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Extract from Dr. Hubbard’s sermon [on the death of George Burgwin Johnston]

 

I have thought it fit to present these reflections to your minds, because we have had in recent months not a few intimations of our mortality & in the past week, one which has filled with a peculiar sadness the hearts of those who knew him who was departed, best.

It is not our intention to eulogize the dead. When once, in the burial service, the benediction of the Church has been pronounced over the departed, she leads them in her master’s keeping, trusting in His words of promise, & His unfailing mercies. Yet it is well, sometimes, when our hearts are deeply touched by the loss of a friend, to retain the impression of our loss, & confirm our memory of the excellent qualities of him who has been taken from us. And surely there are not a few here present to whom the life of one as lovely & this early death furnish both admonition & example. To that end would I speak of him.

A life of only twenty three years is too brief for what the world would call the achievement of great things. It is then that the elements of the character are arranging themselves around those centres which are to determine all its energy & activities in the future. This early period is the season of hopes, of plans, of discipline, of preparation, when the muscles of the soul are developed, its strength maturing. And it is because, in the death of our late friend, so rich hopes have been extinguished, a training so admirable cut off from all its results, that we grieve over our share in his loss so deeply.

Capt. Johnson seems to have had a rare constitution of nature always amiable, & affectionate, always firm in duty, safety & generous in all his impulses & purposes; from his very childhood to have exhibited those traits which in later years won so entirely the regards of those who knew him. As a student of the University he was faithful in every relation, to his teachers, to his fellows, to himself. No appointed service was left undone, & each & all well done. His acknowledged superiority in talents & attainments excited no envy in others, no pride in himself: while his upright manly bearing gained for him from every quarter respect & confidence. Few young men have for many years left College with purer name, or with brighter prospects of usefulness & distinctions. When he became a teacher, all that was anticipated for him was realized; popular because he was faithful, & successful because he was in earnest, & creating everywhere esteem & affection by his transparent unselfishness & purity of heart. The same qualities he carried into his brief soldier-life, & these for they earned like rewards.

The crowning beauty of his character, & the source of all his rare excellencies, was his christian faith. Trained in christian duty, from early life, there seems to have been no time when the light of Heaven did not shine on him, & he grew up in the purpose of consecration to God, & so all along to the end dwell in that peculiar calmness & peace, which comes from a pure conscious, & an obedient heart, & the superadded grace of the Spirit.

Loving much, he was loved much. Patient and submissive he was gently carried in the arms of the Great Shepherd. He was strengthened from above to lead, what many who hear one will join me in calling a most exemplary & consistent life, & so received that gift, almost more excellent, of consolation & an arm to lean on in his long passage through the valley of the shadows of death.  “Not my will, but thine be done” was in those trying hours, the language of his heart & lips,& can we doubt that the humble disciple thus following in word & spirit The blessed Master is this day “with Him, to go out no more from him forever”?

 

April 10th 1864.

 

Source: George Burgwin Johnston Papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh as found on www.ncecho.org.

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March 5, 1864

Saturday — Have had a busy week, having been since Tuesday out at Hascosea gardening. I have used the scissors & prunning knife so much that my hand is actually sore & so disfigured with scratches that it makes me laugh to look at it. Went on Friday to attend to poor Tom’s grave. I had a rustic cross of cedar made for the head stone which will I hope before the summer is over be covered with ivy and had the grave itself covered with ivy, thinking that better than turf. I carried some evergreens but found that they would interfere with the general plan of the Cemetery, so gave them to Mrs Smith to be used at her discretion. I found her there superintending some workmen engaged in preparing the earth for placing a fine collection of evergreens which Mr Cheshire was to bring in the afternoon. Went to see Mrs Spruill, poor woman, & had a rapid canter home & found Mr E engaged in plans for the capture of Cumbo, Hoody Manuel, & some white men who are lurking about Mr. Johnston’s & father’s plantation. Today he had quite a levee in the dining room at Hascosea & came home to Looking Glass “a toute bride”  to meet some other (Northampton) men here & tonight he is off posting guards & looking about for them.

