April 30, 1862
Came home on Monday afternoon in a Canoe with Patrick & Rachel. Just as we left came the mail. New Orleans had indeed fallen, fallen, and to two Gun boats! We came home deeply dejected, nay humiliated, at the news. Lovel, the General in command, is a Yankee! & one too who remained at the North until after the battle of Manassas. Whispers not loud but deep of treachery & cowardice! The last telegram was to the effect that the Forts held out well, the men in fine spirits expecting a victory. We have a fleet of Gunboats—one the Louisiana, equal to the Va. The batteries on the Lake were dismounted but the Guns not spiked & a precipitate retreat made where there was no foe. The Military, 15,000 strong, have abandoned the city & retreated thirty miles off. It is said the cotton was fired & the steamboats burnt, but why were they not sent up the River we cannot understand it. Gen Johnston’s sad fate ought to give us warning against a precipitate censure; but we cannot but blame the Government & Gen Lovel, the one for placing such a man in command, the other for not being prepared & making some resistance. The loss of N O cuts off our supply of Beef from Texas, the great stay & support of our army, & thus may cripple us more than any thing else. The supply of sugar & molasses there is immense, & hitherto our men have had it in abundance. Now that will be cut off from their rations.
God help us we seem to be at the darkest now, but we will never give up. He will help. He will deliver us, if we are but true to ourselves & quite ourselves like men!
Whilst we were sitting despondently in the dusk of the evening, discussing our state & the effect the capture of New Orleans would have on us, came (unusual sound) a knock at the door, the Adjutant to be of the Battalion. He cheered us up with the assurance that Commodore Hollins, with whom he came down in the train, had said in his hearing that it was simply absurd! New Orleans was not captured—he was just from there & it was all a traitorous lie. So we went to bed much consoled but not reassured.
On Tuesday went to Hascosea & dined there. I commenced planting my Dahlia Roots but it was dull work. Patrick had gone to Clarksville about his Taxes & I so much distressed about the news from New Orleans & at sea about the Batalion that I did not feel like singing “Bring flowers to strew in beaten, lose all our cities, our whole seaboard even, but conquered! subjugated! never! Death first!
Patrick and Amo came to dinner. Had a merry time with the young folks, but the fall of New Orleans hung like a pall over us & in the midst of laughter, I would catch myself sighing.*
Came home in the Rain to Looking Glass where the Mail which we found awaiting us did not cheer us up. More gloomy & disgraceful accounts of the neglect of government to fortify New Orleans & of the falling back of our troops. The city has not yet surrendered & our Flag still floats. The two gun boats lay there short of men & ammunition, and Lovel has actually the face to telegraph it to the Government and leave them there in peace. Grant me patience!—30,000 men in & about the city tamely submitting to be held at bay by two Yankee Gun boats! Gen Bragg, it is said, has been ordered there. I hope he will be able to retrieve Lovel’s misconduct. I do not wish to be harsh in my censure, but I cannot help with the light before me condemning him most bitterly.
Patrick much discouraged about his Batalion, fears he will not succeed. It takes more interest to get into the army in this country than it does to get out in others, and yet we are fighting for life, for freedom.
** Wikipedia article on Fall of New Orleans http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_New_Orleans
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