heart one genius, in some line, no matter what - except in our family, where each is a genius, in his own way. Hem! And Miriam has a genius for the piano. Now I never could bear to compete with any one, knowing that it is the law of my being to be inferior to others, consequently to fail, and failure is so humiliating to me. So it is, that people may force me to abandon any pursuit by competing with me; for knowing that failure is inevitable, rather than fight against destiny I give up de bonne grâce. Originally, I was said to have a talent for the piano, as well as Miriam. Sister and Miss Isabella said I would make a better musician than she, having more patience and perseverance. However, I took hardly six months' lessons to her ever so many years; heard how well she played, got disgusted with myself, and gave up the piano at fourteen, with spasmodic fits of playing every year or so. At sixteen, Harry gave me a guitar. Here was a new field where I would have no competitors. I knew no one who played on it; so I set to work, and taught myself to manage it, mother only teaching me how to tune it. But Miriam took a fancy to it, and I taught her all I knew; but as she gained, I lost my relish, and if she had not soon abandoned it, I would know nothing of it now. She does not
know half that I do about it; they tell me I play much better than she; yet they let her play on it in company before me, and I cannot pretend to play after. Why is it? It is not vanity, or I would play, confident of excelling her. It is not jealousy, for I love to see her show her talents. It is not selfishness; I love her too much to be selfish to her. What is it then? "Simply lack of self-esteem" I would say if there was no phrenologist near to correct me, and point out that well-developed hump at the extreme southern and heavenward portion of my Morgan head. Self-esteem or not, Mr. Phrenologist, the result is, that Miriam is by far the best performer in Baton Rouge, and I would rank forty-third even in the delectable village of Jackson.
And yet I must have some ear for music. To "know as many songs as Sarah" is a family proverb; not very difficult songs, or very beautiful ones, to be sure, besides being very indifferently sung; but the tunes will run in my head, and it must take some ear to catch them. People say to me, "Of course you play?" to which I invariably respond, "Oh, no, but Miriam plays beautifully!" "You sing, I believe?" "Not at all - except for father" (that is what I used to say) - "and the children. But Miriam sings." "You are fond of dancing?" "Very; but I cannot dance as well as Miriam." "Of course, you are fond of society?" "No, indeed! Miriam is, and she goes to all the parties and returns all the visits for me." The consequence is, that if the person who
questions is a stranger, he goes off satisfied that "that Miriam must be a great girl; but that little sister of hers - ! Well! a prig, to say the least!"
So it is Miriam catches all my fish - and so it is, too, that it is not raining, and I'm off.
Until that dreary 1861, I had no idea of sorrow or grief. . . . How I love to think of myself at that time! Not as myself, but as some happy, careless child who danced through life, loving God's whole world too much to love any particular one, outside of her own family. She was more childish then - yet I like her for all her folly; I can say it now, for she is as dead as though she was lying underground.
Now do not imagine that Sarah has become an aged lady in the fifteen months that have elapsed since, for it is no such thing; her heart does ache occasionally, but that is a secret between her and this little rosewood furnished room; and when she gets over it, there is no one more fond of making wheelbarrows of the children, or of catching Charlie or mother by the foot and making them play lame chicken. . . . Now all this done by a young lady who remembers eighteen months ago with so much regret that she has lost so much of her high spirits - might argue that her spirits were before tremendous; and yet they were not. That other Sarah was ladylike, I am sure, in her wildest moments, but there is something hurried and boisterous in this
one's tricks that reminds me of some one who is making a merit of being jolly under depressing circumstances. No! that is not a nice Sarah now, to my taste.
The commencement of '61 promised much pleasure for the rest of the year, and though Secession was talked about, I do not believe any one anticipated the war that has been desolating our country ever since, with no prospect of terminating for some time to come. True the garrison was taken, but then several pleasant officers of the Louisiana army were stationed there, and made quite an agreeable addition to our small parties, and we did not think for a moment that trouble would grow out of it - at least, we girls did not. Next Louisiana seceded, but still we did not trouble ourselves with gloomy anticipations, for many strangers visited the town, and our parties, rides, and walks grew gayer and more frequent.
One little party - shall I ever forget it? - was on the 9th of March, I think; such an odd, funny little party! Such queer things happened! What a fool Mr. McG- made of himself! Even more so than usual. But hush! It's not fair to laugh at a lady - under peculiar circumstances. And he tried so hard to make himself agreeable, poor fellow, that I ought to like him for being so obedient to my commands. "Say something new; something funny," I said, tired of a subject on which he had been
expatiating all the evening; for I had taken a long ride with him before sunset, he had escorted me to Mrs. Brunot's, and here he was still at my side, and his conversation did not interest me. To hear, with him, was to obey. "Something funny? Well -" here he commenced telling something about somebody, the fun of which seemed to consist in the somebody's having "knocked his shins" against something else. I only listened to the latter part; I was bored, and showed it. "Shins!" was I to laugh at such a story?
Day before yesterday, just about this time of evening, as I came home from the graveyard, Jimmy unexpectedly came in. Ever since the 12th of February he has been waiting on the Yankees' pleasure, in the Mississippi, at all places below Columbus, and having been under fire for thirteen days at Tiptonville, Island No. 10 having surrendered Monday night; and Commodore Hollins thinking it high time to take possession of the ironclad ram at New Orleans, and give them a small party below the forts, he carried off his little aide from the McRae Tuesday morning, and left him here Thursday evening, to our infinite delight, for we felt as though we would never again see our dear little Jimmy. He has grown so tall, and stout, that it is really astonishing, considering the short time he has been away. . . . To our great distress, he jumped up from dinner, and declared he must go to the city on the very next
boat. Commodore Hollins would need him, he must be at his post, etc., and in twenty minutes he was off, the rascal, before we could believe he had been here at all. There is something in his eye that reminds me of Harry, and tells me, that, like Hal, he will die young.
And these days that are going by remind me of Hal, too. I am walking in our footsteps of last year. The eighth was the day we gave him a party, on his return home. I see him so distinctly standing near the pier table, talking to Mr. Sparks, whom he had met only that morning, and who, three weeks after, had Harry's blood upon his hands. He is a murderer now, without aim or object in life, as before; with only one desire - to die - and death still flees from him, and he Dares not rid himself of life.
All those dancing there that night have undergone trial and affliction since. Father is dead, and Harry. Mr. Trezevant lies at Corinth with his skull fractured by a bullet; every young man there has been in at least one battle since, and every woman has cried over her son, brother, or sweetheart, going away to the wars, or lying sick and wounded. And yet we danced that night, and never thought of bloodshed! The week before Louisiana seceded, Jack Wheat stayed with us, and we all liked him so much, and he thought so much of us; - and last week - a week ago to-day - he was killed on the battlefield of Shiloh.
Among the many who visited us, in the beginning of 1861, there was Mr. Bradford. I took a dislike to him the first time I ever saw him, and, being accustomed to say just what I pleased to all the other gentlemen, tried it with him. It was at dinner, and for a long while I had the advantage, and though father would sometimes look grave, Gibbes, and all at my end of the table, would scream with laughter. At last Mr. Bradford commenced to retaliate, and my dislike changed into respect for a man who could make an excellent repartee with perfect good-breeding; and after dinner, when the others took their leave, and he asked permission to remain, - during his visit, which lasted until ten o'clock, he had gone over such a variety of subjects, conversing so well upon all, that Miriam and I were so interested that we forgot to have the gas lit!
And another was silly little Mr. B-r, my little golden calf. What a - don't call names! I owe him a grudge for "cold hands," and the other day, when I heard of his being wounded at Shiloh, I could not help laughing a little at Tom B-r's being hurt. What was the use of throwing a nice, big cannon ball, that might have knocked a man down, away on that poor little fellow, when a pea from a popgun would have made the same impression? Not but what he is brave, but little Mr.B-r is so soft.
Then there was that rattle-brain Mr. T-t who, commencing one subject, never ceased speaking until he had touched on all. One evening he came in talking, and never paused even for a reply until he bowed himself out, talking still, when Mr. Bradford, who had been forced to silence as well as the rest, threw himself back with a sigh of relief and exclaimed, "This man talks like a woman!" I thought it the best description of Mr. T-t's conversation I had ever heard. It was all on the surface, no pretensions to anything except to put the greatest possible number of words of no meaning in one sentence, while speaking of the most trivial thing. Night or day, Mr. T-t never passed home without crying out to me, "Ces jolis yeux bleus!" and if the parlor were brightly lighted so that all from the street might see us, and be invisible to us themselves, I always nodded my head to the outer darkness and laughed, no matter who was present, though it sometimes created remark. You see, I knew the joke. Coming from a party escorted by Mr. B-r, Miriam by Mr. T-t, 1 we had to wait a long time before Rose opened the door, which interval I employed in dancing up and down the gallery - followed by my cavalier - singing, -
"Mes jolis yeux bleus,
Bleus comme les cieux,
Mes jolis yeux bleus
Ont ravi son âme," etc.;
which naïve remark Mr. B-r, not speaking French, lost entirely, and Mr. T-t endorsed it with his approbation and belief in it, and ever afterwards called me "Ces jolis yeux bleus."
April 19th, 1862.
Another date in Hal's short history! I see myself walking home with Mr. McG- just after sundown, meeting Miriam and Dr. Woods at the gate; only that was a Friday instead of a Saturday, as this. From the other side, Mr. Sparks comes up and joins us. We stand talking in the bright moonlight which makes Miriam look white and statue-like. I am holding roses in my hand, in return for which one little pansy has been begged from my garden, and is now figuring as a shirt-stud. I turn to speak to that man of whom I said to Dr. Woods, before I even knew his name, "Who is this man who passes here so constantly? I feel that I shall hate him to my dying day." He told me his name was Sparks, a good, harmless fellow, etc. And afterwards, when I did know him, [Dr. Woods] would ask every time we met, "Well! do you hate Sparks yet?" I could not really hate any one in my heart, so I always answered, "He is a good-natured fool, but I will hate him yet." But even now I cannot: my only feeling is intense pity for the man who has dealt us so severe a blow; who made my dear father bow his gray head, and shed such bitter tears.
The moon is rising still higher now, and people are
hurrying to the grand Meeting, where the state of the country is to be discussed, and the three young men bow and hurry off, too. Later, at eleven o'clock, Miriam and I are up at Lydia's waiting (until the boat comes) with Miss Comstock who is going away. As usual, I am teasing and romping by turns. Harry suddenly stands in the parlor door, looking very grave, and very quiet. He is holding father's stick in his hand, and says he has come to take us over home. I was laughing still, so I said, "Wait," while I prepared for some last piece of folly, but he smiled for the first time, and throwing his arm around me, said, "Come home, you rogue!" and laughing still, I followed him.
He left us in the hall, saying he must go to Charlie's a moment, but to leave the door open for him. So we went up, and I ran in his room, and lighted his gas for him, as I did every night when we went up together. In a little while I heard him come in and go to his room. I knew nothing then; but next day, going into mother's room, I saw him standing before the glass door of her armoir, looking at a black coat he had on. Involuntarily I cried out, "Oh, don't, Hal!" "Don't what? is n't it a nice coat?" he asked. "Yes; but it is buttoned up to the throat, and I don't like to see it. It looks -" here I went out as abruptly as I came in; that black coat so tightly buttoned troubled me.
He came to our room after a while and said he was going ten miles out in the country for a few
days. I begged him to stay, and reproached him for going away so soon after he had come home. But he said he must, adding, "Perhaps I am tired of you, and want to see something new. I'll be so glad to get back in a few days." Father said yes, he must go, so he went without any further explanation.
Walking out to Mr. Davidson's that evening, Lydia
and I sat down on a fallen rail beyond the Catholic
graveyard, and there she told me what had happened.
The night before, sitting on Dr. Woods's gallery, with six
or eight others who had been singing, Hal called on Mr.
Henderson to sing. He complied by singing one that was
not nice.1 Old Mr.
Sparks got up to leave, and Hal said,
"I hope we are not disturbing you?" No, he said he was
tired and would go home. As soon as he was gone, his
son, who I have since heard was under the influence of
opium, - though Hal always maintained that he was
not, - said it was a shame to disturb his poor old father.
Hal answered, "You heard what he said. We did not
disturb him." "You are a liar!" the other cried. That is a
name that none of our family has either merited or borne
with; and quick as thought Hal sprang to his feet and
struck him across the face with the walking-stick he
held. The blow sent the lower part across the balcony
in the street, as the spring was loosened by it, while
the upper part, to which was fastened the sword - for
it was father's sword-cane - remained in his hand.
I doubt that he ever before knew the cane could come apart. Certainly he did not perceive it, until the other whined piteously he was taking advantage over an unarmed man; when, cursing him, he (Harry) threw it after the body of the cane, and said, "Now we are equal." The other's answer was to draw a knife,1 and was about to plunge it into Harry, who disdained to flinch, when Mr. Henderson threw himself on Mr. Sparks and dragged him off.
It was a little while after that Harry came for us. The consequence of this was a challenge from Mr. Sparks in the morning, which was accepted by Harry's friends, who appointed Monday, at Greenwell, to meet. Lydia did not tell me that; she said she thought it had been settled peaceably, so I was not uneasy, and only wanted Harry to come back from Seth David's soon. The possibility of his fighting never occurred to me.
Sunday evening I was on the front steps with Miriam
and Dr. Woods, talking of Harry and wishing he would
come. "You want Harry!" the doctor repeated after
me; "you had better learn to live without him." "What an
absurdity!" I said and wondered when he would come.
Still later, Miriam, father, and I were in the parlor, when
there was a tap on the window, just above his head, and
I saw a hand, for an instant. Father hurried out, and we
heard several voices; and then steps going away.
Mother came down and asked who had been there,
but we only knew that, whoever it was, father had afterward gone with them. Mother went on: "There is something going on, which is to be kept from me. Every one seems to know it, and to make a secret of it." I said nothing, for I had promised Lydia not to tell; and even I did not know all.
When father came back, Harry was with him. I saw by his nod, and "How are you, girls," how he wished us to take it, so neither moved from our chairs, while he sat down on the sofa and asked what kind of a sermon we had had. And we talked of anything except what we were thinking of, until we went upstairs.
Hal afterwards told me that he had been arrested up there, and father went with him to give bail; and that the sheriff had gone out to Greenwell after Mr Sparks. He told me all about it next morning, saying he was glad it was all over, but sorry for Mr. Sparks; for he had a blow on his face which nothing would wash out. I said, "Hal, if you had fought, much as I love you, I would rather he had killed you than that you should have killed him. I love you too much to be willing to see blood on your hands." First he laughed at me, then said, "If I had killed him, I never would have seen you again."
We thought it was all over; so did he. But Baton Rouge was wild about it. Mr. Sparks was the bully of the town, having nothing else to do, and whenever he got angry or drunk, would knock down anybody he chose. That same night, before Harry met
him, he had slapped one man, and had dragged another over the room by the hair; but these coolly went home, and waited for a voluntary apology. So the mothers, sisters, and intimate friends of those who had patiently borne the blows, and being "woolled," vaunted the example of their heroes, and asked why Dr. Morgan had not acted as they had done, and waited for an apology? Then there was another faction who cried only blood could wash out that blow and make a gentleman of Mr. Sparks again, - as though he ever had been one! So knots assembled at street corners, and discussed it, until father said to us that Monday night, "These people are so excited, and are trying so hard to make this affair worse, that I would not be surprised if they shot each other down in the street," speaking of Harry and the other.
Hal seemed to think of it no more, though, and Wednesday said he must go to the city and consult Brother as to where he should permanently establish himself. I was sorry; yet glad that he would then get away from all this trouble. I don't know that I ever saw him in higher spirits than he was that day and evening, the 24th. Lilly and Charlie were here until late, and he laughed and talked so incessantly that we called him crazy. We might have guessed by his extravagant spirits that he was trying to conceal something from us. . . .
He went away before daybreak, and I never saw him again.
April 26th, 1862.
