February 2, 1864
Last night about bed time came James, much improved by his jaunt. He was reduced to traveling in a cart, having missed Owen whom we had sent for him. He brings no news beyond the fact of the massing of troops at Goldsboro & Kinston & that we have a Pontoon train coming up from Wilmington, which looks like an advance on our part. Maj Gen Picket is in command. He has left his wife at Gen Ransom’s house & she is in such depths of greif at his departure that the wise ones argue from it that she knows there is something more than usual in prospective. The papers are as silent as the grave on the whole matter. Father & Mr E very busy surveying in order to find the Level of the cut in the Dam where Father proposes to put in a flume in order to releive the dams from all pressure save that below eighteen feet by flooding the Low Grounds when the river reaches that height. A troublesome & expensive job & to my mind of doubtful utility, but I exercise myself in things too high for me so I had better seek my level.
All day yesterday at Hascosea transplanting & pruning. Met some officers’ of Ferrabee’s Regiment, which had been ordered here from Northern Va to recruit their horses. They give a heart breaking account of the desolation wrought in that whole country. The Quarter Master rode up to the Flower Garden where I was at work & told me that the sight of it & my employment was a refreshment to him, that there was not a fence or an enclosure in the whole country where he had been! He came to order the tax-in-kind to be paid to him, orders having been issued to that effect & requested that the corn might be unshelled & the Hay not baled & that he would haul it, for all of which we should be much obliged to the Government.
On the road home met Mr Peter Smith & some other of our neighbors on their way from Halifax Court. They told me that the rumour was that we had taken New Berne & that Col Shaw of the [ — ] N C was certainly killed, his body having passed on the train the night before. Poor fellow! he is the officer who was so severely & as most persons now beleive unjustly censured for the fall of Roanoke Island. He was called a Yankee, a traitor, & I know not what, but his only fault seems now to have been a want of capacity for the situation in which he found himself & for that the blame should rest on the shoulders of those who placed him there. A simple Colonel of no military ability, he was unable to cope with the difficulties which surrounded him, difficulties which required a man of the first order & a far stronger force & heavier canon to meet successfully. The country has long ago acquitted him of all blame in the matter & to Sec Benjamin & Maj. Gen Huger, as principals, do we look for the liquidation of the debt of responsibility, the misery, the bloodshed & the loss which have followed in the train of that most unfortunate event! If Col Shaw was a Yankee he came to N C under six months of age & even that is denied by his friends. He was a Southern man by education & instinct but weak & an aspirant for political honours, which gained him many enemies, but he has expiated his faults real & imaginary now & has died a soldier’s death in his country’s cause. May he rest in Peace! God be with his family! Sent off yesterday to Mrs Webb for the Hospital thirty eight dozen eggs, for which, sad to say, I had to pay $1.00 per doz! Twenty five dollars of the money was sent me by our neighbours to be expended as I thought best for the Hospital. The rest was our contribution.
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