July 30, 1864
On the 27th came Mr Dunlop of Petersburg bringing his daughter Mattie to remain with us whilst the city is undergoing so furious a bombardment. Poor man, he has cause for deep anxiety, his own home beleaguered & liable at any moment to be blown up, his wife and two daughters persisting in remaining there — rather than endure the miseries of refuge-ism, the rest of his family scattered, one son severely wounded, others in the army, whilst his eldest daughter, a married woman, lives in Atlanta & is exposed to all the horrors of a city in a state of seige, shells flying about her hourly. His cup seems full without the addition of the immense cost of the merest necessaries of life. The expense to which he is now put merely to live would, if long continued, seriously embarrass a princely fortune. What blessings we enjoy! Grant O heavenly Father that they fall not on unthankful hearts! May our lives be a hymn of Praise to Thee for Thy goodness to us!
All as usual before Petersburg. Grant is not dead as reported by deserters but still lives to burrow under our earth works & shell a city occupied only by women & children & filled with Hospitals! In the valley Gen Ramseur has met with a reverse which has nipped his growing promotion in the bud. It is a muddled affair, but it seems he led a division sent out to reconnoitre, threw out neither scouts or skirmishers, & walked open eyed into an ambuscade in which he lost heavily both in guns & prisoners. He is much blamed, but where is an unfortunate general who is not? Next day, however, Early repaired his mishap. On the now classic ground of Kernstown he fell upon Hunter & put him to the most ignominious rout. The panic equaled that of the first Manassas. We recaptured guns & prisoners, taking scores of Yankees by way of reprisal, drove him pell mell into & out of Martinsburg which we reoccupy, and our army now stands at Harper’s Ferry in attitude of advance, but whether again on Washington or into Penn we outsiders cannot tell, but advance it will.
Grant has recalled the troops he detached to defend Washington, needing more than he can get, & under Hunter has collected all the available force left in Maryland. These are now but a routed & disorganized & disjointed mass, so Early & Breckenridge can repair the blunders made in their late attack & let us reap more substantial fruits of victory than forage & horses. Peace seems to be sending its shadow ahead, as recently two southern Gentlemen & that political adventurer Geo N Saunders associated themselves together & addressed a letter to Greely demanding a safe conduct to Washington to discuss the preliminaries of Peace. It is needless for me to enter into all the detail of their correspondance. Suffice it that Messrs Clay of Ala, Holcombe of Va, & Saunders of Dixie met with a most decided rebuff at the hands of Mr Lincoln, he telling them in a paper addressed with Machievelli-like craft “To all whom it may concern,” that the safe conduct should be granted if the Confederate States were willing to renounce slavery, return to the allegiance of the U S, lay down arms, in short give up all we are fighting for & submit ourselves to his royal clemency. Balderdash!
Simultaneously with the debut of these self constituted Commissioners, two Yankees, one a Rev Col, the other an Abolition penny-a-liner, make their appearance in Richmond, are entertained at the Spotswood House, have two interviews with Pres Davis, and leave as they entered. To whom they were accredited does not appear, but certainly to some one less impersonal than “To All whom it may concern,” or they would never have seen Mr Davis. We get only Northern accounts of their interview and as I do not beleive what the Yankees say I will not record them. I cannot avoid saying, however, that I think the self styled “Southern commissioners” might have found a more worthy channel through which to attempt to open negotiations than that wretch Greely! “Can a man touch pitch and not be defiled?” Peace itself would be sullied in passing through his hands.
Matters before Atlanta cause us grave anxiety. Sherman is shelling the place. Hood has again repulsed him & Forrest has broken up his communications, but he seems not to flag in consequence. McPherson, said to be the ablest man in the Yankee service, was killed in the recent battle, which seems now to have been more bloody than we had thought. The Yankees admit a loss of 15,000 & say we lost 7000. I know not how it is. McPherson’s Laurels, it is said, are worn by Maj Gen Grant. To him is due all the credit of the advance & attack on Vicksburg. If so I hope Sherman will feel his loss.
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