May 19, 1864
Rode out to Hascosea to while away the time until the mail should come in. Met a soldier & stopped him to ask the news. He told us that a mail arrived in Halifax from Richmond late last night, that Gen Dearing had captured Spears Cavalry, 1000 strong, somewhere between the Danville & Petersburg roads, that Lee had captured fifty Yankee Generals, & that Gen Daniel was dead!
Went on to Hascosea & transplanted Dahlia cuttings & set out sprouted Tea nuts until near dinner time when we came home just escaping a heavy shower — which it would have been bad for Pattie & I to have been caught in as we were heated & excited, having performed the last part of our journey on foot, one of our carriage horses having given out entirely, so we deserted him & took to “Shanks mare.”
We found the mail awaiting us &, thanks again to Susan’s fore thought & kindness, we were releived of a crushing load of anxiety. Besides her letters containing all the information she could gather, she sent us slips from the Petersburg papers &, wonderful to tell, a Petersburg paper of yesterday morning. It contained the greatest solace we could have under the losses & anxiety we have sufferd. A congratulatory order of Gen Lee to his troops under date of the 16th — what a blessing that we can trust implicitly everything which comes from his hand! He tells them that “the heroic valour of this army with the blessing of Almighty God has thus far checked the advance of the principle army of the enemy & inflicted upon it heavy loss . . . assures them that it is in their power under God to defeat the last great efforts of the enemy, to acheive the independance of your native land & earn the lasting love and gratitude of your country men & the admiration of mankind.” Signed R E Lee. Words such as these mean something coming from him. His last official dispatch to the President tells him under date Sunday the 15th “that the enemy has retired his right & extended his left towards Massapona Church & occupies the line of the river, his right being east of the stream.”
We have no further details of our dead beyond a confirmation of what the soldiers told us of Gen Junius Daniel. He died on Sat of wounds received on Thursday. His body had arrived in Richmond. My nephew Thomas Devereux is his courier & a part of his military family & attached particularly to his person, so that our anxiety is cruel as regards his safety. God be with him & help his poor parents to bear the load of sorrow which now oppresses them. Yankee papers captured from Butler’s command claim a victory, say that Lee is falling back to Richmond, but with strange inconsistency admit a loss of thirty one General Officers & forty five thousand men! By loss I mean killed, wounded, & captured. Fredericksburg, from their own account, is a vast hospital, and a Squadron of Cavalry could not deploy through the streets so thickly were they strewn with wounded men! No details on either side. They claim to have captured our Maj Gen Edward Johnson, but they are such Cretans that until we hear it from our own side it does not concern us. Coming south in Hanover within six miles of Richmond their cavalry under [ — ] have been turned aside with a heavy loss by Fitz Hugh Lee & Stuart. Here at the Yellow tavern Stuart, sad to say, has lost his life. His funeral together with that of Col H Clay Pate took place in Richmond.
I well remember dining at the same table with Col Pate & his wife at the Ballard House for several days consecutively a little more than two years since. Mr E and himself were in Richmond on the same business, each raising a Battalion of Cavalry. How can I be thankful enough to Almighty God for having ordained them different lots in life. Butler, with even more than usual mendacity, telegraphs to his Gov the very day on which he sustained so signal a repulse at Pt Walthall Junction that he had obtained a great victory, had cut Beauregards forces in two, had destroyed the bridge over Swift Creek between Richmond & Petersburg, beaten Hill, & would soon whip out Beauregard & advance on Richmond, whereas the truth is he is confined in the narrow point of land between the Appomattox & the James. After repeated skirmishes which we would once have called battles, he can advance no further. He has attacked Drury’s Bluff & been repulsed, has lost three, if not four, of his gunboats, and has now no prospect of success. His troops commit the most terrible excesses, rob, murder, & insult defenceless citizens with impunity. Numbers have been killed & our own loss has been heavy, but no permanent advantage has accrued to the Yankee arms from his buckling on his harness.
Our uneasiness about Col Clark is happily ended, as Sue’s letter is of a later date than the attack on Drury’s Bluff in which he was reported killed. At the Stoney Creek bridge, just as it had been repaired, back came Spear’s & his Cavalry but a few troops stationed there & some citizens, hastily collected, held them at bay for half an hour. When the thunder of Gen Dearing’s detachment of cavalry was heard approaching, when they left at double quick, with the loss of many men. Gen D was in pursuit, but whether with the result announced by my soldier friend does not yet appear.
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