Friday, May 29, 2015

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 7, 1861

The Jews are at work. Having no nationality, all wars are harvests for them. It has been so from the day of their dispersion. Now they are scouring the country in all directions, buying all the goods they can find in the distant cities, and even from the country stores. These they will keep, until the process of consumption shall raise a greedy demand for all descriptions of merchandise.

Col. Bledsoe has resigned, but says nothing now about getting me appointed in his place. That matter rests with the President, and I shall not be an applicant.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 78

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: October 27, 1863

Young Wade Hampton has been here for a few days, a guest of our nearest neighbor and cousin, Phil Stockton. Wade, without being the beauty or the athlete that his brother Preston is, is such a nice boy. We lent him horses, and ended by giving him a small party. What was lacking in company was made up for by the excellence of old Colonel Chesnut's ancient Madeira and champagne. If everything in the Confederacy were only as truly good as the old Colonel's wine-cellars! Then we had a salad and a jelly cake.

General Joe Johnston is so careful of his aides that Wade has never yet seen a battle. Says he has always happened to be sent afar off when the fighting came. He does not seem too grateful for this, and means to be transferred to his father's command. He says, “No man exposes himself more recklessly to danger than General Johnston, and no one strives harder to keep others out of it.” But the business of this war is to save the country, and a commander must risk his men's lives to do it. There is a French saying that you can't make an omelet unless you are willing to break eggs.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 249-50

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 22, 1862

Dr. T. called to-day, to say that the firing we heard on Friday was from our guns shelling the enemy, to drive them lower down the Chickahominy. Letters, by underground railroad, from our dear William, at Fort Delaware. He complains of nothing but his anxiety to be exchanged, and the impossibility of hearing from home. C, at the same time, got a letter from my brother. He writes in good spirits about our affairs. Jackson's career is glorious. The sick and wounded are doing well; hospitals are in good order, and the ladies indefatigable in nursing. Surgeon-like, he tells more of the wounded than any thing else. Rev. Mr. C. came up to-day, and gave us some amusing incidents of Stuart's raid. As some of our men rode by Mr. B's gate, several of them went in with Mr. B's sons for a few moments. A dead Yankee lay at the gate. Mrs. W. (Mrs. B's daughter) supposing he was only wounded, ran out with restoratives to his assistance. While standing there, two Yankees came up. Mrs. W. ordered them to surrender, which one did without the slightest hesitation, giving up his arms, which she immediately carried in to her younger brother, who was badly armed. The other escaped, but her prisoner went along with the crowd. Yankee wagons are again taking off corn from W. The men are very impertinent to C.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 146-7

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 23, 1864

This day ten years ago my blessed mother went from us to Heaven. I have thought much about her to-day, and have recalled the anguish of losing her. What she is spared in not being here now!

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 177

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 26, 1864

The currency is in a transition state, and it does create the strangest difficulties. Sister pays today $20 for having a home-made cotton dress made up. Unbleached cottons are $8 per yard. People are trading as far as possible, instead of paying money. As for example, the shoemaker tells me that he won't make a pair of shoes for me unless I send him a load of wood; so before the shoes can be had, the wood is sent. Flour is selling at $250 per barrel.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 177

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 29, 1864

G. and H. at Sally White's birthday party; H. said they had “white mush” on the table; on inquiry, I found it was ice-cream! Not having made any ice-cream since war-times, the child had never seen any, and so called it white mush. The only luxury I long for is real coffee. I have drunk wheat coffee for more than two years, till I am made a dyspeptic by it. Coffee has sold at $16 a pound. Tea is now $40 per pound.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 178

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Friday, July 29, 1864

It is quite sultry today. Six deaths occurred today in the three wards of our building. One of the sick men, William Gibson of the Thirty-second Ohio Cavalry, died last night. He had been very sick, but was getting better, and just before he lay down for the night, told me that he felt better than for several days; but a few hours later he was dead, dying very suddenly. He left a small family. Life is indeed very uncertain. We should be prepared to meet death any moment, for we know not when the brittle thread of life will be broken, and we have to go to meet our Lord, prepared or unprepared.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Thursday, May 28, 2015

In The Review Queue: Lincoln’s Greatest Case


by Brian McGinty

The untold story of how one sensational trial propelled a self-taught lawyer and a future president into the national spotlight.

In the early hours of May 6, 1856, the steamboat Effie Afton barreled into a pillar of the Rock Island Bridge—the first railroad bridge ever to span the Mississippi River. Soon after, the newly constructed vessel, crowded with passengers and livestock, erupted into flames and sank in the river below, taking much of the bridge with it.

As lawyer and Lincoln scholar Brian McGinty dramatically reveals in Lincoln's Greatest Case, no one was killed, but the question of who was at fault cried out for an answer. Backed by powerful steamboat interests in St. Louis, the owners of the Effie Afton quickly pressed suit, hoping that a victory would not only prevent the construction of any future bridges from crossing the Mississippi but also thwart the burgeoning spread of railroads from Chicago. The fate of the long-dreamed-of transcontinental railroad lurked ominously in the background, for if rails could not cross the Mississippi by bridge, how could they span the continent all the way to the Pacific?
The official title of the case was Hurd et al. v. The Railroad Bridge Company, but it could have been St. Louis v. Chicago, for the transportation future of the whole nation was at stake. Indeed, was it to be dominated by steamboats or by railroads? Conducted at almost the same time as the notorious Dred Scott case, this new trial riveted the nation’s attention. Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln, already well known as one of the best trial lawyers in Illinois, was summoned to Chicago to join a handful of crack legal practitioners in the defense of the bridge. While there, he succesfully helped unite the disparate regions of the country with a truly transcontinental rail system and, in the process, added to the stellar reputation that vaulted him into the White House less than four years later.

Re-creating the Effie Afton case from its unlikely inception to its controversial finale, McGinty brilliantly animates this legal cauldron of the late 1850s, which turned out to be the most consequential trial in Lincoln's nearly quarter century as a lawyer. Along the way, the tall prairie lawyer's consummate legal skills and instincts are also brought to vivid life, as is the history of steamboat traffic on the Mississippi, the progress of railroads west of the Appalachians, and the epochal clashes of railroads and steamboats at the river’s edge.

Lincoln's Greatest Case is legal history on a grand scale and an essential first act to a pivotal Lincoln drama we did not know was there.


About the Author

Brian McGinty is an attorney and writer who specializes in American history and law. His previous books include Lincoln and the Court, The Body of John Merryman: Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus, and John Brown’s Trial. He lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

ISBN 978-0871407849, Liveright Publishing, © 2015, Hardcover, 272 pages, 18 Illustrations, End Notes, Bibliography & Index. $26.95.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw, October 8, 1863

Fairfax, Oct. 8, 1863.

I believe with Lord Bacon, who was a very wise old fellow, that whatever be your income, it is only just to yourself, your wife, and your fellow-men, to lay aside a large fraction for wet days, and a large fraction for charity: I have never acted up to my theory, but I mean to begin now, — I don't mean to worry about money, and I don't mean to have you worry; ergo, you must expect to see me keep an account-book, and occasionally pull it out and warn you how much water we are drawing, and how much there is under our keel. Mother ends by saying that she has put a thousand dollars in the bank to be something to fall back upon during the first year, but I think we ought to get along without needing that, — my pay is $2400 a year, not including horses, one servant, and fuel and quarters “commuted” when on duty in a city, — of course these latter are supplied in the field. I know what officers of my regiment have done easily on a captain's pay, and I know what I used to do when I kept house in Burlington,— and I know we can live suitably and worthily on that, and be very happy and see friends as we want to see them, only we must start right.

