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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st
Library of Congress Subject Headings, 21st edition, 1998
PRESS OF THE
PILCHER PRINTING CO.
This little volume is dedicated
The J. Harvey Mathes Chapter
the Daughters of the Confederacy
by one who is proud to have
been the friend of the good
man and brave soldier for whom it
'Tis the beat of the drum, 'tis the reveille
From the camp and the field of the Past;
'Tis an echo that rolls to the warrior years
Of the sound of a bugle blast.
Tis the clashing of steel and the bayonet's gleam
That glints on the ambient air,
And the Southern Cross, with its starry field,
Sweeps the breeze like a patriot's prayer.
'Tis Me charging of Death where Justice drooped
On her altar bathed in blood;
'Tis the baying of guns, like the hounds un- leashed,
That swells on the breast of the flood.
'Tis the storm that breaks thro' the mist ant the rime,
And the clouds drop their leaden hail;
'Tis the "Rebel Yell," through the pattering rain,
From the souls that could never quail!
(Continued on Next Page)
the steel meets heart and the heart greets
In the passions of hate—of death,
And they fall in the lines like the wind swung grain
At the sweep of the sickle's breath.
And the riderless horses charge, unreined,
Through the din of the cannon's blast;
And the horseless riders have closed the line
Where the mowing scythe has passed.
But the carnage dies, and the day falls asleep
Where the west draws her golden bars,
And the smoke that has kissed both the blue and the gray
Has left them alone—with the stars.
Tis the hush of the night—'tis the drum's tattoo—
' Tis the roll-call, deep and clear,
And the mounds that billow the grassy slope,
'Neath the violets, answer "Here!"
I TURN in review to the years, so rife with interest, just preceding the war. In 1855 my husband went into business in New York City, and I, with my two eldest children, accompanied him. It seems but yesterday that we strolled together through the old historic precincts of New York. I used to sit in Trinity churchyard for hours while my children played among the tombs, scratching the moss from the letters, and I wrote or studied, surrounded by the noise and clamor of trade, but as much alone as if in the heart of a forest. There, during the earlier part of our residence, I wrote my press letters and read. Later we moved up town, in the very heart of the city, where we were living when the events preceding the war begun to shape them selves into such ominous foreshadowings.
Our summers were spent in the city, our winters in the South. In 1858 we had for our companion much of the time a most beautiful Boston girl, whose father had spent all his life in Mexico. He had come on to Boston and was carrying his daughter to Mexico to make a trade in a silver mine, she to be a part of the stock in trade, as wife of Don Josie Patillo, 59 years old. The whole party was stopping at our hose. A gallant black-haired friend of ours fell desperately in love with her, and carried off this lily of loveliness right in the face of the swearing old pirate, her father, and Don Josie. The excitement over the matter in our hotel was about equal to two fires and a murder, and I was pounced upon for helping it on.
The father was obliged to leave his daughter in New York, and Don Josie returned to Mexico without his bride. About eight years ago, when speaking before a large audience in Texas, I saw Nell for the first time
since before the war. She was surrounded by a bevy of girls, all grown, and each one as lovely as the mother had been in her girlish beauty.
For some two years after her marriage Nell and I were much together. We visited the Great Eastern and danced on the magnificent deck, nearly eighty feet wide. "Oh, those diamond mornings of long ago!" It was there we were so rejoiced over the first message by the Atlantic cable, and we were all going about wearing bits of the cable set in gold, on our watch chains, or lugging it about as a valuable relic. There I first knew Peter Cooper.
In 1860 events crowded fast upon each other. I had a most singular experience in connection with the Chicago Zouaves led by young Ellsworth. They came to New York and challenged any company in America to drill with them. Crowds went out to see them every day, and it was on one of these occasions that Nell, my Boston friend, and I were standing watching them as they wheeled and charged, fired with their guns kneeling, lying or running. I was looking at the young commander very intently when suddenly a haze swept before my eyes, and, as if in a mirror, I saw him fall, shot dead. I gave a scream of horror, and my companion shook my arm—the vision was gone. He was alive and unhurt. I told what I saw, and declared positively that nothing could convince me he would not die a violent death. It will be remembered that he was shot early in the war at Alexandria, for taking down the Confederate flag over a hotel, Jackson, its proprietor, firing the fatal shot.
Men sneer at such statements as this. My own impression founded on my own experience, is that all spirituality is as far as possible killed in children by their parents, owing to education and preconceived sentiments. We admit man is possessed of five senses, and if anything savoring of a higher or more subtle
sense is shown, instantly it is deemed uncanny, unnatural, and must be repressed.
Time will, aided by science and unfettered by bigotry, prove my statement true, that one, if not two or more, senses remain undeveloped in the human, and are perfectly natural ones.
It would be well for women to realize this, for in the advance along this line, as shown in experiments now being made in hypnotism, woman in her weakness is ever to be made the victim unless she strives for individuality, and learns the difficult lesson, "know thyself."
Shortly after the Chicago Zouaves made their challenge it was accepted by the Columbus (Ga.) Guards, and immediately after the Seventh Regiment entertained the Savannah Republican-Blues, and held with them a competitive drill.
The brothers B. and B. M. Whitlock gave a grand entertainment to them up the Hudson, where my "lovely Nell" and I were in attendance. In a letter home I used this language: "It seems to me as if our people were military-mad, and had rushed together for a last fraternal embrace, to separate and fight like maddened devils; so violent do altercations and argument come when the questions of slavery, free soil, etc., are discussed." And when I went South some of my friends dubbed me the "bloody prophet."
It was in 1860 the Prince of Wales was in New York, and I well remember how we tore around to get a sight of the beardless youth; then laughed at our foolishness when it was over; but we had plenty of company, for the poor fellow must have had exalted ideas of our reverence and admiration for royalty. The Japanese embassy, with "Tommy," the young high caste Japanese, was there in 1860, and the amusement we had when we found out that in the twenty carriages containing him and his suite, "the cook, the
baker and the candlestick maker," were all honored just as was the prince, for not only did they bring their cook, but their food, with them, and the highest New York women went wild over the almond-eyed young "Tommy," until one day, made bold by so much attention, he began kissing their bare shoulders right and left, creating as much consternation as a hawk in a barnyard.
WHEN my husband's business demanded his of 1860, I remained with my children, in presence in the South, during the summer the family of a famous New York physician whose sentiments were of the most anti-slavery character. Two young men, students, were domiciled beneath his roof. While our opinions were stoutly maintained, we never quarreled, and it seemed to be the policy of the household to "laugh and grow fat." Mrs. B., the doctor's wife, was a model cook and housekeeper, and we spent our time in every part of the house, from garret to kitchen, as freely and happily as possible.
On one occasion dinner was to be given on the anniversary of the college, and our newly graduated young M. D. (now a prominent physician in Syracuse, N. Y.) urged me to give him a sentiment for a toast, it being before the days when individuals were appointed and subjects arranged for the guests. After exacting from him a solemn pledge to give the toast as I worded it, I gave the following—seeing that "The ladies" always had to be lugged in on such occasions, although barred out personally: "Here's to the ladies, God bless them! Their ignorance furnishes us our carriages to ride in and fills our pockets with money. Long may it last."
On the morning after this dinner, as I went into the dining room, I heard the young doctor, who had entered just before me, laughing as only he could laugh.
"What is it?" I cried. "No laughing here unless I share it."
"We were laughing over the success of your toast, that Mr.—--—gave," said Dr. B.
"And he gave it, did he?" cried I. "How was it received?"
"Applauded it to the echo, " was his answer.
"And why applauded, doctor? Pray tell me."
"Because every man of them knew it was true," was his unflattering answer.
I will not try to give anything of the argument that followed this, but it closed with a statement about like this from the old doctor:
"We have the power, the honor, the money. Women have not—and we intend to hold our own."
I recall my many tongue battles in favor of woman, and the shame of her repression, especially her need for physicians of her own sex, and I really think the hardest and meanest things I ever had to hear were spoken on this question.
I rarely failed during the fall and winter of 1860 to attend the public meetings so frequently held. It was then I listened to so many eloquent divines pounding and slapping the Bible, and proving with learned discussion and many quotations that slavery was a "God-ordained institution, and should for that reason be preserved."
Southern in every vein and fiber of being though I was, I gloried in the unflinching courage shown by Wendell Phillips and Henry Ward Beecher on this subject, for I saw slavery in its bearing upon my sex. I saw that it teemed with injustice and shame to all womankind, and I hated it.
In November of 1860 I went up to West Point to visit some of the college students; my husband having a young relative there from South Carolina.
I found the school in a ferment of unrest and discontent. The boys of the two sections were at daggers' points in discussions, and those I was interested in were wild to return home.
On December 20th, 1860, the State of South Carolina seceded from the Union. I left New York the last of December, and went out to Savannah by steamer, several of the boys from West Point going then. It was still hoped that the example of South Carolina would not be followed by the other Southern States.
It was near this time that the wonderful spectacle of the Aurora Borealis was seen in the Gulf States. The whole sky was a ruddy glow as if from an enormous conflagration, but marked by the darting rays peculiar to the Northern light. It caused much surprise, and aroused the fears even of those far from superstitious.
I remember an intelligent old Scotch lady said to me, "Oh, child, it is a terrible omen; such lights never burn, save for kings' and heroes' deaths."
As long as I live—for the years have not dimmed the memory—I shall recall with a sickening pain, the excitement and distress among the people. On our landing at Savannah it seemed as if the very air was ablaze with some terrible unseen flame. Nothing could be quiet. Men and women were flying everywhere, the Southerner to the South, the Northerner to the North. Men and women who, far gone with consumption, had come to seek lost health in the genial air of the South, pale, emaciated and weary, were trying to reach home before something happened to hinder them.
The very indefiniteness of the situation was its most painful feature; few knew what to do.
Many men realized that they were financially ruined if things came to a crisis, and how to prevent fanatics from both sections precipitating events was the effort of the conservatives.
