August 6, 1862
A letter from James yesterday tells me that he was in the nocturnal attack on the fleet in James River, had a terribly fatiguing time, but escaped unhurt. He thinks the damage we inflicted on them must have been severe, as when the guns were trailed the lights on board the transports were burning brightly. I am afraid they shot too high or there would have been some evidence of the damage in the morning. An adventurous party of our men dashed into McClellan’s lines & captured 200 beeves, which were at least a mile within them. We will make him repent his “brilliant strategic movement” yet. The day after the night attack a force estimated at 10,000 strong landed on the south side of James River, supposed to reconnoiter. The cowardly scoundrels sent over a detachment of men & burned the residence of Mrs Cole, a widow lady living nearly opposite Berkeley, because one of the Batteries had taken position in her Grounds & fired at them opposite, as if she, even had she the inclination, could have helped it. She with her children were at the house of a neighbor when they landed & fired every building on the premises. I warrant they plundered the house, which is a very fine one, first.
Seventeen years ago yesterday Mr Edmondston first told me that he loved me and asked me to marry him. Seventeen happy hears—no not seventeen, for the year of my engagement was not a happy one; it was a severe struggle to break off old ties & it cost me much but after that was over I was as happy as it was possible for mortal to be. No, I was not, for I am happier now than I was then. I know him better & have a feeling of more entire friendship for him which grows stronger the longer I live. I had a little superstitious feeling yesterday, lest the anniversary of the day which gave him to me might take him away, i.e., order came ordering him into active service, but I was agreeably disappointed. I have at least two days respite, for we do not send to the mail before Thursday again.
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