Did I tell you, by the way, that Stoneman's Court of Inquiry recommended me to be more careful for the future, mentioning two points where I seemed careless? I was not careless, as Will or any of my officers will tell you, — I was not at all to blame. I was particularly careful on one of the points where I am blamed, — but I am perfectly willing to shoulder the blame, — prefer to, in fact, — for I think a commanding officer is to blame for everything that goes wrong under him.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 310-1

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Thursday, December 12, 1861

A bright, pretty, cold winter morning; our eighth fine day!! Ground froze in the morning; dry and warm all day after sun got one-third up. In [the] morning walked with Lieutenant-Colonel Eckley around southern part of town, in the woods, visiting pickets and noticing the lay of the land. He agrees with me that the chief danger of an attack is a hasty assault to burn the town; that for this purpose a stockade or log entrenchment should be thrown up at the lower end of town. Drilled P. M. — No letters or news.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 158

Brigadier-General John Sedgwick to his Sister, March 9, 1862

Charleston, Virginia, March 9, 1862.
My dear sister:

This town, you may remember, is noted for being the place where old John Brown was confined, tried, and executed. The people are very bitter. All the men are gone either into the rebel service or fled when we entered the town. I am quartered in a hotel capable of accommodating perhaps sixty people. The owner is here, but I have not seen him. There is no furniture, and, I believe, the place has been closed since the 1st of January.

The 3d Connecticut is only about eight miles off. I shall be with them, probably, in a few days. I think your letters will reach me if directed to General Banks's column, leaving space to be redirected. With much love, I am,

Your affectionate brother,
J. s.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 39

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 6, 1861

We are not increasing our forces as rapidly as might be desired, for the want of arms. We had some 150,000 stand of small arms, at the beginning of the war, taken from the arsenals; and the States owned probably 100,000 more. Half of these were flint-locks, which are being altered. None have been imported yet. Occasionally a letter reaches the department from Nashville, offering improved arms at a high price, for gold. These are Yankees. I am instructed by the Secretary to say they will be paid for in gold on delivery to an agent in Nashville. The number likely to be obtained in this manner, however, must be small; for the Yankee Government is exercising much vigilance. Is not this a fair specimen of Yankee cupidity and character? The New England manufacturers are furnishing us, with whom they are at war, with arms to fight with, provided we agree to pay them a higher price than is offered by their own Government! The philosophical conclusion is, that this war will end when it ceases to be a pecuniary speculation.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 78

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: October 24, 1863

James Chesnut is at home on his way back to Richmond; had been sent by the President to make the rounds of the Western armies; says Polk is a splendid old fellow. They accuse him of having been asleep in his tent at seven o'clock when he was ordered to attack at daylight, but he has too good a conscience to sleep so soundly.

The battle did not begin until eleven at Chickamauga1 when Bragg had ordered the advance at daylight. Bragg and his generals do not agree. I think a general worthless whose subalterns quarrel with him. Something is wrong about the man. Good generals are adored by their soldiers. See Napoleon, Caesar, Stonewall, Lee.

Old Sam (Hood) received his orders to hold a certain bridge against the enemy, and he had already driven the enemy several miles beyond it, when the slow generals were still asleep. Hood has won a victory, though he has only one leg to stand on.

Mr. Chesnut was with the President when he reviewed our army under the enemy's guns before Chattanooga. He told Mr. Davis that every honest man he saw out West thought well of Joe Johnston. He knows that the President detests Joe Johnston for all the trouble he has given him, and General Joe returns the compliment with compound interest. His hatred of Jeff Davis amounts to a religion. With him it colors all things.

Joe Johnston advancing, or retreating, I may say with more truth, is magnetic. He does draw the good-will of those by whom he is surrounded. Being such a good hater, it is a pity he had not elected to hate somebody else than the President of our country. He hates not wisely but too well. Our friend Breckinridge2 received Mr. Chesnut with open arms. There is nothing narrow, nothing self-seeking, about Breckinridge. He has not mounted a pair of green spectacles made of prejudices so that he sees no good except in his own red-hot partizans.
_______________

1 The battle of Chickamauga was fought on the river of the same name, near Chattanooga, September 19 and 20,1863. The Confederates were commanded by Bragg and the Federals by Rosecrans. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the war; the loss on each side, including killed, wounded, and prisoners, was over 15,000.

2 John C. Breckinridge had been Vice-President of the United States under Buchanan and was the candidate of the Southern Democrats for President in 1860. He joined the Confederate Army in 1861.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 248-9

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 21, 1862

Yesterday we heard firing all day — heavy guns in the morning, and musketry during the day, and heavy guns again in the evening. Oh, that we could know the result! This morning is as calm and beautiful as though all was peace on the earth. O God, with whom all things are possible, dispel the dark clouds that surround us, and permit us once more to return to our homes, and collect the scattered members of our flock around our family altar in peace and safety! Not a word from my husband or sons.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 146

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 10, 1864

Have been suffering more than usual with my eyes, so as not to be able to use them at all.  . . . Rev. W. H. Ruffner here after tea; felt very much depressed by the tenor of his and Mr. P.'s conversation: they seem to think that the Valley must be relinquished this summer.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 177

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 19, 1864

Everybody is in an excitement about the currency bill, which we heard of last night. Confederate money is refused this morning. On the 1st of April it is to sink to two thirds its present value; so everybody is trying to get it off their hands. I have ceased noting the prices of things, they are so incredible; as, for example, $30 per gallon for sorghum molasses; calico, $12 per yard; tallow candles, $6 per pound; unbleached cotton, $5 per yard. It is astonishing how coolly we talk about the probability next summer of having to relinquish the Valley, and how our plans take in that probability. Oh! but we are growing weary of this horrid war! How it oppresses us!

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 177

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Thursday, July 28, 1864

No news. All is quiet. I am still gaining strength slowly. We get very poor board here for a sick man to gain strength on, but we must make the best of it at present. The room we occupy, called a ward, is about one hundred feet long north and south, and fifty feet wide. There is a row of cots on each side. My cot is on the west side, and in the afternoons it is so hot that we can hardly stand it. There are windows in front and along the west side.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Major Henry Lee Higginson, October 1, 1863

Centreville, Oct. 1, '63.

My Dear Boy, — I was very glad to receive your note; not the less that it was in a new handwriting, —  in a better handwriting, I think. . . .

You must not be impatient to return, and, above all, must not, when you begin to feel fairly well, be bullied by any Boston hypersensitiveness into returning too soon because you are having too good a time at home. If you are away six months, you will be back before the war is over, my sanguine prophet, — yes, three years before. Your regiment is now guarding a portion of the railroad near Catlett's Station, — about two hundred and twenty men for duty and all the officers they require. If “all New England” gets too many for you, can you not be detailed as Superintendent of Regimental Recruiting Service?  . . . I consider that a very important duty.

