June 16, 1862
Yesterday James came in whilst we were at dinner, hot, dusty & tired. He brought us the rumour that our army of the west, now that Corinth has been evacuated, is to be with drawn entirely & thrown before Richmond. Fort Pillow has at length fallen, having been flanked by a land force, & Memphis is in the hands of the enemy. No cotton found there, however, it all having been burned. Our cotton clad fleet under Jeff Thompson is destroyed & Vicksburg alone remains to make any opposition to the navigation of theMississippi.
Yesterday was the anniversary of our dear Papa’s death. Ah! what a loss to us. He has the bond that kept us united into one family & now that he is gone how separated are we all. We have not heard even from any of the family for two months. Children are born to them & we hear it accidentally only. A severance seems to have taken place & we are no longer one family but several; each son is the head of his own circle & now that the central head is gone around which all revolved each goes on in his own eccentric orbit without heed to the other—the course of nature, I suppose, but it seems very sad.
A brilliant exploit has enlivened our Army before Richmond. Gen Stuart with a strong force of Cavalry left Richmond on a reconnaissance and made a circuit of the entire lines of the enemy, burning three transports loaded with supplies, overthrowing a force of Cavalry sent to oppose him, & taking many prisoners and 300 mules & horses besides destroying a number of army wagons & a warehouse filled with Coffee. He left Richmond on Thursday, went by Hanover Court House around to the Pamuncky where he burned the vessels, & returned by the Charles City road. He reached the Chicahominy during the night of Friday & found the stream swollen & the bridge destroyed. What was to be done? The cavalry could cross at some risk by swimming, but what of the prisoners & mules?
During the conference a friendly voice whispered in the darkness, “The old bridge can be repaired. The sleepers are standing. It is but a little way up the stream.” Placing a guard over the prisoners with directions to shoot them if they made a noise, to work they went & before the following foe could overtake them in the darkness the bridge was repaired. Men & horses crossed over & as day dawned on them they could see the Yankees mustering on the other side; but in vain!—their escape was made and they entered Richmond in triumph! Truly a brilliant episode.
Went to the plantation with Mr E & commenced digging up my Hyacinth roots. To my sorrow I found some of the finest of them rotted. So much, Mrs Edmondston, for procrastination or over particularity in wishing to see it done yourself.
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