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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