There is no word in the English language that can express the state in which we are, and have been, these last three days. Day before yesterday, news came early in the morning of three of the enemy's boats passing the Forts, and then the excitement began. It increased rapidly on hearing of the sinking of eight of our gunboats in the engagement, the capture of the Forts, and last night, of the burning of the wharves and cotton in the city while the Yankees were taking possession. To-day, the excitement has reached the point of delirium. I believe I am one of the most self-possessed in my small circle; and yet I feel such a craving for news of Miriam, and mother, and Jimmy, who are in the city, that I suppose I am as wild as the rest. It is nonsense to tell me I am cool, with all these patriotic and enthusiastic sentiments. Nothing can be positively ascertained, save that our gunboats are sunk, and theirs are coming up to the city. Everything else has been contradicted until we really do not know whether the city has been taken or not. We only know we had best be prepared for anything. So day before yesterday, Lilly and I sewed up our jewelry, which may be of use if we have to fly. I vow I will not move one step, unless carried away. Come what will, here I remain.
We went this morning to see the cotton burning - a sight never before witnessed, and probably never again to be seen. Wagons, drays, - everything
that can be driven or rolled, - were loaded with the bales and taken a few squares back to burn on the commons. Negroes were running around, cutting them open, piling them up, and setting them afire. All were as busy as though their salvation depended on disappointing the Yankees. Later, Charlie sent for us to come to the river and see him fire a flatboat loaded with the precious material for which the Yankees are risking their bodies and souls. Up and down the levee, as far as we could see, negroes were rolling it down to the brink of the river where they would set them afire and push the bales in to float burning down the tide. Each sent up its wreath of smoke and looked like a tiny steamer puffing away. Only I doubt that from the source to the mouth of the river there are as many boats afloat on the Mississippi. The flatboat was piled with as many bales as it could hold without sinking. Most of them were cut open, while negroes staved in the heads of barrels of alcohol, whiskey, etc., and dashed bucketsful over the cotton. Others built up little chimneys of pine every few feet, lined with pine knots and loose cotton, to burn more quickly. There, piled the length of the whole levee, or burning in the river, lay the work of thousands of negroes for more than a year past. It had come from every side. Men stood by who owned the cotton that was burning or waiting to burn. They either helped, or looked on cheerfully. Charlie owned but sixteen bales - a matter of some fifteen hundred dollars;
but he was the head man of the whole affair, and burned his own, as well as the property of others. A single barrel of whiskey that was thrown on the cotton, cost the man who gave it one hundred and twenty-five dollars. (It shows what a nation in earnest is capable of doing.) Only two men got on the flatboat with Charlie when it was ready. It was towed to the middle of the river, set afire in every place, and then they jumped into a little skiff fastened in front, and rowed to land. The cotton floated down the Mississippi one sheet of living flame, even in the sunlight. It would have been grand at night. But then we will have fun watching it this evening anyway; for they cannot get through to-day, though no time is to be lost. Hundreds of bales remained untouched. An incredible amount of property has been destroyed to-day; but no one begrudges it. Every grog-shop has been emptied, and gutters and pavements are floating with liquors of all kinds. So that if the Yankees are fond of strong drink, they will fare ill.
Yesterday, Mr. Hutchinson and a Dr. Moffat called to ask for me, with a message about Jimmy. I was absent, but they saw Lilly. Jimmy, they said, was safe. Though sick in bed, he had sprung up and had rushed to the wharf at the first tap of the alarm bell in New Orleans. But as nothing could be done, he would probably be with us to-day, bringing mother and Miriam. I have neither heard nor seen more. The McRae, they said, went to the bottom
with the others. They did not know whether any one aboard had escaped. God be praised that Jimmy was not on her then! The new boat to which he was appointed is not yet finished. So he is saved! I am distressed about Captain Huger, and could not refrain from crying, he was so good to Jimmy. But I remembered Miss Cammack might think it rather tender and obtrusive, so I dried my eyes and began to hope he had escaped. Oh! how glad I should be to know he has suffered no harm. Mr. Hutchinson was on his way above, going to join others where the final battle is to be fought on the Mississippi. He had not even time to sit down; so I was doubly grateful to him for his kindness. I wish I could have thanked him for being so considerate of me in my distress now. In her agitation, Lilly gave him a letter I had been writing to George when I was called away; and begged him to address it and mail it at Vicksburg, or somewhere; for no mail will leave here for Norfolk for a long while to come. The odd part is, that he does not know George. But he said he would gladly take charge of it and remember the address, which Lilly told him was Richmond. Well! if the Yankees get it they will take it for an insane scrawl. I wanted to calm his anxiety about us, though I was so wildly excited that I could only say, "Don't mind us! We are safe. But fight, George! Fight for us!" The repetition was ludicrous. I meant so much, too! I only wanted him to understand he could best defend us there. Ah! Mr.
Yankee! if you had but your brothers in this world, and their lives hanging by a thread, you too might write wild letters! And if you want to know what an excited girl can do, just call and let me show you the use of a small seven-shooter and a large carving-knife which vibrate between my belt and my pocket, always ready for emergencies.
What a day! Last night came a dispatch that New Orleans was under British protection, and could not be bombarded; consequently, the enemy's gunboats would probably be here this morning, such few as had succeeded in passing the Forts; from nine to fifteen, it was said. And the Forts, they said, had not surrendered. I went to church; but I grew very anxious before it was over, feeling that I was needed at home. When I returned, I found Lilly wild with excitement, picking up hastily whatever came to hand, preparing for instant flight, she knew not where. The Yankees were in sight; the town was to be burned; we were to run to the woods, etc. If the house had to be burned, I had to make up my mind to run, too. So my treasure-bag tied around my waist as a bustle, a sack with a few necessary articles hanging on my arm, some few quite unnecessary ones, too, as I had not the heart to leave the old and new prayer books father had given me, and Miriam's, too; - pistol and carving-knife ready, I stood awaiting the exodus. I heaped on the bed the treasures I wanted to burn, matches lying ready to fire the whole at the
last minute. I may here say that, when all was over, I found I had omitted many things from the holocaust. This very diary was not included. It would have afforded vast amusement to the Yankees. There may yet be occasion to burn them, and the house also. People fortunately changed their minds about the auto-da-fé just then; and the Yankees have not yet arrived, at sundown. So, when the excitement calmed down, poor Lilly tumbled in bed in a high fever in consequence of terror and exertion.
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I was right in that prophecy. For this was not the Will Pinckney I saw last. So woebegone! so subdued, careworn, and sad! No trace of his once merry self. He is good-looking, which he never was before. But I would rather never have seen him than have found him so changed. I was talking to a ghost. His was a sad story. He had held one bank of the river until forced to retreat with his men, as their cartridges were exhausted, and General Lovell omitted sending more. They had to pass through swamps, wading seven and a half miles, up to their waists in water. He gained the edge of the swamp, saw they were over the worst, and fell senseless. Two of his men brought him milk, and "woke him up," he said. His men fell from exhaustion, were lost, and died in the swamp; so that out of five hundred, but one hundred escaped. This he told quietly and sadly, looking so heartbroken that it was piteous to see such pain. He
showed me his feet, with thick clumsy shoes which an old negro had pulled off to give him; for his were lost in the swamp, and he came out bare-footed. They reached the Lafourche River, I believe, seized a boat, and arrived here last night. His wife and child were aboard. Heaven knows how they got there! The men he sent on to Port Hudson, while he stopped here. I wanted to bring his wife to stay with us; but he said she could not bear to be seen, as she had run off just as she had happened to be at that moment. In half an hour he would be off to take her to his old home in a carriage. There he would rejoin his men, on the railroad, and march from Clinton to the Jackson road, and so on to Corinth. A long journey for men so disheartened! But they will conquer in the end. Beauregard's army will increase rapidly at this rate. The whole country is aroused, and every man who owns a gun, and many who do not, are on the road to Corinth. We will conquer yet.
Vile old Yankee boats, four in number, passed up this morning without stopping. After all our excitement, this "silent contempt" annihilated me! What in the world do they mean? The river was covered with burning cotton; perhaps they want to see where it came from.
Our lawful (?) owners have at last arrived. About sunset, day before yesterday, the Iroquois anchored
here, and a graceful young Federal stepped ashore, carrying a Yankee flag over his shoulder, and asked the way to the Mayor's office. I like the style! If we girls of Baton Rouge had been at the landing, instead of the men, that Yankee would never have insulted us by flying his flag in our faces! We would have opposed his landing except under a flag of truce, but the men let him alone, and he even found a poor Dutchman willing to show him the road!
He did not accomplish much; said a formal demand would be made next day, and asked if it was safe for the men to come ashore and buy a few necessaries, when he was assured the air of Baton Rouge was very unhealthy for Yankee soldiers at night. He promised very magnanimously not to shell us out if we did not molest him; but I notice none of them dare set their feet on terra firma, except the officer who has now called three times on the Mayor, and who is said to tremble visibly as he walks the streets.
Last evening came the demand: the town must be surrendered immediately; the Federal flag Must be raised; they would grant us the same terms they granted New Orleans. Jolly terms those were! The answer was worthy of a Southerner. It was, "The town was defenseless; if we had cannon, there were not men enough to resist; but if forty vessels lay at the landing, - it was intimated we were in their power, and more ships coming up, - we would not surrender; if they wanted, they might come and
Take us; if they wished the Federal flag hoisted over the Arsenal, they might put it up for themselves, the town had no control over Government property." Glorious! What a pity they did not shell the town! But they are taking us at our word, and this morning they are landing at the Garrison.
"All devices, signs, and flags of the Confederacy shall be suppressed." So says Picayune Butler. Good. I devote all my red, white, and blue silk to the manufacture of Confederate flags. As soon as one is confiscated, I make another, until my ribbon is exhausted, when I will sport a duster emblazoned in high colors, "Hurra! for the Bonny blue flag!" Henceforth, I wear one pinned to my bosom - not a duster, but a little flag; the man who says take it off will have to pull it off for himself; the man who dares attempt it - well! a pistol in my pocket fills up the gap. I am capable, too.
This is a dreadful war, to make even the hearts of women so bitter! I hardly know myself these last few weeks. I, who have such a horror of bloodshed, consider even killing in self-defense murder, who cannot wish them the slightest evil, whose only prayer is to have them sent back in peace to their own country, - I talk of killing them! For what else do I wear a pistol and carving-knife? I am afraid I will try them on the first one who says an insolent word to me. Yes, and repent for it ever after in sackcloth and ashes. O! if I was only a man! Then I could don the breeches, and slay them with a will!
If some few Southern women were in the ranks, they could set the men an example they would not blush to follow. Pshaw! there are no women here! We are all men!
Last night about one o'clock I was wakened and told that mother and Miriam had come. Oh, how glad I was! I tumbled out of bed half asleep and hugged Miriam in a dream, but waked up when I got to mother. They came up under a flag of truce, on a boat going up for provisions, which, by the way, was brought to by half a dozen Yankee ships in succession, with a threat to send a broadside into her if she did not stop - the wretches knew it must be under a flag of truce; no boats leave, except by special order to procure provisions.
What tales they had to tell! They were on the wharf, and saw the ships sail up the river, saw the broadside fired into Will Pinckney's regiment, the boats we fired, our gunboats, floating down to meet them all wrapped in flames; twenty thousand bales of cotton blazing in a single pile; molasses and sugar thrown over everything. They stood there opposite to where one of the ships landed, expecting a broadside, and resolute not to be shot in the back. I wish I had been there! And Captain Huger is not dead! They had hopes of his life for the first time day before yesterday. Miriam saw the ball that had just been extracted. He will probably be lame for the rest of his life. It will be a glory to him. For even
the Federal officers say that never did they see so gallant a little ship, or one that fought so desperately as the McRae. Men and officers fought like devils. Think of all those great leviathans after the poor little "Widow Mickey"! One came tearing down on her sideways, while the Brooklyn fired on her from the other side, when brave Captain Warley put the nose of the Manassas under the first, and tilted her over so that the whole broadside passed over, instead of through, the McRae, who spit back its poor little fire at both. And after all was lost, she carried the wounded and the prisoners to New Orleans, and was scuttled by her own men in port. Glorious Captain Huger! And think of his sending word to Jimmy, suffering as he was, that "his little brass cannon was game to the last." Oh! I hope he will recover. Brave, dare-devil Captain Warley is prisoner, and on the way to Fort Warren, that home of all brave, patriotic men. We'll have him out. And my poor little Jimmy! If I have not spoken of him, it is not because I have lost sight of him for a moment. The day the McRae went down, he arose from his bed, ill as he was, and determined to rejoin her, as his own boat, the Mississippi, was not ready. When he reached the St. Charles, he fell so very ill that he had to be carried back to Brother's. Only his desperate illness saved him from being among the killed or wounded on that gallant little ship. A few days after, he learned the fate of the ship, and was told that Captain Huger was dead. No wonder he
should cry so bitterly! For Captain Huger was as tender and as kind to him as his own dear father. God bless him for it! The enemy's ships were sailing up; so he threw a few articles in a carpet-bag and started off for Richmond, Corinth, anywhere, to fight. Sick, weak, hardly able to stand, he went off, two weeks ago yesterday. We know not where, and we have never heard from him since. Whether he succumbed to that jaundice and the rest, and lies dead or dying on the road, God only knows. We can only wait and pray God to send dear little Jimmy home in safety.
And this is WAR! Heaven save me from like scenes and experiences again. I was wild with excitement last night when Miriam described how the soldiers, marching to the depot, waved their hats to the crowds of women and children, shouting, "God bless you, ladies! We will fight for you!" and they, waving their handkerchiefs, sobbed with one voice, "God bless you, Soldiers! Fight for us!"
We, too, have been having our fun. Early in the evening, four more gunboats sailed up here. We saw them from the corner, three squares off, crowded with men even up in the riggings. The American flag was flying from every peak. It was received in profound silence, by the hundreds gathered on the banks. I could hardly refrain from a groan. Much as I once loved that flag, I hate it now! I came back and made myself a Confederate flag about five inches long, slipped the staff in my belt, pinned the flag to my
shoulder, and walked downtown, to the consternation of women and children, who expected something awful to follow. An old negro cried, "My young missus got her flag flyin', anyhow!" Nettie made one and hid it in the folds of her dress. But we were the only two who ventured. We went to the State House terrace, and took a good look at the Brooklyn which was crowded with people who took a good look at us, likewise. The picket stationed at the Garrison took alarm at half a dozen men on horseback and ran, saying that the citizens were attacking. The kind officers aboard the ship sent us word that if they were molested, the town would be shelled. Let them! Butchers! Does it take thirty thousand men and millions of dollars to murder defenseless women and children? O the great nation! Bravo!
I - I am disgusted with myself. No unusual thing, but I am peculiarly disgusted this time. Last evening, I went to Mrs. Brunot's, without an idea of going beyond, with my flag flying again. They were all going to the State House, so I went with them; to my great distress, some fifteen or twenty Federal officers were standing on the first terrace, stared at like wild beasts by the curious crowd. I had not expected to meet them, and felt a painful conviction that I was unnecessarily attracting attention, by an unladylike display of defiance, from the crowd gathered there. But what was I to do? I felt
humiliated, conspicuous, everything that is painful and disagreeable; but - strike my colors in the face of the enemy? Never! Nettie and Sophie had them, too, but that was no consolation for the shame I suffered by such a display so totally distasteful to me. How I wished myself away, and chafed at my folly, and hated myself for being there, and every one for seeing me. I hope it will be a lesson to me always to remember a lady can gain nothing by such display.
I was not ashamed of the flag of my country, - I proved that by never attempting to remove it in spite of my mortification, - but I was ashamed of my position; for these are evidently gentlemen, not the Billy Wilson's crew we were threatened with. Fine, noble-looking men they were, showing refinement and gentlemanly bearing in every motion. One cannot help but admire such foes! They set us an example worthy of our imitation, and one we would be benefited by following. They come as visitors without either pretensions to superiority, or the insolence of conquerors; they walk quietly their way, offering no annoyance to the citizens, though they themselves are stared at most unmercifully, and pursued by crowds of ragged little boys, while even men gape at them with open mouths. They prove themselves gentlemen, while many of our citizens have proved themselves boors, and I admire them for their conduct. With a conviction that I had allowed myself to be influenced by bigoted, narrow
minded people, in believing them to be unworthy of respect or regard, I came home wonderfully changed in all my newly acquired sentiments, resolved never more to wound their feelings, who were so careful of ours, by such unnecessary display. And I hung my flag on the parlor mantel, there to wave, if it will, in the shades of private life; but to make a show, make me conspicuous and ill at ease, as I was yesterday, - never again !
