September 17, 1864

Last night when Mr E came home from the plantation he brought us the Key to the terrific explosion which so startled me on Tuesday & has been ever since a matter of grave conjecture with the whole community. It appears that one of our big guns at Weldon, “Long Tom” or “Laughing Charley,” had been so long loaded that it was thought expedient to fire it off. The charge happened to be a [ -- ] inch shell, one of the largest size made. From some unknown cause, the explosion of the shell was almost simultaneous with the report of the gun, hence the prolonged & booming sound which caused us such uneasiness. We were greatly releived as the want of a mail made us fear that it came from some device of Grant’s, which would “work us some annoy.” The heavy cannonading heard that day & the next was along the lines & a furious shelling of the city which was kept up for some hours with but little damage.

News from Thomas Devereux up to the 6th — he was well but on the 5th had his horse killed under him. He lost his saddle & bridle and is I suppose poor fellow a foot. Thanks to a merciful God for his preservation!

Details of poor Morgan’s death. He died by treachery & the treachery, too, of a woman! but as statements vary as to what the name of the infamous wretch is, I will wait for authentic accounts. Himself & staff stopped for the night at the house of a Mrs Williams. When they were asleep a woman, whose name should be associated with that of Arnold, mounted her horse & eluding our pickets rode to the Yankee headquarters & returned with a body of Yankee Cavalry whom she guided to the house in which Morgan slept. He was aroused by his hostess, who endeavoured to aid his escape, but another woman, a Yankee, Mrs Fry told his pursuers which way he went.  After a desperate struggle in which he discharged every load in his pistols, killing several of his opponents, he received a shot through the heart & expired instantly! In consequence of the brutal treatment he met with when a prisoner in the hands of the Christian Burnside, he had determined never again to be taken alive & too well did he keep his vow. We are much cast down by his sad fate & Father, in vain, attempts to console us by repeating those lines from Chevy Chase, [ -- ] but I do not like the sentiment contained in them, it is too “French.” “Le Roi est mort“! “Vive le Roi.” They compliment the living at the expense of the dead.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

September 16, 1864

On Tuesday last whilst sitting reading my Bible alone in the “Soltaire,” I was suddenly aroused by a heavy report, a boom as tho an explosion had taken place. So loud was it that I convinced myself that it was distant thunder & stepped out into the garden to see the cloud from whence it came, but the sky was “without speck or spot or stain.” “The blue Vault” was as clear as crystal. I called to the servants to know what it was, but they as much overcome with surprise as myself. They had also heard it & accepted the fact that it was thunder without examination. In the afternoon & all the next day a heavy canonade was heard by many, Mr E amongst the number, but my ears were not so sharp, deafened I said by the first report. Anxiously did we look for news on Wednesday and on Thursday and again today, Friday, but alaas! We have been doomed to disappointment! No mail! not even a Raleigh paper which would give us a Telegram, meagre it is true, yet still something on which to found conjecture. Every neighbor who comes in is full of eager questions, for the report or explosion was heard through a circuit of fifteen miles, but no one can throw the least light upon it. Pray God it be another Yankee Magazine blown up & with even more damage than that at City Point some weeks since. This want of news tho keeps us cruelly anxious.

Our loss before Atlanta was heavier than the Press Reports, but as we have no official statements it is idle to enumerate them. Hood fell back in good order, Sherman following. Very soon, however, Sherman gave up that game & fell back himself to Atlanta & commenced fortifying. He there promulgated an Order so infamous that a Russian example must be sought if we would find a parallel amongst civilized nations. He finds it for the interest of the U S that every inhabitant should be banished from Atlanta & its vicinity and accordingly directs that those who wish to go North shall be allowed to do so whilst those who prefer remaining at the South shall be sent through his lines into Hoods and proposes to Hood an armistice for ten days in which to execute his barbarious intentions. Hood accepts in order to spare the unfortunates any additional suffering but comments most severely upon the inhumanity of the Order. It seems to us so short sighted a peice of conduct that we can but hail it as an evidence that the Devil is forsaking his own, leaving him now in the lurch. What can he expect but resistance to the death from every Southern man, woman, & child in the future?