“How could I be married without ‘daily bread’?” A pertinent question, Henry. There are still ravens, but it does not appear that Elijah ever taxed the powers of his by marrying. A year ago, I should have told you condescendingly that each party having had its own ravens in the single state, we might reckon confidently upon their pulling together in the married state: now, I sometimes think that confidence too hasty.  . . . Though I mean to make this change my habits, I do not mean to allow it to change my old trustfulness. I have nothing, as you know; I am going to marry upon nothing; I am going to make my wife as happy upon nothing as if I could give her a fortune — in that I still have faith; in that one respect this war is perhaps a personal Godsend. “Daily bread” sinks into insignificance by the side of the other more important things which the war has made uncertain, and I know now that it would be unwise to allow a possible want of “daily bread” in the future to prevent the certainty of even a month's happiness in the present. In peace times this would not be so clear. ... I remember dining with last winter, and feeling that I would rather commence in a garret than in a house too big and too thoroughly furnished.  . . . Fresh air, light and heat are indispensable; these the Government furnishes liberally. One dollar per diem for food and one for clothing ought to provide for each party's wants, and I am glad that our pay allows for this twice over. “After the war,” if that time ever comes, I do not think that there will be more men than there are places for them to fill.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 308-10

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Wednesday, December 11, 1861

A cold morning, threatening rain; rained a little last night. Turned off bright, clear, and cold in the afternoon. Had a headache in morning, drank a little bad wine last night; all right after dinner. Living so cozily in my new quarters. Oh, if Lucy was here, wouldn't it be fine! How she would enjoy it! Darling! I think of her constantly these days. A drill; formed squad in four ranks; marched, closed in mass.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 157-8

Brigadier-General John Sedgwick to his Sister, February 18, 1862

Washington, February 18, 1862.
My dear sister:

I have not had time to write you a word since I received orders to go to Poolesville. I have sent for a small steam-tug used on the canal; as soon as it arrives I shall be off. I am very proud to think that General McClellan should think me worthy of such a command. But I enter upon the duties with a great deal of diffidence. It is a large command (thirteen thousand men), occupying an important position, and, I fear, above my capacity; however, I shall do my best. Captain Sedgwick goes with me as one of my aides. I will write as soon as I reach there. Do not write again till you hear from me. I believe there is a daily mail from this city to Poolesville, my station. I never dreamed of having a command one fourth larger than General Scott conquered Mexico with. I wish they were as good troops, and I should feel safe.

The news from Kentucky and Missouri is glorious. Bull Run is revenged.

Yours in haste,
J. S.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 38

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 2, 1861

I voluntarily hunted up Capt. Lee's report, and prepared an article for the press based on its statements.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 77

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 3, 1861

My article on the defenses of North Carolina seems to have silenced the censures of the cavilers.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 77

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 4, 1861

J. R. Anderson, proprietor of the iron-works here, has been appointed brigadier-general by the President. He, too, was a West Pointer; but does not look like a military genius. He is assigned to duty on the coast of North Carolina.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 77

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 5, 1861

Our Congress has authorized the raising and organizing of four hundred regiments. The Yankee Congress, 500,000 men. The enemy will get their's first; and it is said that between 600,000 and 700,000, for three years or the war, have already been accepted by the U. S. Government. Their papers boast that nearly a million volunteers were tendered. This means mischief. How many will rush forward a year hence to volunteer their services on the plains of the South? Full many ensanguined plains will greet the horrific vision before this time next year; and many a venal wretch coming to possess our land, will occupy till the day of final doom a tract of six feet by two in some desolate and unfrequented swamp. The toad will croak his requiem, and the viper will coil beneath the thistle growing over his head.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 77-8

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: September 10, 1863

CAMDEN, S. C. — It is a comfort to turn from small political jealousies to our grand battles — to Lee and Kirby Smith after Council and Convention squabbles. Lee has proved to be all that my husband prophesied of him when he was so unpopular and when Joe Johnston was the great god of war. The very sound of the word convention or council is wearisome. Not that I am quite ready for Richmond yet. We must look after home and plantation affairs, which we have sadly neglected. Heaven help my husband through the deep waters

The wedding of Miss Aiken, daughter of Governor Aiken, the largest slave-owner in South Carolina; Julia Rutledge, one of the bridesmaids; the place Flat Rock. We could not for a while imagine what Julia would do for a dress. My sister Kate remembered some muslin she had in the house for curtains, bought before the war, and laid aside as not needed now. The stuff was white and thin, a little coarse, but then we covered it with no end of beautiful lace. It made a charming dress, and how altogether lovely Julia looked in it! The night of the wedding it stormed as if the world were coming to an end — wind, rain, thunder, and lightning in an unlimited supply around the mountain cottage.

The bride had a duchesse dressing-table, muslin and lace; not one of the shifts of honest, war-driven poverty, but a millionaire's attempt at appearing economical, in the idea that that style was in better taste as placing the family more on the same plane with their less comfortable compatriots. A candle was left too near this light drapery and it took fire. Outside was lightning enough to fire the world; inside, the bridal chamber was ablaze, and there was wind enough to blow the house down the mountainside.

The English maid behaved heroically, and, with the aid of Mrs. Aiken's and Mrs. Mat Singleton's servants, put the fire out without disturbing the marriage ceremony, then being performed below. Everything in the bridal chamber was burned up except the bed, and that was a mass of cinders, soot, and flakes of charred and blackened wood.

At Kingsville I caught a glimpse of our army. Longstreet's corps was going West. God bless the gallant fellows! Not one man was intoxicated; not one rude word did I hear. It was a strange sight — one part of it. There were miles, apparently, of platform cars, soldiers rolled in their blankets, lying in rows, heads all covered, fast asleep. In their gray blankets, packed in regular order, they looked like swathed mummies. One man near where I sat was writing on his knee. He used his cap for a desk and he was seated on a rail. I watched him, wondering to whom that letter was to go — home, no doubt. Sore hearts for him there.

A feeling of awful depression laid hold of me. All these fine fellows were going to kill or be killed. Why? And a phrase got to beating about my head like an old song, “The Unreturning Brave.” When a knot of boyish, laughing, young creatures passed me, a queer thrill of sympathy shook me. Ah, I know how your home-folks feel, poor children! Once, last winter, persons came to us in Camden with such strange stories of Captain ——, Morgan's man; stories of his father, too; turf tales and murder, or, at least, how he killed people. He had been a tremendous favorite with my husband, who brought him in once, leading him by the hand. Afterward he said to me, “With these girls in the house we must be more cautious.” I agreed to be coldly polite to ——. “After all,” I said, “I barely know him.”

When he called afterward in Richmond I was very glad to see him, utterly forgetting that he was under a ban. We had a long, confidential talk. He told me of his wife and children; of his army career, and told Morgan stories. He grew more and more cordial and so did I. He thanked me for the kind reception given him in that house; told me I was a true friend of his, and related to me a scrape he was in which, if divulged, would ruin him, although he was innocent; but time would clear all things. He begged me not to repeat anything he had told me of his affairs, not even to Colonel Chesnut; which I promised promptly, and then he went away. I sat poking the fire thinking what a curiously interesting creature he was, this famous Captain, when the folding-doors slowly opened and Colonel Chesnut appeared. He had come home two hours ago from the War Office with a headache, and had been lying on the sofa behind that folding-door listening for mortal hours.

“So, this is your style of being ‘coldly polite,’” he said. Fancy my feelings. “Indeed, I had forgotten all about what they had said of him. The lies they told of him never once crossed my mind. He is a great deal cleverer, and, I dare say, just as good as those who malign him.”

Mattie Reedy (I knew her as a handsome girl in Washington several years ago) got tired of hearing Federals abusing John Morgan. One day they were worse than ever in their abuse and she grew restive. By way of putting a mark against the name of so rude a girl, the Yankee officer said, “What is your name?” “Write ‘Mattie Reedy’ now, but by the grace of God one day I hope to call myself the wife of John Morgan.” She did not know Morgan, but Morgan eventually heard the story; a good joke it was said to be. But he made it a point to find her out; and, as she was as pretty as she was patriotic, by the grace of God, she is now Mrs. Morgan! These timid Southern women under the guns can be brave enough.

