May 18, 1864
The state of suspense in which we live is fearful. This is now the thirteenth day since we have had a mail from Richmond & constant fighting has been going on. A couple of letters from Sue containing a resume of the news & rumours about Petersburg & some strips cut from the Petersburg Express brought by a train hand is the nearest approach to direct information we have had. The Raleigh Confederate gives a few telegrams, some of them only official, which reach it via Danville.
So far as our information extends, every road leading to Richmond has been cut by bands of marauders. Spears Cavalry have been operating between Weldon & Petersburg, the bridge over Stoney Creek destroyed by fire, & that over Nottaway by artillery. We saved the most important one, however, over the Meherin. Severe fighting has been going on in Chesterfield between the Appomattox & the James, but we know nothing of the details. A rumour reaches Halifax of the death of Col Clarke, which is not, however, authentic. The Weldon people are flying in dismay & the countryside is alive with wild & improbable stories, which no one can contradict for the want of authentic information. The Danville Road has been cut by a band of marauders sent out by Butler. Another & a large body threatens Richmond from Hanover. They approached within a mile of the Richmond fortifications & were repulsed on Mr Stuart’s farm. Fitz Lee & Stuart are in pursuit of them & Stuart telegraphs that he will intercept them at the Yellow Tavern. This on the 15th.
Another dispatch in the same paper says “Gen Stuart died on Wednesday from wounds received on Thursday.” We know not what to beleive, but are at sea in a midst of wild sensational rumours, each more alarming than the last. Nothing more from Lee. Reports only that he has had another engagement near Spottsylvania Court House, the enemy repulsed with fearful slaughter & preparing to cross the Rappahanock at Fredericksburg, dispirited & demoralized, but who can tell if that be true? We get no Richmond papers & passengers and “reliable gentlemen” have it all their own way. God be with those who have friends on the battlefield. Their brains must well nigh reel with the suspense & anxiety. Heavy skirmishing about Dalton in which as yet Gen Joe Johnson gains the advantage. A battle may take place there at any moment. Steele’s surrender to Price confirmed & we hear that Banks is shut up in Alexandria, the Confederates holding the River below, & that his supplies being cut off, Kirby Smith demands his surrender, but this is rumour.
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