There was a dozen officers in church this morning, and the psalms for the 11th day seemed so singularly appropriate to the feelings of the people, that I felt uncomfortable for them. They answered with us, though.
I am beginning to believe that we are even of more importance in Baton Rouge than we thought we were. It is laughable to hear the things a certain set of people, who know they can't visit us, say about the whole family. . . . When father was alive, they dared not talk about us aloud, beyond calling us the "Proud Morgans" and the "Aristocracy of Baton Rouge" . . . But now father is gone, the people imagine we are public property, to be criticized, vilified, and abused to their hearts' content . . . .
And now, because they find absurdities don't succeed, they try improbabilities. So yesterday the town was in a ferment because it was reported the Federal officers had called on the Miss Morgans, and
all the gentlemen were anxious to hear how they had been received. One had the grace to say, "If they did, they received the best lesson there that they could get in town; those young ladies would meet them with the true Southern spirit." The rest did not know; they would like to find out.
I suppose the story originated from the fact that we were unwilling to blackguard - yes, that is the word - the Federal officers here, and would not agree with many of our friends in saying they were liars, thieves, murderers, scoundrels, the scum of the earth, etc. Such epithets are unworthy of ladies, I say, and do harm, rather than advance our cause. Let them be what they will, it shall not make me less the lady; I say it is unworthy of anything except low newspaper war, such abuse, and I will not join in.
I have a brother-in-law in the Federal army whom I love and respect as much as any one in the world, and shall not readily agree that his being a Northerner would give him an irresistible desire to pick my pockets, and take from him all power of telling the truth. No! There are few men I admire more than Major Drum, and I honor him for his independence in doing what he believes right. Let us have liberty of speech and action in our land, I say, but not gross abuse and calumny. Shall I acknowledge that the people we so recently called our brothers are unworthy of consideration, and are liars, cowards, dogs? Not I! If they conquer us, I
acknowledge them as a superior race; I will not say that we were conquered by cowards, for where would that place us? It will take a brave people to gain us, and that the Northerners undoubtedly are. I would scorn to have an inferior foe; I fight only my equals. These women may acknowledge that cowards have won battles in which their brothers were engaged, but I, I will ever say mine fought against brave men, and won the day. Which is most honorable?
I was never a Secessionist, for I quietly adopted father's views on political subjects without meddling with them. But even father went over with his State, and when so many outrages were committed by the fanatical leaders of the North, though he regretted the Union, said, "Fight to the death for our liberty." I say so, too. I want to fight until we win the cause so many have died for. I don't believe in Secession, but I do in Liberty. I want the South to conquer, dictate its own terms, and go back to the Union, for I believe that, apart, inevitable ruin awaits both. It is a rope of sand, this Confederacy, founded on the doctrine of Secession, and will not last many years - not five. The North Cannot subdue us. We are too determined to be free. They have no right to confiscate our property to pay debts they themselves have incurred. Death as a nation, rather than Union on such terms. We will have our rights secured on so firm a basis that it can never be shaken. If by power of overwhelming numbers they conquer us, it will be a barren victory over a desolate land.
We, the natives of this loved soil, will be beggars in a foreign land; we will not submit to despotism under the garb of Liberty. The North will find herself burdened with an unparalleled debt, with nothing to show for it except deserted towns, burning homes, a standing army which will govern with no small caprice, and an impoverished land.
If that be treason, make the best of it!
One of these days, when peace is restored and we are quietly settled in our allotted corners of this wide world without any particularly exciting event to alarm us; and with the knowledge of what is now the future, and will then be the dead past; seeing that all has been for the best for us in the end; that all has come right in spite of us, we will wonder how we could ever have been foolish enough to await each hour in such breathless anxiety. We will ask ourselves if it was really true that nightly, as we lay down to sleep, we did not dare plan for the morning, feeling that we might be homeless and beggars before the dawn. How unreal it will then seem! We will say it was our wild imagination, perhaps. But how bitterly, horribly true it is now!
Four days ago the Yankees left us, to attack Vicksburg, leaving their flag flying in the Garrison without a man to guard it, and with the understanding that the town would be held responsible for it. It was intended for a trap; and it succeeded. For
night before last, it was pulled down and torn to pieces.
Now, unless Will will have the kindness to sink a dozen of their ships up there, - I hear he has command of the lower batteries, - they will be back in a few days, and will execute their threat of shelling the town. If they do, what will become of us? All we expect in the way of earthly property is as yet mere paper, which will be so much trash if the South is ruined, as it consists of debts due father by many planters for professional services rendered, who, of course, will be ruined, too, so all money is gone. That is nothing, we will not be ashamed to earn our bread, so let it go.
But this house is at least a shelter from the weather, all sentiment apart. And our servants, too; how could they manage without us? The Yankees, on the river, and a band of guerrillas in the woods, are equally anxious to precipitate a fight. Between the two fires, what chance for us? It would take only a little while to burn the city over our heads. They say the women and children must be removed, these guerrillas. Where, please? Charlie says we must go to Greenwell. And have this house pillaged? For Butler has decreed that no unoccupied house shall be respected. If we stay through the battle, if the Federals are victorious, we will suffer. For the officers here were reported to have said, "If the people here did not treat them decently, they would know what it was when Billy Wilson's crew arrived.
They would give them a lesson!" That select crowd is now in New Orleans. Heaven help us when they reach here! It is in these small cities that the greatest outrages are perpetrated. What are we to do?
A new proclamation from Butler has just come. It seems that the ladies have an ugly way of gathering their skirts when the Federals pass, to avoid any possible contact. Some even turn up their noses. Unladylike, to say the least. But it is, maybe, owing to the odor they have, which is said to be unbearable even at this early season of the year. Butler says, whereas the so-called ladies of New Orleans insult his men and officers, he gives one and all permission to insult any or all who so treat them, then and there, with the assurance that the women will not receive the slightest protection from the Government, and that the men will all be justified. I did not have time to read it, but repeat it as it was told to me by mother, who is in utter despair at the brutality of the thing. These men our brothers? Not mine! Let us hope for the honor of their nation that Butler is not counted among the gentlemen of the land. And so, if any man should fancy he cared to kiss me, he could do so under the pretext that I had pulled my dress from under his feet! That will justify them! And if we decline their visits, they can insult us under the plea of a prior affront. Oh! Gibbes! George! Jimmy! never did we need your protection as sorely as now. And not to know even whether you are alive! When Charlie joins the army, we will
be defenseless, indeed. Come to my bosom, O my discarded carving-knife, laid aside under the impression that these men were gentlemen. We will be close friends once more. And if you must have a sheath, perhaps I may find one for you in the heart of the first man who attempts to Butlerize me. I never dreamed of kissing any man save my father and brothers. And why any one should care to kiss any one else, I fail to understand. And I do not propose to learn to make exceptions.
Still no word from the boys. We hear that Norfolk has been evacuated; but no details. George was there. Gibbes is wherever Johnston is, presumably on the Rappahannock; but it is more than six weeks since we have heard from either of them, and all communication is cut off.
I have had such a search for shoes this week that I am disgusted with shopping. I am triumphant now, for after traversing the town in every direction and finding nothing, I finally discovered a pair of boots just made for a little negro to go fishing with, and only an inch and a half too long for me, besides being unbendable; but I seized them with avidity, and the little negro would have been outbid if I had not soon after discovered a pair more seemly, if not more serviceable, which I took without further difficulty. Behold my tender feet cased in crocodile skin, patent-leather tipped, low-quarter boy's shoes, No. 2! "What a fall was there, my country," from
my pretty English glove-kid, to sabots made of some animal closely connected with the hippopotamus! A dernier ressort, vraiment! for my choice was that, or cooling my feet on the burning pavement au naturel; I who have such a terror of any one seeing my naked foot! And this is thanks to war and blockade! Not a decent shoe in the whole community! N'importe! "Better days are coming, we'll all" - have shoes - after a while - perhaps! Why did not Mark Tapley leave me a song calculated to keep the spirits up, under depressing circumstances? I need one very much, and have nothing more suggestive than the old Methodist hymn, "Better days are coming, we'll all go right," which I shout so constantly, as our prospects darken, that it begins to sound stale.
The cry is "Ho! for Greenwell!" Very probably this day week will see us there. I don't want to go. If we were at peace, and were to spend a few months of the warmest season out there, none would be more eager and delighted than I: but to leave our comfortable home, and all it contains, for a rough pine cottage seventeen miles away even from this scanty civilization, is sad. It must be! We are hourly expecting two regiments of Yankees to occupy the Garrison, and some fifteen hundred of our men are awaiting them a little way off, so the fight seems inevitable. And we must go, leaving what little has already been spared us to the tender mercies of Northern volunteers,
who, from the specimen of plundering they gave us two weeks ago, will hardly leave us even the shelter of our roof. O my dear Home! How can I help but cry at leaving you forever? For if this fight occurs, never again shall I pass the threshold of this house, where we have been so happy and sad, the scene of joyous meetings and mournful partings, the place where we greeted each other with glad shouts after even so short a parting, the place where Harry and father kissed us good-bye and never came back again!
I know what Lavinia has suffered this long year, by what we have suffered these last six weeks. Poor Lavinia, so far away! How easier poverty, if it must come, would be if we could bear it together! I wonder if the real fate of the boys, if we ever hear, can be so dreadful as this suspense? Still no news of them. My poor little Jimmy! And think how desperate Gibbes and George will be when they read Butler's proclamation, and they not able to defend us! Gibbes was in our late victory of Fredericksburg, I know.
In other days, going to Greenwell was the signal for general noise and confusion. All the boys gathered their guns and fishing-tackle, and thousand and one amusements; father sent out provisions; we helped mother pack; Hal and I tumbled over the libraries to lay in a supply of reading material; and all was bustle until the carriage drove to the door at daylight one morning, and swept us off. It is not so gay this time. I wandered around this morning
selecting books alone. We can only take what is necessary, the rest being left to the care of the Northern militia in general. I never knew before how many articles were perfectly "indispensable" to me. This or that little token or keepsake, piles of letters I hate to burn, many dresses, etc., I cannot take conveniently, lie around me, and I hardly know which to choose among them, yet half must be sacrificed; I can only take one trunk.
May 30th, GREENWELL.
After all our trials and tribulations, here we are at last, and no limbs lost! How many weeks ago was it since I wrote here? It seems very long after all these events; let me try to recall them.
Wednesday the 28th, - a day to be forever remembered, - as luck would have it, we rose very early, and had breakfast sooner than usual, it would seem for the express design of becoming famished before dinner. I picked up some of my letters and papers and set them where I could find them whenever we were ready to go to Greenwell, burning a pile of trash and leaving a quantity equally worthless, which were of no value even to myself except from association. I was packing up my traveling-desk with all Harry's little articles that were left to me, and other things, and I was saying to myself that my affairs were in such confusion that if obliged to run unexpectedly I would not know what to save, when I heard Lilly's voice downstairs, crying as she
ran in - she had been out shopping - "Mr. Castle has killed a Federal officer on a ship, and they are going to shell -" Bang! went a cannon at the word, and that was all our warning.
Mother had just come in, and was lying down, but sprang to her feet and added her screams to the general confusion. Miriam, who had been searching the libraries, ran up to quiet her; Lilly gathered her children, crying hysterically all the time, and ran to the front door with them as they were; Lucy saved the baby, naked as she took her from her bath, only throwing a quilt over her. I bethought me of my "running-bag" which I had used on a former case, and in a moment my few precious articles were secured under my hoops, and with a sunbonnet on, I stood ready for anything.
The firing still continued; they must have fired half a dozen times before we could coax mother off. What awful screams! I had hoped never to hear them again, after Harry died. Charlie had gone to Greenwell before daybreak, to prepare the house, so we four women, with all those children and servants, were left to save ourselves. I did not forget my poor little Jimmy; I caught up his cage and ran down. Just at this moment mother recovered enough to insist on saving father's papers - which was impossible, as she had not an idea of where the important ones were. I heard Miriam plead, argue, insist, command her to run; Lilly shriek, and cry she should go; the children screaming within; women running by without,
crying and moaning; but I could not join in. I was going I knew not where; it was impossible to take my bird, for even if I could carry him, he would starve. So I took him out of his cage, kissed his little yellow head, and tossed him up. He gave one feeble little chirp as if to ascertain where to go, and then for the first and last time I cried, laying my head against the gate-post, and with my eyes too dim to see him. Oh, how it hurt me to lose my little bird, one Jimmy had given me, too!
But the next minute we were all off, in safety. A square from home, I discovered that boy shoes were not the most comfortable things to run in, so I ran back, in spite of cannonading, entreaties, etc., to get another pair. I got home, found an old pair that were by no means respectable, which I seized without hesitation; and being perfectly at ease, thought it would be so nice to save at least Miriam's and my tooth-brushes, so slipped them in my corsets. These in, of course we must have a comb - that was added - then how could we stand the sun without starch to cool our faces? This included the powder-bag; then I must save that beautiful lace collar; and my hair was tumbling down, so in went the tuckingcomb and hair-pins with the rest; until, if there had been any one to speculate, they would have wondered a long while at the singular appearance of a girl who is considered as very slight, usually. By this time, Miriam, alarmed for me, returned to find me, though urged by Dr. Castleton not
to risk her life by attempting it, and we started off together.
We had hardly gone a square when we decided to return a second time, and get at least a few articles for the children and ourselves, who had nothing except what we happened to have on when the shelling commenced. She picked up any little things and threw them to me, while I filled a pillow-case jerked from the bed, and placed my powder and brushes in it with the rest. Before we could leave, mother, alarmed for us both, came to find us, with Tiche.1 All this time they had been shelling, but there was quite a lull when she got there, and she commenced picking up father's papers, vowing all the time she would not leave. Every argument we could use was of no avail, and we were desperate as to what course to pursue, when the shelling recommenced in a few minutes. Then mother recommenced her screaming and was ready to fly anywhere; and holding her box of papers, with a faint idea of saving something, she picked up two dirty underskirts and an old cloak.
By dint of Miriam's vehement appeals, aided by a great deal of pulling, we got her down to the back door. We had given our pillow-case to Tiche, who added another bundle and all our silver to it, and had already departed.
As we stood in the door, four or five shells sailed
over our heads at the same time, seeming to make
a perfect corkscrew of the air, - for it sounded as
though it went in circles. Miriam cried, "Never mind the door!" mother screamed anew, and I stayed behind to lock the door, with this new music in my ears. We reached the back gate, that was on the street, when another shell passed us, and Miriam jumped behind the fence for protection. We had only gone half a square when Dr. Castleton begged us to take another street, as they were firing up that one. We took his advice, but found our new street worse than the old, for the shells seemed to whistle their strange songs with redoubled vigor. The height of my ambition was now attained. I had heard Jimmy laugh about the singular sensation produced by the rifled balls spinning around one's head; and here I heard the same peculiar sound, ran the same risk, and was equal to the rest of the boys, for was I not in the midst of flying shells, in the middle of a bombardment? I think I was rather proud of it.
We were alone on the road, - all had run away before, - so I thought it was for our especial entertainment, this little affair. I cannot remember how long it lasted; I am positive that the clock struck ten before I left home, but I had been up so long, I know not what time it began, though I am told it was between eight and nine. We passed the graveyard, we did not even stop, and about a mile and a half from home, when mother was perfectly exhausted with fatigue and unable to proceed farther, we met a gentleman in a buggy who kindly took charge of her and our bundles. We could have
walked miles beyond, then, for as soon as she was safe we felt as though a load had been removed from our shoulders; and after exhorting her not to be uneasy about us, and reminding her we had a pistol and a dagger, - I had secured a "for true" one the day before, fortunately, - she drove off, and we trudged on alone, the only people in sight on foot, though occasionally carriages and buggies would pass, going towards town. One party of gentlemen put their heads out and one said, "There are Judge Morgan's daughters sitting by the road!" - but I observed he did not offer them the slightest assistance. However, others were very kind. One I never heard of had volunteered to go for us, and bring us to mother, when she was uneasy about our staying so long, when we went home to get clothes. We heard him ring and knock, but, thinking it must be next door, paid no attention, so he went back and mother came herself.