McClellan is out in his acceptance of the nomination of the Chicago Convention in a string of balderdash about this “glorious Union” which is almost too absurd to provoke Laughter. “The Union” & “the Constitution,” two corpses, murdered by Northern fanatics. It is more than Northern demagogues can now do to galvanize them. They sit in dumb, dead silence, grimly staring at their murderers.

Amo left us on Tuesday the 13th for a visit to Raleigh. In the meantime we are enjoying Jessie’s society in full. It is long since we have seen her & she is Mr E’s favourite sister, the one nearest his own age, & she it was who was the companion of all his childish pranks, the confidant & friend of his mature years.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html

Child's Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Child’s Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Child’s dress.  Made in Mobile, Alabama for Zemula “Zemmie” Vass (b. 1864) by her mother, Emma Jane Townsend Vass.  Part of Zemmie’s family relocated to Raleigh NC after the Civil War.

Back Waistband detail. Child's Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Back Waistband detail. Child’s Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Skirt detail. Child's Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Skirt detail. Child’s Dress with embroidered detail. North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2


Source: North Carolina Museum of History, Accession Number H.1964.2.2

Mount Hope, September 4th 1864

My own precious Husband,

This is a gloomy rainy day and I do not feel like doing anything in the world, but conversing with you but as I am denied the delightful privilege of doing so verbally, I must even content myself with an epistolary conversation. My last letter to you was very unsatisfactory to me, as it did not express one half I wished to say, being written in such a hurry – and I fully intended writing another and sending it off this week, but could not well do it as my time has been almost entirely occupied with first with one thing and then another. In the first place Ann was here all the week until Friday evening, and it is not an easy matter to write a letter when Ann is around. Monday evening Ann and I, with Sephy and Tom went fishing. Ann caught four fish, I three and Tom one. Poor old Sephy got discouraged and put up his pole long before we came ashore. The Louisiana was lying just below here, and Rhoden and Tom were both afraid to go out fishing but I made Tom go at last though he was considerably frightened.  Thursday Ann and I went to see Mollie Archbell and I spent the day very pleasantly indeed. Mollie is a nice girl and I like her very much. The old folks are very kind indeed – enquired very particularly after you, and insisted on my going agin.  Willie I think that you are entirely mistaken about Mrs. Archbell being a deceitful woman. There seems to be nothing but real plain straight-forward dealing about her, no honeyed words, no flattery, and you know that deceitful persons are apt to be flatterers.  Now I agree with you that old Mrs. Bonner is deceitful, and she is not only deceitful but absolutely disgusting. Mrs. Archbell is an entirely different woman. I cannot say that I like her very much, for I have been prejudiced against her, and prejudice is not easily overcome, but I do think you are mistaken about her. Mary Snell and William Henry spent the day there, that day, and we had a very pleasant time. I do feel really sorry for them. Mr Archbell is old and inform and to be left destitute in his old age seems very hard. That looks like a very old place. The house looks old and the floor of the piazza is rotting badly, but it is a very and exceedingly pleasant place. Poor Mollie must have a lonely time of it, but I believe she gets along very well. She is a good girl and very industrious. Mary Snell is certainly in a delicate situation and looks quite interesting, or rather she is just beginning to look interesting. I made some watermelon molasses Friday. I had three tubs full of juice and made a gallon and a half of molasses. It is good to eat but not to sweeten with, as it got scorched. It would have been nice if I had boiled it down in the preserving kettle. It has a taste of iron. Rhoden made a gallon for himself. We have had some splendid watermelons but I have not enjoyed them very much, as they did not agree with me. Tommy has a chill on him now poor little fellow, and is lying in the cradle. He was restless all night, but I did not think he was going to be sick. I am feeling much better this morning. I do not suffer so much with sick stomache now, but am generally very dull and lanquid, and the least exertion almost prostrates me. I cannot imagine what makes me so weak, it seems to me that I get weaker all the time, and yet I am not so sick in my stomache as I wash. I do hope that helath will come with cool weather. I shall be so much disappointed if you do not come home Sept. Court, for I am very very anxious to see you. I understand that the Yankees had destroyed several miles of the Weldon rail road but that we had whipped and captured 5000 of them. Mr. Crawford will distill our cider next week, and I am glad of it, for it has been leaking badly I understand. Our arbor is full of grapes and they are beginning to ripen. I want to make some nice wine this year if I live. I have a bushel and a half of dried apples. I want you to have the most of them, for I do not care much for them and have no sugar and but very little honey to put in them. Sary and Angeline send their love to you and Mars and Sary says tell Mars that he hasn’t sent her that Saleratus yet that he promised her. Simon sends his love to Mas William. Rhoden is going about but isn’t well yet. Joe is mending, but is still swollen in his bowel. I hope he will be well sometime. He goes all about and hasn’t had [torn] him for a long time. It looks as if it will clear off and I hope it will, for I do not like to be confined to the house. Cold weather will soon be here and I really do not know where I shall get shoes for the children and negroes. Rhoden Homer and little Rhoden has to have shoes all the summer, and we have only one hide for next winter and that is sole leather. It will cost almost a fortune to buy leather for our family and then hire the shoes made, if we can be lucky enough to get them made. One of our hides spoilt Rhoden said. I should have thought he would have attended to that, knowing how high leather was. Aunt Rose came in just now to tell me to send her love to you, and to tell you how do and that she is very ansious to see you and that she is still alive. Little Rhoden sends his love to you Mars and Louis. Angeline says ask Mars what has become of that jacket he was going to send her? I am getting quite tired so I will stop for the present. So good bye my own darling until the evening, or whenever I shall fell like writing again. I feel much more like talking to you and nestling in your dear arms that I do like writing, for that would never tire me. O how I do want you darling. I should feel so happy and so at rest if you were with me and could stay. Now if feel tired all the time, even thinking wearies me. I do so need you to lean on. Good bye.


Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill.


Sept 2nd 1864

My own Dear Wife

I now sit down to write you a short letter to let you know that I am quite well and also to tell you of my prospects of getting home during this month. I made application yesterday to Genl Beauregard for a ten days leave to attend our court on the 19th of this month stating the reasons why I wished to go. The President of our court martial Col Cunning has approved it and recommended it be granted and Capt Graham who has been on Genl Beauregards staff and who is acquainted with all his officers added a note to the bottom of my application requesting them to grant my request. So you can judge for yourself darling what will be the result as well as I can. I confess that I shall be terribly disappointed if it is not granted. I have written to you now 3 or 4 times in a hurry and have not been satisfied with my own letters. They did not suit my taste and I know failed to meet your expectation. My own dear wife you must excuse those letters as I am so differently situated that I have but a sorry chance to write at all. McBryde Braddy and I are in adjoining rooms in the same house and eternally have company in the evening until night when I cant write at all. And it reduced me to write some in the morning or not at all. I struggle hard to keep up my correspondence which is a good deal and find it hard work to do so. You dearest shall not be neglected tho all the rest go to the dogs. I feel cramped up here altho Mrs. Southerland is as good and motherly a lady as I have fallen in with in a great while. The cause is this, Braddy and McBryde are close by and in direct communication with their homes and are getting fruit vegetables cider chickens &c &c from home once or twice a week and I share with them without any prospect of making any amends as my pay for a month would not pay for what they raise in a week. You can appreciate darling my feelings I know as your spirit is as proud as mine. I cannot bear to be under obligations that I see no way of paying back. With my own officers I feel at ease for I know that I do my full share. There it is different. I wrote to you of receiving the money from David. I went up to Goldsboro and Wilson last Friday night and returned on Sunday night or rather Monday morning and it cost me a great deal to do so as I had to pay full fare besides paying board for Saturday at Goldsboro at 30 dollars a day and when I came back I had less than 20 dollars left. I paid Eliza the express on the cotton which was 2 dollars a bunch making 22 dollars. So that is all paid for thank goodness. The whole bill for the cotton is 297 dollars at least a hundred less than I can buy it for anywhere in the state by the bail. It is selling here for from 45 to 50 dollars a bunch. So you see darling I have made a good trade in getting it as I did. You ask my advice about having a steer killed dear. Have anything killed you may need for your family use just suit your own judgment darling and be sure your husband will approve of anything you do, knowing you will always do what you think is for the best. Should you make a mistake in my judgment darling I shall not complain. There is but little news here now but all things seem progressing for our benefit both in Virginia and Georgia. We have no fears of either Richmond Petersburg or Atlanta falling this time. Our court has been in session here over a month and is likely to be for a month to come if nothing breaks it up. There is a good deal of sickness at the forts I hear and especially at Bald Head. The disease is mostly typhoid and ague and fever. My company is said to be the most healthy one down there but it is suffering a good deal. The news has gone out that yellow fever is at this place. Smithville and Bald head but there is not a word of truth in the report. Everything is very high here and still going up  a store rents for 20,000 dollars a year quick and I know of one store with a warf that rented for 80,000 for the next year beginning on the first of October this year. The first of Oct is the genl renting and moving day in this place. I am paying 90 dollars room rent a month 10 for cooking and 8 dollars a dozen for washing and if it all had to come out of my pocket I should break right off. As it is I shall not be able to save a cent. The government pays for my room and fewel and I pay all other expences. I buy tobacco and have paid for 6 drinks of spirits since I have been here and hardly can live at that, tho I am still fatning. I think of you my own sweet wife all the time I am not compelled to be thinking of something else and I cannot enjoy going to see other ladies altho I am often invited because I have no interest in them. I cannot help suffering often when I see other officers with their wives to think I am almost cut off from my wife who is worth them all. I almost go mad some times thinking of the enjoyment I am deprived of and you too darling and our dear little ones also. We could be a happy family were we permitted to be together. This town is a perfect sink of iniquity (so I am told) of nimphs of the [illeg]. I have been told that there is 1800 publick prostitutes here and 9 out of 10 who pass for virtuous women take it on the sly. Is not this a fearful state of morals.