Aunt Charlotte has told a story of my dear mother. They were up at Shelby, Ala., a white man's country, where negroes are not wanted. The ladies had with them several negroes belonging to my uncle at whose house they were staying in the owner's absence. One negro man who had married and dwelt in a cabin was for some cause particularly obnoxious to the neighborhood. My aunt and my mother, old-fashioned ladies, shrinking from everything outside their own door, knew nothing of all this. They occupied rooms on opposite sides of an open passage-way. Underneath, the house was open and unfinished. Suddenly, one night, my aunt heard a terrible noise — apparently as of a man running for his life, pursued by men and dogs, shouting, hallooing, barking. She had only time to lock herself in. Utterly cut off from her sister, she sat down, dumb with terror, when there began loud knocking at the door, with men swearing, dogs tearing round, sniffing, racing in and out of the passage and barking underneath the house like mad. Aunt Charlotte was sure she heard the panting of a negro as he ran into the house a few minutes before. What could have become of him? Where could he have hidden? The men shook the doors and windows, loudly threatening vengeance. My aunt pitied her feeble sister, cut off in the room across the passage. This fright might kill her!

The cursing and shouting continued unabated. A man's voice, in harshest accents, made itself heard above all: “Leave my house, you rascals!” said the voice. “If you are not gone in two seconds, I'll shoot!” There was a dead silence except for the noise of the dogs. Quickly the men slipped away. Once out of gunshot, they began to call their dogs. After it was all over my aunt crept across the passage. “Sister, what man was it scared them away?” My mother laughed aloud in her triumph, “I am the man,” she said.

“But where is John?” Out crept John from a corner of the room, where my mother had thrown some rubbish over him. “Lawd bless you, Miss Mary opened de do' for me and dey was right behind runnin' me —“ Aunt says mother was awfully proud of her prowess. And she showed some moral courage, too!

At the President's in Richmond once, General Lee was there, and Constance and Hetty Cary came in; also Miss Sanders and others. Constance Cary1 was telling some war anecdotes, among them one of an attempt to get up a supper the night before at some high and mighty F. F. V.'s house, and of how several gentlefolks went into the kitchen to prepare something to eat by the light of one forlorn candle. One of the men in the party, not being of a useful temperament, turned up a tub and sat down upon it. Custis Lee, wishing also to rest, found nothing upon which to sit but a gridiron.

One remembrance I kept of the evening at the President's: General Lee bowing over the beautiful Miss Cary's hands in the passage outside. Miss ––– rose to have her part in the picture, and asked Mr. Davis to walk with her into the adjoining drawing-room. He seemed surprised, but rose stiffly, and, with a scowling brow, was led off. As they passed where Mrs. Davis sat, Miss –––, with all sail set, looked back and said: “Don't be jealous, Mrs. Davis; I have an important communication to make to the President.” Mrs. Davis's amusement resulted in a significant “Now! Did you ever?'”

During Stoneman's raid, on a Sunday I was in Mrs. Randolph's pew. The battle of Chancellorsville was also raging. The rattling of ammunition wagons, the tramp of soldiers, the everlasting slamming of those iron gates of the Capitol Square just opposite the church, made it hard to attend to the service.

Then began a scene calculated to make the stoutest heart quail. The sexton would walk quietly up the aisle to deliver messages to worshipers whose relatives had been brought in wounded, dying, or dead. Pale-faced people would then follow him out. Finally, the Rev. Mr. Minnegerode bent across the chancel-rail to the sexton for a few minutes, whispered with the sexton, and then disappeared. The assistant clergyman resumed the communion which Mr. Minnegerode had been administering. At the church door stood Mrs. Minnegerode, as tragically wretched and as wild-looking as ever Mrs. Siddons was. She managed to say to her husband, “Your son is at the station, dead!” When these agonized parents reached the station, however, it proved to be some one else's son who was dead — but a son all the same. Pale and wan came Mr. Minnegerode back to his place within the altar rails. After the sacred communion was over, some one asked him what it all meant, and he said: “Oh, it was not my son who was killed, but it came so near it aches me yet!”

At home I found L. Q. Washington, who stayed to dinner. I saw that he and my husband were intently preoccupied by some event which they did not see fit to communicate to me. Immediately after dinner my husband lent Mr. Washington one of his horses and they rode off together. I betook myself to my kind neighbors, the Pattons, for information. There I found Colonel Patton had gone, too. Mrs. Patton, however, knew all about the trouble. She said there was a raiding party within forty miles of us and no troops were in Richmond! They asked me to stay to tea — those kind ladies — and in some way we might learn what was going on. After tea we went out to the Capitol Square, Lawrence and three men-servants going along to protect us. They seemed to be mustering in citizens by the thousands. Company after company was being formed; then battalions, and then regiments. It was a wonderful sight to us, peering through the iron railing, watching them fall into ranks.

Then we went to the President's, finding the family at supper. We sat on the white marble steps, and General Elzey told me exactly how things stood and of our immediate danger. Pickets were coming in. Men were spurring to and from the door as fast as they could ride, bringing and carrying messages and orders. Calmly General Elzey discoursed upon our present weakness and our chances for aid. After a while Mrs. Davis came out and embraced me silently.

“It is dreadful,” I said. “The enemy is within forty miles of us — only forty!” “Who told you that tale?” said she, “They are within three miles of Richmond!” I went down on my knees like a stone. “You had better be quiet,” she said, “The President is ill. Women and children must not add to the trouble.” She asked me to stay all night, which I was thankful to do.

We sat up. Officers were coming and going; and we gave them what refreshment we could from a side table, kept constantly replenished. Finally, in the excitement, the constant state of activity and change of persons, we forgot the danger. Officers told us jolly stories and seemed in fine spirits, so we gradually took heart. There was not a moment's rest for any one. Mrs. Davis said something more amusing than ever: “We look like frightened women and children, don't we?”

Early next morning the President came down. He was still feeble and pale from illness. Custis Lee and my husband loaded their pistols, and the President drove off in Dr. Garnett's carriage, my husband and Custis Lee on horseback alongside him. By eight o'clock the troops from Petersburg came in, and the danger was over. The authorities will never strip Richmond of troops again. We had a narrow squeeze for it, but we escaped. It was a terrible night, although we made the best of it.

I was walking on Franklin Street when I met my husband. “Come with me to the War Office for a few minutes,” said he, “and then I will go home with you.” What could I do but go? He took me up a dark stairway, and then down a long, dark corridor, and he left me sitting in a window, saying he “would not be gone a second”; he was obliged to go into the Secretary of War's room. There I sat mortal hours. Men came to light the gas. From the first I put down my veil so that nobody might know me. Numbers of persons passed that I knew, but I scarcely felt respectable seated up there in that odd way, so I said not a word but looked out of the window. Judge Campbell slowly walked up and down with his hands behind his back — the saddest face I ever saw. He had jumped down in his patriotism from Judge of the Supreme Court, U. S. A., to be under-secretary of something or other — I do not know what — C. S. A. No wonder he was out of spirits that night!

Finally Judge Ould came; him I called, and he joined me at once, in no little amazement to find me there, and stayed with me until James Chesnut appeared. In point of fact, I sent him to look up that stray member of my family.

When my husband came he said: “Oh, Mr. Seddon and I got into an argument, and time slipped away! The truth is, I utterly forgot you were here.” When we were once more out in the street, he began: “Now, don't scold me, for there is bad news. Pemberton has been fighting the Yankees by brigades, and he has been beaten every time; and now Vicksburg must go!” I suppose that was his side of the argument with Seddon.