We were two miles away when we sat down by the road to rest, and have a laugh. Here were two women married, and able to take care of themselves, flying for their lives and leaving two lorn girls alone on the road, to protect each other! To be sure, neither could help us, and one was not able to walk, and the other had helpless children to save; but it was so funny when we talked about it, and thought how sorry both would be when they regained their reason! While we were yet resting, we saw a cart coming, and, giving up all idea of our walking to
Greenwell, called the people to stop. To our great delight, it proved to be a cart loaded with Mrs. Brunot's affairs, driven by two of her negroes, who kindly took us up with them, on the top of their luggage; and we drove off in state, as much pleased at riding in that novel place as though we were accustomed to ride in wheelbarrows. Miriam was in a hollow between a flour barrel and a mattress, and I at the end, astride, I am afraid, of a tremendous bundle, for my face was down the road and each foot resting very near the sides of the cart. I tried to make a better arrangement, though, after a while. These servants were good enough to lend us their umbrella, without which I am afraid we would have suffered severely, for the day was intensely warm.
Three miles from town we began to overtake the fugitives. Hundreds of women and children were walking along, some bareheaded, and in all costumes. Little girls of twelve and fourteen were wandering on alone. I called to one I knew, and asked where her mother was; she did n't know; she would walk on until she found out. It seems her mother lost a nursing baby, too, which was not found until ten that night. White and black were all mixed together, and were as confidential as though related. All called to us and asked where we were going, and many we knew laughed at us for riding on a cart; but as they had walked only five miles, I imagined they would like even these poor accommodations if they were in their reach.
The negroes deserve the greatest praise for their conduct. Hundreds were walking with babies or bundles; ask them what they had saved, it was invariably, "My mistress's clothes, or silver, or baby." Ask what they had for themselves, it was, "Bless your heart, honey, I was glad to get away with mistress's things; I did n't think 'bout mine."
It was a heart-rending scene. Women searching for their babies along the road, where they had been lost; others sitting in the dust crying and wringing their hands; for by this time we had not an idea but what Baton Rouge was either in ashes, or being plundered, and we had saved nothing. I had one dress, Miriam two, but Tiche had them, and we had lost her before we left home.
Presently we came on a guerrilla camp. Men and horses were resting on each side of the road, some sick, some moving about carrying water to the women and children, and all looking like a monster barbecue, for as far as the eye could see through the woods, was the same repetition of men and horses. They would ask for the news, and one, drunk with excitement or whiskey, informed us that it was our own fault if we had saved nothing, the people must have been - fools not to have known trouble would come before long, and that it was the fault of the men, who were aware of it, that the women were thus forced to fly. In vain we pleaded that there was no warning, no means of foreseeing this; he cried, "You are ruined; so am I; and my brothers, too! And by - there
is nothing left but to die now, and I'll die!" "Good!" I said. "But die fighting for us!" He waved his hand, black with powder, and shouted, "That I will!" after us. That was the only swearing guerrilla we met; the others seemed to have too much respect for us to talk loud.
Lucy had met us before this; early in the action, Lilly had sent her back to get some baby-clothes, but a shell exploding within a few feet of her, she took alarm, and ran up another road, for three miles, when she cut across the plantations and regained the Greenwell route. It is fortunate that, without consultation, the thought of running here should have seized us all.
I was interrupted so frequently yesterday that I know not how I continued to write so much. First, I was sent for, to go to Mrs. Brunot, who had just heard of her son's death, and who was alone with Dena; and some hours after, I was sent for, to see Fanny, now Mrs. Trezevant, who had just come with her husband to bring us news of George. A Mrs. Montgomery, who saw him every day at Norfolk, said Jimmy was with him, and though very sick at first, was now in good health. The first news in all that long time! When the city was evacuated, George went with his regiment seven miles from Richmond, Jimmy to the city itself, as aide to Com. Hollins. This lady brought George's opal ring and diamond pin. Howell and Mr. Badger, who had just joined the
guerrillas as independents, spent the day with me. We were all in such confusion that I felt ashamed: every one as dirty as possible; I had on the same dress I had escaped in, which, though then perfectly clean, was now rather - dirty. But they knew what a time we had had.
To return to my journal.
Lucy met mother some long way ahead of us, whose conscience was already reproaching her for leaving us, and in answer to her "What has become of my poor girls?" ran down the road to find us, for Lucy thinks the world can't keep on moving without us. When she met us, she walked by the cart, and it was with difficulty we persuaded her to ride a mile; she said she felt "used" to walking now. About five miles from home, we overtook mother. The gentleman had been obliged to go for his wife, so Mary gave her her seat on the cart, and walked with Lucy three miles beyond, where we heard that Lilly and the children had arrived in a cart, early in the day. All the talk by the roadside was of burning homes, houses knocked to pieces by balls, famine, murder, desolation; so I comforted myself singing, "Better days are coming" and "I hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide"; while Lucy toiled through the sun and dust, and answered with a chorus of "I'm a-runnin', a-runnin' up to glo-ry!"
It was three o'clock when we reached Mr. David's and found Lilly. How warm and tired we were! A hasty meal, which tasted like a feast after our
fatigue, gave us fresh strength, and Lilly and Miriam got in an old cart with the children to drive out here, leaving me with mother and Dellie to follow next day. About sunset, Charlie came flying down the road, on his way to town. I decided to go, and after an obstinate debate with mother, in which I am afraid I showed more determination than amiability, I wrung a reluctant consent from her, and, promising not to enter if it was being fired or plundered, drove off in triumph. It was a desperate enterprise for a young girl, to enter a town full of soldiers on such an expedition at night; but I knew Charlie could take care of me, and if he was killed I could take care of myself; so I went.
It was long after nine when we got there, and my first act was to look around the deserted house. What a scene of confusion! armoirs spread open, with clothes tumbled in every direction, inside and out; ribbons, laces on floors; chairs overturned; my desk wide open covered with letters, trinkets, etc.; bureau drawers half out, the bed filled with odds and ends of everything. I no longer recognized my little room. On the bolster was a little box, at the sight of which I burst out laughing. Five minutes before the alarm, Miriam had been selecting those articles she meant to take to Greenwell, and, holding up her box, said, "If we were forced to run for our lives without a moment's warning, I 'd risk my life to save this, rather than leave it!" Yet here lay the box, and she was safe at Greenwell!
It took me two hours to pack father's papers, then I packed Miriam's trunk, then some of mother's and mine, listening all the while for a cannon; for men were constantly tramping past the house, and only on condition our guerrillas did not disturb them had they promised not to recommence the shelling. Charlie went out to hear the news, and I packed alone.
It seems the only thing that saved the town was two gentlemen who rowed out to the ships, and informed the illustrious commander that there were no men there to be hurt, and he was only killing women and children. The answer was, "He was sorry he had hurt them; he thought of course the town had been evacuated before the men were fools enough to fire on them, and had only shelled the principal streets to intimidate the people." These streets were the very ones crowded with flying women and children, which they must have seen with their own eyes, for those lying parallel to the river led to the Garrison at one end and the crevasse at the other, which cut off all the lower roads, so that the streets he shelled were the only ones that the women could follow, unless they wished to be drowned. As for the firing, four guerrillas were rash enough to fire on a yawl which was about to land without a flag of truce, killing one, wounding three, one of whom afterwards died.
They were the only ones in town, there was not a cannon in our hands, even if a dozen men could be collected, and this cannonading was kept up in return
for half a dozen shots from as many rifles, without even a show of resistance after! So ended the momentous shelling of Baton Rouge, during which the valiant Farragut killed one whole woman, wounded three, struck some twenty houses several times apiece, and indirectly caused the death of two little children who were drowned in their flight, one poor little baby that was born in the woods, and several cases of the same kind, besides those who will yet die from the fatigue, as Mrs. W. D. Phillips who had not left her room since January, who was carried out in her nightgown, and is now supposed to be in a dying condition. The man who took mother told us he had taken a dying woman - in the act of expiring - in his buggy, from her bed, and had left her a little way off, where she had probably breathed her last a few moments after. There were many similar cases. Hurrah for the illustrious Farragut, the Woman Killer! ! !
It was three o'clock before I left off packing, and took refuge in a tub of cold water, from the dust and heat of the morning. What a luxury the water was! and when I changed my underclothes I felt like a new being. To be sure I pulled off the skin of my heel entirely, where it had been blistered by the walk, dust, sun, etc., but that was a trifle, though still quite sore now. For three hours I dreamed of rifled shells and battles, and at half-past six I was up and at work again. Mother came soon after, and after hard work we got safely off at three, saving nothing
but our clothes and silver. All else is gone. It cost me a pang to leave my guitar, and Miriam's piano, but it seems there was no help for it, so I had to submit.
It was dark night when we reached here. A bright fire was blazing in front, but the house looked so desolate that I wanted to cry. Miriam cried when I told her her piano was left behind. Supper was a new sensation, after having been without anything except a glass of clabber (no saucers) and a piece of bread since half-past six. I laid down on the hard floor to rest my weary bones, thankful that I was so fortunate as to be able to lie down at all. In my dozing state, I heard the wagon come, and Miriam ordering a mattress to be put in the room for me. I could make out, "Very well! you may take that one to Miss Eliza, 1 but the next one shall be brought to Miss Sarah!" Poor Miriam! She is always fighting my battles. She and the servants are always taking my part against the rest of the world. . . . She and Lucy made a bed and rolled me in it with no more questions, and left me with damp eyes at the thought of how good and tender every one is to me. Poor Lucy picked me a dish of blackberries to await my arrival, and I was just as grateful for it, though they were eaten by some one else before I came.
Early yesterday morning, Miriam, Nettie, and
Sophie, who did not then know of their brother's
death, went to town in a cart, determined to save
some things, Miriam to save her piano. As soon as they were halfway, news reached us that any one was allowed to enter, but none allowed to leave the town, and all vehicles confiscated as soon as they reached there. Alarmed for their safety, mother started off to find them, and we have heard of none of them since. What will happen next? I am not uneasy. They dare not harm them. It is glorious to shell a town full of women, but to kill four lone ones is not exciting enough.
June 1st, Sunday.
From the news brought by one or two persons who managed to reach here yesterday, I am more uneasy about mother and the girls. A gentleman tells me that no one is permitted to leave without a pass, and of these, only such as are separated from their families, who may have left before. All families are prohibited to leave, and furniture and other valuables also. Here is an agreeable arrangement! I saw the "pass," just such as we give our negroes, signed by a Wisconsin colonel. Think of being obliged to ask permission from some low plowman to go in or out of our own house! Cannon are planted as far out as Colonel Davidson's, six of them at our graveyard, and one or more on all the other roads. If the guerrillas do not attempt their capture, I shall take it upon myself to suggest it to the very next one I see. Even if they cannot use them, it will frighten the Yankees, who are in a state of constant alarm about them. Their reason for keeping people in
town is that they hope they will not be attacked so long as our own friends remain; thereby placing us above themselves in the scale of humanity, since they acknowledge we are not brute enough to kill women and children as they did not hesitate to do.
Farragut pleads that he could not restrain his men, they were so enraged when the order was once given to fire, and says they would strike a few houses, though he ordered them to fire solely at horses, and the clouds of dust in the street, where guerrillas were supposed to be. The dust was by no means thick enough to conceal that these "guerrillas" were women, carrying babies instead of guns, and the horses were drawing buggies in which many a sick woman was lying.
A young lady who applied to the Yankee general for a pass to come out here, having doubtless spoken of the number of women here who had fled, and the position of the place, was advised to remain in town and write to the ladies to return immediately, and assure them that they would be respected and protected, etc., but that it was madness to remain at Greenwell, for a terrific battle would be fought there in a few days, and they would be exposed to the greatest danger. The girl wrote the letter, but, Mr. Fox, we are not quite such fools as to return there to afford you the protection our petticoats would secure to you, thereby preventing you from receiving condign punishment for the injuries and loss of property already inflicted upon us by you. No! we
remain here; and if you are not laid low before you pass the Comite Bridge, we can take to the woods again, and camp out, as many a poor woman is doing now, a few miles from town. Many citizens have been arrested, and after being confined a while, and closely questioned, have been released, if the information is satisfactory. A negro man is informing on all cotton burners and violent Secessionists, etc.
The girls have just got back, riding in a mule team, on top of baggage, but without either mother or any of our affairs. Our condition is perfectly desperate. Miriam had an interview with General Williams, which was by no means satisfactory. He gave her a pass to leave, and bring us back, for he says there is no safety here for us; he will restrain his men in town, and protect the women, but once outside, he will answer neither for his men, nor the women and children. As soon as he gets horses enough, he passes this road, going to Camp Moore with his cavalry, and then we are in greater danger than ever. Any house shut up shall be occupied by soldiers. Five thousand are there now, five more expected. What shall we do? Mother remained, sending Miriam for me, determined to keep us there, rather than sacrifice both our lives and property by remaining here. But then - two weeks from now the yellow fever will break out; mother has the greatest horror of it, and we have never had it; dying
is not much in the present state of our affairs, but the survivor will suffer even more than we do now. If we stay, how shall we live? I have seventeen hundred dollars in Confederate notes now in my "running-bag," and three or four in silver. The former will not be received there, the latter might last two days. If we save our house and furniture, it is at the price of starving. I am of opinion that we should send for mother, and with what money we have, make our way somewhere in the interior, to some city where we can communicate with the boys, and be advised by them. This is not living. Home is lost beyond all hope of recovery; if we wait, what we have already saved will go, too; so we had better leave at once, with what clothing we have, which will certainly establish us on the footing of ladies, if we chance to fall among vulgar people who never look beyond. I fear the guerrillas will attack the town to-night; if they do, God help mother!
General Williams offered Miriam an escort when he found she was without a protector, in the most fatherly way; he must be a good man. She thanked him, but said "she felt perfectly safe on that road." He bit his lip, understanding the allusion, and did not insist. She was to deliver a message from parties in town to the first guerrillas they met, concerning the safest roads, and presently six met them, and entered into conversation. She told them of the proffered escort, when one sprang forward crying, "Why did n't you accept, Miss? The next time, ask for
one, and if it is at all disagreeable to you, I am the very man to rid you of such an inconvenience! I'll see that you are not annoyed long." I am glad it was not sent; she would have reproached herself with murder forever after. I wonder if the General would have risked it?
BATON ROUGE, June 3d.
Well! Day before yesterday, I almost vowed I would not return, and last evening I reached here. Verily, consistency, thou art a jewel! I determined to get to town to lay both sides of the question before mother; saving home and property, by remaining, thereby cutting ourselves off forever from the boys and dying of yellow fever; or flying to Mississippi, losing all save our lives. So as Mrs. Brunot was panic-stricken and determined to die in town rather than be starved at Greenwell, and was going in on the same wagon that came out the night before, I got up with her and Nettie, and left Greenwell at ten yesterday morning, bringing nothing except this old book, which I would rather not lose, as it has been an old and kind friend during these days of trouble. At first, I avoided all mention of political affairs, but now there is nothing else to be thought of; if it is not burnt for treason, I will like to look it over some day - if I live. I left Greenwell, without ever looking around it, beyond one walk to the hotel, so I may say I hardly know what it looks like. Miriam stayed, much against her will, I fear, to bring in our trunks, if I could send a wagon.
