November 29, 1863
I do try to obey the Psalmist injunction & “not exercise myself in great matters which are too high for me,” but this General, this Bragg, & Mr Davis’ pertinacity in keeping him in command in spite of his repeated failures try my humility sorely! On the 24th he telegraphs to Gen Cooper, “We have had a prolonged struggle for Lookout Mountain today & sustained considerable loss in one Division. Elsewhere the enemy has only manoevred for position,” which is, as the Examiner say, merely an announcement that Thomas is flanking him! Next day he tells the whole of his bad fortune, but as I announced his barren Victories in his own words, let me use the same medium to record his pregnant defeats. “Chickamauga.” So, mon General, you have fallen back from Chattanooga, concluded not to shell the Yankees out at pleasure. But to go on, “Chickamauga Nov 25, 1863. Gen S Cooper A, & I Gen [ -- ] “After several unsuccessful assaults upon our line today, the enemy carried the left centre about four o’clock. The whole left soon gave way in considerable disorder. The right maintained its ground repelling every assault. I am withdrawing all to this point.” signed — “Braxton Bragg.” That is to say, Gen Bragg, you are defeated & instead of shelling have been shelled. “Let not him that putteth on his armour boast as he who putteth it off”!
This is a heavy blow to us, one under which the Confederacy staggers to the centre. Yet let us not be discouraged. “Tis of the wave and not the rock.” No other official news since, tho Telegrams from Atlanta tell us that the slaughter was terrific & what fills us with the saddest forebodings, that none of the wounded have as yet been brought in. Can it be that they were deserted? captured? God in his mercy forbid. We have been cruelly anxious since Thursday when we received the news, but since then (& it is now Sunday) our unfortunate Gen distinguishes himself like the little man in the Spectator “by a profound silence.” Nor are our anxieties confined to the South West, for Meade is again advancing, apparently with the design of giving battle. Our army occupies the old battlefield of Chancellorsville, saddened to us by the loss of Stonewall Jackson, & is said to be in fine trim & discipline. Heavy canonading was heard by the last accounts at Ely’s & Germanna fords, and it was supposed that Meade was endeavoring to cross. God defend the Right!
My nephew Thomas Devereux, my brother’s eldest son, joined the army last week just in time to flash his maiden sword. God shield and protect him! He was eighteen only the middle of this month. Ah! my country! how long will you thus be drained of thy best blood! thy future glory and strength!? Where are our men of education & science, our enlightened Statesmen, our wise Rulers to come from when our youths of eighteen are snatched from their studies, their minds but half disciplined, their intellectual development but half completed, their memories but half stored & thrown into the turmoil of a Camp & left to encounter “idleness or peril”? But courage! courage & faith! God, out of the humblest means, the most discordant elements, can bring forth the most glorious end, the most delightful harmony, & tho my young countrymen may not be so skilled in the learning of Greece & Rome, tho the quadrature of the circle & the Mysteries of the Conic Sections may be a sealed book to them, let us trust that they will bring back from the battle field a knowledge of men, of the secret springs of the human heart, & that fitted, as they will be by having learned obedience, to govern, the future of our country in their hands will be both glorious & prosperous; and that War whilst she strips from them many a modern refinement & even the wisdom of the schools will gild them with her own barbaric virtues, a lofty contempt of danger and a chivalric devotion to woman as the type of all that is gentle & pure — a spirit of self sacrafice which will make them spring to the defence of the weak, a devotion to their country & her cause which shall haunt them like a passion, a love of honour, and a contempt of all that is mean, which shall be their guiding star through life!
Sally Hoskins left us on Friday the 27th, having paid what was to us a most pleasant visit. Have been very busy since she left knitting her a pr of gloves which Pattie will take to her on Tuesday, for she then leaves us & together do these two demoiselles encounter the perils of brute Butler’s savage reign, returning to their homes within the lines, sorely against our wishes and advice, but young folks “maun hae their way,” and I hope the change will be of service to Pattie & cheer up her drooping spirits.
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
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