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August 22, 1864

No mail since the 18th & yesterday came tidings of the cause of the failure which has perplexed us not a little. The enemy have again cut the Petersburg & Weldon R R at Reams’ Station 9 miles from Petersburg. Rumours of a similar disaster to both the Southside & the Danville Road, but we know not how to credit them. God knows how this state of uncertainty & ignorance distresses us! The cutting of the R R is always a preliminary to an advance on Grant’s part. He has been unusually active crossing & recrossing the James as a feint to throw dust into Gen Lee’s eyes, so as to conceal the point of his real attack, & like the cuttle fish muddy the water so as to make good his escape; so the next news (when we get it) will be stirring.

I have fallen into sad idle ways this summer, & in order to correct them take a hint from the Spectator & faithfully record the doings of one day and see how little — how absolutely little, do I effect. The first thing on leaving my chamber on Sat morning was the usual family prayers. Then seizing a stocking I darned a few runs whilst Mr E read the regular no of the Spectator with which we occupy ourselves whilst breakfast is brought in. Breakfast. Peeled a muskmelon & prepared it for pickling, dawdled about, put up a few seeds, & read a sermon on the death of Moses to Patty. Went to the Storeroom with Dolly & ordered dinner & had 2 barrels of flour packed. Darned a little more on Mr E’s stockings. At ½ past 9 father called me to chess — played until 12. Got the Luncheon & cut some water melons for the girls. As it was overcast & pleasant went into the garden, gathered the Musk melons, walked around the Flower Garden, peeped at my grapes, wound up my stroll at the “soltaire” where I had directed Fanny to bring my tea. Read the lessons for the day & did some other little devotional reading. Drank my tea, wrote my Journal, went to the house, arranged the fruit for Dessert, dressed for dinner, dined, talked to Mr E whilst he smoked his cigarrito, chatted with Patty, took up the interminable stocking, darned a little, when father proposed chess. Played for an hour & a half at least, seized the stocking again, put it down to commence Mattie’s straw Hat for her & to teach her how to sew the straw, & as a shower prevented my usual afternoon walk, at the stocking again until near dark. Arranged the waiters for tea with the girls assistance, lit the candles, & superintended the tea table. Ordered breakfast, finished the inevitable pr of socks, darned two pr for myself, went to my room & closed the day with a warm bath & the evening lessons.

Now what a little did I accomplish. True I had more of the servants work to superintend & execute myself on account of its being the midsummer Holidays & I had allowed Betsy & Fanny to go to the dinner at the Plantation & Madame Vinyard’s Confinement threw the stocking darning on me, but what did I that would entitle me to the sensation that “something accomplished — something done had earned a night’s repose”? I must do better for the future.

Vinyard made her appearance in the house today, her child Frances being four weeks old on Sat, so that my labours as a stocking darner are happily at an end. Will I substitute anything as useful in its place? One thing I must arm myself with — a double stock of patience, for Vinyard always a trial will be a double one after her months idleness.

The mail has just come in with details of the engagement of Tuesday at Deep Bottom. At one time the enemy had possession of a mile of our entrenchments, Grant having encassed 40,000 men on one point, but by slowly retreating & keeping a bold front we prevented their further advance until, reinforcements coming up, we drove them from our lines in confusion & with great slaughter. Sad to say we lost Maj Gen Girardy & Brig Gen Chambliss killed, which was not I fear compensated by the loss of their dancing Master Gen Ferero, who cut his last caper at Deep Bottom. Ferero’s death was a gain to them & a corresponding loss to us. Girardy & Chambliss were fine young officers & both leave wives & families of small children to mourn for them.

I referred above to the “Soltaire.” I have never described it. We have had a small house in the garden known to the rest of the world as a tool or root House privately fitted up, as a drawing room. A couch, two chairs, a table for writing, an ink stand, a portfolio, a vase of flowers, a shelf, a few books, & a broom constitute its whole furniture. Here Mr E & myself retire when we wish to be absolutely alone. When I find him in it before me I enter only on suffrance. It is a private place of whose very existence no one but ourselves know of & when we are wearied, out of sorts, or have some thing to do which demands quiet & seclusion we retire there & shut out family cares & with them all the rest of the world. It is so arranged that we can see out without being seen in turn & here have I taken my bible, prayer book, & Journal & with the perfume of sweet flowers around me I can daily read & lift up my heart in gratitude, better I fancy than I can in the house. Here, too, we make little appointments to meet at a certain hour & chat & spend the time at our ease. I come in & find some little evidence that he has been before me, a peach or a pear or a book left open at the page he has been reading, & I go out & leave a memento for him — a Rose, a vase of fresh flowers, a half written letter, & the air of secresy & seclusion with which we invest the time spent there gives it a double zest. It is like “Stolen fruit or bread eaten in secret.”