A guerrilla picket stopped us before we had gone a mile, and seemed disposed to turn us back. We said we must pass; our all was at stake. They then entreated us not to enter, saying it was not safe. I asked if they meant to burn it; "We will help try it," was the answer. I begged them to delay the experiment until we could get away. One waved his hat to me and said he would fight for me. Hope he will - at a distance. They asked if we had no protectors; "None," we said. "Don't go, then"; and they all looked so sorry for us. We said we must; starvation, and another panic awaited us out there, our brothers were fighting, our fathers dead; we had only our own judgment to rely on, and that told us home was the best place for us; if the town must burn, let us burn in our houses, rather than be murdered in the woods. They looked still more sorry, but still begged us not to remain. We would, though, and one young boy called out as we drove off, "What's the name of that young lady who refused the escort?" I told him, and they too expressed the greatest regret that she had not accepted. We met many on the road, nearly all of whom talked to us, and as they were most respectful in their manner (though they saw us in a mule team!), we gave them all the information we could, which was all news to them, though very little. Such a ride in the hot sun, perched up in the air! One of the servants remarked, "Miss Sarah ain't ashamed to ride in a wagon!" With truth I replied, "No, I was never so high before."
Two miles from home we met the first Federal pickets, and then they grew more numerous, until we came on a large camp near our graveyard, filled with soldiers and cannon. From first to last none refrained from laughing at us; not aloud, but they would grin and be inwardly convulsed with laughter as we passed. One laughed so comically that I dropped my veil hastily for fear he would see me smile. I could not help it; if any one smiled at me while I was dying, I believe I would return it. We passed crowds, for it was now five o'clock, and all seemed to be promenading. There were several officers standing at the corner, near our house, who were very much amused at our vehicle. I did not feel like smiling then. After reducing us to riding in a mule team, they were heartless enough to laugh! I forgot them presently, and gave my whole attention to getting out respectably. Now getting in a wagon is bad enough; but getting out -! I hardly know how I managed it. I had fully three feet to step down before reaching the wheel; once there, the driver picked me up and set me on the pavement. The net I had gathered my hair in, fell in my descent, and my hair swept down halfway between my knee and ankle in one stream. As I turned to get my little bundle, the officers had moved their position to one directly opposite to me, where they could examine me at leisure. Queens used to ride drawn by oxen hundreds of years ago, so I played this was old times, the mules were oxen, I a queen, and stalked off in a
style I am satisfied would have imposed on Juno herself. When I saw them as I turned, they were perfectly quiet; but Nettie says up to that moment they had been in convulsions of laughter, with their handkerchiefs to their faces. It was not polite!
I found mother safe, but the house was in the most horrible confusion. Jimmy's empty cage stood by the door; it had the same effect on me that empty coffins produce on others. Oh, my birdie! At six, I could no longer stand my hunger. I had fasted for twelve hours, with the exception of a mouthful of hoecake at eleven; I that never fasted in my life! - except last Ash Wednesday when Lydia and I tried it for breakfast, and got so sick we were glad to atone for it at dinner. So I got a little piece of bread and corn beef from Mrs. Daigre's servant, for there was not a morsel here, and I did not know where or what to buy. Presently some kind friend sent me a great short-cake, a dish of strawberry preserves, and some butter, which I was grateful for, for the fact that the old negro was giving me part of her supper made me rather sparing, though she cried, "Eat it all honey! I get plenty more!"
Mother went to Cousin Will's, and I went to Mrs. Brunot's to sleep, and so ended my first day's ride on a mule team. Bah! A lady can make anything respectable by the way she does it! What do I care if I had been driving mules? Better that than walk seventeen miles.
I met Dr. DuChêne and Dr. Castleton twice each,
this morning. They were as kind to me as they were to the girls the other day. The latter saved them a disagreeable visit, while here. He and those three were packing some things in the hall, when two officers passed, and prepared to come in, seeing three good-looking girls seemingly alone, for Miriam's dress hid Dr. Castleton as he leaned over the box. Just then she moved, the Doctor raised his head, and the officers started back with an "Ah!" of surprise. The Doctor called them as they turned away, and asked for a pass for the young ladies. They came back bowing and smiling, said they would write one in the house, but they were told very dryly that there were no writing accommodations there. They tried the fascinating, and were much mortified by the coldness they met. Dear me! "Why was n't I born old and ugly?" Suppose I should unconsciously entrap some magnificent Yankee! What an awful thing it would be!
Sentinels are stationed at every corner; Dr. Castleton piloted me safely through one expedition; but on the next, we had to part company, and I passed through a crowd of at least fifty, alone. They were playing cards in the ditch, and swearing dreadfully, these pious Yankees; many were marching up and down, some sleeping on the pavement, others - picking odious bugs out of each other's heads! I thought of the guerrillas, yellow fever, and all, and wished they were all safe at home with their mothers and sisters, and we at peace again.
What a day I have had! Here mother and I are alone, not a servant on the lot. We will sleep here to-night, and I know she will be too nervous to let me sleep. The dirt and confusion were extraordinary in the house. I could not stand it, so I applied myself to making it better. I actually swept two whole rooms! I ruined my hands at gardening, so it made no difference. I replaced piles of books, crockery, china, that Miriam had left packed for Greenwell; I discovered I could empty a dirty hearth, dust, move heavy weights, make myself generally useful and dirty, and all this is thanks to the Yankees! Poor me! This time last year I thought I would never walk again! If I am not laid up forever after the fatigue of this last week, I shall always maintain I have a Constitution. But it all seems nothing in this confusion; everything is almost as bad as ever. Besides that, I have been flying around to get Miriam a wagon. I know she is half distracted at being there alone. Mother chose staying with all its evils. Charlie's life would pay the penalty of a cotton burner if he returned, so Lilly remains at Greenwell with him. We three will get on as best we can here. I wrote to the country to get a wagon, sent a pass from Headquarters, but I will never know if it reached her until I see her in town. I hope it will; I would be better satisfied with Miriam.
Miriam and Mattie drove in, in the little buggy, last evening after sunset, to find out what we
were to do. Our condition is desperate. Beauregard is about attacking these Federals. They say he is coming from Corinth, and the fight will be in town. If true, we are lost again. Starvation at Greenwell, fever and bullets here, will put an end to us soon enough. There is no refuge for us, no one to consult. Brother, whose judgment we rely on as implicitly as we did on father's, we hear has gone to New York; there is no one to advise or direct us, for, if he is gone, there is no man in Louisiana whose decision I would blindly abide by. Let us stay and die. We can only die once; we can suffer a thousand deaths with suspense and uncertainty; the shortest is the best. Do you think the few words here can give an idea of our agony and despair? Nothing can express it. I feel a thousand years old to-day. I have shed the bitterest tears to-day that I have shed since father died. I can't stand it much longer; I'll give way presently, and I know my heart will break. Shame! Where is God? A fig for your religion, if it only lasts while the sun shines! "Better days are coming" - I can't!
Troops are constantly passing and repassing. They have scoured the country for ten miles out, in search of guerrillas. We are here without servants, clothing, or the bare necessaries of life: suppose they should seize them on the way! I procured a pass for the wagon, but it now seems doubtful if I can get the latter - a very faint chance. Well! let them go; our home next; then we can die sure enough. With
God's help, I can stand anything yet in store for me. "I hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide!" Poor Lavinia! if she could only see us! I am glad she does not know our condition.
What a day of agony, doubt, uncertainty, and despair! Heaven save me from another such! Every hour fresh difficulties arose, until I believe we were almost crazy, every one of us.
As Miriam was about stepping in the buggy, to go to
Greenwell to bring in our trunks, mother's heart misgave
her, and she decided to sacrifice her properly rather than
remain in this state any longer. After a desperate discussion
which proved that each argument was death, she decided
to go back to Greenwell and give up the keys of the
house to General Williams, and let him do as he pleased,
rather than have it broken open during her absence. Mattie
and Mr. Tunnard were present at the discussion, which
ended by the latter stepping in the buggy and driving
Miriam to the Garrison. General Williams called her by
name, and asked her about Major Drum. It seems all these
people, native and foreign, know us, while we know none.
Miriam told him our condition, how our brothers were
away, father dead, and mother afraid to remain, yet
unwilling to lose her property by going away; how we
three were alone and unprotected here, but would remain
rather than have our home confiscated. He assured her the
house should not be touched, that it would be respected
in our absence as though we were in it, and he would place a sentinel at the door to guard it against his own men who might be disposed to enter. The latter she declined, but he said he would send his aide to mark the house, that it might be known. A moment after they got back, the aide, Mr. Biddle (I have his name to so many passes that I know it now), came to the door. Mr. Tunnard left him there, uncertain how we would receive a Christian, and I went out and asked him in. He looked uncertain of his reception, too, when we put an end to his doubt by treating him as we invariably treat gentlemen who appear such. He behaved remarkably well under the trying circumstances, and insisted on a sentinel; for, he said, though they would respect the property, there were many bad characters among the soldiers who might attempt to rob it, and the sentinel would protect it. After a visit of ten minutes, devoted exclusively to the affair, he arose and took his leave, leaving me under the impression that he was a gentleman wherever he came from, even if there were a few grammatical errors in the pass he wrote me yesterday; but "thou that judgest another, dost thou sin?"
Well, now we say, fly to Greenwell. Yes! and by tonight, a most exaggerated account of the whole affair will be spread over the whole country, and we will be equally suspected by our own people. Those who spread useless falsehoods about us will gladly have a foundation for a monstrous one. Did n't
Camp Moore ring with the story of our entertaining the Federal officers? did n't they spread the report that Miriam danced with one to the tune of "Yankee Doodle" in the State House garden? What will they stop at now? O! if I was only a man, and knew what to do!
We were so distressed by the false position in which we would be placed by a Federal sentinel, that we did not know what course to pursue. As all our friends shook their heads and said it was dangerous, we knew full well what our enemies would say. If we win Baton Rouge, as I pray we will, they will say we asked protection from Yankees against our own men, are consequently traitors, and our property will be confiscated by our own Government. To decline General Williams's kind offer exposes the house to being plundered. In our dilemma, we made up our minds to stay, so we could say the sentinel was unnecessary.
Presently a file of six soldiers marched to the gate, an officer came to the steps and introduced himself as Colonel McMillan, of 21st Indiana Volunteers. He asked if this was Mrs. Morgan's; the General had ordered a guard placed around the house; he would suggest placing them in different parts of the yard. "Madam, the pickets await your orders." Miriam in a desperate fright undertook to speak for mother, and asked if he thought there was any necessity. No, but it was an additional security, he said.
"Then, if no actual necessity, we will relieve you of the disagreeable duty, as we expect to remain in town," she said. He was very kind, and discussed the whole affair with us, saying when we made up our minds to leave, - we told him after we could not decide, - to write him word, and he would place a guard around to prevent his men and the negroes from breaking in. It was a singular situation: our brothers off fighting them, while these Federal officers leaned over our fence, and an officer standing on our steps offered to protect us. These people are certainly very kind to us. General Williams especially must be a dear old gentleman; he is so good.
How many good, and how many mean people these troubles have shown us! I am beginning to see my true friends, now; there is a large number of them, too. Everybody from whom we least expected attention has agreeably surprised us. . . .
General Williams will believe we are insane from our changing so often.
His guard positively refused.
Last night I determined to stay. Miriam went after our trunks at daylight. A few hours after, Lilly wrote we must go back. McClellan's army was cut to pieces and driven back to Maryland, by Jackson; the Federals were being driven into the swamp from Richmond, too. Beauregard is undoubtedly coming to attack Baton Rouge; his fire would burn the town, if the gunboats do not; the
Yankees will shell, at all events, if forced to retire. It cannot stand. We can't go to New Orleans. Butler says he will lay it in ashes if he is forced to evacuate it, from yellow fever or other causes. Both must be burned. Greenwell is not worth the powder it would cost, so we must stand the chance of murder and starvation there, rather than the certainty of being placed between two fires here. Well, I see nothing but bloodshed and beggary staring us in the face. Let it come. "I hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide."
We dined at Mrs. Brunot's yesterday, and sitting on the gallery later, had the full benefit of a Yankee drill. They stopped in front of the house and went through some very curious manoeuvres, and then marched out to their drill-ground beyond. In returning, the whole regiment drew up directly before us, and we were dreadfully quiet for five minutes, the most uncomfortable I have experienced for some time. For it was absurd to look at the sky, and I looked in vain for one man with downcast eyes whereon I might rest mine; but from the officers down to the last private, they were all looking at us. I believe I would have cried with embarrassment if the command had not been given at that moment. They drilled splendidly, and knew it, too, so went through it as though they had not been at it for an hour before. One conceited, red-headed lieutenant smiled at us in the most fascinating way; perhaps he
smiled to think how fine he was, and what an impression he was making.
We got back to our solitary house before twilight, and were sitting on the balcony, when Mr. Biddle entered. He came to ask if the guard had been placed here last night. It seems to me it would have saved him such a long walk if he had asked Colonel McMillan. He sat down, though, and got talking in the moonlight, and people passing, some citizens, some officers, looked wonderingly at this unheard-of occurrence. I won't be rude to any one in my own house, Yankee or Southern, say what they will. He talked a great deal, and was very entertaining; what tempted him, I cannot imagine. It was two hours before he thought of leaving. He was certainly very kind. He spoke of the scarcity of flour in town; said they had quantities at the Garrison, and asked permission to send us a barrel, which of course we refused. It showed a very good heart, though. He offered to take charge of any letters I would write; said he had heard General Williams speak of Harry; and when he at last left, I was still more pleased with him for this kindness to us. He says Captain Huger is dead. I am very, very much distressed. They are related, he says. He talked so reasonably of the war, that it was quite a novelty after reading the abusive newspapers of both sides. I like him, and was sorry I could not ask him to repeat his visit. We are unaccustomed to treat gentlemen that way; but it won't do in the present state to act as we please. Mob governs.
Mother kept me awake all night to listen to the mice in the garret. Every time I would doze she would ask, "What's that?" and insist that the mice were men. I had to get up and look for an imaginary host, so I am tired enough this morning.
Miriam has just got in with all the servants, our baggage is on the way, so we will be obliged to stay whether we will or no. I don't care; it is all the same starve or burn. Oh! I forgot. Mr. Biddle did not write that pass! It was his clerk. He speaks very grammatically, so far as I can judge! !
June 8th, Sunday.
These people mean to kill us with kindness. There is such a thing as being too kind. Yesterday General Williams sent a barrel of flour to mother accompanied by a note begging her to accept it "in consideration of the present condition of the circulating currency," and the intention was so kind, the way it was done so delicate, that there was no refusing it. I had to write her thanks, and got in a violent fit of the "trembles" at the idea of writing to a stranger. One consolation is, that I am not a very big fool, for it took only three lines to prove myself one. If I had been a thundering big one, I would have occupied two pages to show myself fully. And to think it is out of our power to prove them our appreciation of the kindness we have universally met with! Many officers were in church this morning and as they passed us while we waited for the door
to be opened, General Williams bowed profoundly, another followed his example; we returned the salute, of course. But by to-morrow, those he did not bow to will cry treason against us. Let them howl. I am tired of lies, scandal, and deceit. All the loudest gossips have been frightened into the country, but enough remain to keep them well supplied with town talk. . . . It is such a consolation to turn to the dear good people of the world after coming in contact with such cattle. Here, for instance, is Mr. Bonnecase on whom we have not the slightest claims. Every day since we have been here, he has sent a great pitcher of milk, knowing our cow is out; one day he sent rice, the next sardines, yesterday two bottles of Port and Madeira, which cannot be purchased in the whole South. What a duck of an old man! That is only one instance.
This morning while I was attending to my flowers . . . several soldiers stopped in front of me, and holding on the fence, commenced to talk about some brave Colonel, and a shooting affair last night. When all had gone except one who was watching me attentively, as he seemed to wish to tell me, I let him go ahead. The story was that Colonel McMillan was shot through the shoulder, breast, and liver, by three guerrillas while four miles from town last night, on a scout. He was a quarter of a mile from his own men at the time, killed one who shot him, took the other two prisoners, and fell from his horse himself,
when he got within the lines. The soldier said these two guerrillas would probably be hanged, while the six we saw pass captives, Sunday, would probably be sent to Fort Jackson for life. I think the guerrilla affair mere murder, I confess; but what a dreadful fate for these young men! One who passed Sunday was Jimmy's schoolmate, a boy of sixteen; another, Willie Garig, the pet of a whole family of good, honest country people. . . .
