May 29, 1862
During the night of Friday the 23d Mr Edmondston was taken quite sick with fever & increased pain in his knee, so that in the morning he was unable to leave his bed & indeed scarcely able to turn over without assistance. The Dr pronounced it Inflamatory Rhumatism. He has suffered terribly all the week but is now, I hope, a little better tho’ still confined to his bed. He is so patient that it is difficult to tell what his sufferings are, but the knee is still so stiff & swollen that he can neither straighten or put it to the ground.
Frank Jones arrived on Sunday & has been with us until yesterday, he having received permission from the Sec of the navy to volunteer in the army whilst his ship is inactive. He gave us a stirring account of the affair at Drury’s Bluff & thinks he killed the Pilot of the Galena himself; says that unless a strong force is landed & our battery flanked & taken it will be impossible for the enemy to get to Richmond by the River. He brought me a Bayonette taken from the decks of the Congress during the fight in Hampton Roads on the 8th of March, which I shall prize highly as a relic & place by the side of our Revolutionary Swords.
The daily news from Richmond keeps us almost breathless with anxiety, a fight being momentarily expected. Johnson has fallen back until his rear rests upon Richmond, McClellan steadily advancing, entrenching as he comes. We have deserted the West Point R R, which they have seized, & can run a train from their boats to within 15 miles of Richmond, a great advantage to them & place, in one of which we were driven back, but in the other we were signally victorious. Yesterday Johnson was reported to be crossing Chickahominy Swamp to give them battle, but I do not believe it. Anderson’s and Branch’s Brigades of the Army of the Rappahannock were at Hanover Court House when the enemy made a dash & seized the Central Road, thus cutting them off. We attacked them front and rear, when a terrible fight took place. Our loss was fearful, especially amongst Branch’s N C Division, but as we took 55 prisoners & regained the position I hope communication was reestablished. How much hangs on the events of the next few days; for should we be beaten and a victorious army, flushed with victory & animated with such passion as theirs is, pursue our troops intoRichmond, imagination shrinks in terror from the scenes that will be enacted there. For even if the city be not given up to pillage the officers will be unable, even if willing, to restrain the men; but what confidence can we have in them, that they will not be our worst enemies? I remember Butler’s order and shudder.
Johnson is a master of strategy & he ought to know, but to us it seems madness to allow the enemy to entrench themselves as they have done & are even now doing on the north bank of the Chickahominy; but we were not born Brigadier Generals.
Jackson has had another splendid success in the Valley & has completely routed Banks at the Front Royal & driven him into and through Winchester which we now hold. He pierced his column, one part of which fell back to Strasburg fugitives, whilst he himself followed the Winchester portion. We took all their cannon, camp equipage, Baggage & Hospital stores, which are most valuable, destroyed their wagons & took an immense amount of supplies & a large quantity of ammunition—in short the rout is complete and we are encumbered with 4000 prisoners! This victory has cheered our army before Richmond greatly. God grant that it may have correspondingly depressed our enemies. It is whispered confidently that the next news we will hear of him is that he has led his victorious column into Maryland, so we shall see whether or not “there is life in the old Land yet,” or whether the “Despot’s Heel” has crushed it entirely out of “Maryland, My Maryland”!
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