The sentiments of many were strong for the Union until hostilities became active. Then every one was
compelled to decide for or against the South; to remain neutral seemed almost impossible, from many causes. For quite a while men gave free voice to their disaffection and sympathy with the Union, but overwhelmed by the voice of numbers wild with excitement, declaring it dangerous in the midst of existing conditions to voice such sentiments, one after another became silent. And let every man and woman remember this: We lived, as it were, over a powder magazine that a careless word might arouse as a spark would powder; and it meant ruin to many. I think, as after events proved, this was an exaggerated fear, though how much it helped to curb and keep in check the more brutal instincts of the negroes no man can tell. It was actions growing out of this condition of things that made my life a living fever of dread during the two weary years I remained in Alabama Brought up in the little town, I loved all its inhabitants as if they were literally "my own people," and I knew the underlying Union sentiment of many a silent-voiced man, compelled to go to war or furnish a substitute, and it seemed to me a cruelty, aye, a needless cruelty, to make these men suffer afterwards for such aid furnished. It was tantamount to "we'll scald you if you don't, and we'll burn you if you do." If hell can furnish a more horrible condition than fell to the lot of these men and their families, I don't believe it.
Many had their nearest and dearest on both sides; perhaps the paternal family on one side, the maternal on the other. This was my own case. Major William Crutchfield, the eccentric Unionist of Chattanooga, who was as so early identified with that town, and lately died there, was one of my relatives on my mother's Bide. It was he who in the Crutchfield house answered the speech of Jefferson Davis, when on his way from Washington Washington. For intense and fiery eloquence,
prophetic power and dauntless courage that short speech was unexcelled by any I have ever read. It was closed by some one hurling a bottle at William and knocking him from the counter, to which he had sprung. His younger brother Tom was proprietor of the house, equally as strong, but a far more cautious Unionist. These two men figured conspicuously in all the exciting times around and in Chattanooga.
William was accused of being engaged with the bridge burners of Tennessee in the early part of the war. I wrote him concerning it, and this was the answer verbatim:
"Dear Liz—I have only time to say this: It is a miserable Confed lie. I had nothing to do with it. I am a Unionist, body, boots and breeches. I would fight in the cause of the devil rather than the Democracy. Yours ever, BILL."
I never saw him until the vines were green and pears were growing in orchards planted on Missionary Ridge where cannon had been dragged. The balls were then piled in heaps in fence corners and door yards of Northern soldiers, plying their peaceful trade as farmers and fruit growers. "Farmer Bill" and I ate and praised their fruit, while they questioned him regarding mooted points in the great campaign.
I THINK the saddest day of my whole life was the day that Alabama seceded from the Union, January 11th, 1861, and I recall no gloom that seemed to me so terrible as that which then shrouded my spirit; but we grew accustomed to everything, and the excitement was so intense one scarcely recovered from one surprise ere another was upon us. Yet amid all the terror, wrath and tears I found much that was calculated to amuse, until the actual beginning of hostilities, and we were made to feel the terrible realities of war.
The people were wild with the "non-consumption" craze, going back to homespun jeans, lye soap, etc., long before the necessity was upon us.
On a large plantation near my home resided during the summer a most estimable but very peculiar family. The mother was a widow with five lovely girls and an equal number of boys. They were wealthy, owning the largest number of slaves of any one in the county, and their plantation was very large, numbering many hundred acres of both wild and well cultivated land.
Some little time after going home, and before communication was closed our young doctor of the "toast story" sent me a copy of the "Household of Bouveare," just issued from the press by Mrs. Warfield. I was often a guest in the "Blank" family, and when there frequently read stories while they sat around me sewing. On one occasion two of the fairest and most charming of the beauties of Montgomery were guests in this family, and I had gone out, carrying the
"Household of Bouveare" to read. The young ladies were all preparing for a grand ball, that was soon to be given, and four of them were going to wear homespun dresses.
Madam B. always had her preserves made in open kettles in the large yard, where they were directly under her line of vision.
She was a notable housekeeper. All the sewing, cutting and giving out of clothing fell under her own directions, as well as the distribution of medicines, etc. And just here I would say the world held no equal of such housekeepers. It was like managing a State on a small scale, and Mrs. B. was one of the best. Though extremely large, and sitting much in her chair, she had her factotums, Jennie and Kitty, constantly on the run, supervised by some older domestic, and often by one of her daughters.
On this particular day we sat on the open portico and I was to read Beauveare to them. The four girls were sewing on their dresses, vile-smelling, common checked goods, such as we used for our servants at that time. They were making them with long trains, low neck and short sleeves, and the lace they were trimming them with was Pointe de Alencon, Honiton and Valenciennes, suitable for the dress of a duchess at a court ball.
In those days well nigh all our girls made most of their own dresses. All of a girl's dresses and underclothing were made by her own nimble fingers, save her very best. But this was long before the making and importation of ready-made garments for women.
Although I had been long married, having entered that state at sixteen, owing to the feet that I had always lived in the town, everybody called me Lizzie or Miss Lizzie.
During the reading on this afternoon it was about like this: "Please wait a minute, Miss Lizzie. Would
you put the lace on as full as this?" from one of the girls, she held up the waist, with the delicate lace partly sewed on. I laid my book face down on my knee, inspected the dress, gave my opinion and resumed my reading. Scarcely would two lines be read before the madam's clear voice would ring out loud and full:
"You, Helen! I am looking at you nodding! Watch that fire!"
This to the sable attendant who sat on a low stool by the open kettles, knitting in hand—for no one was allowed to be idle anywhere in her domain. Even the two little negro girls who stood by her chair to run her various errands, both held in their hands two large straws with coarse thread, on which they were learn to knit; for two pairs of socks for each negro man had to be knit by the women and girls during warm weather.
A rapid thump, thump, thump from the Madam's thimble finger would rouse one of the nodding girls at her side, whose small fingers would, in the waking jerk, tear out two or three stitches. These must be "picked up," with running comments on the knitter's laziness, which would be interrupted by a half-suppressed titter from the girl on the other side; but the quick rap of the thimble on the small pate soon changed the laugh to a whimper. A rapid glance at me and a cordial, "Read on, Lizzie; I hear you," would start me with my book again—to be interrupted by some shambling negro coming in for orders, or to tell of some needed action somewhere on the premises. She would give her orders and almost in the same breath say, "Read on, Lizzie I hear you."
In a moment or two Charley or Benny would come in with a great bucket of red plums, or some little negro would trot in with a lot of guinea hen eggs, he had found in the brush, or the cackling of hens and the "pot-rack, pot-rack" of the hundreds of guineas
would drown the bellowing of a cow, let alone a woman's voice. A lull would come and in the silence I would try to read again, to be interrupted by one of the visiting beauties sweeping out of a side room, her homespun dress on, and the loveliest neck and arms shining like white wax; and she would sweep the vile smelling train around for us to tell if it hung all right. This decided, it would be the part of some of the group to cry out, "Read on, Miss Lizzie we are so interested."
I think, as I recall it all, it was one of the most ludicrous scenes and yet so characteristic in its makeup. I can see the lovely picture now, those towering live-oak trees, with their willow-shaped leaves, and the row of scarlet pomegranate blooms so vivid in their rich, red color—the strutting gobbler and the chattering fowls. The peacock, with his gorgeous train unfurled, as he slowly walked along the fence rail, turning and twisting until the mingled blues and greens shone like emeralds in the sun. In the distance the green corn and across the road and back of the house the cotton field with its varied blooms of yellow and white, and under the althea bushes by the hedges, the little girls, black and white, playing in their play houses, tricked out with broken bottles, china and tin, with rag dolls, and, perhaps, one or two still remaining from the Christmas last past, minus a leg or arm, or even with a split head. Between the children and the house, the kettles with their smoking sweets and patient black watchers, who would every little while send in by a little shining-faced negro girl a saucer with a small quantity of the cooking fruit for "misstis" to see how it was progressing.
Dear dead days, sweet sad times! between then and now, dear God, what awful tragedies I have borne my part in; and yet today the true and tender rises triumphant, and life is still sweet and full of divine possibilities for all the race, I do believe.
When the ball came off the girls looked as lovely as when in satin and lace, for the dresses fitted their perfect figures to a charm. One of the young men who had danced with all the four came to me, and, taking me to one side, asked in a hollow whisper: "Miss Lizzie, what in heaven's name is it that smells so awfully about those girls?" "Why, it is a new perfume they are using," I said. "They call it patriotism; I call it indigo dye." "Oh," he said, "it is the dresses; why didn't they wash them? It is a horrid smell."
I told the girls about it, and when they got home they were a beautiful blue all about their necks, and they hardly allowed the word homespun ever to be uttered to them until we really had to make it at home and wear it.
When we began to gather boneset and dogwood, willow and wild-cherry to supply the place of quinine, and crossvine and blackberry leaves for tea, the madam, who, like an Englishman, allowed no trespassing on her lands, was always quarreling with the root seekers and threatening prosecution for it unless she gave permission.
Dear, loving, motherly soul! She has long since passed, with her many slaves, "below that low green tent, whose curtain never outward swings," and among my memories her love for me is very dear indeed.
IN FEBRUARY 1861, I was in Montgomery during the Confederate Congress, and was present when Jefferson Davis was inaugurated. Everything seemd like a gala day; and still, under the lightness of seeming joy, was many an aching heart.
Near the last of February a company was formed at my home of the young men of the town, mainly the very best in social position. To uniform them was the first and most important step; then to get up a flag instead of the one they were using.
While this movement was in progress I availed myself of an opportunity to visit Mobile and New Orleans. My trip down the river to Mobile was among a merry group of friends, two brides being in our crowd, and I was accompanied by several charming young girls.
I recall the day of Lincoln's inauguration, March 4, as a memorable one in my life. I had that day spent many hours with Mme. Octavia Walton Invert, so well known for many years as a charming society woman. I had been a pupil of Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz, and learned. much of Mme. Invert from her. In my youth we had been friends for some time. She was now confined to her room with a sprained ankle. Whatever one may hear or know of this lovely woman, one fact remains irrefutable: She was the most generous and helpful spirit to every young aspirant to fame and fortune that I ever knew.
The tears flowed down her cheeks as we talked of the then existing condition of affairs. With deep interest we discussed the outlook, and her views were gloomy in the extreme. Younger, and with less of
life's larger interest to lose (for her friends were legion all over the Union), I saw things through more hopeful glasses. Nevertheless, her gloom depressed me greatly.
I returned to my hotel, the Battle House, and spent the evening in company with Judge and Mrs. Meek, Miss Mc—and others. It was at least 11 o'clock when I went to my room.