These soldiers will get in the habit of talking to me after a while, through my own fault. Yesterday I could not resist the temptation to ask the fate of the six guerrillas, and stopped two volunteers who were going by, to ask them. They discussed the fate of the country, told me Fort Pillow and Vicksburg were evacuated, the Mississippi opened from source to mouth; I told them of Banks's and McClellan's defeat; they assured me it would all be over in a month, - which I fervently prey may be so; told me they were from Michigan (one was Mr. Bee, he laid, cousin of our General); and they would probably have talked all day if I had not bowed myself away with thanks for their information.
It made me ashamed to contrast the quiet, gentlemanly, liberal way these volunteers spoke of us and our cause, with the rabid, fanatical, abusive violence of our own female Secession declaimers. Thank heaven, I have never yet made my appearance as a Billingsgate orator on these occasions. All my violent feelings, which in moments of intense excitement
were really violent, I have recorded in this book; I am happy to say only the reasonable dislike to seeing my country subjugated has been confided to the public ear, when necessary; and that even now, I confess that nothing but the reign of terror and gross prejudice by which I was surrounded at that time could justify many expressions I have here applied to them. Fact is, these people have disarmed me by their kindness. I expected to be in a crowd of ruffian soldiers, who would think nothing of cutting your throat or doing anything they felt like; and I find, among all these thousands, not one who offers the slightest annoyance or disrespect. The former is the thing as it is believed by the whole country, the latter the true state of affairs. I admire foes who show so much consideration for our feelings.
Contrast these with our volunteers from New Orleans - all gentlemen - who came to take the Garrison from Major Haskins. Several of them passing our gate where we were standing with the Brunots, one exclaimed, "What pretty girls!" It was a stage aside that we were supposed not to hear. "Yes," said another; "beautiful! but they look as though they could be fast." Fast! and we were not even speaking! not even looking at them! Sophie and I were walking presently, and met half a dozen. We had to stop to let them pass the crossing; they did not think of making way for us; No. 1 sighed - such a sigh! No. 2 followed, and so on, when they all sighed in chorus for our edification, while we
dared not raise our eyes from the ground. That is the time I would have made use of a dagger. Two passed in a buggy, and trusting to our not recognizing them from the rapidity of their vehicle, kissed their hands to us until they were out of sight! All went back to New Orleans vowing Baton Rouge had the prettiest girls in the world. These were our own people, the élite of New Orleans, loyal Southerners and gentlemen. These Northerners pass us satisfied with a simple glance; some take off their hats, for all these officers know our name, though we may not know theirs; how, I can't say.
When I heard of Colonel McMillan's misfortune, mother conspired with me to send over some bandages, and something Tiche manufactured of flour under the name of "nourishment," for he is across the street at Heroman's. Miriam objected on account of what "our people" will say, and what we will suffer for it if the guerrillas reach town, but we persuaded her we were right. . . . You can imagine our condition at present, many years hence, Sarah, when you reflect that it is the brave, noble-hearted, generous Miriam who is afraid to do that deed on account of "public opinion," which indeed is "down" on us. At Greenwell they are frantic about our returning to town, and call us traitors, Yankees, and vow vengeance. . . . A lady said to me, "The guerrillas have a black list containing the names of those remaining in town. All the men are to be hanged, their houses burned, and all the women are to be
tarred and feathered." I said, "Madam, if I believed them capable of such a vile threat, even, much less the execution, I would see them cut down without a feeling of compassion" (which is not true), "and swear I was a Yankee rather than claim being a native of the same country with such brutes." She has a long tongue; when I next hear of it, it will be that I told the story, and called them brutes and hoped they would be shot, etc. And so goes the world. No one will think of saying that I did not believe them guilty of the thought, even. Our three brothers may be sick or wounded at this minute; what I do for this man, God will send some one to do for them, and with that belief I do it. . . .
Last evening mother and Miriam went to the Arsenal to see if they would be allowed to do anything for the prisoners. General Williams received them, and fascinated Miriam by his manner, as usual. Poor Miriam is always being fascinated, according to her own account. He sent for little Nathan Castle and Willie Garig, and left them alone in the room with them, showing his confidence and delicacy by walking away. The poor young men were very grateful to be remembered; one had his eyes too full of tears to speak. Mr. Garig told Miriam that when the story of her refusing the escort was told in camp, the woods rang with shouts of "Three cheers for Miss Morgan!" They said they were treated very
well, and had no want, except clean clothes, and to let their mothers know they were well and content.
I have been hard at work mending three or four suits of the boys' clothing for those poor young men. Some needed thread and needle very much, but it was the best we could do. So I packed them all up - not forgetting a row of pins - and sent Tiche off with the bundle, perched real Congo fashion on her many-colored head-handkerchief, which was tied in the most superb Creole style in honor of the occasion.
June 16th, Monday.
My poor old diary comes to a very abrupt end, to my great distress. The hardest thing in the world is to break off journalizing when you are once accustomed to it, and mine has proved such a resource to me in these dark days of trouble that I feel as though I were saying good-bye to an old and tried friend. Thanks to my liberal supply of pens, ink, and paper, how many inexpressibly dreary days I have filled up to my own satisfaction, if not to that of others! How many disagreeable affairs it has caused me to pass over without another thought, how many times it has proved a relief to me where my tongue was forced to remain quiet! Without the blessed materials, I would have fallen victim to despair and "the Blues" long since; but they have kept my eyes fixed on "Better days a-coming" while slightly alluding to present woes; kept me from making a fool of myself many a day; acted as lightning rod to my mental
thunder, and have made me happy generally. For all of which I cry, " Vivent pen, ink, and paper!" and add with regret, " Adieu, my mental Conductor. I fear this unchained lightning will strike somewhere, in your absence!"
"I hope to die shouting, the Lord will provide!"
Monday, June 16th, 1862.
THERE is no use in trying to break off journalizing, particularly in "these trying times." It has become a necessity to me. I believe I should go off in a rapid decline if Butler took it in his head to prohibit that among other things. . . . I reserve to myself the privilege of writing my opinions, since I trouble no one with the expression of them. . . . I insist, that if the valor and chivalry of our men cannot save our country, I would rather have it conquered by a brave race than owe its liberty to the Billingsgate oratory and demonstrations of some of these "ladies." If the women have the upper hand then, as they have now, I would not like to live in a country governed by such tongues. Do I consider the female who could spit in a gentleman's face, merely because he wore United States buttons, as a fit associate for me? Lieutenant Biddle assured me he did not pass a street in New Orleans without being most grossly insulted by ladies. It was a friend of his into whose face a lady spit as he walked quietly by without looking at her. (Wonder if she did it to attract his attention?) He had the sense to apply to her husband and give him two minutes to apologize or die, and of course he
chose the former.1 Such things are enough to disgust any one. "Loud" women, what a contempt I have for you! How I despise your vulgarity!
Some of these Ultra-Secessionists, evidently very recently from "down East," who think themselves obliged to "kick up their heels over the Bonny Blue Flag," as Brother describes female patriotism, shriek out, "What! see those vile Northerners pass patiently! No true Southerner could see it without rage. I could kill them! I hate them with all my soul, the murderers, liars, thieves, rascals! You are no Southerner if you do not hate them as much as I!" Ah ça! a true-blue Yankee tell me that I, born and bred here, am no Southerner! I always think, "It is well for you, my friend, to save your credit, else you might be suspected by some people, though your violence is enough for me." I always say, "You may do as you please; my brothers are fighting for me, and doing their duty, so that excess of patriotism is unnecessary for me, as my position is too well known to make any demonstrations requisite."
This war has brought out wicked, malignant feelings
that I did not believe could dwell in woman's heart.
I see some of the holiest eyes, so holy one would
think the very spirit of charity lived in them, and all
Christian meekness, go off in a mad tirade of
abuse and say, with the holy eyes wondrously
changed, "I hope God will send down plague, yellow fever, famine, on these vile Yankees, and that not one will escape death." O, what unutterable horror that remark causes me as often as I hear it! I think of the many mothers, wives, and sisters who wait as anxiously, pray as fervently in their faraway homes for their dear ones, as we do here; I fancy them waiting day after day for the footsteps that will never come, growing more sad, lonely, and heart-broken as the days wear on; I think of how awful it would be if one would say, "Your brothers are dead"; how it would crush all life and happiness out of me; and I say, "God forgive these poor women! They know not what they say!" O women! into what loathsome violence you have abased your holy mission! God will punish us for our hard-heartedness. Not a square off, in the new theatre, lie more than a hundred sick soldiers. What woman has stretched out her hand to save them, to give them a cup of cold water? Where is the charity which should ignore nations and creeds, and administer help to the Indian and Heathen indifferently? Gone! All gone in a Union versus Secession! That is what the American War has brought us. If I was independent, if I could work my own will without causing others to suffer for my deeds, I would not be poring over this stupid page; I would not be idly reading or sewing. I would put aside woman's trash, take up woman's duty, and I would stand by some forsaken man and bid him Godspeed as he closes his dying eyes. That is
woman's mission! and not Preaching and Politics. I say I would, yet here I sit! O for liberty! the liberty that dares do what conscience dictates, and scorns all smaller rules! If I could help these dying men! Yet it is as impossible as though I was a chained bear. I can't put out my hand. I am threatened with Coventry because I sent a custard to a sick man who is in the army, and with the anathema of society because I said if I could possibly do anything for Mr. Biddle - at a distance - (he is sick) I would like to very much. Charlie thinks we have acted shockingly in helping Colonel McMillan, and that we will suffer for it when the Federals leave. I would like to see any man who dared harm my father's daughter! But as he seems to think our conduct reflects on him, there is no alternative. Die, poor men, without a woman's hand to close your eyes! We women are too patriotic to help you! I look eagerly on, cry in my soul, "I wish -"; you die; God judges me. Behold the woman who dares not risk private ties for God's glory and her professed religion! Coward, helpless woman that I am! If I was free -!
Yesterday, and day before, boats were constantly arriving and troops embarking from here, destined for Vicksburg. There will be another fight, and of course it will fall. I wish Will was out of it; I don't want him to die. I got the kindest, sweetest letter from Will when Miriam came from Greenwell. It
was given to her by a guerrilla on the road who asked if she was not Miss Sarah Morgan.
How long, O how long, is it since I have lain down in peace, thinking, "This night I will rest in safety"? Certainly not since the fall of Fort Jackson. If left to myself, I would not anticipate evil, but would quietly await the issue of all these dreadful events; but when I hear men, who certainly should know better than I, express their belief that in twenty-four hours the town will be laid in ashes, I begin to grow uneasy, and think it must be so, since they say it. These last few days, since the news arrived of the intervention of the English and French, I have alternately risen and fallen from the depth of despair to the height of delight and expectation, as the probability of another exodus diminishes, and peace appears more probable. If these men would not prophesy the burning of the city, I would be perfectly satisfied. . . .
Well! I packed up a few articles to satisfy my conscience, since these men insist that another run is inevitable, though against my own conviction. I am afraid I was partly influenced by my dream last night of being shelled out unexpectedly and flying without saving an article. It was the same dream I had a night or two before we fled so ingloriously from Baton Rouge, when I dreamed of meeting Will Pinckney suddenly, who greeted me in the most extraordinarily affectionate manner, and told me
that Vicksburg had fallen. He said he had been chiefly to blame, and the Southerners were so incensed at his losing, the Northerners at his defending, that both were determined to hang him; he was running for his life. He took me to a hill from which I could see the Garrison, and the American flag flying over it. I looked, and saw we were standing in blood up to our knees, while here and there ghastly white bones shone above the red surface. Just then, below me I saw crowds of people running. "What is it?" I asked. "It means that in another instant they will commence to shell the town. Save yourself." "But Will - I must save some clothes, too! How can I go among strangers with a single dress? I will get some!" I cried. He smiled and said, "You will run with only what articles you happen to have on." Bang! went the first shell, the people rushed by with screams, and I awakened to tell Miriam what an absurd dream I had had. It happened as Will had said, either that same day or the day after; for the change of clothes we saved apiece were given to Tiche, who lost sight of us and quietly came home when all was over, and the two dirty skirts and old cloak mother saved, after carrying them a mile and a half, I put in the buggy that took her up; so I saved nothing except the bag that was tied under my hoops. Will was right. I saved not even my powder-bag. (Tiche had it in the bundle.) My handkerchief I gave mother before we had walked three squares, and throughout that long fearfully warm day, riding
and walking through the fiery sunshine and stifling dust, I had neither to cool or comfort me.
Miriam and I have disgraced ourselves! This morning I was quietly hearing Dellie's lessons, when I was startled by mother's shrieks of "Send for a guard - they've murdered him!" I saw through the window a soldier sitting in the road just opposite with blood streaming from his hand in a great pool in the dust. I was downstairs in three bounds, and snatching up some water, ran to where he sat alone not a creature near, though all the inhabitants of our side of the street were looking on from the balconies all crying "Murder!" and "Help!" without moving themselves. I poured some water on the man's bloody hand, as he held it streaming with gore up to me, saying, "The man in there did it," meaning the one who keeps the little grog-shop, though it puzzled me at the time to see that all the doors were closed and not a face visible. I had hardly time to speak when Tiche called loudly to me to come away, - she was safe at the front gate, - and looking up, I found myself in a knot of a dozen soldiers, and took her advice and retreated home. It proved to be the guard Miriam had roused. She ran out as I did and seeing a gentleman, begged him to call the guard for that murdered man. The individual - he must have been a "patriot " - said he did n't know where to find one. She cried out they were at Heroman's;
he said he did n't believe they were. "Go! I tell you!" she screamed at last; but the brave man said he did n't like to, so she ran to the corner and called the soldiers herself. O most brave man! Before we got back from our several expeditions, we heard mother, Lilly, Mrs. Day, all shouting, "Bring in the children! lock the doors!" etc. All for a poor wounded soldier!
We after discovered that the man was drunk, and had cursed the woman of the grog-shop, whereupon her husband had pitched him out in the street, where they found him. They say he hurt his hand against a post; but wood could never have cut deep enough to shed all that gore. I don't care if he was drunk or sober, soldier or officer, Federal or Confederate! If he had been Satan himself lying helpless and bleeding in the street, I would have gone to him! I can't believe it was as criminal as though I had watched quietly from a distance, believing him dying and contenting myself with looking on. Yet it seems it was dreadfully indecorous; Miriam and I did very wrong; we should have shouted murder with the rest of the women and servants. Whereas the man who declined committing himself by calling one soldier to the rescue of another, supposed to be dying, acted most discreetly, and showed his wisdom in the most striking manner.
May I never be discreet, or wise, if this is Christian conduct, or a sample of either! I would rather be a rash, impetuous fool! Charlie says he would not
open his mouth to save a dozen from being murdered. I say I am not Stoic enough for that. Lilly agrees with him, Miriam with me; so here we two culprits stand alone before the tribunal of "patriotism." Madame Roland, I take the liberty of altering your words and cry, "O Patriotism! How many base deeds are sanctioned by your name!" Don't I wish I was a heathen! In twenty-four hours the whole country will be down on us.
O for a pen to paint the slaves
Whose "country" like a deadly blight;
Closes all hearts when Pity craves
And turns God's spirit to darkest night!
May life's patriotic cup for such
Be filled with glory overmuch;
And when their spirits go above in pride,
Spirit of Patriotism, let these valiant abide
Full in the sight of grand mass-meeting - I don't
Want you to cuss them,
But put them where they can hear politics,
And yet can't discuss them!
(I can't say worse than that!)
Yesterday morning, just as I stepped out of bed I heard the report of four cannon fired in rapid succession, and everybody asked everybody else, "Did you hear that?" so significantly, that I must say my heart beat very rapidly for a few moments, at the thought of another stampede. At half-past six this morning I was wakened by another report, followed by seven others, and heard again the question, "Did you hear that?" on a higher key than yesterday. -
It did not take me many minutes to get out of bed, and to slip on a few articles, I confess. My chief desire was to wash my face before running, if they were actually shelling us again. It appears that they were only practicing, however, and no harm was intended. But we are living on such a volcano, that, not knowing what to expect, we are rather nervous.