Once again I visited the War Office. I went with Mrs. Ould to see her husband at his office. We wanted to arrange a party on the river on the flag-of-truce boat, and to visit those beautiful places, Claremont and Brandon. My husband got into one of his “too careful” fits; said there was risk in it; and so he upset all our plans. Then I was to go up to John Rutherford's by the canal-boat. That, too, he vetoed “too risky,” as if anybody was going to trouble us!
_______________

1 Miss Constance Cary afterward married Burton Harrison and settled in New York where she became prominent socially and achieved reputation as a novelist.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 240-8

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 20, 1862

Our guard withdrew to-day, and we walked to W., a privilege we had not enjoyed for many days. We received a Richmond Dispatch by underground railroad. General Stuart's raid was like a story in the “Arabian Nights' Entertainments.” He passed down from Hanover Court-House, behind the whole of McClellan's army, in many places so near as to hear the pickets, capturing and burning every thing which they could not take with them. They then crossed the Lower Chickahominy, and got back to camp before the enemy had recovered from their surprise; losing but one man, Captain Latane, whom we had the honour of burying. The man who shot him, a Federal officer, was immediately killed by a private in his (Captain L's) company. The raiders burned two transports at the White House, destroyed any number of wagons, mules, stores, etc., and carried back 200 prisoners. The Yankees have been making vast preparations for surrounding them as they returned; but they were too wise to be caught in that trap. Their masked batteries will be of no avail this time. At New Kent Court-House our men refreshed themselves with all manner of good things, at the expense of the enemy, providing themselves with clothing, boots, etc., and taking the sleek proprietor of the establishment prisoner.

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 145-6

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: January 2, 1864

The coldest day of the season; river frozen over; can hardly keep warm at all. Poor people, soldiers' wives, &c., coming every day for flour and wood; Mr. P. supplies very many of them.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: January 4, 1864

Snowing and sleeting.  . . . Busy cutting out clothes for Mr. P.'s new farm servants.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: January 23, 1864

Wrote a letter which I mean to try to get through the lines to Julia. Weather mild and fine.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: January 27, 1864

Had the Ruffners, Cousin R. Taylor's family, Dr. Madison, Mr. Norton, and two or three others to tea this evening; the first company invited to tea, I believe, since the war began. Had an agreeable evening. Weather beautiful and mild as May.  . . . Had a pleasant ride on horseback with Mr. P. this evening.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: February 3, 1864

Have been making some notes for Dr. Dabney lately, relative to Jackson; find my eyes a great barrier in the way of my doing it properly.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Wednesday, July 27, 1864

It is quite warm. Nothing of importance. One month ago today I was taken sick with the intermittent fever, at Kenesaw mountain.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Major Henry Lee Higginson, September 17, 1863

Centreville, Va., Sept. 28, 1863.

My Dear Henry, — I have heard from E. all sorts of pleasant tidings of you and ——. I did not, of course, expect to hear from you again, though I should like to hear from some one just how you are in body, and just when you expect to be in saddle again. I saw —— and ——, a few days ago, and heard rather bad accounts of you — something about inflammation. . . .

Did I tell you that I hoped to get a leave of absence sometime about November 1st, and meant therein to come home, — and that's not all, but meant also to be married? I don't believe I did tell you, for the plan, though inchoate, was not in shape to bear telling. Now I think it will; of course, I do not expect to get my leave, but I think I shall ask for it; Halleck is such a splendid old veteran that I expect he will refuse. I shall ask for twenty days, and shall try to be married in the first five (one of the first five, Henry; it only takes one day) and I want you to be married on one of the other five. E. and I would so much like to be at your wedding, old fellow.  . . . Of course, in these times, weddings are what they should be, quiet, simple, and sacred.  . . . My plan for the winter is headquarters at Fairfax Court House, with E. for Commander-in-Chief. She is not such a veteran as Halleck, but I think she can manage men better, in the field or anywhere else.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 307-8

Diary of Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes: Tuesday, December 10, 1861

A little warm rain last night: cloudy and threatening rain in morning; turned off bright and clear. Had a good drill after evening parade. Moved into a good room in a pretty cottage house owned by J. H. Phillips, a drygoods dealer, who has left with the Rebels. His store was burned by McCook's men because he was a persecutor of Union men. Captain Sperry and Lieutenant Kennedy are my co-tenants. We shall take good care of the premises and try to leave them in as good condition as we find them.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 157

Brigadier-General John Sedgwick to his Sister, January 26, 1862

Washington, D. C., January 26, 1862.
My dear sister:

I am still in Washington, engaged on the court, but hope to conclude in the course of a few days.

Your letter of the 15th was received yesterday, having been detained in camp, waiting for me. I cannot give you much encouragement about coming home. I did not think I would have any difficulty in getting a few days when I was ready to go. The General is very pleasant, and I am sure would grant me a few days if he could without granting to hundreds of others that are constantly beseeching him. I have excellent health, weigh over two hundred — how much, I am ashamed to say. Everything forebodes an early move, but the roads will prevent any for a few days. Nothing has been heard of Burnside's expedition yet. It is supposed he has gone into Pamlico Sound, will capture Roanoke Island, take Newbern and then Goldsborough, and then down the coast to Beaufort. If he succeeds in all this, it will be a happy thing.

If this war is ever terminated I intend now to leave the service and live a quiet and, I hope, a happy life at my old home.

Ever your affectionate brother,
J. S.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 36-7

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: September 1, 1861

The press and congressional critics are opening their batteries on the Secretary of War, for incompetency. He is not to blame. A month ago, Capt. Lee, son of the general, and a good engineer, was sent to the coast of North Carolina to inspect the defenses. His report was well executed; and the recommendations therein attended to with all possible expedition. It is now asserted that the garrison was deficient in ammunition. This was not the case. The position was simply not tenable under the fire of the U. S. ships of war.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 77

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: September 7, 1863

Major Edward Johnston did not get into the Confederacy until after the first battle of Manassas. For some cause, before he could evade that potentate, Seward rang his little bell and sent him to a prison in the harbor of New York. I forget whether he was exchanged or escaped of his own motion. The next thing I heard of my antebellum friend he had defeated Milroy in Western Virginia. There were so many Johnstons that for this victory they named him Alleghany Johnston.

He had an odd habit of falling into a state of incessant winking as soon as he became the least startled or agitated. In such times he seemed persistently to be winking one eye at you. He meant nothing by it, and in point of fact did not know himself that he was doing it. In Mexico he had been wounded in the eye, and the nerve vibrates independently of his will. During the winter of 1862 and 1863 he was on crutches. After a while he hobbled down Franklin Street with us, we proud to accommodate our pace to that of the wounded general. His ankle continued stiff; so when he sat down another chair had to be put before him. On this he stretched out his stiff leg, straight as a ramrod. At that time he was our only wounded knight, and the girls waited on him and made life pleasant for him.

One night I listened to two love-tales at once, in a distracted state of mind between the two. William Porcher Miles, in a perfectly modulated voice, in cadenced accents and low tones, was narrating the happy end of his affair. He had been engaged to sweet little Bettie Bierne, and I gave him my congratulations with all my heart. It was a capital match, suitable in every way, good for her, and good for him. I was deeply interested in Mr. Miles's story, but there was din and discord on the other hand; old Edward, our pet general, sat diagonally across the room with one leg straight out like a poker, wrapped in red carpet leggings, as red as a turkey-cock in the face. His head is strangely shaped, like a cone or an old-fashioned beehive; or, as Buck said, there are three tiers of it; it is like a pope's tiara.

There he sat, with a loud voice and a thousand winks, making love to Mary P. I make no excuse for listening. It was impossible not to hear him. I tried not to lose a word of Mr. Miles's idyl as the despair of the veteran was thundered into my other ear. I lent an ear to each conversationalist. Mary can not altogether control her voice, and her shrill screams of negation, “No, no, never,” etc., utterly failed to suppress her wounded lover's obstreperous asseverations of his undying affection for her.