My father and I had not met for several years, he having gone to Arkansas with my two half brothers. For a long time I had not had a communication from him or them. My two brothers, we had learned, had, like so many other Southern youths, enlisted in the first regiment organized in the State.
I was singularly like my father in temperament and person. As I have often said, "I was the child of his soul as well as his body." The peculiar characteristic which I seemed to have of projecting my seeing and hearing faculties far beyond any actual power that I possessed normally made me, while a young child, a subject of deep interest as well as care to him; and he alone seemed, in some measure, to understand my nature, and to sympathize with my startling statements. He had found that I did see and know of events that occurred miles away, as was more than once verified by him.
On this night I lay down in my room alone, in a singularly depressed yet highly excited mood, and sank into a profound slumber.
Suddenly it seemed to me I was aroused as if unseen hands had lifted me up toward the ceiling, and was wide awake and looking down with the greatest interest on a scene transpiring in a room where every feature was plainly visible. It was a large, square room, with a fireplace, two doors and one window. The ceiling was plastered, as were the walls of the room. In the corner stood a high-post cottage bed-
stead. Between the bed and the fireplace (in which logs were burning), near the middle of the room, was a huge lounge bed covered with black leather, both ends standing upright, and without any back. It looked gloomy and hearse-like. In the corner of the room next the fireplace, and between that and the window, was a piece of furniture covered from top to bottom with a white cloth reaching the ceiling. There was a door on the side of the room opposite the fireplace, and one on the side opposite the window, thus making a door near the head and one near the foot of the bed. The ceiling was so low that it was hardly an inch from the uncanopied bedposts.
Lying on the bed was a man in great agony, and a woman was kneeling by the bed. He was resting on his elbow with his face drawn down on his breast. Suddenly he threw himself back on his pillow and stretched out his arms in death agony. I could not see his face, for the woman threw herself across his body like a frenzied thing. Then she sprang up trying to raise him, and I saw her face plainly. It was myself; and the dead man was my father. I seemed to fall, fall in unfathomable space. Then I was sitting up in bed, cold with a sort of deadly chill. I sprang from my bed, lit the gas and looked at my watch. I had slept only two hours.
I dressed and walked the floors for hours. I wrote down the whole thing just as given here, and for days and months I was wild with despair. I wrote to my father, but heard nothing, and finally the very unreasonableness of the whole thing and the ridicule of my relatives, caused me to put it by. I had hosts of friends, my father also, and how could a train of circumstances ever arise that would place him alone, dying, and only I with him?
This was in March, 1861, and that vision, or prophetic dream, whatever it may be called, was literally
fulfilled in December of 1863.
A full account of this fulfillment will be given later on, in its proper connection; as it forms an important chapter in the remarkable psychological experiences of those terrible years.
From Mobile I went to New Orleans with my gay crowd of young friends, and saw all its glory of fruit and flowers so early in the season, and made my visit for the first time to the French Market, and all the historical precincts that Cable and others have since made familiar.
On our return there were quite a number of young people with us, and when blown out into the gulf the passage was very rough and nearly everybody was ill.
Among the company was a young fellow that talked a great deal, and was quite a dude, but very pleasant. An old gentleman was returning from a Texas trip, and his sea-sickness made him cross as a wasp. He had crawled on deck where the dude and myself were, as neither of us had been ill, and lay down on a bench near us. The young man was telling some wonderful Arkansas adventure, and called the State Ar-kan-sas, with a strong accent on the last syllable. The old man twisted his face and scowled at him some time without a word. At last he howled out:
"Young man, for heaven's sake say 'saw!' Don't say 'sas,' for the word 'sas' makes me so infernally sick I shall soon be vomiting again."
Everybody screamed with laughter. When the fun subsided the old man sat up and started a tirade against spelling, calling over all the names he could think of, spelling them over, and then swearing at the fool who put such pronunciations to them, such as Teche, Tchoupitoulas, Atchafalaya, etc. He proved to be one of the most entertaining men we met, and, despite his rough clothes, rough language and long beard, was a genuine gentleman, and most pronounced in his views on all subjects.
I remember we had a young man come on board who had been engaged in a duel at Fort Pickens. He joined us after we left Mobile, and this old gentleman, after I introduced him, broke out:
"You didn't have any Yankees to kill, so you fell to shootin' one 'nother, hey? Well, young man, just wait a little bit and you'll have a chance to get bled, if you're feverish."
The young man turned, on his heel and left us; but the old gentleman kept up his running comment on things in general, which was very interesting and amusing.
On this trip I met old Colonel John Grant, of Grant's Pass, one of the remarkable men of the times. I think he is still living in New Orleans, unless he has recently died, and is nearly a hundred years old. He held a post in the government employ for a great many years.
The week after I got home the Light Guards left our town for Fort Pickens and I was invited to present the flag to them. I did present it, with a heavy heart, for already I had learned. that both my brothers were in the ranks.
President Davis called on Mississippi for three thousand soldiers. The call was made on Friday; on Monday they were all ready at his command. The call was made on Alabama for five thousand, and in four days they were ready for orders. Georgia had eleven thousand men armed and equipped in April. These were independent of the troops at the various forts. Munificent gifts were presented by private individuals, in addition to the public fund.
The South had never cooled in its bitterness at the sympathy shown by the North with John Brown's raid, on Harper's Ferry, and it had grown with every hour. Flags hung at half-mast in Northern harbors, and he was a mourned as a patriot of exalted worth.
Truly it may be said: "That man loosed a stone, whose fall echoed around the world, and whose effect latest ages will feel."
"Dixie" sounded everywhere and was near this time used so commonly on all occasions that it became the national air for the new-born government.
Now came a tearing up of our carpets for carpeting the tents of our soldiers, and supplies were sent from every household to the various encampments awaiting orders. In the prodigal waste that love and patriotism then inspired among our people in the homes, little did we dream how our children and our sick would need the wines and cordials and other delicacies so early sent out and never again supplied. There were in the homes of many people luxuries of a character and quantity to have lasted over four years if husbanded with care. Loving mothers thought of the boys only, so all that could be spared was sent, and in the idleness of camp life was wastefully used. This was why want came so soon to our. people when hostilities really began in deadly earnest and all hope of reconciliation was gone forever.
WELL do I remember the first Confederate bill that I saw and the remarks called forth by it. We were at the dinner table in the hotel where we boarded when John Bird came in, and after sitting down drew out a beautiful new bill, calling for fifty dollars. It was blue and somewhat like the greenback. It was passed around from hand to hand, calling forth various comments, mostly of admiration and approval. When it reached me in its round I said to a gentleman beside me: "How long do you think it will be before we will have to give $500 of this currency for a barrel of flour?" "Why," he asked, "do you ask such a question as that?" "Simply because I believe that it will be but a very short time before it will be at a heavy discount from the various conditions that war produces."
A general outcry was made against me for lack of patriotism by those present.
"You are familiar with the expression used in olden times—if you will pardon me for using it," I replied, "a thing of little value was declared not worth a continental damn. It was owing to the depreciation of the currency of our country, and I am certain that our own will ill be the same in less than a year."
Anticipating a little, I will say that in February, '62, it had fallen to six cents on the dollar, and it was amusing in one sense to see men carrying it about in armsful, almost, to pay their debts.
Shortly after its issue a law was passed compelling all parties to receive payment of all debts in the currency of the Confederacy. We had some $8,000 loaned to one man, and though I begged earnestly that
he would not pay it then, but use the money even without interest until the war closed, we were compelled to receive it. Speculation ran high, but nothing caused greater dislike to be aroused than to be engaged in it.
There had been much talk of the revival of the slave trade in the South, and though I am not aware that it was done in other instances, I know that one vessel brought over a number of negroes. The Wanderer anchored in some port off the Florida coast, and nine Africans were brought into Mobile. Fred Anuspaugh, a clerk on one of the steamers, brought two young women to our town. One of them he kept as a nurse for his son, and the other was hired in our hotel. They were sisters, and far from black. Though not mulattoes, they were brown-skinned and of most graceful forms. Nellie, our girl, was the younger, and if a black woman was ever beautiful, she was. Her features were clean cut, almost Grecian in type. It was my delight to question her concerning her capture, the customs of her people and the state of her family.
With childish pride she stripped the clothing from her graceful form and pointed to the lace-like girdle around her waist, tattooed into the skin with some colored pigment, and declared that none save the daughter of a mighty chief wore the armless, anklets, and girdle such as she displayed.
"My father rides," she said, "and an army moves at his back. He wears a sword and is a king; we are a mighty warrior's daughters."
She said that her mother sewed with needles and wore calico. The quickness and intelligence of those African girls was a strong argument in their favor, and the purity and correctness of language so soon acquired was wonderful. Poor Nellie became a mother within a year, and both sisters felt the disgrace so
keenly they attempted suicide, Nellie by opening her veins with a penknife, and Clara threw herself from a second-story window. Both failed in their attempts I left in 1863, so lost all trace of them.
The blockade had been established at Charleston. The first evidence of failure in needed supplies was the scarcity of salt. The United States mint at New Orleans had been seized by the State authorities of Louisiana. Congress had transferred the capital to Richmond.
In June and July events of the most exciting character were occurring and hostilities were actually begun First a cavalry skirmish at Fairfax, Va., then quickly followed the fights at Big Bethel and Romney. When the Federals evacuated and burned Harper's Ferry excitement was at fever heat, and when the forty or fifty locomotives belonging to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad were destroyed no pen can give an idea of the excitement in the lower States immediately following the event. The council of war was held at Washington and the call for 400,000 men and $400,000.000 to put down the rebellion was issued by Lincoln.
Money had now to be raised for the soldiers, and, as usual, women had to raise a good share of it. Every household became a workshop and women congregated by hundreds in halls to sew for the soldiers. Negroes were knitting stockings; children knit, and women that never touched a needle before knit far into the night with eyes so dim with tears they could scarcely see their needles. I had a perfect hatred for this work, so I compromised with two young girls to make jackets for them while they knit for me.
I was the secretary of our association, and my task was no sinecure I cut, sewed and basted incessantly, as did every other woman in town. I would be glad if
I had the old books to tell how many hundreds of garments and boxes of supplies we sent out from that long room. No less than seventy or eighty women were sewing there for months. Prior to this we had raised money by giving concerts and entertainments of every kind; we had tableaux and charades, dramatic entertainments, and shows of every sort We wore out our finery in this manner more than in any other way.