I am afraid this close confinement will prove too much for me; my long walks are cut off, on account of the soldiers. One month to-morrow since my last visit to the graveyard! That haunts me always; it must be so dreary out there! Here is a sketch of my daily life, enough to finish me off forever, if much longer persisted in.
First, get up a little before seven. After breakfast, which is generally within a few minutes after I get down (it used to be just as I got ready, and sometimes before, last winter), I attend to my garden, which consists of two strips of ground the length of the house, in front, where I can find an hour's work in examining and admiring my flowers, replanting those that the cows and horses occasionally (once a day) pull up for me, and in turning the soil over and over again to see which side grows best. O my garden! abode of rare delights! how many pleasant hours I have passed in you, armed with scissors, knife, hoe, or rake, only pausing when Mr. This or Mr. That leaned over the fence to have a talk! - last spring, that was; ever so many are dead now, for all I know, and all off at the war. Now I
work for the edification of proper young women, who look in astonishment at me, as they would consider themselves degraded by the pursuit. A delicate pair of hands my flower mania will leave me!
Then I hear Dellie's and Morgan's lessons, after which I open my desk and am lost in the mysteries of Arithmetic, Geography, Blair's Lectures, Noël et Chapsal, Ollendorff, and reading aloud in French and English, besides writing occasionally in each, and sometimes a peep at Lavoisne, until very nearly dinner. The day is not half long enough for me. Many things I would like to study I am forced to give up, for want of leisure to devote to them. But one of these days, I will make up for present deficiencies. I study only what I absolutely love, now; but then, if I can, I will study what I am at present ignorant of, and cultivate a taste for something new.
The few moments before dinner, and all the time after, I devote to writing, sewing, knitting, etc., and if I included darning, repairs, alterations, etc., my list would be tremendous, for I get through with a great deal of sewing. Somewhere in the day, I find half an hour, or more, to spend at the piano. Before sunset I dress, and am free to spend the evening at home, or else walk to Mrs. Brunot's, for it is not safe to go farther than those three squares, away from home. From early twilight until supper, Miriam and I sing with the guitar, generally, and after, sit comfortably under the chandelier and read until about ten. What little reading I do, is almost exclusively
done at that time. It sounds woefully little, but my list of books grows to quite a respectable size, in the course of a year.
At ten comes my Bible class for the servants. Lucy, Rose, Nancy, and Dophy assemble in my room, and hear me read the Bible, or stories from the Bible for a while. Then one by one say their prayers - they cannot be persuaded to say them together; Dophy says "she can't say with Rose, 'cause she ain't got no brothers and sisters to pray for," and Lucy has no father or mother, and so they go. All difficulties and grievances during the day are laid before me, and I sit like Moses judging the children of Israel, until I can appease the discord. Sometimes it is not so easy. For instance, that memorable night when I had to work Rose's stubborn heart to a proper pitch of repentance for having stabbed a carving fork in Lucy's arm in a fit of temper. I don't know that I was ever as much astonished as I was at seeing the dogged, sullen girl throw herself on the floor in a burst of tears, and say if God would forgive her she would never do it again. I was lashing myself internally for not being able to speak as I should, furious at myself for talking so weakly, and lo! here the girl tumbles over wailing and weeping! And Dophy, overcome by her feelings, sobs, "Lucy, I scratched you last week! please forgive me this once !" And amazed and bewildered I look at the touching tableau before me of kissing and reconciliation, for Lucy can bear malice toward no one, and
is ready to forgive before others repent, and I look from one to the other, wondering what it was that upset them so completely, for certainly no words of mine caused it. Sometimes Lucy sings a wild hymn, "Did you ever hear the heaven bells ring?" "Come, my loving brothers," "When I put on my starry crown," etc.; and after some such scene as that just described, it is pleasant to hear them going out of the room saying, "Good-night, Miss Sarah!" "God bless Miss Sarah!" and all that.
A proclamation of Van Dorn has just been smuggled into town, that advises all persons living within eight miles of the Mississippi to remove into the interior, as he is determined to defend his department at all hazards to the last extremity. Does not look like the Peace I have been deluding myself with, does it? That means another Exodus. How are we to leave, when we are not allowed to pass the limits of the corporation by the Federals? Where are we to go? We are between the two armies, and here we must remain patiently awaiting the result. Some of these dark nights, bang! we will hear the cannon, and then it will be sauve qui peut in a shower of shells Bah! I don't believe God will suffer that we should be murdered in such a dreadful way! I don't believe He will suffer us to be turned homeless and naked on the world! "Something will turn up" before we are attacked, and we will be spared, I am certain. We
can't look forward more than an hour at a time now, sometimes not a minute ahead (witness the shelling frolic), so I must resume my old habit of laying a clean dress on my bed before going to sleep, which I did every night for six weeks before the shelling of Baton Rouge, in order to run respectably, as muslin cross-bar nightgowns are not suitable for day dresses.
I am afraid I shall be nervous when the moment of the bombardment actually arrives. This suspense is not calculated to soothe one's nerves. A few moments since, a salute was fired in honor of General Butler's arrival, when women, children, and servants rushed to the front of the houses, confident of a repetition of the shelling which occurred a month ago to-day. The children have not forgotten the scene, for they all actually howled with fear. Poor little Sarah stopped her screams to say, "Mother, don't you wish we was dogs 'stead o' white folks?" in such piteous accents that we had to laugh. Don't I wish I was a dog! Sarah is right. I don't know if I showed my uneasiness a while ago, but certainly my heart has hardly yet ceased beating rather rapidly. If I knew what moment to expect the stampede, I would not mind; but this way - to expect it every instant - it is too much! Again, if I knew where we could go for refuge from the shells! -
A window banging unexpectedly just then gave
me a curious twinge; not that I thought it was the signal, oh, dear, no! I just thought - what, I wonder? Pshaw! "Picayune Butler's coming, coming" has upset my nervous system. He interrupted me in the middle of my arithmetic; and I have not the energy to resume my studies. I shall try what effect an hour's practice will have on my spirits, and will see that I have a pair of clean stockings in my stampede sack, and that the fastenings of my "running-bag" are safe. Though if I expect to take either, I should keep in harness constantly. How long, O Lord! how long?
June 29th, Sunday.
"Any more, Mr. Lincoln, any more?" Can't you leave our racked homes in repose? We are all wild. Last night, five citizens were arrested, on no charge at all, and carried down to Picayune Butler's ship. What a thrill of terror ran through the whole community! We all felt so helpless, so powerless under the hand of our tyrant, the man who swore to uphold the Constitution and the laws, who is professedly only fighting to give us all Liberty, the birthright of every American, and who, nevertheless, has ground us down to a state where we would not reduce our negroes, who tortures and sneers at us, and rules us with an iron hand! Ah! Liberty! what a humbug! I would rather belong to England or France, than to the North! Bondage, woman that I am, I can never stand! Even now, the Northern papers, distributed among us, taunt us with our subjection and tell us
"how coolly Butler will grind them down, paying no regard to their writhing and torture beyond tightening the bonds still more!" Ah, truly! this is the bitterness of slavery, to be insulted and reviled by cowards who are safe at home and enjoy the protection of the laws, while we, captive and overpowered, dare not raise our voices to throw back the insult, and are governed by the despotism of one man, whose word is our law! And that man, they tell us, "is the right man in the right place. He will develop a Union sentiment among the people, if the thing can be done!" Come and see if he can! Hear the curse that arises from thousands of hearts at that man's name and say if he will "speedily bring us to our senses." Will he accomplish it by love, tenderness, mercy, compassion? He might have done it; but did he try? When he came, he assumed his natural rôle as tyrant, and bravely has he acted it through, never once turning aside for Justice or Mercy. . . . This degradation is worse than the bitterness of death!
I see no salvation on either side. No glory awaits the Southern Confederacy, even if it does achieve its independence; it will be a mere speck in the world, with no weight or authority. The North confesses itself lost without us, and has paid an unheard-of ransom to regain us. On the other hand, conquered, what hope is there in this world for us? Broken in health and fortune, reviled, contemned, abused by those who claim already to have subdued us, without a prospect of future support for those few of our
brothers who return; outcasts without home or honor, would not death or exile be preferable? Oh, let us abandon our loved home to these implacable enemies, and find refuge elsewhere! Take from us property, everything, only grant us liberty! Is this rather frantic, considering I abhor politics, and women who meddle with them, above all? My opinion has not yet changed; I still feel the same contempt for a woman who would talk at the top of her voice for the edification of Federal officers, as though anxious to receive an invitation requesting her presence at the Garrison. "I can suffer and be still" as far as outward signs are concerned; but as no word of this has passed my lips, I give it vent in writing which is more lasting than words, partly to relieve my heart, partly to prove to my own satisfaction that I am no coward; for one line of this, surrounded as we are by soldiers, and liable to have our houses searched at any instant, would be a sufficient indictment for high treason.
Under General Williams's rule, I was perfectly satisfied that whatever was done, was done through necessity, and under orders from Headquarters, beyond his control; we all liked him. But now, since Butler's arrival, I believe I am as frantic in secret as the others are openly. I know that war sanctions many hard things, and that both sides practice them; but now we are so completely lost in Louisiana, Is it fair to gibe and taunt us with our humiliation? I could stand anything save the cowardly
ridicule and triumph of their papers. Honestly, I believe if all vile abusive papers on both sides were suppressed, and some of the fire-eating editors who make a living by lying were soundly cowhided or had their ears clipped, it would do more towards establishing peace, than all the bloodshedding either side can afford. I hope to live to see it, too. Seems to me, more liberty is allowed to the press than would be tolerated in speech. Let us speak as freely as any paper, and see if to-morrow we do not sleep at Fort Jackson!
This morning the excitement is rare; fifteen more citizens were arrested and carried off, and all the rest grew wild with expectation. So great a martyrdom is it considered, that I am sure those who are not arrested will be woefully disappointed. It is ludicrous to see how each man thinks he is the very one they are in search of! We asked a twopenny lawyer, of no more importance in the community than Dophy is, if it was possible he was not arrested. "But I am expecting to be every instant!" So much for his self-assurance! Those arrested have, some, been quietly released (those are so smiling and mysterious that I suspect them), some been obliged to take the oath, some sent to Fort Jackson. Ah, Liberty! What a blessing it is to enjoy thy privileges! If some of these poor men are not taken prisoners, they will die of mortification at the slight.
Our valiant Governor, the brave Moore, has by order of the real Governor, Moïse, made himself
visible at some far-distant point, and issued a proclamation, saying, whereas we of Baton Rouge were held forcibly in town, he therefore considered men, women, and children prisoners of war, and as such the Yankees are bound to supply us with all necessaries, and consequently any one sending us aid or comfort or provisions from the country will be severely punished. Only Moore is fool enough for such an order. Held down by the Federals, our paper money so much trash, with hardly any other to buy food and no way of earning it; threatened with starvation and utter ruin, our own friends, by way of making our burden lighter, forbid our receiving the means of prolonging life, and after generously warning us to leave town, which they know is perfectly impossible, prepare to burn it over our heads, and let the women run the same risk as the men. Penned in on one little square mile, here we await our fate like sheep in the slaughter-pen. Our hour may be at hand now, it may be to-night; we have only to wait; the booming of the cannon will announce it to us soon enough.
Of the six sentenced to Fort Jackson, one is the Methodist minister, Mr. Craven. The only charge is, that he was heard to pray for the Confederate States by some officers who passed his house during his family prayers. According to that, which of us would escape unhung? I do not believe there is a woman in the land who closes her eyes before praying for God's blessing on the side on which her
brothers are engaged. Are we all to cease? Show me the dungeon deep enough to keep me from praying for them! The man represented that he had a large family totally dependent on him, who must starve. "Let them get up a subscription," was General Butler's humane answer. "I will head it myself." It is useless to say the generous offer was declined.
As a specimen of the humanity of General Butler, let me record a threat of his uttered with all the force and meaning language can convey, and certainly enough to strike terror in the hearts of frail women, since all these men believe him fully equal to carry it into execution; some even believe it will be done. In speaking to Mr. Solomon Benjamin of foreign intervention in our favor, he said, "Let England or France try it, and I'll be - if I don't arm every negro in the South, and make them cut the throat of every man, woman, and child in it! I'll make them lay the whole country waste with fire and sword, and leave it desolate!" Draw me a finer picture of Coward, Brute, or Bully than that one sentence portrays! O men of the North! you do your noble hearts wrong in sending such ruffians among us as the representatives of a great people! Was ever a more brutal thought uttered in a more brutal way? Mother, like many another, is crazy to go away from here, even to New Orleans; but like the rest, will be obliged to stand and await her fate. I don't believe
Butler would dare execute his threat, for at the first attempt, thousands, who are passive now, would cut the brutal heart from his inhuman breast.
Tuesday, July 1st.
I heard such a good joke last night! If I had belonged to the female declaiming club, I fear me I would have resigned instantly through mere terror. (Thank Heaven, I don't!) These officers say the women talk too much, which is undeniable. They then said, they meant to get up a sewing society, and place in it every woman who makes herself conspicuous by her loud talking about them. Fancy what a refinement of torture! But only a few would suffer; the majority would be only too happy to enjoy the usual privilege of sewing societies, slander, abuse, and insinuations. How some would revel in it. The mere threat makes me quake! If I could so far forget my dignity, and my father's name, as to court the notice of gentlemen by contemptible insult, etc., and if I should be ordered to take my seat at the sewing society - ! ! ! I would never hold my head up again! Member of a select sewing circle! Fancy me! (I know "there is never any gossip in our society, though the one over the way gets up dreadful reports"; I have heard all that, but would rather try neither.) Oh, how I would beg and plead! Fifty years at Fort Jackson, good, kind General Butler, rather than half an hour in your sewing society! Gentle, humane ruler, spare me and I split
my throat in shouting "Yankee Doodle" and "Hurrah for Lincoln!" Any, every thing, so I am not disgraced! Deliver me from your sewing society, and I'll say and do what you please!
Butler told some of these gentlemen that he had a detective watching almost every house in town, and he knew everything. True or not, it looks suspicious. We are certainly watched. Every evening two men may be seen in the shadow on the other side of the street, standing there until ever so late, sometimes until after we have gone to bed. It may be that, far from home, they are attracted by the bright light and singing, and watch us for their amusement. A few nights ago, so many officers passed and repassed while we were singing on the balcony, that I felt as though our habit of long standing had suddenly become improper. Saturday night, having secured a paper, we were all crowding around, Lilly and I reading every now and then a piece of news from opposite ends of the paper, Charlie, walking on the balcony, found five officers leaning over the fence watching us as we stood under the light, through the open window. Hope they won't elect me to the sewing society!
Thursday night, July 3d.
Another day of sickening suspense. This evening, about three, came the rumor that there was to be an attack on the town to-night, or early in the morning, and we had best be prepared for anything. I can't say I believe it, but in spite of my distrust, I
made my preparations. First of all I made a charming improvement in my knapsack, alias pillow-case, by sewing a strong black band down each side of the centre from the bottom to the top, when it is carried back and fastened below again, allowing me to pass my arms through, and thus present the appearance of an old peddler. Miriam's I secured also, and tied all our laces in a handkerchief ready to lay it in the last thing.
But the interior of my bag! - what a medley it is! First, I believe, I have secured four underskirts; three chemises, as many pairs of stockings, two underbodies, the prayer book father gave me, "Tennyson" that Harry gave me when I was fourteen, two unmade muslins, a white mull, English grenadine trimmed with lilac, and a purple linen, and nightgown. Then, I must have Lavinia's daguerreotype, and how could I leave Will's, when perhaps he was dead? Besides, Howell's and Will Carter's were with him, and one single case did not matter. But there was Tom Barker's I would like to keep, and oh! let's take Mr. Stone's! and I can't slight Mr. Dunnington, for these two have been too kind to Jimmy for me to forget; and poor Captain Huger is dead, and I will keep his, so they all went together. A box of pens, too, was indispensable, and a case of French notepaper, and a bundle of Harry's letters were added. Miriam insisted on the old diary that preceded this and found place for it, though I am afraid if she knew what trash she was to carry, she would retract before going farther.