Evening. Well dearest I have just got a very precious letter from you written on the 28th of August just 5 days ago. In fact it was finished on the 29th which makes it only 4 days since it left your precious hands. I am truly glad to hear you have enjoyed yourself so well last week. You had better go visiting oftener than you have been doing as I have do doubt it will make you feel better all the time when you go home. The wish you express my dear of being in my arms with your lips pressed to mine is seconded with my whole heart and soul for darling it seems I have never wished to see you half as much as I have since I left you last. My whole heart pants to be with you love and to enjoy the luxury of seeing the happiness burning out of those pretty blue eyes of yours on meeting me. Now darling I can see you as plain as if I were with you. Oh! Wife of my choice it seems as if could I be with you I could be happy any where. When I recall the love and entire confidence you have by your acts often expressedin me I feel that I cannot love you half enough. Love begets love and could I have the eloquence…. [next page missing]


*** Note:  William Henry Tripp and his wife Araminta Guillford Tripp lived at Mount Hope farm on the Pamlico River near Durham’s Creek (sometimes called New Durham’s Creek) in Beaufort County.  William served in the Confederate Army as captain and commander of Company B of the 40th North Carolina Regiment. He and his men were first stationed at Fort Fisher, outside Wilmington, N.C., April 1862-January 1865; and then at Fort Holmes on Smith Island, N.C., February 1865

Source: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill. http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/t/Tripp,William_Henry_and_Araminta_Guilford.html#folder_7#2

Friday 9th [September 1864]

Mr. Vic brought the wrong mail his morning & took it back so we got now news. I finished Jinnie’s dresses & began Fannie’s. Jim’s baby died today about 12 o’clock. It has been sick for three weeks. It was very poor. I crocheted a little sheet & made a pillow for it. This has been a beautiful day, the first bright day we have had in several.


Saturday 10th [September 1864]

They buried the baby at the middle of the day. I finished Fannie’s dress today and began Mr. Henry a pair socks. Matt is going to knit one. This day six years ago, my dear little Cora died. I know it was best that she died but ‘tis hard to think so even now. I often think of her and almost wish her back again to this troublesome world but I can go to her but she can never come to me. May I be ready & willing to go & be with my friends that have gone before.


Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).


Wednesday 7th September 1864

I did not get the shirt done today as I washed the children this morning & after dinner fixed some thread to make up the negro’s dresses. Elsie cut out 26 ¾ yds yesterday. Sister Jane did not come today as it has been cloudy all day & some rain this evening. Bad time to save hay.


Thursday 8th [September 1864]

I finished the shirt this morning and cut Jinnie’s & Fannie’s dresses. Made the waist of Jinnie’s. Matt has some boils of her arms, very bad ones. I think ‘tis from the itch. She has been spinning some this week. Zona got through her primer today. She is very proud of it. Pinck is learning very fast. Mr. Henry promised Zona he would take her to Asheville & get her a new book. She is anxious to go. Willie & Gus amuse themselves at the swing under the cedar trees while I am hearing the other children.


Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).


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