After the second battle of Bull Run the wildest joy and enthusiasm filled the people; success seemed certain and the opinion prevailed that hostilities would soon cease. But soon this idea was discarded, for fighting was going on in the West. The battle of Wilson Creek was one of terrible loss to the South. Martial law was declared in St. Louis. President Davis issued his order for all Northern sympathizers to leave the Confederacy within forty days. At Clarke and Fort Hatteras the South met with great loss in prisoners and arms.
Further and further south came the hosts of the Union armies. Fighting was going on in Kentucky, and prisoners were being sent to the South and North alike, carrying with them the hearts of sorrowing women, whose daily prayer was that the terrible war of brother against brother might soon end.
As each Southern town fell into the hands of and was garrisoned by Union troops men began to run a system of blockade smuggling, and the greed of gain ate into the heart of many a man who had until then been loyal to the cause of the South. It was during this time, and thus early in the war, that men on both sides saw opportunities of making money such as had never before been presented, and the birth of monopolies took place that have since towered into such gigantic proportions as to cast a far-reaching shadow over the whole nation.
Amidst the turmoil and strife, the indirect cause of all this loss of life and peace—the negro race—bore their part. Able-bodied white men all gone, the women and children were under their care; their willing hands labored, and by their sweat and toil our coarse fare was provided. Not an outrage was perpetrated, no house was burned. Afar off on lonely farms women with little children slept at peace, guarded by a sable crowd, whom they perfectly trusted. No pen will ever chronicle, no song or story will ever tell, the noble and tender deeds this race performed; and in no land was ever a people so tender and helpful—their very toil helping to perpetuate their own bondage.
Among the negroes prohibition almost absolutely prevailed. Though little imported liquor came in through the now almost impervious blockade, corn whisky was largely made and freely used or sold in many places; but woe to the rum-seller who dared sell a drink to any slave. To this, much of our safety and peace can be attributed.
Men even yet continued to buy and sell slaves, and this trade was influenced by individual opinion. One man, firm in the belief of the ultimate success of the South, added to his slaves; another, thinking in any event slavery would be difficult to enforce, was disposing of his.
Somewhere near the last of February of 1862 the battles of Fort Donelson and of Pea Ridge, Ark., were fought, with results disastrous in the extreme to the South, nearly 15,000 prisoners being taken.
We were working all the time trying to get up clothing and supplies for the hospitals. Every old- time loom that had been put aside, every long-disused wheel was called forth—the cobwebs brushed off, the legs put in order, and every woman who could weave high or low, sent the flying shuttle with busy fingers,
while the young girls turned the wheel whose cheerful hum echoed everywhere. The famous butternut, or walnut-dyed jeans, was woven, cut into pantaloons and jackets, and, forwarded to the various departments. It was no longer a question of uniform or of gray clothing—it was any covering for comfort. Every long-prized coat, cloak or carpet that could be used was made into clothing for the boys.
On the 7th of April, 1862, Island No. 10 was surrendered after a long bombardment and a loss to the Confederacy of guns, horses, wagons, steamers and prisoners took place that cast a gloom over the land, intensified four-fold by the awful carnage at Shiloh.
I remember as if it were but yesterday standing over a large box packing as rapidly as possible the supplies to send, to the hospitals in Virginia. Judge Leak came in holding in his hand one of the newspapers then issued in Montgomery, printed on the meanest paper, with his face fairly convulsed with grief. He handed one of the ladies the paper, his finger pointing to the awful statement of killed and prisoners taken. His sons were there, my two brothers, and oh, such hosts of friends. I sat down stunned and sick with pain and a sort of blind terror I never felt in all my life before. It seemed to me as if a shroud was around my own body.
It was only for a little while we folded idle hands. A meeting was called and our decision soon made—that the greater need was for Shiloh, and new supplies must be added to those we intended for Virginia. I mounted my horse and rode from home to home urging the already sorely taxed women to send all they could spare for the wounded. It was like shearing a sheep already stripped of his covering.
New Orleans was in Union hands and Butler had captured the $800,000 in gold from the mint. Norfolk had surrendered. Once more in the same room
where a few weeks before I had helped to pack the supplies a few of us were working (I had heard that my brothers still lived), when we were again met by the bringer of news on the shabby paper. After Shiloh's fight an order had been issued that all men owning a certain number of negroes could return home—the rest were mustered in for the war. The reason given for this order was that these men should work the negro forces in order to raise supplies for the people. It caused many poor men to desert near this time; for they knew what suffering must be among their families who had no negroes to work for them. It was often said "it was the rich man's war, but the poor man's fight." If so, never did poor men do braver duty, or die for a cause more unselfishly.
THE war found us but ill-prepared for the blockade that was soon instituted, and it appears to me, as I recall the facts that existed, that not one person in ten anticipated the results? or else supplies of such character as were needed would have been bought in great quantities before hostilities began.
The South, so essentially agricultural, had bought everything from Northern merchants. Cotton had been planted to the exclusion of all other crops, well nigh. Now potatoes, corn and other edibles were planted in larger quantities than ever before.
It was laughable to see the table of a hotel. Very often half the supplies on the table were "private dishes." At the hotel where I boarded I had my own servant, and she would bring in my coffee, ham and other things. Many others did the same.
The story went the rounds that a man went to a hotel in Montgomery and started to help himself to a dish of chicken, but was checked by a waiter saying: "Private chicken, sah."
"Well, bring me some ham."
"Private ham, sah."
"Well, see here, boy, you bring me a good dinner and I will pay you well."
"Can't do it; I'se a private servant, sah."
"See, here, landlord or waiter, bring me what ain't private on this table," yelled the irate guest; and they brought him a salt cellar full of salt and a loaf of cornbread!
Our needs were great in many directions. Shoes it was next to impossible to get without paying enormous prices. Leather was almost as difficult to get,
for the tanning of leather was very difficult. Everybody was making shoes, ripping out the soles of old shoes and using pieces of broadcloth from old coats or table covers, whatever would serve to make uppers. I saw some made by a neighbor so very nice that I concluded I would try it. I undertook to rip the stitches from a pair of soles without asking any one how it was done. I drove the awl first into my thumb, then the forefinger, and next into the palm of my hand. For a number of days I carried my arm in a sling.
This was my only effort at shoemaking, but I succeeded better in bonnet-making; for bonnets were made of everything under the sun, from straw and palmetto to cornshucks and wire-grass! I remember I had a cluster of Arum lilies, and I made a bonnet of the vegetable dishrag, lined with a pale pink crepe handkerchief and trimmed with pink ribbon and my Arum lilies. I am certain I never wore a bonnet that was half so becoming, or which gave me greater pleasure.
All the old-time finery of our mothers and grand- mothers was resurrected, and lovely old-fashioned jewelry, silks and laces were worn by the young girls during the four years. I dressed once in an entire wedding costume a hundred years old, and I recall my appearance as I looked then in the short waist and narrow skirt, the high-heeled shoes and old- fashioned comb, covering my head like an open crown of shell. The vision in the cheval glass was radiant in youth and strength. I never looked so well, I think, before or since.
A wedding supper was the delight yet despair of our women. I think nothing so delightful as to create new things, to rise superior to difficulties and accomplish great results from small material. I have seen fruit cake made from dried applies and cherries in lieu of citrons and raisins and shortened with pork,
that was delicious. I think the needs of the time must have invented the pork cake, recipes for which we often see in the latest cook books.
We had tea of everything—blackberry, raspberry and sage leaves, sassafras and spicewood; but the wild crossvine, whose pretty stem the children often smoked, furnished from its leaves the very best, resembling in a great measure the real Japan tea; but I could never drink it without having a fear that I was getting hold of the poison oak vine, which it so closely resembles.
Our coffees were made of peanuts, okra, rye, wheat, corn and meal and molasses dried and parched; but the very best was of sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into small dice, dried, parched and ground. With a spoonful of real coffee this was extremely good.
We made starch of green corn and Irish potatoes; and everything that could be utilized for food or domestic purposes was made use of.
Though it was not until the close of the second year of the war that our needs became actually so terrible, long before the end of the year there was a mortality unaccounted for in the annals of strife. Thousands of children died during their second summer of actual starvation, owing to the coarseness of fare which alone was possessed by the masses, and utterly unfit for an invalid or teething child to eat. I had among my friends more than one mother who would recount with the most agonizing grief the long days of illness and the death of their darlings, for whom they were powerless to procure either medicine or suitable food. One of these women was mentally affected by the death of her little girl.
Writing obituaries was my bete noir. I think I wrote hundreds, and was glad when we got down to wall paper as press paper, at which time many a weekly suspended, owing to the impossibility of getting any kind of paper for printing.
It is wonderful, as I recall the circumstances, that our needs were not greater. It was rare that silver or gold was used. We bought our supplies and paid our railroad fares with the depreciated Confederate money. I still have on hand several thousand dollars of it, though after the war was over I sent away to various friends hundreds of bills inscribed with the pathetic lines written by Major S. A. Jonas, the first stanza of which reads as follows:
"Representing nothing on God's earth now,
And naught in the waters below it;
As a pledge of a nation that passed away
Keep it, dear friend, and show it.
Show it to those who will lend an ear
To a tale this trifle will tell
Of liberty born of a patriot's dream,
Of a storm-cradled nation that fell."
It is owing to the fact that so many people copied this poem on the back of Confederate bills and sent them to friends that its authorship has been so disputed. I sent one to Mrs. Mary J. Holmes, and she, knowing that I courted the muses, decided that it was original, and to my consternation I saw it published over my own name in a Minnesota paper.
The conscripts were being brought in from all points and mustered into service. Alas! alas! how different from the gay marching troops that had sprung so gloriously into the ranks two years before. Worn half-fed, half-clad, half-desperate, they were marched to the field to meet the foe that had the world to recruit from. We were hemmed in by land and sea, our men dying on fields, in fortress, in prison, fighting desperately —and for what? No living man at that time, it seems to me, but was certain of ultimate defeat and we, the women—my pen fails to portray our misery. I would gladly draw the veil over that day and never lift it while time lasts. Without medicines
in the long, hot summers, without food suitable for the sick—our smokehouses, our salt beds and everything in the shape of lead, torn up to be used for war purposes—the sickening rye coffee, the coarse bread, the want, the war, the burned houses, the desolate families—I would wonder in blind pain where is there a God, and does He rule in the affairs of men? I was young then, and "youth bows down in misery amaze at the dark cloud overmantling its fresh days."
