September 11, 1862
Patrick left home this morning for Garysburg to see Capt Reinhart, the sole Capt left in Edmondston’s Battalion. He has been ordered there & knows not what to do. This delay of the War Department in a matter seemingly so simple seems very strange! Why can’t Mr Randolph say, “No Col E, I cannot fill your Battalion” & order Capt Reinhart elsewhere, or “yes, Col E, take such & such Companies & take the filed at once.” But no it requires as much management as an affair of State.
I was shocked & distressed greatly yesterday by hearing of the death of my young neighbor, Mrs Sheilds (Susan Whitemore). I saw her on Sat & thought her quite sick, but I have had daily messages from her (she sending to me only the day before for some crackers & some Cordial & Wine), & each time they have said she was improving; & when the servant came with my empty baskets, so sure was I that she wanted something from me that I met her with the query—“how or now, what can I do for Miss Susan today?” and to my horror heard she had died about an hour before. Her infant was born on Wednesday & she, poor thing, taken with dysentery the night after. She lived just a week & sunk suddenly, I suppose, for Dr Hall could not be summoned to her, as he had gone to visit a distant patient.
After Patrick left his morning I made a beautiful Chaplet of White & delicate Lilac, Dahlias, Evergreens, Feverfew, Citarena, etc., & sent it over to be laid on the coffin, being unable to go myself as Patrick went in the carriage. Poor Mrs. Whitemore! when I saw her on Sat, in all the importance of a Grandmother, & noticed the change which the possession of a little property has wrought in her (for I have not seen her since her husband left father’s employment), the glories of her new front & stylish cape, the De Dage dress, the tone in which she spoke of “Mr Moore’s orchard,” “our niggers,” etc., & thought how much happiness the possession of a little money can give & what changes it brings in the manners & conduct of its possessors, I little thought so heavy a cloud was hanging over & ready to burst upon her! Poor woman, she must be crushed to the earth. I will go & see her, fifteen miles tho it is to her house, in a few days & at least assure her of my sympathy & kindly interest.
Worked steadily all day on my large flat fan fly brush. It is a beautiful piece of work but very troublesome. I will never undertake another so large. However, it amuses me & it is employment. Read Sismondi. I have got to Calderon in the Spanish Literature. I am sorry that Nannie wanted to begin the book before I had finished it, for I feel impelled as it were to read on steadily so as not to keep her waiting & I wished when I got to a review of those books to which I have access to run through them myself in connection with Sismondi, Cervantes, The Spanish Ballads, particularaly those of the Cid, & now Calderon, but I must trust my memory. I have only Leigh Hunt’s Italian Poets & Boiardo, Pulci, Ariosto, Tasso, Dante even, etc., are run through by him almost as expeditiously as Sismondi dispatches them, so there is not much to be gained there. “Beware of the man of one book,” it is said, & I believe it to be true, for I fancy I read too much. My mind is I fear like a Kaleidiscope, one picture effaces the other before it is fixed, and I am too old now to remedy it. Ah! that we could be wise on the experience of others! My Grandmother often told me the time would come when I would not remember what I read, & I used to listen to her with a respectful wondering unbelief, but I find it is so. Ah, she was a remarkable woman, my Grandmother, how few we see like her, and yet with all her cultivation, with all the true piety I believe she possessed, her vigorous mind even, I am glad I am not. For to me to be loved is greater happiness than to be either revered or admired & we all stood too much in awe of her to dare to pour out the full feelings of our hearts before her & that I would not like.
It is lonely here tonight, so Journal, as you are my only companion, I feel like having a long chat with you. Let me see, there are many topics which fill my heart & thoughts. We will discuss them. First the Conscript Act & Mr E’s plans—but no! I want a relaxation & that I have thought over so often & looked at in so many lights that my mind turns from it as from a sorrowful remembrance. It awakens an ache of anxiety at the bare mention. Then Bessie’s matters, but Journal, that is not my own secret. “Noblesse oblige,” that I confide it not even to you. Then anxieties about Raleigh people, but I have no business to express them either. Can’t I find one topic, pleasant, and at the same time open, which I can freely talk over with you, Journal? No not one! Literature is the only perfectly unfettered and at the same time cheerful subject left to me & to dwell long on that changes you, Journal, from your legitimate & proper sphere to a mere Composition or Essay. So Journal, I will first express my fears for our Army in Maryland & then—
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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