We missed several mails whilst out at Hascosea & stirring times indeed has the Confederacy passed through. On the 29th Gen Lee telegraphed from Orange Court House that the enemy’s Cavalry were moving on both his flanks, that one column had gone in the direction of Fredericks’ Hall on the Central Road & the other in that of Charlottsville. On this all the defences available were brought into action. The Richmond Clerks (Government) were called out & measures taken to intercept the marauders, for such only are they to be termed, for their object seemed to be only negroes and horses, their errand to burn & to steal. They divided themselves into several parties, each seeming to vie with the other, Kilpatrick in command, he the prince of theives! But I beg Gen Butler’s pardon! No one can out rank him in that line. One division pursued almost the same route as that taken by the Raiders last summer, through Goochland, past Hanover, & thence across the Pamunky. They burned Mr Morson’s house, barn, & outhouse, sacking & plundering as they listed & then going to his neighbor and brother in law Sec Seddon’s,  they burned his barns and provisions, only leaving the residence. One troop came within 2½ miles of Richmond, to the house of Mr John Young, & ordered dinner & there remained for two or three hours, making their band (a fine one) play for them. They were, contrary to the usual custom very polite & did no damage but made fine speeches to the ladies, & apologized for taking the mules & horses Mr Y being from home, fortunately for him, at the time.

This, (Kilpatrick’s) Division, came down to Battery no 9 of the Richmond Defences & threw several shells at long range at it, but none of them came close enough to do any damage save to Mother Earth who received them in [her] bosom — Iron seed which I hope will be repaid with interest by her children! At night Gen Hampton with the 1st N C Cav & a portion of another Regt surprised & drove them from their camp in great confusion; he was too weak to follow, they having 3500 men. This was at Atlee’s Station. Gen H took many prisoners & horses. During Tuesday night one hundred & thirty eight prisoners were brought in representing twelve Regts of Cav. They had beside two Brigades of light Artillery, but it were long to follow the track of each party, the same tale is stamped in the pathway of all. Col Bradley Johnson repulsed them at Hanover. Maj Beckham with his Horse Artillery drove them back when within two miles of Charlottesville.

The account sums up on our side The Insult!! several Mills burned, many negroes, mules, & horses captured, private dwellings burned, provisions destroyed, women & children frightened, Capt Ellery of the Richmond Bat killed, & several men slightly wounded; on theirs – their failure to take Richmond!! between three & four hundred men captured including several officers from Lieut Col down, two or three hundred killed, & many severely wounded & left at houses on the way, several peices of field artillery, many mules & horses, eighty or a hundred horse accoutrements, McClellan saddles, etc., captured, their horses thoroughly jaded & broken down so that they are unfit for service, & their men (mostly Dutch) demoralized & dispersed. So say Journal, on whose side is the balance?

Gen Finnegans’ victory in Florida appears much more important than we had supposed. It seems it was intended by the Yankees to take possession of the State or such portion of it as should enable them to claim that it cast its vote for them in the Presidential Election. They landed at Jacksonville & came on unmolested to Ocean Ponds (on old maps called Alligator) where Finnegan met them with a small body of Georgians & Floridians, about one third their own number. They put two Regts of Black troops in their van, driving them on at the point of the bayonette. They were met by the 19th Georg. & the slaughter was terrific; carnage such as even this bloody war has rarely witnessed. As we advanced they retreated & for miles the earth was strewed with dead negroes. Then came the whites — & spite of their immense odds — 10,000 to 3,500 — so dreadful was the onslaught that they broke & fled. There was more dead on the field than Confederates in action. We lost sixty only killed & between six and seven hundred wounded mostly, however, slightly so, the negroes shooting wild & the Yankees occupied hiding behind & driving them on. At the last accounts the scattered remnants of the Yankee force was running to their “Gun Boats.” Sherman’s late advance upon Polk’s lines seems to have been intended as a ruse to draw troops from Johnston. A heavy advance has been made from Chattanooga upon Dalton & from all that we can learn from prisoners & Yankee papers Johnston was expected to “fall back,” but he did not come up to their expectations, when Grant not wishing to bring on a general engagement “fell back” — disappointed himself. Long-street is making some movements in West Tennessee which the papers grow eloquent in entreating us not to despond at. “It all means well, tho he seems to retire,” may-be-so, but we will wait until we learn more. The seige of Charleston flags & the Yankee Press is sick of it & says it ought to be abandoned “Le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle.”  They now pronounce their famous “Greek Fire” a humbug, “attended with more danger to the projectors than to the projected against.” No wisdom like that gained by experience, O most sapient Yankee nation.

