May 23, 1862
Came Patrick home from Richmond. He saw the Sec of War who told him that holding as he did a Commission, the Conscript Law does not put an end to his efforts but that he could still muster in Companies already organized & could also attach any Independent Companies now in service to his command who wished to join him. As to the transfer of the Infantry Companies, as the papers have not yet come before him, he could give no decision—so he is to go on for a month more. I had hoped that the matter would now be decided, the suspense now be over, & that we could settle down to one thing or the other, but it appears not. Before Butler’s order, I had cooled greatly about the Battalion, and my desire for Patrick to go into active service, thinking that the Conscript Law called out men enough without him and younger & stronger men; but that infamous order has roused me to that degree that I wish every man in the country to rise & drive out this dreadful crew.
Just before dinner came father. He looks very badly; this severe cold has made him really sick. Patrick suffers still with his knee & I from loss of strength, but I call myself well. Transplanted Tomatoes & set out Dahlia offsets. Sent to Looking Glass for the rest of my Egg plants, but they are far from promising, for which I am sorry as mama is so fond of them.
A letter from Frank Jones tells us that he was in the fight at Drury’s Bluff where the Gunboats were repulsed. It was a gun from his ship, the Patrick Henry, which first disabled the Galena. We had but two guns mounted & yet see the execution they did!
Pickets from a Cavalry force station above us have been posted at Montrose & Polenta immediately opposite us to give warning of the approach of the enemy up the River. War is indeed brought to our very doors. The first victims to it, however, will be the young Spring chickens. No flag of Truce on their behalf. I must see to that.
Tallyrand’s saying that in public matters a blunder was worse than a crime seems true about the surrender of Norfolk, for few crimes could have spread the distress that that has entailed on this whole section of country. Most of the money in circulation was Norfolk money. All our crops are sold there & it is our general Exchange. The money now is not current—& many have their all—of ready funds—lying in the hands of some Norfolk merchant, not only unavailable but in great danger of total loss. God help the poor. We can wear old clothes and live off the plantation for years without suffering if we can only get salt, but what is to become of those who have no such resource?
McClellan sent a Flag of Truce to our army on the Peninsula to inquire into the fate of 200 men who crossed Warwick Swamp & made an attack upon us. Gen Johnson’s answer was, “we had two left to send to Richmond—the rest we buried.” Terrible! This was the skirmish in which Col McKenny of the [Fifteenth] N C was killed. That unfortunate Regt has since lost a second Col who was killed two days after he took command.
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