Buck said afterward: “We heard every word of it on our side of the room, even when Mamie shrieked to him that he was talking too loud. Now, Mamie,” said we afterward, “do you think it was kind to tell him he was forty if he was a day?”

Strange to say, the pet general, Edward, rehabilitated his love in a day; at least two days after he was heard to say that he was “paying attentions now to his cousin, John Preston's second daughter; her name, Sally, but they called her Buck—Sally Buchanan Campbell Preston, a lovely girl.” And with her he now drove, rode, and hobbled on his crutches, sent her his photograph, and in due time cannonaded her, from the same spot where he had courted Mary, with proposals to marry him.

Buck was never so decided in her “Nos” as Mary. (“Not so loud, at least” — thus in amendment, says Buck, who always reads what I have written, and makes comments of assent or dissent.) So again he began to thunder in a woman's ears his tender passion. As they rode down Franklin Street, Buck says she knows the people on the sidewalk heard snatches of the conversation, though she rode as rapidly as she could, and she begged him not to talk so loud. Finally, they dashed up to our door as if they had been running a race. Unfortunate in love, but fortunate in war, our general is now winning new laurels with Ewell in the Valley or with the Army of the Potomac.

I think I have told how Miles, still “so gently o'er me leaning,” told of his successful love while General Edward Johnston roared unto anguish and disappointment over his failures. Mr. Miles spoke of sweet little Bettie Bierne as if she had been a French girl, just from a convent, kept far from the haunts of men wholly for him. One would think to hear him that Bettie had never cast those innocent blue eyes of hers on a man until he came along.

Now, since I first knew Miss Bierne in 1857, when Pat Calhoun was to the fore, she has been followed by a tale of men as long as a Highland chief's. Every summer at the Springs, their father appeared in the ballroom a little before twelve and chased the three beautiful Biernes home before him in spite of all entreaties, and he was said to frown away their too numerous admirers at all hours of the day.

This new engagement was confided to me as a profound secret. Of course, I did not mention it, even to my own household. Next day little Alston, Morgan's adjutant, and George Deas called. As Colonel Deas removed his gloves, he said: “Oh! the Miles and Bierne sensation — have you heard of it?” “No, what is the row about?” “They are engaged to be married; that's all.” “Who told you?” “Miles himself, as we walked down Franklin Street, this afternoon.” “And did he not beg you not to mention it, as Bettie did not wish it spoken of?” “God bless my soul, so he did. And I forgot that part entirely.”

Colonel Alston begged the stout Carolinian not to take his inadvertent breach of faith too much to heart. Miss Bettie's engagement had caused him a dreadful night. A young man, who was his intimate friend, came to his room in the depths of despair and handed him a letter from Miss Bierne, which was the cause of all his woe. Not knowing that she was already betrothed to Miles, he had proposed to her in an eloquent letter. In her reply, she positively stated that she was engaged to Mr. Miles, and instead of thanking her for putting him at once out of his misery, he considered the reason she gave as trebly aggravating the agony of the love-letter and the refusal. “Too late!” he yelled, “by Jingo!” So much for a secret.

Miss Bierne and I became fast friends. Our friendship was based on a mutual admiration for the honorable member from South Carolina. Colonel and Mrs. Myers and Colonel and Mrs. Chesnut were the only friends of Mr. Miles who were invited to the wedding. At the church door the sexton demanded our credentials. No one but those whose names he held in his hand were allowed to enter. Not twenty people were present — a mere handful grouped about the altar in that large church.

We were among the first to arrive. Then came a faint flutter and Mrs. Parkman (the bride's sister, swathed in weeds for her young husband, who had been killed within a year of her marriage) came rapidly up the aisle alone. She dropped upon her knees in the front pew, and there remained, motionless, during the whole ceremony, a mass of black crape, and a dead weight on my heart. She has had experience of war. A cannonade around Richmond interrupted her marriage service — a sinister omen — and in a year thereafter her bridegroom was stiff and stark — dead upon the field of battle.

While the wedding-march turned our thoughts from her and thrilled us with sympathy, the bride advanced in white satin and point d'Alençon. Mrs. Myers whispered that it was Mrs. Parkman's wedding-dress that the bride had on. She remembered the exquisite lace, and she shuddered with superstitious forebodings.

All had been going on delightfully in-doors, but a sharp shower cleared the church porch of the curious; and, as the water splashed, we wondered how we were to assemble ourselves at Mrs. McFarland's. All the horses in Richmond had been impressed for some sudden cavalry necessity a few days before. I ran between Mr. McFarland and Senator Semmes with my pretty Paris rose-colored silk turned over my head to save it, and when we arrived at the hospitable mansion of the McFarlands, Mr. McFarland took me straight into the drawing-room, man-like, forgetting that my ruffled plumes needed a good smoothing and preening.

Mrs. Lee sent for me. She was staying at Mrs. Caskie's. I was taken directly to her room, where she was lying on the bed. She said, before I had taken my seat: “You know there is a fight going on now at Brandy Station?”1 “Yes, we are anxious. John Chesnut's company is there, too.” She spoke sadly, but quietly. “My son, Roony, is wounded; his brother has gone for him. They will soon be here and we shall know all about it unless Roony's wife takes him to her grandfather. Poor lame mother, I am useless to my children.” Mrs. Caskie said: “You need not be alarmed. The General said in his telegram that it was not a severe wound. You know even Yankees believe General Lee.”

That day, Mrs. Lee gave me a likeness of the General in a photograph taken soon after the Mexican War. She likes it so much better than the later ones. He certainly was a handsome man then, handsomer even than now. I shall prize it for Mrs. Lee's sake, too. She said old Mrs. Chesnut and her aunt, Nellie Custis (Mrs. Lewis) were very intimate during Washington's Administration in Philadelphia. I told her Mrs. Chesnut, senior, was the historical member of our family; she had so much to tell of Revolutionary times. She was one of the “white-robed choir” of little maidens who scattered flowers before Washington at Trenton Bridge, which everybody who writes a life of Washington asks her to give an account of.

Mrs. Ould and Mrs. Davis came home with me. Lawrence had a basket of delicious cherries. “If there were only some ice,” said I. Respectfully Lawrence answered, and also firmly: “Give me money and you shall have ice.” By the underground telegraph he had heard of an ice-house over the river, though its fame was suppressed by certain Sybarites, as they wanted it all. In a wonderfully short time we had mint-juleps and sherry-cobblers.

Altogether it has been a pleasant day, and as I sat alone I was laughing lightly now and then at the memory of some funny story. Suddenly, a violent ring; and a regular sheaf of telegrams were handed me. I could not have drawn away in more consternation if the sheets had been a nest of rattlesnakes. First, Frank Hampton was killed at Brandy Station. Wade Hampton telegraphed Mr. Chesnut to see Robert Barnwell, and make the necessary arrangements to recover the body. Mr. Chesnut is still at Wilmington. I sent for Preston Johnston, and my neighbor, Colonel Patton, offered to see that everything proper was done. That afternoon I walked out alone. Willie Mountford had shown me where the body, all that was left of Frank Hampton, was to be laid in the Capitol. Mrs. Petticola joined me after a while, and then Mrs. Singleton.

Preston Hampton and Peter Trezevant, with myself and Mrs. Singleton, formed the sad procession which followed the coffin. There was a company of soldiers drawn up in front of the State House porch. Mrs. Singleton said we had better go in and look at him before the coffin was finally closed. How I wish I had not looked. I remember him so well in all the pride of his magnificent manhood. He died of a saber-cut across the face and head, and was utterly disfigured. Mrs. Singleton seemed convulsed with grief. In all my life I had never seen such bitter weeping. She had her own troubles, but I did not know of them. We sat for a long time on the great steps of the State House. Everybody had gone and we were alone.

