June 1, 1862
Mr Edmondston well enough to leave his room today for which I thank God most fervently. He has suffered much & so patiently that he has excited the sympathy of all who have seen him. Ah! that his recovery may rapid & that I may soon see him in full health & vigour. His thin pale face & sad eyes go to my heart & then he is so weak that it is sad to look at him! It frets him the more as he is absolutely unable to attend to any business what ever & his Battalion needs him as his time for raising it is short, and it will be a sore disappointment to him to fail in it. First the Conscript Act & the liberty allowed to Ranger Companies & now his sickness gives another heavy blow to it.
No public news. The army still has its rear on Richmond& the enemy advancing & entrenching. Skirmishes & serious ones constantly occurring, but in view of the great conflict now close at hand we over look their importance. An article in Friday Dispatch announced that the enemy were in full retreat in consequence of Jackson’s victory & the danger to the Capitol and that Gustavus Smith, the second in command, was pressing upon them, but the unblushing Editor after sounding a flourish over the news, singing an “O be joyful” & saying that it would hecenforth be a day sacred in Richmond on Friday, on Sat., congratulates his readers that the “bad news” of the enemy’s retreat without a fight is not so & tho’ he assured us one day that he had it from the highest authority & that it had been known to our generals for three days, on the next he gravely tells us that it had no foundation in fact. Truth, blessed angel, why have you deserted this Earth?
At Corinth matters stand as they have done since the battle of Shiloh, skirmishing but nothing important. The Bombardment of Fort Pillow still goes on furiously but ineffectually. At Vicksburg the inhabitants have defied the Enemy, despite his threat of shelling the town & determine on a bloody resistance, so he is still far from the possession of the Father of Waters.
The eyes of the nation are fixed on Richmond & Corinth where desperate battles must soon ensue. God defend the right!
Brother John has gone down as temporary Aid without pay to General Martin who, shorn of his glory as Major General of the forces of N C by the Conscript act, has accepted a Brigadiership in the C S A. I hope Master Johnnie will not stay long there. It is a post not worthy of him. James E has received the appointment of Quarter Master C S A and has been assigned to duty to the 3d Brigade, Col Daniel acting Brigadier & stationed at Weldon.
Two years ago today the first entry in this book is dated & what a change has come over the country since then! This was then but a record of domestic incidents, trifling in themselves, but interesting to us, because they made up our lives. Now how different! My garden, that great source of interest, passes unnoticed by & my housekeeping, which absorbed so large a portion, is now not deemed worthy of a single entry; but battles and sieges, bloodshed, and the suffering of a mighty country occupy every thought. For once I will recur to my former simple home tastes & for auld lang syne give them a casual notice.
I have had a grand house cleaning this week. Every thing has on it summer garb & is as clean as Cuffee can make it. I might, were the times better, say with Mrs Nicely in the School for Reform, “Ah! a clean house & a clean conscience will make any one merry,” so neat is it.
I am assuming myself in the manufacture of Fly brushes of my Peacocks feathers 7 have just completed one for Mrs Lippitt that I consider a marvel of beauty.
As to the Garden, it is particularly backward. We have but few of the vegetables which it ought to give us at this season. As regards Peas, I excuse it, for during our continued absences this spring the pigeons & birds took them under their care & tho often replanted they never failed in their attentions! But for Beets, Lettuce, Snaps, Squashes, etc., Garden! I fear I must pronounce you ungrateful, for you had every appliance to enable you to perform your duty. Strawberries we have & have had in abundance for a month past. Our Quinces are for the first time in their lives loaded with fruit & as I walk past them, both themselves & the Strawberries seem to look at me saucily & defiantly, as tho’ they would say “Preserve me if you dare!” for they must know that I have not sugar to spare for such luxuries. The Apples, even my young trees, are most promising, the peaches abundant. The old Pears are loaded with fruit, whilst a few are even to be seen on some of the Dwarf Pears in the garden for the first time. The flower Garden has been magnificent, “The Gardens of Gul in their bloom,”Paestum, or any other garden either of poetry or antiquity never surpassed it! I trace an outline of a bud of Isabella Grey which has not yet commenced to expand, the green calyx barely beginning to turn back in proof of it. It has been five days gathered & has shrunk. Sir Joseph Paxton has been a blaze of beauty & the blooms on Fellenburg & Beauty of Greenmount are literally countless; but I feel in enumerating them as a General might who cannot name all the soldiers who distinguish themselves & when he once commences does not know where to stop, for Woodland Margaret looks at me reproachfully, whilst “Thad Trotter,” “Rivers,” “Alex Backmetoff” & Giant of Battles seem to glow redder with indignation at being passed over and Alpha grows more saffron with mortification. So I desist. The Dahlias are growing fine and have increased greatly so that I look for a harvest of beauty from them.
All here is peaceful & happy—a bright contrast to some portions of our desolated country. Teach me to estimate the blessing as I ought! Give me, O God, a grateful heart and to our country the blessing of Peace! One thing reminds me of war, a trifle it is too, but still a change in my domestic economy: I have come to the manufacture of Tallow Candles! Fanny & I worry over the wicks & Patrick over the light, whilst Vinyard is kept on the qui vive about grease on the floor. Some people have not the tallow to make candles of, so I have another cause of gratitude.
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