June 19, 1864
Yesterday came Sister Betsy & Rachel to make us a visit. There was no mail but the news they brought from Petersburg, derived from passengers, is exciting in the extreme. The cars were crowded with women & children flying from the brutal shelling of their Christian brethren! Several ladies have been killed. They had taken all our batteries & at one time turned our own guns upon us, but we retook battery no –,the Key of the position, & were able to command the others & it was hoped they would soon be forced to evacuate them. This is Refugee news, however, & as they leave in a panic they always exagerate the danger — so I omit many details which they gave us — enough, however, to fill our hearts with deep anxiety. We have no news of Gen Lee but are sure that he is in the right place & will at the right time act. Should Grant invest Petersburg on the South side of the Appomattox, succeed in cutting off Lee’s Southern communication, it will be a most serious thing for us as a community, as we would be exposed without protection to predatory bands sent off from the main army in search of plunder; but beyond that, thanks to the farseeing of our head, Mr Davis, it would scarce effect the well being of Lee’s army, as the Danville road is safe & by it supplies could be forwarded. The Danville junction with the N C R R is now finished & open for travel. Its inception & execution we owe to Mr Davis suggestion and energy. God bless him!
About Sundown came a note from Mr McMahon telling us that additional news from Petersburg had been received; brought, however, by a passenger, so we know not how much to credit. He says that at one time the Yankees had taken all our fortifications & were rushing into the town when by an opportune arrival they were met by a body of our “grey backs” supposed to be Lieut Gen Longstreet’s Corp, who drove them in a hand to hand struggle, with tremendous slaughter, back & repossessed the fortifications & that the city was now considered “safe.” God grant it. Should they, however, succeed in investing the city on the South side of the Appomattox & maintain themselves there, it would, as I said before, be a terrible thing for us, but God’s will be done! Our times are in His hands!
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