We talked of it all — how we had gone to Charleston to see Rachel in Adrienne Lecouvreur, and how, as I stood waiting in the passage near the drawing-room, I had met Frank Hampton bringing his beautiful bride from the steamer. They had just landed. Afterward at Mrs. Singleton's place in the country we had all spent a delightful week together. And now, only a few years have passed, but nearly all that pleasant company are dead, and our world, the only world we cared for, literally kicked to pieces. And she cried, “We are two lone women, stranded here.” Rev. Robert Barnwell was in a desperate condition, and Mary Barnwell, her daughter, was expecting her confinement every day.

Here now, later, let me add that it was not until I got back to Carolina that I heard of Robert Barnwell's death, with scarcely a day's interval between it and that of Mary and her new-born baby. Husband, wife, and child were buried at the same time in the same grave in Columbia. And now, Mrs. Singleton has three orphan grandchildren. What a woful year it has been to her.

Robert Barnwell had insisted upon being sent to the hospital at Staunton. On account of his wife's situation the doctor also had advised it. He was carried off on a mattress. His brave wife tried to prevent it, and said: “It is only fever.” And she nursed him to the last. She tried to say goodby cheerfully, and called after him: “As soon as my trouble is over I will come to you at Staunton.” At the hospital they said it was typhoid fever. He died the second day after he got there. Poor Mary fainted when she heard the ambulance drive away with him. Then she crept into a low trundle-bed kept for the children in her mother's room. She never left that bed again. When the message came from Staunton that fever was the matter with Robert and nothing more, Mrs. Singleton says she will never forget the expression in Mary's eyes as she turned and looked at her. “Robert will get well,” she said, “it is all right.” Her face was radiant, blazing with light. That night the baby was born, and Mrs. Singleton got a telegram that Robert was dead. She did not tell Mary, standing, as she did, at the window while she read it. She was at the same time looking for Robert's body, which might come any moment. As for Mary's life being in danger, she had never thought of such a thing. She was thinking only of Robert. Then a servant touched her and said: “Look at Mrs. Barnwell.” She ran to the bedside, and the doctor, who had come in, said, “It is all over; she is dead.” Not in anger, not in wrath, came the angel of death that day. He came to set Mary free from a world grown too hard to bear.

During Stoneman's raid2 I burned some personal papers. Molly constantly said to me, “Missis, listen to de guns. Burn up everything. Mrs. Lyons says they are sure to come, and they'll put in their newspapers whatever you write here, every day.” The guns did sound very near, and when Mrs. Davis rode up and told me that if Mr. Davis left Richmond I must go with her, I confess I lost my head. So I burned a part of my journal but rewrote it afterward from memory — my implacable enemy that lets me forget none of the things I would. I am weak with dates. I do not always worry to look at the calendar and write them down. Besides I have not always a calendar at hand.
_______________

1 The battle of Brandy Station, Va., occurred June 9, 1863.

2 George S. Stoneman, a graduate of West Point, was now a Major-General, and Chief of Artillery in the Army of the Potomac. His raid toward Richmond in 1863 was a memorable incident of the war. After the war, he became Governor of California.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 232-9

Diary of Mary Brockenbrough Newton: June 18, 1862

Our guard in full force to-day. It is so absurd to see the great fellows on their horses, armed from head to foot, with their faces turned towards us, standing at our yard-gate, guarding women and children, occasionally riding about on the gravel-walks, plucking roses, with which they decorate their horses' heads. A poor woman came to-day in a buggy, in pursuit of corn. She had been robbed by the enemy of every grain. This is the case with many others, particularly with soldiers' wives. I asked an officer to-day, what had become of General Stuart? He said he was a “smart fellow,” and he “guessed” he had returned to Richmond, but he “ought to have paid a visit to his father-in-law, General Cooke, commanding the United States cavalry not many miles distant.”

SOURCE: Judith W. McGuire, Diary of a Southern Refugee, During the War, p. 145

Diary of Margaret Junkin Preston: January 1, 1864

New Year's Day, 1864: How times flies! though his wings are heavy. Had hardly gotten used to '63, when here is '64 upon me. A bright beautiful day, after ten days' rain and snow.  . . . Roads and streets terribly muddy; scarcely attempt going out. Most of the servants back again. Excessively cold.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Preston Allan, The Life and Letters of Margaret Junkin Preston, p. 176

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Tuesday, July 26, 1864

It is very warm. Still lying on my old cot. The hospital is one of the hardest places that I have found since I have been in the service; but when a soldier gets sick, he has to go there so that he can be taken care of. I have been in the United States service three years now, and this is the first time for me in the hospital. I hope that it may be the last time.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 206

Monday, May 25, 2015

In The Review Queue: Confederate Cavalryman Versus Union Cavalryman, Eastern Theater 1861-65


by Ron Field, Illustrated by Peter Dennis

This gripping study offers key insights into the tactics, leadership, combat performance, and subsequent reputations of Union and Confederate mounted units fighting in three pivotal cavalry actions of the Civil War - Second Bull Run/Manassas (1862), Buckland Mills (1863), and Tom's Brook (1864). During the intense, sprawling conflict that was the Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces fielded substantial numbers of cavalry, which carried out the crucial tasks of reconnaissance, raiding, and conveying messages. The perception was that cavalry's effectiveness on the battlefield would be drastically reduced in this age of improved mass infantry firepower. This book demonstrates how cavalry's lethal combination of mobility and dismounted firepower meant it was still very much a force to be reckoned with in battle. It also charts the swing in the qualitative difference of the cavalry forces fielded by the two sides as the war progressed, as the enormous initial superiority enjoyed by Confederate cavalry was gradually eroded, through the Union's outstanding improvements in training and tactics, and the bold and enterprising leadership of men such as Philip Sheridan.

Featuring full-color artwork, specially drawn maps, and archive illustrations.


About the Author

Ron Field is an internationally acknowledged expert on U.S. military history. Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 1982, he taught History at Piedmont High School in California from 1982 to 1983, and was then Head of History at the Cotswold School in Bourton-on-the-Water, UK, until his retirement in 2007. In 2005 he was elected a Fellow of the Company of Military Historians, based in Washington, DC, and was awarded its Emerson Writing Award in 2013. The author lives in Gloucestershire, UK.

ISBN 978-1472807311, Osprey Publishing, © 2015, Paperback, 80 pages, Photographs, Maps & Illustrations, Orders of Battle, Select Bibliography, Index. $18.95.  To purchase a copy of this book click HERE.

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to John M. Forbes, September 17, 1863

Centreville, Sept. 17, '63.

Stanton is entirely right on the black prisoner question, and I think will yet keep the President straight: Governor Andrew had a conversation on the subject with the President and does not think him so shaky as William Russel found him. I believe Mr. Lincoln has a way of stating to himself and to others, as strongly as may be, the arguments against the course he really has in his mind to adopt — many women are made so.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 306

Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Lucy Webb Hayes, Sunday, December 8, 1861

Camp Union, December 8, 1861.

Dearest: — It is Sunday — inspection day. Visited all quarters and hospital. All in improving condition. Tell Dr. Joe we have had five bright warm lovely days and a fair prospect for as many more. Roads improving; telegraph wire here, and will be in working order tomorrow or day after.
Have the daily Commercial mailed to me here from the office for one month. If it comes as often as twice a week, I will renew the subscription, otherwise not.