MY MEMORY seems a complete tangle of events, so far as hostilities go, and I can scarcely untangle the threads so crossed in memory and rendered dim by time, "the beautifier of ruins and the sole consoler when the heart hath bled." The seven days' fighting before Richmond, the surrender of Memphis, President Lincoln's call for 600,000 more men, and the scattering of Morgan's raiders fill up the months of June and July, 1863, while hostilities were waging in Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi alike. The South was one vast battleground every-where. Yet still some men went on buying and selling slaves as if nothing was to hinder or change their destiny.
All our news from the West was terrible. Vicksburg was being bombarded, had undergone a long siege, and, on the Fourth of July, was captured by General Grant. Our men had surrendered, the long strain was over, and negroes began to pour into the Union camps from every direction.
In August I visited "My Charming Nell," mentioned in the first of these papers, the wife Col. J. W. Bradley, of the Confederate army. She was then living at Newman, Ga. While there one of my brothers, whom I had not seen for many years, came and spent a day and night with me. Their regiment was with a large body of troops under Bragg, then massed at Meridian, Miss. On finding me gone from home, he followed me to Georgia, as he had a furlough of several days. We spent the entire night talking together, as he had to leave at daybreak to return. I remember
telling him then of vision of my father's death, and how we talked of our love and devotion to him.
Before the month was out the command was rapidly transferred to Tennessee, and on the 19th of September my brother was shot through the head and instantly killed in the first fighting of Chickamauga. Will Crutchfield, to whom I have before referred, was then a major on the Union General Wilder's staff and twenty-odd in number of his blood relations swept up in the gray-clad ranks of the Confederacy, to meet death. But he took no part in the hostilities after the first day, for the reason that he had a serious illness which lasted a week. Years after he learned that his wife, whose sympathies were as strong for the South as were his for the Union, had drugged him heavily, and so prevented his taking further part in the fratricidal strife.
The Union headquarters and hospital were in the Amnicola farmhouse, Tom Crutchfield's home, five miles from Chattanooga. It was terrible beyond description to hear the family at Amnicola tell of the hospital work, and of the number of limbs that were buried on the sloping hill above the orchard. Mrs. Crutchfield insisted on this being done daily, for sometimes the shutters would scarcely close above the mangled limbs, tossed from the open window in one gory heap, in the haste and excitement during the fighting around Chattanooga.
Fifteen years after the war I visited at Amnicola. While there we were looking over some old papers, and among them we found a plain gold ring with a written paper attached, and its history was given to me. While the hospital was in the house one of the mastiffs was seen in the yard with an arm in his mouth. The arm had been amputated near the shoulder. It was
white and round, almost as if it had been a girl's, and on one of the fingers was this ring. The arm was rescued and buried, and Crutchfield tried to find the owner of the ring. Failing, he had filed it away among his papers.
He had over thirty thousand dollars in gold belonging to himself and his mother buried just inside the garden paling, and under the trees at the foot of the orchard before the troops took possession. The gold in the garden, some twelve thousand dollars, with other valuables, was contained in six common glass jars such as druggists use. At the foot of the orchard the sod was carefully removed in a square, the deep pit dug, the sod replace and the dirt carried away in quilts. Early the following day the pear trees were trimmed and the branches scattered carefully over the ground.
When the sold came rifle pits were dug in the garden not three yards away from where the jars were buried. Tom's mother lived with him; her love for the hidden gold was a very strong trait in her character. When they began digging the pits inside the garden the old lady came rushing out in a frenzy of excitement. Tom caught hold of her arm and silenced her outcry. The officer superintending the work was curious to know what she was so wild about. Said Tom, when he told me the story: "I had to manufacture a lie, so I told him ma had some very choice bulbs along the border, and I actually hunted up every old tulip and lily root and filled my handkerchief, to give color to the story."
The gold inside the fence, which was soon torn down remained in the ground, and was fought and trampled over until the place was vacated.
Only three persons knew where this gold (and that at the foot of the orchard) was buried, and one of these was a negro, faithful, loyal old John, who helped
to hide it, and also to resurrect it. "I would have trusted him," said Crutchfield, "with all I loved on earth, as I more than once had to do."
While in Georgia I visited at Lagrange also. There I met with a number of refugees from New Orleans. Among them was Mrs. Phillips, the woman sent by Gen. Butler to Ship Island for singing the "Bonnie Blue Flag" while the funeral cortege of Colonel Drew was passing the house, and, various other foolish devices to attract attention; or, I will do her the justice to say she thought it was patriotic, possibly, as her sympathy was very strong for the South. She was very handsome, and had three or four of the most beautiful, but ill-bred, children I ever had the misfortune to meet. We lodged in the same hotel, and it was a treat to see their style at the table, acting as if in their own private family, and helping themselves to the food as if no one else was at the table, utterly ignored by the mother, who would look up and down the table, and, if a stranger was present, begin in some way the story of her Ship Island experience especially for the new comer's benefit. Even those who sympathized in the most active manner with the South had many a sly laugh when we heard the oft-told Ship Island story from the lips of the very pretty woman, as she rehearsed the cruelties heaped upon her by Butler's orders.
I suppose no one was ever more cordially hated than Butler was in the whole South, owing to the order he issued that "any woman who insulted an officer should be treated as a woman of the town." One can see how much opportunity was here given to men who were not all born gentlemen, even if wearing officers' clothing, when the people, proud and high-spirited, had to submit to many things that were hard to endure. I think that no order issued during the war was so bitterly resented as this, or caused more hate.
I received a note one day saying that if I would go to a certain drug store in Montgomery I would get some news from my husband. He was in New York and I had not heard from him for months. I went immediately and stated my name, handing the note I had received. I was silently ushered into a back room, passed through another room, then entered a large warehouse where a cleared space about eight feet square was surrounded by boxes, bales and Jugs. Two chairs were set there, and my conductor said: "Sit down here, and a gentleman will come to see you." I sat waiting perhaps ten minutes—it seemed to me as many hours—when suddenly, from whence I knew not, a tall man slipped from behind me and took the vacant chair, giving his name as he did so. He was just from New York, and had run the ocean blockade into Mobile, and in this way laid the foundation for his large fortune which he made after the war.
I had seen only Confederate clothing worn for two years, and despite my anxiety and embarrassment, I was fairly wild to laugh, so strange did the wide-toed boots, on the enormously big feet, draped in extremely wide trousers, look. He was over Six feet tall, and what with his dress, his mustache and his mysterious manner, I thought of Mephistopheles in comedy, and I never saw this man afterwards that I did not recall this feeling of fear and distrust that crept over me as he talked. He gave me the news I expected, declaring that he could not bring better, but had parted with Mr. S. six weeks before in New York.
NO LETTERS came from friends, and, as each dreadful report from the West came in, I longed to go to my dear old father; it became a fever that seemed to burn me up. Sleeping or waking, I could not tear my thoughts from him. He seemed to need me. My idolized father, oh, where was he? I was so helpless, so lonely. I wrote to my only half brother, then stationed at Meridian, Miss., and told him I was going to try to make my way to our father in Arkansas. My brother, I found, was suffering from the same anxiety as myself. I naturally traced this feeling on his part as well as my own to the fact that the death of his eldest son must be a source of great distress to our father.
It was finally decided that I would, with my two children, a son and daughter, aged respectively twelve and fourteen, secure a pass from the Governor, John Gill Shorter, and pass through the lines. My route to Arkansas would take me by way of Meridian, where my brother was.
As rapidly as my arrangements could be made, I prepared to go. My Confederate money I turned into gold, buying wherever I could and giving a boat load of paper for a handful of gold. Shut up in my room, I sewed twenty and five and ten-dollar gold pieces in three belts for myself and my children. I made a yoke-shaped belt for myself, and quilted it completely full of twenty-dollar gold pieces. I foolishly failed to try to wear it before starting away. I thought of the youth and frailty of my children, and carefully measured the burthen I put upon them, but, woman-like, I failed to think of myself, on whom so much depended.
A young friend that I had known from her babyhood was about to be married, and she came to me to beg that, as I was going inside the Union lines, I would sell her all my best and finest clothing. It was a Godsend to me, for I felt as though I could never again wear the gay garments of a fashionable woman, and I was unable to carry the things I possessed on this journey, so I let her select all she wished and took my pay in the "coin of the country," Confederate money, at 5 cents on the dollar. My salmon-colored brocade silk, trimmed with lovely lace, worn the last time I was ever dressed in full ball costume, was sold for a thousand dollars, and a velvet cloak, black silks and all sorts of things went for like large sums, which I turned into gold as fast as I could, and with the rest paid my expenses as far as I could use it. My diamonds I sewed inside my clothing; they were few, but valuable.
My friends, learning that I was going away, commenced sending in the lunch for our journey. One of the largest kind of baskets and two smaller ones for the children to carry were prepared, and I certainly have reason to believe my friends prized me highly, for notwithstanding it was in the terrible time of desolation that I have described, my lunch was two whole hams, chicken, cake, butter, Maryland biscuits, some fine French brandy and preserves enough to last us the entire trip' if we succeeded in getting through the lines.
My pass from the Governor gave me an escort, but none could be found. So, after selling everything but my dearest treasures, we turned away from the lifelong home, never to again rest for long anywhere in "this great wide fool's paradise of shams and lies."
In Montgomery I parted with my darling old foster-mother. She it was who first held me in her hands
when the world's strong light streamed into my baby eyes, who had pillowed my childish head in my early orphanage on her tender breast, who had comforted me in my first sorrows of motherhood, almost a child myself; who had nursed my children and shrouded my darlings in death. How I loved her! How we wept and clung together, her tear-wet black face pressed against my rosy one—the best, the truest, the tenderest friend that ever a woman claimed! My dying mother had laid me in her arms, and the last sound that had filled her ears was not my father's words of love, but this black woman's promise of fealty and love to her child, as she took me from the fast stiffening arms, and by my mother's request sealed her promise with a kiss on the cold lips of the young mother.
This woman was loyal to me with a love born of God's own truth; and, in my deepest sorrow, I found in her my tenderest friend. May my God forget me and my children despise me, when I forget the love, the devotion and self-abnegation of my negro servants and friends. both before and after the terrible war was over. I am glad to give this public tribute to the race that was so loyal to me and mine, and thereby earned my deathless gratitude.
