July 22, 1862
The mail yesterday brought Patrick letters from James to the effect that Gen Holmes has been transferred from this Department to the Trans Mississippi—just as Patrick had presented his credentials & Statement to him requesting to be placed in command of the Cav Companies in this State. He seems unfortunate, but I am not inconsolable under it, as I see the hand of God in thus directing him. Gen Holmes successor is to be Gen D H Hill, his old friend but some time must elapse before he could know enough of the Companies to be able to recommend the Sec to throw them into a Regt & in the mean time his Commission will expire. So he has only to look to the result of his application to the Sec, which is but a faint hope; but as I said before I am content.
Walked with Patrick through the grove & orchard. Had some trees cut out & must speedily mark more so as to give it a good thinning. Found the apples on Woolman’s Harvest ripe & most beautiful, perfect in form and with an exquisite waxen look & what is better, as pleasant to the taste as beautiful to the eye. Amused myself with my note book much to Patrick’s merriment. He says not one fact I have recorded is of any practical use, but I boldly answer Mr Utilitarian that the amusement that compiling it affords me is use enough. It keeps me from ennuie & rubs up my education, besides fostering the taste for Literature & Belles Lettre which with some persons flag as they grow old—may it never be so with me.
Looked out “swivet,” could only find it in the Provincial Dictionary where, quite in opposition to the sense in which I used it, it means “a deep sleep.” So it is “slang,” & therefore Mrs Edmondston you owe your journal a humble apology for having used it, for tho’ it does not aspire to be “a well of pure English undefiled” yet it scorns modern innovations & slang disgusts it outright. What is slang, however? “Rennible” is in no dict that ever I could discover & yet it is a good old English word, crowded out of the language by more modern “fluent” altho they do not express exactly the same thing & tho obsolete still it is not “slang.” Quiz was slang, but it has been adopted into good society & tho it has not yet found its way into the Dict, has not yet that certificate of right, yet no one would venture to accuse another of inelegance in its use. But a little good sense & good taste I suppose determine the matter for every one. This Yankee habit of coining new words when they have old ones which express their meaning perfectly is abominable. “Skedaddle” is their elegant word to express a precipitate retreat. They make the “rebels skedaddle” very often in the imagination and sometimes they “skedaddle” themselves. I hope that this will be one point of difference between us in future. They may be as careless in their language as they choose; we, I hope, will preserve our noble gift with jealous care & make our spoken conform to our written language.
Vicksburg still holds out whilst we are making advances in Tennessee, even beating up their quarters at the gates ofNashville. Andy Johnson, a wretch, has resigned & gone to Washington after oppressing his native state as much as he could & heaping up for himself a future of infamy.
McClellan lies quietly on the James awaiting reinforcements. His army is represented as being prostrated with sickness. Burnside with the most of his force has gone to him & the rumour goes that he is to march up the South side of James River, take Petersburg, & then co operate with McClellan in an attack on Drury’s Bluff to open the River to the Gun boats when all three, McClellan, Burnside, and the Gun boats, will advance on Richmond. Conscripts are being hurried on to fill up our broken ranks & we are preparing to give them a warm reception on their next “On to Richmond” movement.
Pope is at the head of a Column which menaces the Valley, but JacksonI hope will soon manage him. Huger is relieved of his command and placed at the head of the Ordnance Department—a place he is fitted for & would that he had occupied it instead of the passes of the Chickahominy. Had he been alert every thing goes to prove that the whole northern army would have fallen into our hands.
A cartel for the exchange of prisoners has been concluded, but we hear nothing more of the demand for Butler. Neither do we of the present said to have been sent by the merchants of Liverpool, so I fear it was a false statement. Truth pure maiden where art Thou? Certainly not abroad in this Country!
Letters from father. He has left Kittrell’s & is in Raleigh on his way to the Catawba White Sulphur—in some respects better, in others not so well.
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