It makes me heartsick to see the utter ruin we will be plunged in if forced to run to-night. Not a hundredth part of what I most value can be saved - if I counted my letters and papers, not a thousandth. But I cannot believe we will run to-night. The soldiers tell whoever questions them that there will be a fight before morning, but I believe it must be to alarm them. Though what looks suspicious is, that the officers said - to whom is not stated - that the ladies must not be uneasy if they heard cannon tonight, as they would probably commence to celebrate the Fourth of July about twelve o'clock. What does it mean? I repeat, I don't believe a word of it; yet I have not yet met the woman or child who is not prepared to fly. Rose knocked at the door just now to show her preparations. Her only thought seems to be mother's silver, so she has quietly taken possession of our shoe-bag, which is a long sack for odds and ends with cases for shoes outside, and has filled it with all the contents of the silver-box; this hung over her arm, and carrying Louis and Sarah, this young Samson says she will be ready to fly.
I don't believe it, yet here I sit, my knapsack serving me for a desk, my seat the chair on which I have carefully spread my clothes in order. At my elbow lies my running- or treasure-bag, surrounded by my cabas filled with hair-pins, starch, and a band I was embroidering, etc.; near it lie our combs, etc., and the whole is crowned by my dagger; - by the way, I must add Miriam's pistol which she has forgotten,
though over there lies her knapsack ready, too, with our bonnets and veils.
It is long past eleven, and no sound of the cannon Bah! I do not expect it. "I'll lay me down and sleep in peace, for Thou only, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety." Good-night! I wake up to-morrow the same as usual, and be disappointed that my trouble was unnecessary.
Here I am, and still alive, having wakened but once in the night, and that only in consequence of Louis and Morgan crying; nothing more alarming than that. I ought to feel foolish; but I do not. I am glad I was prepared, even though there was no occasion for it.
While I was taking my early bath, Lilly came to the bath-house and told me through the weather-boarding of another battle. Stonewall Jackson has surrounded McClellan completely, and victory is again ours. This is said to be the sixth battle he has fought in twenty days, and they say he has won them all. And the Seventh Regiment distinguished itself, and was presented with four cannon on the battlefield in acknowledgment of its gallant conduct! Gibbes belongs to the "ragged howling regiment that rushed on the field yelling like unchained devils and spread a panic through the army," as the Northern papers said, describing the battle of Manassas. Oh, how I hope he has escaped!
And they say "Palmerston has urged the recognition
of the Confederacy, and an armed intervention on our side." Would it not be glorious? Oh, for peace, blessed peace, and our brothers once more! Palmerston is said to have painted Butler as the vilest oppressor, and having added he was ashamed to acknowledge him of Anglo-Saxon origin. Perhaps knowing the opinion entertained of him by foreign nations, caused Butler to turn such a somersault. For a few days before his arrival here, we saw a leading article in the leading Union paper of New Orleans, threatening us with the arming of the slaves for our extermination if England interfered, in the same language almost as Butler used when here; three days ago the same paper ridiculed the idea, and said such a brutal, inhuman thing was never for a moment thought of, it was too absurd. And so the world goes! We all turn somersaults occasionally.
And yet, I would rather we would achieve our independence alone, if possible. It would be so much more glorious. And then I would hate to see England conquer the North, even if for our sake; my love for the old Union is still too great to be willing to see it so humiliated. If England would just make Lincoln come to his senses, and put an end to all this confiscation which is sweeping over everything, make him agree to let us alone and behave himself, that will be quite enough. But what a task! If it were put to the vote to-morrow to return free and unmolested to the Union, or stay out, I am sure Union would have the majority; but this way, to
think we are to be sent to Fort Jackson and all the other prisons for expressing our ideas, however harmless, to have our houses burned over our heads, and all the prominent men hanged, who would be eager for it? - unless, indeed, it was to escape even the greater horrors of a war of extermination.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Think, that since the 28th of May, I have not walked three squares at a time, for my only walks are to Mrs. Brunot's!
It is enough to kill any one; I might as well be at Ship Island, where Butler has sentenced Mrs. Phillips for laughing while the corpse of a Federal officer 1 was passing - at least, that is to be the principal charge, though I hope, for the sake of Butler's soul, that he had better reasons. Shocking as her conduct was, she hardly deserved two years' close confinement in such a dreadful place as that, because she happened to have no sense of delicacy, and no feeling.
"The darkest hour is just before the day"; we have had the blackest night for almost three months, and I don't see the light yet. "Better days are coming -" I am getting skeptical, I fear me.
I look forward to my future life with a shudder.
This one cannot last long; I will be "up and doing"
before many months are past. Doing what ? Why, if
all father left us is lost forever, if we are to be penniless as well as homeless, I'll work for my living. How, I wonder? I will teach. I know I am not capable, but I can do my best. I would rather die than be dependent; I would rather die than teach. There now, you know how I feel! Teaching before dependence, death before teaching. My soul revolts from the drudgery. I never see a governess that my heart does not ache for her. I think of the nameless, numberless insults and trials she is forced to submit to; of the hopeless, thankless task that is imposed on her, to which she is expected to submit without a murmur; of all her griefs and agony shut up in her heart, and I cry Heaven help a governess. My heart bleeds for them and -
1 o'clock P.M.
Thus far had I reached when news came that our forces were attacking the town, and had already driven the pickets in! I am well now.
We all rushed to make preparations instantly. I had just finished washing my hair, before I commenced writing, and had it all streaming around me; but it did not take a minute to thrust it into a loose net. Then we each put on a fresh dress, except myself, as I preferred to have a linen cambric worn several times before, to a clean one not quite so nice, for that can do good service when washed. The excitement is intense; mother is securing a few of father's most valuable papers; Lilly running around after the children, and waiting for Charlie who cannot be
found; Miriam, after securing all things needful, has gone downstairs to wait the issue; and I, dressed for instant flight, with my running-bag tied to my waist, and knapsack, bonnet, veil, etc., on the bed, occupy my last few moments at home in this profitable way.
Nobody knows what it is. A regiment has been marched out to meet our troops, some say commanded by Van Dorn, which I doubt. The gunboats are preparing to second them; we hear the Garrison drum and see people running, that is all. We don't know what is coming. I believe it will prove nothing, after all. But - ! The gunboat is drawn up so as to command our street here; the guns aimed up the street Just below, and if a house falls, ours will be about the first. Well! this time next year, we will know all of which we are now ignorant. That is one consolation! The house will either be down or standing, then.
We have once more subsided; how foolish all this seems! Miriam and I laughed while preparing, and laughed while unpacking; it is the only way to take such things, and we agree on that, as on most other subjects. "They say" the affair originated from half a dozen shots fired by some Federal soldiers through idleness, whereupon the pickets rushed in screaming Van Dorn was after them at the head of six thousand men. I have my reasons for doubting the story; it must have been something more than
that, to spread such a panic; for they certainly had time to ascertain the truth of the attack before they beat the long roll and sent out their troops, for if it had been Van Dorn, he would have been on them before that. Whatever it was, I am glad of the excitement, for it gave me new life for several hours; I was really sick before. Oh, this life! When will it end? Evermore and forevermore shall we live in this suspense? I wish we were in the Sandwich Islands.
As we have no longer a minister - Mr. Gierlow having gone to Europe - and no papers, I am in danger of forgetting the days of the week, as well as those of the month; but I am positive that yesterday was Sunday because I heard the Sunday-School bells, and Friday I am sure was the Fourth, because I heard the national salute fired. I must remember that to find my dates by.
Well, last night being Sunday, a son of Captain Hooper, who died in the Fort Jackson fight, having just come from New Orleans, stopped here on his way to Jackson, to tell us the news, or rather to see Charlie, and told us afterwards. He says a boat from Mobile reached the city Saturday evening, and the captain told Mr. La Noue that he brought an extra from the former place, containing news of McClellan's surrender with his entire army, his being mortally wounded, and the instant departure of a French, and English, man-of-war, from
Hampton Roads, with the news. That revived my spirits considerably - all except McClellan's being wounded; I could dispense with that. But if it were true, and if peace would follow, and the boys come home - ! Oh, what bliss! I would die of joy as rapidly as I am pining away with suspense now, I am afraid!
About ten o'clock, as we came up, mother went to the window in the entry to tell the news to Mrs. Day, and while speaking, saw a man creeping by under the window, in the narrow little alley on the side of the house, evidently listening, for he had previously been standing in the shadow of a tree, and left the street to be nearer. When mother ran to give the alarm to Charlie, I looked down, and there the man was, looking up, as I could dimly see, for he crouched down in the shadow of the fence. Presently, stooping still, he ran fast towards the front of the house, making quite a noise in the long tangled grass. When he got near the pepper-bush, he drew himself up to his full height, paused a moment as though listening, and then walked quietly towards the front gate. By that time Charlie reached the front gallery above, and called to him, asking what he wanted. Without answering the man walked steadily out, closed the gate deliberately; then, suddenly remembering drunkenness would be the best excuse, gave a lurch towards the house, walked off perfectly straight in the moonlight, until seeing Dr. Day fastening his gate, he reeled again.
That man was not drunk! Drunken men cannot run crouching, do not shut gates carefully after them, would have no inclination to creep in a dim little alley merely to creep out again. It may have been one of our detectives. Standing in the full moonlight, which was very bright, he certainly looked like a gentleman, for he was dressed in a handsome suit of black. He was no citizen. Form your own conclusions! Well! after all, he heard no treason. Let him play eavesdropper if he finds it consistent with his character as a gentleman.
The captain who brought the extra from Mobile wished to have it reprinted, but it was instantly seized by a Federal officer, who carried it to Butler, who monopolized it; so that will never be heard of again; we must wait for other means of information. The young boy who told us, reminds me very much of Jimmy; he is by no means so handsome, but yet there is something that recalls him; and his voice, though more childish, sounds like Jimmy's, too. I had an opportunity of writing to Lydia by him, of which I gladly availed myself, and have just finished a really tremendous epistle.
Wednesday, 9th July.
Poor Miriam! Poor Sarah! they are disgraced again! Last night we were all sitting on the balcony in the moonlight, singing as usual with our guitar. I have been so accustomed to hear father say in the evening, "Come, girls! where is my concert?" and he took so much pleasure in listening, that I could not
think singing in the balcony was so very dreadful, since he encouraged us in it. But last night changed all my ideas. We noticed Federals, both officers and soldiers, pass singly, or by twos or threes at different times, but as we were not singing for their benefit, and they were evidently attending to their own affairs, there was no necessity of noticing them at all.
But about half-past nine, after we had sung two or three dozen others, we commenced "Mary of Argyle." As the last word died away, while the chords were still vibrating, came a sound of - clapping hands, in short! Down went every string of the guitar; Charlie cried, "I told you so!" and ordered an immediate retreat; Miriam objected, as undignified, but renounced the guitar; mother sprang to her feet, and closed the front windows in an instant, whereupon, dignified or not, we all evacuated the gallery and fell back into the house. All this was done in a few minutes, and as quietly as possible; and while the gas was being turned off downstairs, Miriam and I flew upstairs, - I confess I was mortified to death, very, very much ashamed, - but we wanted to see the guilty party, for from below they were invisible. We stole out on the front balcony above, and in front of the house that used to be Gibbes's, we beheld one of the culprits. At the sight of the creature, my mortification vanished in intense compassion for his. He was standing under the tree, half in the moonlight, his hands in his pockets, looking at the extinction of light below, with the true
state of affairs dawning on his astonished mind, and looking by no means satisfied with himself! Such an abashed creature! He looked just as though he had received a kick, that, conscious of deserving, he dared not return! While he yet gazed on the house in silent amazement and consternation, hands still forlornly searching his pockets, as though for a reason for our behavior, from under the dark shadow of the tree another slowly picked himself up from the ground - hope he was not knocked down by surprise - and joined the first. His hands sought his pockets, too, and, if possible, he looked more mortified than the other. After looking for some time at the house, satisfied that they had put an end to future singing from the gallery, they walked slowly away, turning back every now and then to be certain that it was a fact. If ever I saw two mortified, hangdog-looking men, they were these two as they took their way home. Was it not shocking?
But they could not have meant it merely to be insulting or they would have placed themselves in full view of us, rather than out of sight, under the trees. Perhaps they were thinking of their own homes, instead of us.
A proclamation is out announcing that any one talking about the war, or present state of affairs, will be "summarily" dealt with. Now, seems to me "summarily" is not exactly the word they mean, but still it has an imposing effect. What a sad state
their affairs must be in, if they can't bear comment. An officer arrived day before yesterday, bringing the surprising intelligence that McClellan had captured Richmond and fifty thousand prisoners; that is the time they talked. But when we received yesterday confirmation of his being finally defeated by our troops, and the capture of his railroad train twelve miles in length, they forbid further mention of the subject. I wonder if they expect to be obeyed? What a stretch of tyranny! O free America! You who uphold free people, free speech, free everything, what a foul blot of despotism rests on a once spotless name! A nation of brave men, who wage war on women and lock them up in prisons for using their woman weapon, the tongue; a nation of free people who advocate despotism; a nation of Brothers who bind the weaker ones hand and foot, and scourge them with military tyrants and other Free, Brotherly institutions; what a picture! Who would not be an American? One consolation is, that this proclamation, and the extraordinary care they take to suppress all news except what they themselves manufacture, proves me our cause is prospering more than they like us to know. I do believe day is about to break!
If our troops are determined to burn our houses over our heads to spite the Yankees, I wish they would hurry and have it over at once. Ten regiments of infantry are stationed at Camp Moore, and Scott's cavalry was expected at Greenwell yesterday, both preparing for an attack on Baton Rouge. If we must
be beggars, let it come at once; I can't endure this suspense.
A letter from George this morning! It was written on the 20th of June, and he speaks of being on crutches in consequence of his horse having fallen with him, and injured his knee. Perhaps, then, he was not in the first battle of the 25th? But bah! I know George too well to imagine he would keep quiet at such a moment, if he could possibly stand! I am sure he was there with the rest of the Louisiana regiment. The papers say "the conduct of the First Louisiana is beyond all praise"; of course, George was there!
And Jimmy is with him at Richmond; but whether in the army, or navy, or what rank if in the first, he does not say; he only says he is looking remarkably well. Gibbes he had heard from in a letter dated the 16th, and up to then he was in perfect health. His last letter here was dated 10th of March, so we are thankful enough now. I was so delighted to read the accounts of the "gallant Seventh" in some paper we fortunately procured. At Jackson's address, and presentation of the battery they had so bravely won, I was beside myself with delight; I was thinking that Gibbes, of course, was "the" regiment, had taken the battery with his single sword, and I know not what besides. Strange to say, I have not an idea of the names of the half-dozen battles he was in, in June, but believe that one to be Port Republic.
June 12th [sic].
Brother writes that rumors of the capture of Baton Rouge by our troops have made him very uneasy about us; and he wishes us to go down to New Orleans if possible. I wish we could. The impression here, is that an attack is inevitable, and the city papers found it necessary to contradict the rumor of Ruggles having occupied it already. I wish mother would go. I can see no difference there or here, except that there, we will be safe, for a while at least. . . .
I grow desperate when I read these Northern papers reviling and abusing us, reproaching us for being broken and dispersed, taunting us with their victories, sparing no humiliating name in speaking of us, and laughing as to what "we'll see" when we vile rebels are "driven out of Virginia, and the glorious Union firmly established." I can't bear these taunts! I grow sick to read these vile, insulting papers that seem written expressly to goad us into madness! . . . There must be many humane, reasonable men in the North; can they not teach their editors decency in this their hour of triumph?
July 13th, Sunday.
A profitable way to spend
such a day! Being
forced to dispense with church-going, I have occupied
myself in reading a great deal, and writing a little,
which latter duty is a favorite task of mine after church
on Sundays. But this evening, the mosquitoes are
so savage that writing became impossible,