We went from Montgomery to Selma, and then to Meridian. So far there had been little trouble and our railway travel was unbroken. At Meridian I met my brother and was a guest in the house of an old schoolmate, and here a pass was obtained from General Johnston.
My traveling basket of lunch was a God-send, for I had an opportunity of sharing my good things all along the line. I met for the first time with Captain Henderson, and we shared our lunch with him and a lady friend we met on the train. Some distance from Meridian we found the railroad torn up and from there the trip had to be made in wagons. I had two
trunks and two children. Captain Henderson arranged for me to go with my daughter in the ambulance of General Dan Adams, and he took my two trunks and my son in General Featherstone's ambulance by another route to Canton. We were to meet at that point on the morning of the following day. The small pocket diary that I took notes in was lost, and my memory is not clear on the breaks on this road, but I think I can locate the main events correctly.
We left home about the middle of November, and the weather was growing cool. Captain Henderson introduced me to General Adams. He was a small man, and though pleasant in manner, seemed rather taciturn. I thought our conversation during our trip went over a vast deal of ground, frequently shared by the young Confederate soldier that drove the magnificent team of black mules. As evening came on the general was taken with a violent fit of vomiting, and his sufferings were terrible. I had, woman-like, carried a lot of medicine, and securely tucked away in the bottom of my basket was a bottle of fine brandy, still unopened, that my nephew had given me. There was no intention of stopping; we expected to travel all night, so as to reach our destination in time. The general became so ill that he took my medicine like a child. At last I insisted that he should lie down. I unrolled my shawls, adjusted a pillow, and taking out the seat, I sat on the floor by his side. He became so ill that we had to stop at a farmhouse for a few hours, when he grew somewhat better. After this rest we again started and drove through the woods and swamps between 3 and 7 o'clock. We had no lamps, and it aroused my admiration to see how the young fellow bowled along in the darkness, rarely ever striking a stump or root. As we drove into Canton and down to the depot I was rejoiced to see my boy and Captain Henderson waiting for us. My
trunks were thrown on the train, I had a few words with him, a hurried farewell, and we were soon under way.
At the next break in the railway I met with Captain Barclay, who took us as far as some station this side of Como, and then I was left with two children, two trunks and nothing in sight save a ravine, down which we scrambled, leaving our trunks behind. I saw a house on the further side, a bridge had been burned, and it was down and up the embankment that we had to make our way.
Captain Barclay had pointed out dangers and horrors of every character and urged my return, but I was determined to press on to Memphis. My first intention had been to reach Vicksburg and cross there into Arkansas, but my brother, for some reason or impression he could scarcely define, preferred my going to Memphis. It was for this reason I took the route I did.
I approached the half-ruined house and saw a half dozen men standing or lying about. A great, red- whiskered man was resting on his elbow, lying at full length on the platform. For some reason I can't tell why, I adressed myself to this man, although I said "gentlemen," and swept the crowd in my vision as I began speaking, but soon fixed my eyes on the man lying on the floor.
I briefly stated my condition, and asked if there was a chance to secure a conveyance to Como. The men laughed, but the red-haired fellow stared silently at me without a word. Every house had been burned; the sun was sinking fast. It was some eight miles to Como. I gained this much by questioning, and that a handcar was the means of communication.
"Look here," I said to the big man, "I am alone; I have my two trunks over there; I have these two children, and I am trying to reach my father in Arkansas.
I want to go to Como. What will you take me for? I have Confederate money. I will not need it after reaching Senatobia. I will pay you well to carry me to Como on a handcar."
"What about your trunk?" he asked.
"Won't some of you bring them over? I am a woman, and alone. I throw myself on your care, your manliness. Help me as you would want a man to help your womankind, mother or wife, in my condition," I said as rapidly as I could.
The big man then rose from his sprawling attitude, pulled up his loosely hung trousers, thrust his hands as far as he could into his pockets, and said:
"That's the talk, boys! Get them trunks over; we'll pull out two handcars and set the missus down at Como. By golly, no woman can say that sort of thing to me and not get help. "
I was so worn and nervous I could only bow my thanks, while the tears filled my eyes and fell on my cheeks.
In a very few minutes we were on a handcar. A square boarding was hooked in some way between the two cars, and two men on each end pulling with all their might. When we reached Como it was almost dusk. I took out my roll of Confederate money and said: "What do I owe you?"
"A hundred dollars apiece, I guess," said my red-haired knight with the slouched hat and baggy trousers. I gave him one thousand, saying that I would not need it when I crossed the lines. My escort started back, waving their hats and cheering a lusty farewell to us as we stood in the gathering gloom. I hastily ran up the path that led to Dr. Sim Tate's home, that still stood unburned, to se if I could remain the night over at his house. I was cordially welcomed, and met there two men on their way to Senatobia, walking on the road. I prepared and sent a note to my husband's
uncle, requesting him to send a conveyance to meet me at Como, I to remain at Tate's until it came.
That evening when our excellent supper was over Mrs. Tate invited me to sit with her until bedtime. I saw all the surroundings of wealth and luxury, and in a great measure they had escaped the horrors of war, and it was indeed a relief to sleep our weariness away in a comfortable bed.
AFTER a refreshing night's sleep at Dr. Sim Tate's house in Como, I waited patiently for news from Senatobia. About three o'clock we saw coming along the road a covered wagon, drawn by two mules, which were driven by a big negro man. This was to be our conveyance, and proved to be the only one left to Mr. Arnold, my husband's uncle. It looked as if it were twenty feet long. It was high at each end and covered with white canvas, or what had once been white.
"Howdy, Miss Lizzie? You done forgot me, but I 'member you comin' to our house in South Carline when Mas' Jim was a boy. Lord a messy, you was a gal den; now you got two great, big chillun."
This was the greeting given by the driver as he swung my two heavy trunks, as if they had been paper he was tossing up, into the lumbering vehicle we were to ride in.
Two or three splint-bottomed chairs formed our seats, and we climbed up over the sides, leaving Mrs. Tate waving us a farewell from the steps of her hospitable home.
When I reached Senatobia it was nearly sunset, and the dear old uncle came to meet us, while his witty Irish wife was waiting on a great crowd of people.
Among the guests in the house I found Mrs. Sam Tate and Mrs. Oliver Greenlaw, two of the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Memphis, who were refugees. The beautiful residence of Mrs. Greenlaw had been seized and was used for Federal head- quarters. Mrs. Tate was one of the loveliest and most accomplished women of the South.
We remained there two or three days, and, incidentally, my uncle told me in the event of needing help, or getting into trouble, to call on Dr. Foulks.
I thought with joy: "I shall go right out to Arkansas." I had seen so little of hostilities that all seemed new and strange to me.
When we left Senatobia our next point was to reach Hernando. Beyond that very little seemed to be known to our relatives and friends.
We made the trip in a stage in company with a number of men, and this was the last part of our trip in which we could use Confederate money, and for the future only gold or greenbacks could be used. I saw here for the first time a greenback bill, but my uncle did not tell me that we could use our money no further than this point. Our driver halted at a small cottage in the woods, and here we were left, the men all going on foot in different ways. I was told by the man he could not go on to town and it was a little way further on. The only occupant of the house was a mean-looking, ferret-faced man, who helped carry our trunks inside. The driver hurried back.
I called the man who kept the house and inquired concerning our trip to Memphis. For the first time I found that I could pass Confederate money no longer, not even here. I had a large sum in gold, as before stated.
He told me my trip into Memphis, a distance of twenty-three miles, was to be paid in gold, twenty-five dollars; my night's lodging five dollars in gold. I did not know it was at a premium of 50 cents on the dollar.
We were to start in the morning early, and while I had been out inquiring for and securing a team and driver, the landlord had been questioning my son in a way that aroused my fears.
We ate our supper, which was prepared by a small
black woman, who disappeared as soon as she cooked it. I tried to find her, and was told she had left.
A man kept a few cigars, candy, lemons and such things in the small shed room off the portico. I bought from him two or three candles, as I had only a small piece hardly longer than my finger.
I was compelled to change a ten dollar gold piece with this man, and I saw the covetous greed in his eyes as he took the coin.
"Where did you come from," he asked, as he handed me the money.
I answered: "From Senatobia."
"Why, Jim said you came from Alabama," was his hasty response.
I knew at once that the landlord had obtained this information from my son, whom I had failed to caution. I went to my room and found that the sliding bolt had been removed from the inside of the door, for I had certainly slipped it on entering the room first; the lock was broken and was no security whatever.
In those terrible times life was so cheap, and the loneliness of our situation so great, the fact of the sums of gold I had about me, and the looks of the man I had met in the shop outside, all conspired to arouse my fears.
My children, utterly tired out, were sleeping the sleep of childhood, sound and sweet. My boy was a brave, manly fellow, although hardly twelve years old. It was cold, and I would not let them undress. We had no fire, so they laid down in their clothing. I piled our rugs around them and sat down to write my last letter to our friends.
I wrote rapidly and was absorbed entirely in my letter, when I thought I heard a soft step outside. I had a pistol in my pocket, and no man could send a bullet straighter to its mark than I. I stepped to the
door and flung it wide open. A candle had been burning in a bottle outside, but the candle was gone, and in the darkness the landlord was standing, in his stocking feet, but a few steps from the door.
"I thought I heard you," I said; "I am glad you are here. I want to ask you some questions. Come in."
I did not turn my back to return to my chair. I stepped back and motioned for him to pass me. He did so, glancing toward the bed where the children lay, and took one of the two chairs in the room. I drew the other toward me with my left hand, and as I sat down I drew my right hand from my pocket with the pistol in it.
"This is a very lonely place," I said, "and in troublous times like these it seems a poor place to sleep in with neither lock nor bolt on the door. How am I to fasten it?"
"Nobody is going to hurt you," he said sneeringly. "I only came to ask you what time you wanted to be called in the morning. What are you doing with that pistol?"
"I am only holding it in my hand now," I said quietly, "and I expect to be up all night. I have much writing to do. I have carried this pistol in my pocket ever since I left home; it is heavy and I am tired. I have not had any use for it, and it is not likely that I shall, but if there should be any need to use it, I shall most certainly do it. I bought the candles because I expected to write all night. I wanted the negro woman to stay in my room with me tonight. Why did she go away?"