A trunk full of nice doings, socks, mittens, small looking-glasses, needle doings, etc., etc., came up from Gauley among our baggage. Nothing to show who from or who to. I assumed that it was an instalment from Cleveland for the Twenty-third and Dr. McCurdy disposes of it accordingly. . . .
I am feeling anxious about you. Write often all about yourself. Love to the dear boys and all. Ever so much for yourself.

Affectionately,
R.
Mrs. Hayes.

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 157

Brigadier-General John Sedgwick to his Sister, January 15, 1862

Alexandria, Virginia,
January 15, 1862.
My dear sister:

General Burnside has sailed with his expedition, but to what point is still unknown to the many. When the expedition was first started the intention was to have it operate with the army here on the Potomac; but it has since been increased to three times the size it was originally intended to be. The general impression seems to be that it is to land to operate against Norfolk, or near by on the North Carolina coast. We shall probably know before you receive this. Did I ever tell you that Mr. Heine, Kate Sedgwick's husband, is close by? He is a Captain of volunteers, and attached to the staff of General Heintzelman as topographical engineer. I see him quite frequently. He is a very pleasant and agreeable gentleman. The weather is such now, and has been for several days past, that no move could be made, if one was in contemplation. Several inches of snow on the ground, and still raining and sleeting. I can only guess for myself that no great move will be made from here till the army in front is partly broken by the expeditions already sent or that are to sail. It is too hazardous to undertake to move such large bodies of comparatively undisciplined men against almost equal numbers in a fortified position. Another Bull Run, and Washington is gone. They are doing nothing in Congress except scrambling after contracts, and other things of less importance.

I mean to come home for a few days, and as soon as I can, but General McClellan does not want to allow any one to go. Answer immediately.

Your affectionate brother,
J. S.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, Correspondence of John Sedgwick, Major-General, Volume 2, p. 35-6

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 29, 1861

We have intelligence from the North that immense preparations are being made for our destruction; and some of our people begin to say, that inasmuch as we did not follow up the victory at Manassas, it was worse than a barren one, having only exasperated the enemy, and stimulated the Abolitionists to renewed efforts. I suppose these critics would have us forbear to injure the invader, for fear of maddening him. They are making this war; we must make it terrible. With them war is a new thing, and they will not cease from it till the novelty wears off, and all their fighting men are sated with blood and bullets. It must run its course, like the measles. We must both bleed them and deplete their pockets.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 76

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 30, 1861

Gen. Floyd has had a fight in the West, and defeated an Ohio regiment. I trust they were of the Puritan stock, and not the descendants of Virginians.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 76

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: August 31, 1861

We have bad news to-day. My wife and children are the bearers of it. They returned to the city with the tidings that all the women and children were ordered to leave Newbern. The enemy have attacked and taken Fort Hatteras, making many prisoners, and threaten Newbern next. This is the second time my family have been compelled to fly. But they are well.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 1, p. 76

Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut: August 10, 1863

RICHMOND, Va. To-day I had a letter from my sister, who wrote to inquire about her old playmate, friend, and lover, Boykin McCaa. It is nearly twenty years since each was married; each now has children nearly grown. “To tell the truth,” she writes, “in these last dreadful years, with David in Florida, where I can not often hear from him, and everything dismal, anxious, and disquieting, I had almost forgotten Boykin's existence, but he came here last night; he stood by my bedside and spoke to me kindly and affectionately, as if we had just parted. I said, holding out my hand, ‘Boykin, you are very pale.’ He answered, ‘I have come to tell you goodby,’ and then seized both my hands. His own hands were as cold and hard as ice; they froze the marrow of my bones. I screamed again and again until my whole household came rushing in, and then came the negroes from the yard, all wakened by my piercing shrieks. This may have been a dream, but it haunts me.

'”Some one sent me an old paper with an account of his wounds and his recovery, but I know he is dead.” “Stop!” said my husband at this point, and then he read from that day's Examiner these words: “Captain Burwell Boykin McCaa found dead upon the battle-field leading a cavalry charge at the head of his company. He was shot through the head.”

The famous colonel of the Fourth Texas, by name John Bell Hood,1 is here — him we call Sam, because his classmates at West Point did so — for what cause is not known. John Darby asked if he might bring his hero to us; bragged of him extensively; said he had won his three stars, etc., under Stonewall's eye, and that he was promoted by Stonewall's request. When Hood came with his sad Quixote face, the face of an old Crusader, who believed in his cause, his cross, and his crown, we were not prepared for such a man as a beau-ideal of the wild Texans. He is tall, thin, and shy; has blue eyes and light hair; a tawny beard, and a vast amount of it, covering the lower part of his face, the whole appearance that of awkward strength. Some one said that his great reserve of manner he carried only into the society of ladies. Major Venable added that he had often heard of the light of battle shining in a man's eyes. He had seen it once — when he carried to Hood orders from Lee, and found in the hottest of the fight that the man was transfigured. The fierce light of Hood's eyes I can never forget.

Hood came to ask us to a picnic next day at Drury's Bluff.2 The naval heroes were to receive us and then we were to drive out to the Texan camp. We accused John Darby of having instigated this unlooked-for festivity. We were to have bands of music and dances, with turkeys, chickens, and buffalo tongues to eat. Next morning, just as my foot was on the carriage-step, the girls standing behind ready to follow me with Johnny and the Infant Samuel (Captain Shannon by proper name), up rode John Darby in red-hot haste, threw his bridle to one of the men who was holding the horses, and came toward us rapidly, clanking his cavalry spurs with a despairing sound as he cried: “Stop! it's all up. We are ordered back to the Rappahannock. The brigade is marching through Richmond now.” So we unpacked and unloaded, dismissed the hacks and sat down with a sigh.

“Suppose we go and see them pass the turnpike,” some one said. The suggestion was hailed with delight, and off we marched. Johnny and the Infant were in citizens' clothes, and the Straggler — as Hood calls John Darby, since the Prestons have been in Richmond — was all plaided and plumed in his surgeon's array. He never bated an inch of bullion or a feather; he was courting and he stalked ahead with Mary Preston, Buck, and Johnny. The Infant and myself, both stout and scant of breath, lagged last. They called back to us, as the Infant came toddling along, “Hurry up or we will leave you.”

At the turnpike we stood on the sidewalk and saw ten thousand men march by. We had seen nothing like this before. Hitherto we had seen only regiments marching spick and span in their fresh, smart clothes, just from home and on their way to the army. Such rags and tags as we saw now. Nothing was like anything else. Most garments and arms were such as had been taken from the enemy. Such shoes as they had on. “Oh, our brave boys!” moaned Buck. Such tin pans and pots as were tied to their waists, with bread or bacon stuck on the ends of their bayonets. Anything that could be spiked was bayoneted and held aloft.

They did not seem to mind their shabby condition; they laughed, shouted, and cheered as they marched by. Not a disrespectful or light word was spoken, but they went for the men who were huddled behind us, and who seemed to be trying to make themselves as small as possible in order to escape observation.

Hood and his staff finally came galloping up, dismounted, and joined us. Mary Preston gave him a bouquet. Thereupon he unwrapped a Bible, which he carried in his pocket. He said his mother had given it to him. He pressed a flower in it. Mary Preston suggested that he had not worn or used it at all, being fresh, new, and beautifully kept. Every word of this the Texans heard as they marched by, almost touching us. They laughed and joked and made their own rough comments.
_______________

1 Hood was a native of Kentucky and a graduate of West Point.

2 Drury's Bluff lies eight miles south of Richmond on the James River. Here, on May 16, 1864, the Confederates under Beauregard repulsed the Federals under Butler.

SOURCE: Mary Boykin Chesnut, Edited by Isabella D. Martin and Myrta Lockett Avary, A Diary From Dixie, p. 229-32