Mosby has performed a brilliant exploit; promotion, it seems, has not spoiled him. He attacked a body of the enemy one hundred & eighty strong, routed them, killing fifteen, wounding many more, capturing seventy with horses, arms, equipments, etc., with a loss to himself of one killed, 4 slightly wounded; & on the 26th near Upperville with 60 men he attacked 250 of the enemy’s Cavalry who retreated before him leaving six (one Captain) dead on the field and one Lieut & seven Privates in Mosby’s hands. The number of their wounded was so great that they impressed waggons to carry them & the road was strewn with equipments, arms, Haversacks, etc. His own loss, two wounded. but I preserve Gen Stuarts official dispatch D.

Whilst in the garden at Hascosea clipping & prunning on Tuesday or Wednesday, suddenly came through the still air the boom of cannon. Conjectures were vain, but in due course of time came the tidings that we were attacking a Gunboat on the Chowan & that after disabling we were proceeding to take possession when three more came to the rescue & tho we kept up the action injuring more of them, yet were eventually forced to retire. Ransom’s Brigade it was in action. Col Clarke was I suppose there.

Today March the 5th the first Peach bloom (the Honey Peach) expanded at Hascosea & driving home I found the Plums also struggling into blossom. Am quite excited by a new method of sticking evergreen cuttings, given me by Mrs Smith yesterday, i. e., in Peat, black wet sour looking stuff. I should think it would need all the lime in the Confederacy to make it available for the purposes of vegetation, but she showed me the results & I came home with a handful of rare & choice cuttings which she gave me & put them down according to her instructions, choosing a Northern exposure & building a shelter of Pine bushes over them & next fall ‘nous verrons.’ Chatted with Mr E of my Arboretum which, when the war is over and nails are cheap so that I can enclose it, I am going to have. I do not think I will admit a deciduous tree & but few shrubs. Tho Mad de Stael does call Evergreen the “devil de la nature,” I like them. Have had the girls to dine with me twice, once here on Monday & again on Wednesday at Hascosea, and am as busy as these thorn pricked fingers will let me be netting them some fancy nets for their hair. Nannie is well informed, pleasant & lady like, has a good address & does her parents much credit. But I am sleepy, near twelve o’clock & no Mr E. I wish the Yankees had old Hoody Manuel, & Cumbo, too, for that matter.

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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February 24, 1864

Went today to Nettie Spruill’s funeral, poor thing! I remember her so lively & pleasant a child, the idol of her family, but her suffering has been so long that even her mother, whose heart strings are wrapped up in her, is resigned to her loss. For months she has been cut off from companionship of any save her nurses, her disease Consumption, causing her not only the last degree of prostration but acute suffering & yet I hear she was patient & resigned, aye even longed to die and be at rest. Poor Rebecca, my early friend! Death has spared you this pang! Thou hast gone before! Saw Mrs Spruill & her daughters in sight of my life long friendship. Poor woman, she reminded me of my mother’s death & said that her child had died as she had done. Deep in my debt of gratitude for her kindness to me then, a debt I can never repay.

Dined at Hascosea & came home about sundown. Mr E off immediately to Conneconara in search of information against Cumbo whom he hopes with Hoody Manuel’s aid (now turned States Evidence) to capture. It is near bed time & he is yet absent. Sent off yesterday a box to Amo & Charlie of such substantials as are left us. Mr McMahon values it at $200. The Dahlia & Tube Rose Roots with which it is packed “for damage,” as Papa used to say, going for nothing I suppose. Sent also some supplies to Col Clarke now stationed at Twilight station.

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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October 19, 1863

Rumours only from Va. Lee still pressing Meade, part of our force said to be in his rear. A series of skirmishes mostly Cavalry have been of daily occurrence for a week past. Skirmishes do I say? They would be called “battles” in any other war than this gigantic one — 1,000 prisoners & 7000 horses & mules have arrived at Gordonsville en route for Richmond. A whole division of the enemy was yesterday reported as captured, but we wait for Lee’s official Dispatch with a calmness and confidence doubly striking when it is contrasted with the impatience and distrusts with which we view Braggs inaction. Rosecranz is in an almost impregnable position, we now hear, in spite of the ability which we boasted of possessing of “shelling him out” at pleasure. Bragg’s is equally so & the two generals stand with bristled feathers like two game cocks, each waiting & wishing for the other to attack. We annoy & cut off the supplies in his rear & “Personne” says that if Bragg is content to wait without risking the gage of battle, Rosecranz will fall into his hands. may-be-so! When the sky falls “Bragg will catch larks.”