"She goes home every night; she never sleeps here," was his reply.
"Very well," I answered; "I am not a good sleeper at any time."
"I'll bet you couldn't hit the side of a house if you
did shoot," he said, in a sort of laughing tone, as he rose from his chair and lounged toward the door. As he pulled to the door the look on his face was so strange and changed, in the flare of the candle, that it seemed another face, so terrible and frowning was it.
I took my scissors that lay on the table and thrust them into the broken lock as a weak barrier against intrusion.
I took my seat at the table and wrote rapidly for a few seconds, when I distinctly heard a stick break as if under a heavy tread, right by the window. It was closed and a thin white curtain was over it.
"Walter," I called, as I drew the cover from the tired child, "get up quick." He was awake in a moment. I told him how uneasy I felt and what had occurred.
The little chap got out of bed and opened his trunk. He had put a bundle of nails and a hammer in his trunk and he soon had half a dozen nails driven in the door and two in the window. Then, taking out a book, he took a seat by the table, as if to read all night. I wrote and he read for an hour. I lit another candle, and by this time he seemed so tired I urged him to lie down, which at last he did. My daughter slept soundly all the while.
I felt so certain that some one was watching me that at last I blew out my candle, slipped off my shoes and crept to the window on my knees. I quietly listened and peeped through the side of the curtain. It was dark outside, not a thing to be seen, but I distinctly heard two men talking in a very low tone and seemingly near the window. They were seated on the end of the portico in front of the house, on the same side as the window. I at last made this out, but my heart beat so loudly it seemed to be in my ears instead of my breast. Just then I heard the knob of
my door turned.
I rose from my knees by the window and crept to the side of my son's bed. His soft breathing was all I heard save the barking of a dog in the passageway.
No landlord came and no breakfast was served. The man who kept the little stall of goods said he was to collect the fare for our night's lodging; that the landlord had to go to some sale in the country and would get no breakfast, but he would give us a cup of hot coffee for a dollar. I asked if he slept there; he said no, he went up to his house, and pointed to it in the distance. We took three cups of coffee and gave him his dollar in greenbacks.
Our driver came, and with the children seated on our trunks and I on the seat with the driver, we rode through a blinding drizzle of rain to Memphis. We met one or two Confederate soldiers who seemed to be dashing away from pursuit. They rode into the woods at the side of the road.
Some distance ahead a half dozen Federal soldiers stopped us and questioned our taciturn driver.
"Did you see any Confeds cross the road below here?"
"No," was the prompt response. "Haven't met a darned thing but a cow since I left Hernando."
Walter gave an exclamation of surprise, but I promptly pumped my elbow into his breast, as he sat right behind me. This gave him something else to concern himself about and the driver lashed his horses and drove on.
"You little fool," said the driver, looking back at the boy, "you like to have played hob, didn't you?"
This was about all he said during the whole trip.
My hand is so painful that I can write no more at this time. Still more painful is the memory of those days in Memphis, brought to my mind by my diary, as it lies here before me, stained with tears and yellow with age.
ON ENTERING Memphis we went at once to the old Gayoso Hotel, then in good condition, and the best hotel. It was indeed a noble building, and its front of heavy stone, facing the bluff, made a fine appearance. It was afterwards seized by the Federals and used for some purpose, and finally became a sort of rookery for negroes and outcasts. In the last few years it has been rebuilt and added to, until it is now again a very fine and popular house.
Mr. Galloway, then a clerk in the house, gave me a note of introduction to Mr. Knowlton, to enable me to get some clothing I needed, for the cold was intense. It seemed strange to a free-born woman to come suddenly under the rules of a military government, and to get permission to buy a few clothes.
I went to the provost marshal, a man named Williams, to get a permit to go to Arkansas. He refused my request, saying that no permits were being granted. On the first day of my stay in Memphis I met an old acquaintance, Americus Hatchett, who urged me, in the most imploring manner, not to think of going into the torn and distracted State. Truly, the reports were of an awful character, wild as a Dantean picture of hell. The State was torn and distracted by the raiding and robbing from both armies, and all who could were leaving it.
I had a daughter only fourteen years of age. I was unprotected save by a son, twelve years old. As we had nothing to keep us in Memphis longer, I decided to go at once to New York and join my husband, from whom I had not heard in many months. I tried to telegraph to him, but the lines were cut, and it was
impossible to telegraph before reaching Cairo.
I had never in my life seen my father wear a beard, yet for weeks I had seen, when sleeping, an old gray head, with long white beard and eyes like stars paling before the daylight gleam, so blue, so sad! With this vision always came the feeling as if some one told me to go to him; he needed me. That last night in my room at the Gayoso Hotel I saw this venerable head more plainly than ever, and never did human eyes seem so sad before. "Help him, dear God," I cried; "help him! I desert him not willingly, thou who seest my heart cloth truly know!" I answered the pleading look as I would have answered spoken words.
I went on board the boat bound for Cairo at five o'clock. It was announced to leave at eight. I had not then a friend in Memphis that I was aware of; yet something urged me not to go. On board the Commercial the longing became a sort of maniacal craving. I went out and walked the guards in the bitter cold. I went back and tried to read, but to no purpose. The feeling was too strong to be put down. Once I even started my son to ask the captain to refund my money, that I might return to the city. Summoning all my reasoning faculties. I beat (what I called) the foolish fancy down.
There were dozens of women on board, and usually I soon made acquaintances. Now I saw no one. My soul was travailing in sorrow and anguish, such as before nor since my life holds nothing to equal.
Summoned to the table, I sat beside the captain. Vainly he urged me to eat, and tried to enter into conversation with me. An iron hand seemed to be clutching my throat, and the effort to swallow was torture. With an excuse I left the table, and going back to the cabin, took a little child my son was holding for a lady who had gone to the table, I sent him to my own seat at the table and held the child until
she came. When she returned she took the infant and thanked me for holding it.
I now spoke for the first time to any one beside the captain. "Pray, madam," I asked, "from what part of our poor, distracted country are you going?"
"Batesville, Arkansas," she replied.
"Oh," I cried, in joyful surprise, "it is my father's home! Can you tell me anything of him? His name is Andrew Lyle."
She was standing before me looking down at me. She grasped my arm and cried: "Oh, leave the boat, madam, quick, quick! She is firing up; we will be carried off. He is here, in the Irving block, a prisoner. We heard today that he was dying."
My uncle had filled my soul with horror of that cold prison.
I said something—asked some questions to assure myself if it were truly he.
The next words dispelled all doubt.
"I knew him well. He had two sons, Alex and Andrew. Alex was killed at Chickamauga. Oh, for God's sake, go, woman, go quick!"
There are men (for the boat was crowded full) who will remember the frenzied woman who rushed through the crowd calling for the captain and imploring to be put on shore.
Dear, good, noble man! Amid all the excitement and worry he soothed and comforted me. I forgot my children and the hundred dollars in gold I had put into his hands. I was leaving my trunks, my little daughter, who was lying down, everything, in my haste to be gone. I was shivering until my teeth chattered, as with a hard ague.
The captain took me into a stateroom and said sternly: "Madam, control yourself. These are not checks for the trunks; they are the five twenty-dollar gold pieces that you handed me."
"She said he was dying," I whispered, as I let the coins fall rolling on the floor; then, for the first time in all my strong young life, I mercifully lost all consciousness.
The captain caught and held me up, and I was roused by his pouring a glass of wine all over me in trying to force it into my mouth. In a moment I was my brave, strong self. I waited for my daughter. The captain took my name and address, and promised that he would telegraph from Cairo to my husband, which promise was faithfully kept. He went on shore with me and secured a hack, saw me seated in it, and urged me to brace up and face the matter heroically.
If that man had a wife I know he was good and kind to her; and as long as I live I shall remember gratefully the unknown Union captain.
I felt I could not go to the hotel; I must be with women. Where could I go, alone, friendless, half sick from nervous exhaustion? I thought of a family to whom a Confederate major had given me a letter of introduction, and I drove there. How kind they were, those soft-eyed French girls! One of them sat up all night with me, as I crouched weeping and shivering over a coal fire.
My children could not comprehend the situation. They were small when they last saw their grandfather, and they did not then know, for they were too young to understand, the boundless devotion I held for him.
In the morning I set out to find Mr. Hatchett, for I was told it would be impossible to get a permit to enter the prison unless some person of influence knew me. I found him, secured a boarding place for myself and children in the large and aristocratic boarding house of Mrs. H., then went to get the permit.
I will not give names nor write of the humiliation and bitterness of that time. I have buried the hatchet
and am not one to dig it up; but there are two sides to the war stories, and I had seen both of them, God knows! It took two days to get permission to see my father. At last I stood inside the whitewashed palisade. The front of the building was a mass of iron bars, large as an infant's wrist. Within was a motley crowd of prisoners. When all memories, the fair and sweet, shall have vanished from life, terrible among the terrible will rise that awful prison scene.
The sergeant held my permit in his hand and shouted my father's name aloud. The motley crowd swerved forward. I was looking among them for the dear head, crowned with its clustering curls, as I had seen it last. A voice, his voice, spoke right before me: "Give me the letter. That is my name."
There was the silver hair, the long snowy beard, the dim, pleading eyes of my vision for six weeks past. Oh, Christ! the memory is maddening now, and time can never, never soothe the wound; it bleeds at a finger touch. I cannot write the details; dozens know them; I alone felt them.
A man, I afterwards learned his name, Dr. Bates (himself a prisoner) requested permission to speak to me. "If you would save him, work fast; three days ends his life in here," he whispered. I felt it as we clasped each other close, hugging the cold bars between our breasts, coarser and harsher than the earthen barrier so soon to lie between us.
The lieutenant, a man named Zeigler, was as kind as he could be, and did all he could to aid me. He was a Union soldier from West Virginia, and knew my father's people there.
I think they said there were nearly three hundred men crowded in the prison.
I SHOULD hate to record on any page, for any eye to read, all the horror, the humiliation and heartache of those three terrible days before I procured my father's release. He was to report every morning. Three good men went on his bond; Dr. Fowlkes was one of them, Dr. Grant and Americus Hatchett the other two.
