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An Energetic Young Lady

A correspondent of the Charlotte Bulletin relates an instance of energy and determination in a young lady, such as many a being that wears pants would be incapable of. Miss Mary ____, a young lady, who has been tenderly raised, unaccustomed to labor and hardships, left a village in South Carolina for the purpose of brining away from a mountain town of our State (liable to yankee and tory raids) her widowed sister and children, the husband and father having been killed in Virginia nearly two years ago. At a station on the Western railroad she could find no conveyance, so she walked 18 miles over the mountains, had her sister’s household goods packed and conveyed back across the mountains to the station, and arrived, all safe and sound (save blistered feet) in Charlotte, having traveled in four or five days a distance of 400 miles, bringing her sister and little ones to a place of more safety.

“Talk of conquering a country inhabited by women like this!” says the writer. “Miss Mary was armed, and has the nerve to shoot, and a cowardly tory would quail before the lustrous determination of that steady blue eye of hers. Although a citizen and resident of South Carolina, she was born and educated in North Carolina, and is true to her early tuition of self-reliance.

 

Source: Fayetteville Observer, August 4, 1864 as found on www.ncecho.org

 

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August 1, 1864

Today Mr Dunlop left for his home leaving little Mattie with us. Poor homesick little child, from my heart I am sorry for you! He sends us another batch of rumours from the R R modifying & correcting those of yesterday, but I will wait for Marse Robert’s official dispatch ere I record the results. Grant is throwing troops to the North bank of the James & Gen S D Lee has joined Hood with 10,000 reinforcements, so Atlanta may yet be saved. No news, and it is too hot to do anything but keep cool.

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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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

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July 23 [1864] “Saturday night”

We have had a quiet week. no company except Louise Cross a school mate of Mr. E’s, who is a refugee from La. A very sweet and amiable girl – The Col and [Jamie] went to the plantation today and have not yet returned. George & Henry went fishing Jennie & Emily & petite Katie are playing  sound so happily. When I look at their happy sports, I sight to think of the stern realities of life they must encounter! May the Lord be their father – may He “guide them by this counsel & afterward receive them to glory.”

 

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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June 20, 1864

At the plantation with Mr E. We had sent for the girl Catherine Jackson. I tried to set forth, to her, her shortcomings & deficiencies in a firm yet kind light, particularly her utter want of veracity, her idleness, & her horrid unwomanly practice of chewing tobacco & her fancy for straying about the country alone. We have provided her with a home for more than a fortnight during which time she has barely spun a lb of cotton. Sent her to Mrs George Pope with an admonition that she would not please unless she was more industrious.

News but meagre from Petersburg but all good. Gen Lee telegraphs that we have retaken the entrenchments at Howlets, from whence we conclude that he is South of the James. Confirmation of the repulse of the enemy before Petersburg, which is now considered safe from their attacks. The slaughter was terrific on their side, ours slight. Not much news from the Valley & that not encouraging. They have taken & burned all the important buildings in Lexington & menace Lynchburg, but Breckenridge will, I hope, frustrate their designs. They have no supplies, no waggons, & live off the country, pillaging, robbing, & committing the most horrible outrages. Johnson still holds Sherman at bay. He dare not attack altho invited to do so. Morgan, we hear from the North, holding his own in Kentucky.

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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June 19, 1864

Yesterday came Sister Betsy & Rachel to make us a visit. There was no mail but the news they brought from Petersburg, derived from passengers, is exciting in the extreme. The cars were crowded with women & children flying from the brutal shelling of their Christian brethren! Several ladies have been killed. They had taken all our batteries & at one time turned our own guns upon us, but we retook battery no –,the Key of the position, & were able to command the others & it was hoped they would soon be forced to evacuate them. This is Refugee news, however, & as they leave in a panic they always exagerate the danger — so I omit many details which they gave us — enough, however, to fill our hearts with deep anxiety. We have no news of Gen Lee but are sure that he is in the right place & will at the right time act. Should Grant invest Petersburg on the South side of the Appomattox, succeed in cutting off Lee’s Southern communication, it will be a most serious thing for us as a community, as we would be exposed without protection to predatory bands sent off from the main army in search of plunder; but beyond that, thanks to the farseeing of our head, Mr Davis, it would scarce effect the well being of Lee’s army, as the Danville road is safe & by it supplies could be forwarded. The Danville junction with the N C R R is now finished & open for travel. Its inception & execution we owe to Mr Davis suggestion and energy. God bless him!

About Sundown came a note from Mr McMahon telling us that additional news from Petersburg had been received; brought, however, by a passenger, so we know not how much to credit. He says that at one time the Yankees had taken all our fortifications & were rushing into the town when by an opportune arrival they were met by a body of our “grey backs” supposed to be Lieut Gen Longstreet’s Corp, who drove them in a hand to hand struggle, with tremendous slaughter, back & repossessed the fortifications & that the city was now considered “safe.” God grant it. Should they, however, succeed in investing the city on the South side of the Appomattox & maintain themselves there, it would, as I said before, be a terrible thing for us, but God’s will be done! Our times are in His hands!

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 6th February 1864

I saw the cannon yesterday. They have it placed so as to sweep the bridge this side of Mrs. Cunningham’s on the other side of the river. They were throwing up breast works. I hope it may be a false report about their advancing on Asheville. I called in at Mrs. Smith’s yesterday in Asheville. She is scared good. I did not see Mollie. She was at her house packing up to leave Asheville. Big fraid was after them. I made Zona a long saque today, faced it round with red spotted flannel. It fits nicely. We have had rain & snow today, but none of consequence on the ground. Some soldiers stay here tonight from Longstreet’s command. They are very nice men from Georgia. Three staid all night & one other one eat breakfast. Their bill was $9.50. They seemed perfectly satisfied with it & seemed very grateful. They had a wagon along & corn & hay for their horses.

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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