July 10, 1862
About sunrise this morning was awakened by Fanny with the agreeable intelligence that one of the horses was sick. Why is it that our Equine friends always select the time that their master is from home for their indispositions? Felt much relieved when I heard that Grachus was the sufferer and commenced the administration of “a whole pharmacopeia,” which excited Mr Higgs admiration so much, by mixing two tablespoonsful of Laudanum, 3 of Spt of Turpentine, & a pint nearly of Apple Brandy which I sent to Allen with orders at once to give it to him & tried to take another nap but failed. The mental exercise I had undergone banished sleep, so I lay. Speculated upon the probably doings of the Yankees until I heard father come down stairs, then dressed at double quick so as to attend to breakfast. I would not have “dawdled” half so much had Patrick been at home, but so it is—I miss him in all things. After breakfast to Chess as usual until we were interrupted by brother, who came out on receipt of the news from Hamilton. Shortly after came a note from Nannie Hill kindly telling us the news.
In all probability the Yankees came up to seize a steamer which was there loading with Corn for Weldon. It seems Mr George Smith had what he considered reliable information that there were no Gun boats at Plymouth & ventured down so low hoping to secure at least one cargo, but he was mistaken or rather purposely misled it is thought through their agency. Three Gun boats suddenly made their appearance & commenced an indiscriminate shelling in which however they succeeded in killing only one poor harmless little child! Mr Smith & crew jumped overboard and escaped by swimming. Capt Whitaker’s company under command of his Lieut fired upon them & with such success that five of them were killed and seven wounded. This we knew to be a fact, for they landed in Hamilton, seized a physician who chanced to be there, carried him on board, & made him dress the wounded; & he saw the dead men, after which they released him, remarking that they had paid “dear for the whistle,” i.e., the little steamer which they captured. Nannie wound up her note with the information that “the Yankees had taken Richmond,” that is, Mr. Smith’s negro of the name of Richmond who remained on board when they all left, whether voluntarily or not I cannot tell. We could not learn the name of the child who was killed. Poor little thing, a gallant achievement truly for men to be engaged in. It is great cause of thankfulness to us that they have suffered so severely. Capt Coles Company repulsed them recently at Winton & now this second repulse atHamiltonwill make them dread our crooked narrow River more than ever!
No mail again today, which we think strange. We are impatient for news, news of McClellan, will he retreat or entrench? Entrench say I and wait reinforcements & then advance up the River to Drury’s Bluff, perhaps on the South side under cover of his gun boats.
Brother left after dinner. I think he seems more hopeful. Father better. So to bed, wondering where Mr E is and whether he will get home tomorrow.
Poor old Phoebe died yesterday. It is wonderful that she has lived so long. She has been sick since April & seriously so, too, & she must have been a very old woman from her appearance and infirmities.
The Militia all ordered toEnfieldwhich we do not understand. Probably
… “An order came”—
“Someone has blundered!”
Not however with the serious consequences which followed the blunder atBalaclava.
This charge of MaGruders to capture the battery in front when it could have been in half an hour more taken in the rear is a similar one to that celebrated, “c’est magnifique!—mais ce n’est pas la Guerre” one of the Lords Lucan or Cardigan, I forget which, at Balaklava. The loss of life is tremendous and the wounded are counted by scores—allNorth Carolinatroops. She had thirty three Regts in the battles beforeRichmond. One fourth the troops on the field were furnished by her. This charge is pronounced “not one of the ills necessary to War” and yet I fear if many more such blunders are made by ignorant or temporarily incompetent Generals, as ours have latterly shown themselves, it will not long be the case. Mistakes of officers & neglect of duty by them have cost us rivers of blood.
Ah! Gen Huger, I wish you would retire to private life. But for you, McClellan would never have joined forces & ere this one half of his army would have been routed & the other either annihilated or forced to surrender. All this lost by your negligence! Commodore Tatnal’s blunders cost us the Merrimac: you dashed the cup of full success from our lips as we were about to drain it to the dregs.
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