The Alabama is again at work, capturing and destroying Yankee shipping. The Florida too has been distinguishing herself, as the Yankee rates of Marine Insurance testify. Have been reading a pleasant account of our Penn Campaign from the pen of an English Officer published in Blackwood. His sympathies are decidedly with us & the admiration he expresses for Lee and Longstreet is peculiarly grateful coming from an English source. He ridicules the jubilant feeling of the North — says they are grateful not for Victory which they did not get but because the Army of the Potomac was not so badly whipped as before. He compliments the behavior of our troops in not retaliating on the enemy the horrors which we had undergone in the highest manner; says it was wonderful that our discipline admirable, etc., etc.

In this connection I must relate an anecdote which the narrator had from the lips of the officer. When in Penn he stopped at a farm house by which our whole army passed thrice & the woman told him that with one exception our troops had been most civil & polite to her. He expressed regret that any of our men should have forgotten themselves & asked how it was? when she answered that seeing a soldier in her Cherry tree, she went out & asked him to content himself with eating the cherries to which he was welcome but not to break as he was doing, when he answered her & told her to go back in the house & that if she did not let him alone that he would tell General Lee on her!

The officer replied “Well madam if you can give me his name or that of his corps perhaps he will find that some one will tell General Lee on him.” When she said that she did not know his name or to what Regt he belonged — that it was a coloured gentleman who spoke thus to her & she never asked his name! Think of it! The only person in that vast army which thronged past her door who was rude to her was a saucy negro who had a white southern man been by would in all probability have been thrashed for it with one of the limbs of the tree he had broken! It speaks volumes for our soldiers.

My sisters are with me so that I have now a large family, no less than 9 white souls besides ourselves in number. Was yesterday at the funeral of Mr Peter Smith’s second child, a little girl 7 or 8 years of age.  She died most suddenly and sadly of Diptheria after great suffering. With death so rampant throughout the country, when young men in the bloom & promise of life are cut off by scores, it seems wrong to mourn for a child; but parents I suppose do not reason thus; they only feel & ask the old question “is their any sorrow like to my sorrow”?

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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Saturday 23rd [May 1863]

Tax giving in day, a good many people here. Betsey got out the children’s dresses this evening. It looks very well. Mr. Henry sent three thousand (3000) lbs. to the armory again today which makes 5,307 lbs. in all. He did not go today himself. I fixed some sewing thread today. I finished the babe’s stockings yesterday, put bows on them.

May Sunday 24th 1863

Very warm this morning & very dry, needing rain badly. Harrie & Mr. Henry & Pinck gone to church at Academy. Mr. Reynolds preaches F.M. Starnes’ funeral today. Matt & I did not go as it gives me the headache to walk so far & It is very warm today. The children all well. Jinnie getting dinner. Matt rocking the babe in the cradle. Lane left here this morning. Pa sent him here after the jack. He came here Friday night. It took him 4 days to come. He rode a mare. Mr. Henry & Harrie & Pinck went to Capt. Moore’s from church. Matt & I went on the hill to see Mr. Cagle & others. We staid till Mr. Henry came up after me. It was about sundown when we got back.

Monday 25th [May 1863]

I cut Mr. Henry two pair pants today & Pinck three pair of the cloth Betsey wove, cotton jeans. I did not get one pair of Mr. Henry’s done. Mail carrier says Vicksburg is holding out against the siege. Nothing new going on. Betsey will put Rose’s dresses & aprons in the loom this week. Rose does very well nursing. The baby’s ear has quit running a week ago.