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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Wednesday 20th July 1864

This is Pinck’s birth day. He is eight years old today. I remember this day eight years ago very well. Mrs. Peake & Dr. Peake were there. They came the evening of the 7th Saturday & Pinck was born five minutes of twelve on Sunday morning. The house was full of boarders. We had many things then to what we have now. The burning of that hotel nearly broke us up. I hope to be as comfortably fixed some day again. A great many changes have come over us since then. We buried one of our darling children since & now have three younger than Pinck living. Pinck is well grown to his age. The summer he was a year old, 1857, I thought he would die. He was sick three months with diarrhea. He was nothing but skin and bone. I have dressed him many a morning & never expected to undress him alive. I nursed him nearly all the time. Sometimes Atheline would walk him some. We rode him out every day. Sometimes Sister Jane & I would ride him but mostly Mr. Henry and I . We had a nice buggy then & a gentle poney we worked. I am thankful my child was restored to health. May he make an honorable high toned man & a useful member of society. I wish all my boys the same. May they all be useful to their country & Piously incline. Lead their young hearts unto Thee Oh Lord I pray. I wish my dear little daughter may grow up a virtuous chaste woman. May she never err from virtuous faith & when they come to die may the “dread their graves as little as their beds.” Mr. Henry out in the farm all day. I finished my dress this evening. It fits very neatly. Mrs. Fanning got the cloth out today. No news from the army. They are expected a raid on Asheville every day. They are fortifying there now. I do hope & pray the enemy will never get in. Like David I ask Oh! Lord may we not fall into the hands of our enemies.

 

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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June the 16 1864

My Dear husband

Tracing of a newborn's hand for her soldier father, June 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, North Carolina State Archives.

“The size of the baby’s hand.”  Tracing of a newborn’s hand for her soldier father, June 1864. Poteet-Dickson Letters, North Carolina State Archives.

I seat My self this evening  to write you a few lines to let you know how we are Some of us is not well me and Thomas Francis Emer Susannah Amy Jane has the bowell complaint I aint Much sick but I do hope these few  lines May Reach your kind hands and find you in good health  My corn looks very well Thomas will finish plowing it the second time today we hav this side the Creek to hoe My Neighbours says that if nothing happens I will Make a heap of Corn the sweet potatoes is very prety and the  irish potatoes is the pretyest I ever seen I hav a mess today I wish you  was hear to eat some with me I would be so glad I would not know how to behave I hav to live very hard I haint nothing Much to eat but bread  and not Much of that if you was hear I would not hav to live so hard nor I woudent hav to work when I was not able My baby will be 4 weeks old Saturday Night she was born the 21 of May write to Me what to name her I had the best time I ever had and I hav bin the stoutest ever sens I  haint lay in bed in day time in two Weeks today I thank the Lord that he has answerd your prayers and mine beyon what I could expected but he has all power I feel very thankfull that it is as well with you as what it is I hope that God will  bless us to be spared to rais our children your Mother is well her and Jemima Come to see me yesterday Grason Dickson run away and got to Camp Vance and had to go back I dont want you to vote for vance vote for Holden vance is to be in Marion next Monday to speak  James Neal has bought 500 bushels of corn for this County but it haint  come yet and he says that when they eat it they may die and go to hell  Louis Walker and Tery Walker is at home wounded your Mother says tell you  howdy for her and the children sends you howdy and tell you that they hav to  work very hard and wishes you was hear to help them [illeg] this evening I would like to hear from you to know if you hav got hurt I am very uneasy about you  I do hope and pray that God will shield you from all harm and danger and  spar your life to come home to me and your little children I know that you want to see your sweet little baby I would be very glad to see you if I could but I cant nor I dont know  whether I ever will or not God knows I dont you dont know what a hard  time I hav I am ruined if you dont never come home I cant work another year as hard as I hav this if the children was not as good as they are I dont know what I would do the Lord has blessed us and I hope he will continue to bless us while we are separated and bring us together agin in this life pray for us my Dear that we dont perish thread is 100 dollars Cotten is two dollars apound I dont know what I am to do but I will do the best I can and trust in God for help all of our help comes from him  write to me soon wen I can hear from you and hear that you are well it dos me  a heap of good May the lord bless and save you is the prayer of your desolate Wife

farwell my Dear husband

M. A. E. Poteet to her loving husband F. M. Poteet

God bless and save you
Source: Poteet-Dickson Letters, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC. As found on www.ncecho.org

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May 5, 1864

Burnside is on the move from Anapolis certainly. I have said nothing of the Christian warrior, as his plans & movements have been so uncertain that one rumour contradicted the last. Now, however, he has dismissed his transports & declining to “stand like a sea god distinguished by his yellow belt” again, he marches over land to Alexandria, leaves his negro Brigade along the Orange & Alex R R, & brings his White troops to reinforce Grant. Some change in the Yankee programme has evidently taken place & the key to it is to be found in order of Meade’s announcing to his troops whose term of enlistment expires this month that the date of their mustering into service is not when they were sworn in & signed their enlistment papers but when they left the respective States in which they were levied. This has caused great discontent amongst the “Veterans.” He urges them to comport themselves well & not to sully their Laurels by insubordination & hints plainly enough at Military Law & its bloody enforcement should they neglect his admonition. The Penn Legislature has taken the matter in hand & petition Congress that the rights of her citizens in the army be not disregarded.