I tried to get a room for him where I was stopping with my children; but the house was crowded, and he was a prisoner on parole, accused of being a Confederate spy. I learned afterwards that Dr. Grant had assured the provost marshal that he was a doomed man, already near death. I secured a room in a house the landlady of which was formerly an Arkansas woman; but the fireplace smoked badly. I was promised another room as soon as two Federal officers vacated, which they expected to do on the following day. I stayed with him, leaving the children to sleep at our rooms and come to me during the day.
I explained to my father all the chances and charges that had brought me to him. To me he expressed no opinion, but to a gentleman who came in to see him, a released prisoner himself, he said: "I once doubted special providences, trusted little in them. I doubt no more. This is my daughter, from Alabama. Had an angel descended visibly in my presence and opened my prison door I could not have been more surprised than when I saw my child. My constant thought had been how it would wring her heart to hear how I had died."
He had been arrested while crossing the river, having
been reported by a Confederate knave to an equally knavish Federal detective. When arrested all his effects were taken from him. Eighteen or twenty thousand dollars in Confederate money was reported, two horses, and his blankets. Sixteen hundred dollars in currency and gold was never reported. It affords me satisfaction now to say that when the man who reported him as a spy and got his share of the money was robbed of his ill-gotten gains and murdered while crossing Hickey Haley swamp in less than a month afterward.
The second day I was able to remove him to the larger room the officers had vacated. He seemed much stronger and better; threw his blanket about him and walked with the old stately stride to the room. A bed was ready for him, and a large couch standing in front of the fireplace was arranged for me.
I soon saw that my father's strength was fictitious. Erysipelas had set in and the acute bronchitis was growing rapidly worse. All night long he wrestled with the terrible agony, slowly choking to death.
I sent for the doctor—I knew no one else to send for—and he remained with me until he was called away in great haste, promising to return. He has since proved the grand secrets of the other life. God's kindest glance be on him! The landlady did her own cooking, and long before day was preparing meals for two or three dozen guests. She had come in answer to my call of agony, but felt compelled to return to her arduous duties. The war and frequent deaths rendered people callous.
I was alone, witnessing agony I was powerless to relieve. The struggle for breath was the most awful thing I ever witnessed. A man of powerful physique, he fought death as he would have wrestled with a
lion, springing to the floor and walking with long strides up and down the room, throwing himself first on the couch, then on the bed, and then sinking into a moment's silence, only to renew the struggle again. I was frantic with grief. At last, with a great cry, he threw himself down on his bed, and slowly the purple shadow crept over his face—a long, sobbing sigh, and all was over. I threw myself across his breast and only felt a passionate desire to die, too.
I lay half unconscious, making no note of time. I heard some one enter the room and remove some articles of furniture and go out again. At last I rose to my feet and uncovered my eyes, so hot and dry. The first thing that met my gaze was a white cloth thrown over the high mirror that hung over the bureau in the corner of the room. Like a revelation I saw the literal fulfillment of my old prophetic vision. The bed clothing had been taken away from the couch; there it stood, square, upright at both ends, covered all over with the smooth, black leather cushioning. The uncanopied bedposts were within an inch of the ceiling. The fireplace was beyond the lounge. A door was at my right hand in the wall; at the foot of the bed was another. Close in the corner stood the bed, and on it lay the idol of my life—all as I saw it in my dream in March, 1861. The fulfillment was in December, 1863.
When I first met my father I asked him if he had thought much of me while in prison. "Yes," was his reply, "but Alex always seemed to be in my mind. Whether asleep or awake, he was near me, it seemed."
God works by physical laws for all things visible. He sends His kindly ministers, the sun, the wind, the showers, the healing dew in the long drouth, the cooling breeze on the hot day. Is He less able to work by hidden laws? Who shall say I have not a right to
claim I was miraculously led to my father's aid? Otherwise he would have died neglected, his soul darkened in death with doubts of divine providence.
Only a month before my brother was killed his desire to see our dear old father was expressed to me in the strongest terms. Why should I not believe that the spirit freed from the limitations of flesh sought our father, found his condition, and impressed my mind with it, causing me to seek him? My singularly prophetic vision was long before my mental distress began, which was not until after my father's imprisonment and some weeks after my brother's death. Had I heeded the monitions of the unseen that filled my heart with dread I would have sped to aid him in his imprisonment, and, perhaps, have saved his life. God knows, He only! I question not His mercy. I bless Him daily that He brought me to my father's aid and gave to me the privilege of being his last earthly comfort as his soul floated out into the unknown dark.
I cannot better close this chapter than by giving a little poem, written years ago, expressing the tender affection that existed between my father and myself:
My childhood days were motherless,
Lone and strange beyond compare;
But for my father's tender love,
Too hard for any child to bear.
Whene'er I took my good-night kiss
I always made this childish plea:
"Dear father, while you lie awake,
I beg you'll turn your face to me."
He never laughed, but, grave and calm,
Looked down with eyes of tenderest blue,
And answered thus: "My little lamb,
My face is always turned to you."
This was my type of heavenly love.
I drew the childish inference then:
"If thus my earthly father feels,
How must God love the sons of men!"
No after faith, no learned lore,
Could shake my trust so firm and free.
Though oft my heart was sick and sore,
I felt God's love was turned to me.
Though long years their race have run,
My firm, unwavering trust in thee
Still bids me pray as I have done,
"Oh! Father, turn Thy face to me."
MR. HENDERSON OWEN came to me, after hearing of my trouble, and in my sore distress he proved indeed a friend. Determine mined that my father should not be buried in the prison burying ground, Mr. Owen and others secured a place in Elmwood and I paid $15 for the opening. I had not seen the grave, having left all to Mr. Owen's discretion, as I was ill with fatigue and anxiety.
With my friends and children occupying two carriages, we started to the graveyard. On Second street, between Poplar and Jefferson, to our horror, we were stopped by a squad of Federal soldiers, and without a word they loosed the horses from the three conveyances as fast as they could do so. To Mr. Owen's earnest pleadings, all we could get in the way of information was: "An order has been issued by the commanding officer that every horse is to be seized, no matter where or how engaged; a raid from Forrest is expected."
Of course, the order had nothing to do with me or mine, especially 'as the soldiers said they had no discretion to exercise. The order was to "seize every horse." The Federals were always in expectation of a raid from the ubiquitous Forrest, and he held them in terror as long as he kept the saddle.
Mr. Owen went immediately to headquarters and cured a permit to have the body conveyed to Elmwood, on condition that he returned as soon as possible and saw the horses restored to the authorities. He went out and deposited the body in the receiving vault and rode back with the driver, we, in the meantime, returning to our homes on foot.
This was in December of 1863. Five days after I went out and had the body buried. We left Memphis and I did not again return for many years; then so many changes had been made in Elmwood that I never could find the grave. Roads had been changed, the vault removed, and every trace of the grave had vanished; and, strange to say, no record of the burial could be found on the books. I nor any one living knows where his body lies.
My brother, who served faithfully through the four fateful years, died, and my father's name died with him in the masculine line of our branch.
In the two years that followed my father's death I shared with the residents of Memphis the humiliation forced upon a conquered and helpless people. While in attendance on my father, owing to the fact that I had just crossed the lines, I was an object of suspicion and hate to a lieutenant on General Veatch's staff, who had been instrumental in my father's arrest; nor could I convince this man that I was not in some way acting in collusion with him in some scheme detrimental to the Union cause.
My young son fell in with, or was sought out by, a youth somewhat older than he. They became quite friendly, and he was often in our room. Utterly unsuspicious, the children talked freely to this boy. Innocent of any evil intentions, I was absorbed in my own grief. My husband, a Union man, had long since returned to New York, and owing to the heavy drain on my limited resources during my father's illness, I was in truly a wretched condition of doubt and uncertainty.
One day I was summoned before the Federal authorities. On entering the room of the lieutenant I found him seated by a table, on which lay two pistols and an outspread Union flag from which a number of stars had been cut. My heart sank, for I knew it,
and supposed it was in my trunk in my room. The following conversation took place:
"Madam," said the man, sternly, "do you recognize this flag?"
"Yes, sir," was my reply.
"Why has it been thus desecrated, by mutilation of the field?"
"I used it to dress dolls with, and I cut out eleven of the stars to put on the crowns worn by young girls, representing eleven States of the Confederacy."
He stamped his foot in angry vehemence. "For what purpose was this done? Do not use that word 'Confederacy' again!"
"To raise money in aid of the Rebel cause, sir."
"From what source did you obtain so handsome a flag?"
"It was given by the ladies of our town to a militia company of 'Light Guards,' and I was chosen to present it to them when a girl. When the war began the ladies presented them a Rebel banner. I put it on the old staff, using the cord and tassel, and when my work was done the young men gave me the Union flag. Most of them have been killed, and I cherish the old banner for that reason."
"Are these pistols yours? Where did you get them, and what are you doing with them?"
I could not help smiling, and it made him furious when I asked: "How in this world did you get them, anyway?"
"No remarks, madam; answer my question and stop using that word 'Rebels' with such emphasis."
"I brought them with me from Alabama. One we had at home and I put it in my trunk; the small one was given me by my nephew when he left home, and I have carried it in my pocket until since my father's burial. How did they come into your possession, lieutenant? I hate to think there are spies and thieves
in the house when I thought they were all my friends."
"That is not the question. What did you propose to do with them?"
"I own them, sir; I had no definite purpose concerning them. Will you let me have them?"
"No, madam, they are confiscated. You can go, and be careful how you express yourself hereafter about the Union cause and the Federal authorities."
I bowed myself out, and on the stairs I met the young dog who had been the spy and thief infesting my room under the guise of friendship for the lonely boy who trusted him.
I have had experience in Memphis, Mobile and New Orleans during the years of reconstruction and know all of its horrors and bitterness. At one time our Governor, half our Legislature and our school superintendant in New Orleans were all negroes. The revolt of the 14th of September, in which the citizens threw off the terrible yoke, ended much of our trouble, and a new era of prosperity began, and the whole South roused like a giant from its humiliation and almost despair.
These letters comprising
this little book were written on
a government claim while living in the Territory of Washington,
my only companion my young son of fourteen, and my nearest
neighbor a mile away. I gave them to a friend who published
them in a small magazine in New Orleans nearly fifteen years
ago. Friends here have accepted and published them in the
interest of Shiloh Memorial and-others of like character.
This little addenda
forestalls the need of Preface.
This little addenda forestalls the need of Preface.