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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April the 14 1863

dear husban after my love and best respects to you I will in form you that I am well hopin that those fue lines may rech and find you in joyen the same good blesings dear husban I receved your veary kind letter the last maill and was glad to hir from you and to hir that you war well and I trust that you may in joye good helth the rest of your time dear husban I have no neas veary impornce to rite to you only I want to see you veary bad I want to see you worst then I ever did in my life and I am very on easy a bout you as I hir that you war a bout to move but I hope that it aint so dear husban I shall start to wilmington a tusday to git me a pear of shose I am a blege to have them I hate to spend the money but it semes like that I must have  them and as soon as I git back I shall come to see you if you hant moved from that place an if you air in teenty miles of the rode I never in dured so much truble in my lif be fore it semes lik it will kill me if I dont see you one more time dear husban I want to no how you air faren and if you have warm close and slep warm and if you want eney morer socks if you do I will fech you some when I come dear husban you hird of your brother Wilam deth be fore I did he had bin dead a weke before I hird of it tha never let me no a word of it tha feched him to yours fathers and saut up with him one night tha beared him at [wilars] greave yard tha never agen him a tall to see him at your fathers I under stant that he had the tiberdfored  fever and the munps and his legs both war sore and eat to the bone so I sopose he dide turebl deth I should like fore you to come home to his funerl if you could pasen canedy will prech it it will be at your fathers house or at my fathers house or at the chall house shelten has turned out  to be the worst place you ever saw Margreat rose and hir too sisters and susen muney and franceny lee dresed thear selves in mens close and went to a sick mands house and trid to skir him out of his house and hollard and lafed and run all over the feald I will tell you all a bout it in my next letter for I must come to a close by san rite soon as you receve this nothin more at presant only I remain your Affectionly wife tell deth Martha Futch to John Futch

Source: Futch papers, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, as found on www.ncecho.org

 

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Camp of the 1st NCT

March 28th 1863

Dear Father, Mother, and Sister:

I drop you a few lines to give you the Sad news that brother Calvin is dead. He died about day break on the morning of the 25th inst. I suppose that the brain was affected which was the principal cause of his death. It is, indeed, an appauling thought to think of the death of one so dear, but sad as it is, we have some consolation to know that he remained usually pious while surrounded with all the vice and immorality of the camp, and instead of participating in this, devoted much time in reading the Scripture. Some of his companions expressed the thought that he was prepared to meet his God in peace. We have another consolation that he had won the confidence and esteem of his officers and fellow soldiers, and that every possible means was applied in burying him decently.  A good coffin, clean clothes, etc were provided. Sad as the thought is, it is no worse than thousands have endured since the commencement of this unholy war. I hope you will all try to refrain as much as possible from unnecessary grief, as it is a thing of no avail.

I have sent the Biblical Recorder to Sis. It will come to Lewis Fork PO. You will see in it an account of brother Calvin’s death. You will find it under the head of Obituary. Be shure to find it and preserve the paper. AJ.J. and Alfred were down to see me yesterday. They are as well as common. They will write you the full particulars of Calvin’s death and burial as they were there soon after he died. They sent for me also, but I did not go, as I was unwell myself. Let me hear from you as often as you conveniently can. Yours,

W.H. Proffit

PS My health is very good at present.

Source: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War in North Carolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 2. (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003).  Original in Proffit family papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Friday 9th January 1863

Mail brought no news. We heard yesterday that Harrie was wounded in the Battle of Murfreesboro, only a slight wound so we hear. ** I finished one of Mr. Henry’s gloves & began the other. I want to get it done tomorrow. Betsey is weaving on the jeans. It is not good cloth at all. I want the sley changed as I think it is too fine for the thread. Hanes does the quilling mostly.  Mr. Henry does some of it. He is so kind to me.

 Battle of Miurfreesboro/Stone’s River

Saturday the 10th [January 1863]

Rained nearly all day. Mr. Henry in the house nearly all day. Betsey went home this evening. Abbe Parker was burried yesterday.  She died Wednesday morning. Mr. Henry went to the burial. Mr. & old Tom Jones came after Mr. Henry last Tuesday night. He did not go. The wind blew very hard while they were here. The vaccine matter has done finely in the children’s arms. Jinnie made the sausage meat today & washed a little for the children. Tena finished the lard today. Atheline not well.

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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October 28 [1862]

Parted yesterday with my soldier Brother Capt Evans – he took the stage at Smithville for the Army, after a sojourn with us all, a few short weeks to [illeg] his [ illeg] strength. May a kind Providence go with him & prepare him for the trials he is to meet & if it is His will    oh! that he may be restored to us again! Today an old Servant Uncle Sam Giles was buried – I made his face-cloth – may we improve the daily providences that happen around us to our Souls good! My dear little ones are all well & happy & I can hear their merry prattle in the nursery Oh! that they might ever be as innocent as they are to-night!

Source: Jane Evans Elliot Diaries #5343, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/e/Elliot,Jane_Evans.html

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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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