Rumours are rife that on Monday last an expedition under Hoke went down to attack New berne, but a profound silence is maintained on the subject by all the papers. Heavy cannonading heard in the direction of Washington. In the extreme west all goes well for us. The Yankees admit a second defeat at [ -- ] & claim to have killed Kirby Smith & Stirling Price. We have heard naught of it & have no uneasiness as regards our gallant Generals. Our Victory at Cane Creek was decisive. The Abolitionists themselves admit that “Banks army is demoralized” & fearfully cut up. More than thirty transports & some Gunboats are caught above a Raft in the Red River by a sudden fall in the water & the crews are blowing them up burning them to prevent their falling into our hands. Great activity prevails in our army in Northern Va, but we know nothing save that a battle is imminent & even now may be raging. God defend the right!

Sophia & her infant are with us this week. She is quite weak but a few days of careful observation of her has lessened my anxiety on her account. Her baby is the best I almost ever saw.

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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Friday 11th [March 1864]

Matt & I sit up til near 11 o’clock last night. The wind blew very hard in the night about two. It frightened me. Two of the men that went off last night with Mr. Henry came here for breakfast this morning. Mr. Henry will be on soon, he stopped at Capt. Moore’s. Atheline very unwell this morning, sent after Dr. Thrash, could not come then. After Neilson he could not come & then after Mrs. Anders. She came about 12 but the babe was born sometime before. A boy, very small. Mr. Henry came about 10. I cleaned upstairs & the smoke house this morning, did not finish the smoke house but Rose did. I heard this morning that Aunt Patsey died yesterday evening about sunset. I was surprised as I thought she was getting well. I am sorry she is dead. I hope she is at rest. I wanted to go there this evening, but had nothing to ride as Nell is rode down & Mrs. Anders went home on John. This is Willie’s birth day. He is three years old this evening at fifteen M. after six o’clock & Gus was born a year ago last Tuesday 8th at 23 m. after 8 o’clock in the morning (Sunday) & Willie was born on Monday. Zona was born on the 21st of this month, on 25 after 9 o’clock on Monday 1859. Cora was born ten m. after three Nove. 17th Tuesday 1857 in the evening & died Sept. 10th 25m. of 9 o’clock in morning Friday 1858, aged 9 months & 23 days. I thought my heart would break when I seen my baby was dead. Oh God may I never have to have another such a trial but He doeth all things well. I felt it then & do now. Our eldest born, Pinck, come into this beautiful world 20th July 5 m. of 12 o’clock in the morning, Sunday 1856. He will be 8 years old in July. I am getting very anxious to see Pinck. He is a dear good boy. I had a letter from Lou last Monday. She has a fine daughter, weighed 12 lbs. at birth, born 10th Jan. 1864. She is very proud of her babe. The mail brought but little news this morning.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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Infanticide

We learn that yesterday morning the body of a new born white female infant was found in the Cape Fear River just above the wharf of the Wilmington & Weldon RR Co. It was wrapped in a new piece of flannel, neatly trimmed, with a piece of flannel round its neck, also a rope to which was attached a piece of iron, which proved not sufficient to keep the body down when it swelled and thus became buoyant. We have not heard of any particulars that have been discovered leading to its identification, but the circumstances, especially the rope or cord and the iron weight attached as a sinker, leave no doubt of foul play. The infant could not have been over forty-eight hours old. An inquest was held by Coroner Perrin, but no facts elicited beyond those connected with the finding of the body. Indeed no witnesses appeared or could be found, save those by whom the body was discovered. [Wilmington Journal]

Source: Greensborough Patriot, September 17, 1863 as found on www.ncecho.org

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Thursday 25th [June 1863]

I finished my dress today. I sewed a little on it Tuesday morning before my head got so bad. Nothing new. Rumour says Lee’s army has gone to Pensilvania. “tis not confirmed yet. Rain, rain. It rained yesterday & all day today. Tom Tidwell started home yesterday. Jinnie spinning. This evening I hoed out my flowers in the front yard. They needed it badly. Aunt Tena getting the web ready for the boy’s pants. They need them now. It is ready to warp.

Friday 26th [June 1863]

Mrs. Fanning warped the cloth today. It rained nearly all day. The thread did not get wet to hurt it. Betsey Jamison here today, will come back in the morning to put the cloth in. I began Atheline’s calico dress today, made skirt & sleeves. Her & Jinnie spinning. No news this morning. I received a letter from Matt saying Sister Jane had another daughter born 17th ult. Little Dora is only fourteen months & a few days old. She is rearing another youngster in a hurry. Harrie still at a standstill, his cough is no better.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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