August 20, 1864
Since we can no longer get news we resort to old Blackwood’s for our light Literature & find them most entertaining & instructive. Mr E read me a few days since from one of Aug 1849 a no of “Christopher under Canvass” (Prof Wilson), & I was greatly struck by a sentiment which seems applicable to our Northern neighbours. “Good manners give a vital efficacy to good Laws. These few words comprise the needful constituents of national happiness & prosperity. . . . Good laws without good manners are empty breath.” They have proved the truth of it! Good Laws they had & an abundance of them, but they lacked the essential good manners. Good manners would have kept them from intermedling with their neighbour’s concerns, would have frowned down John Brown Raids, & have silenced the teachings of all laws “higher” than that of good breeding & of the Golden Rule. Want of manners it is which has broken up the Government & deluged the country with a sea of blood. Want of manners on the part of our Northern brethren has carried mourning into thousands of Southern homes & threatens in their own country to break up the foundations of their society & to bring ruin upon their national prosperity. Want of manners, want of nice observance of the point of honour, without which neither nations or individuals can long flourish, has brought all these evils upon them. I am wearied with war & bloodshed, with accounts of skirmishes & advances, or retrograde movements & barren victories which seem to have no end. Lee advances to meet Grant, who has thrown a strong force over the James. They skirmish, we repulse, when presto, they make demonstrations on the Southside with the like result. Change the name of the places & generals & the same accounts might stand for the movements of Hood & Sherman before Atlanta. I am worn out with them & deeply indeed do I feel for our soldiers whose lives are thus passed “in idleness or peril.” God grant them stout hearts & willing minds & grant O grant us Peace!
The enemy have been looking for a scapegoat on whose head to lay the failure of their memorable “fiasco” of the 30th of July & the lot seems to have fallen on the Christian Burnside, who has been releived from the command of the Army Corps & ordered to report at Washington. He bore the brunt of his failure before Fredericksburg with such distinguished meekness & so humbly risked the rod with which Mr Stanton chastised him that he has doubtless been selected as the victim to sacrifice to Lieut Gen Grant’s popularity on account of his Christian virtues! Ah pluck! How it does dignify a man! What a respect it excites even in a vanquished enemy! Who wants a “sucking dove” for an opponent? Yet I am sorry for the fall of Burnside’s meek bald head. We shall miss his blunders. Meade as a man, a general, & gentleman has commanded more respect from us than any general the Yankee nation has yet put forth. Grant is a mere butcher. Take away his brute force, his numerical superiority, & he is nothing. As for Hunter & Butler, they are as weak as they are cruel & that speaks volumes. I will not sully my page with a mention of them!
No news from Mobile, save that the loss of Forts Powel and Gaines does not imply a surrender of the town. Gen Maury now Lieut Gen claims that he will make it a second Charleston. God grant it. Peace meetings at the North & popular offers of reconstruction, but it falls on deaf ears. They say a financial crisis is upon them, but little do we heed them. A new Confederate Steamer, the “Tallahassee,” commanded by John Taylor Wood a nephew by marriage of our President has suddenly made its appearance in Northern Waters. She swept into New York harbour & bearding the lion in his den captured several vessels & Pilot boats inside of Sandy Hook. New York is in a blaze allegorically. Would it were so literally.
Had company to dinner on Wednesday, Mr & Mrs Ed Hill and their guest Miss Berkely Botts of Va (neice of John Minor B the infamous), Dr & Mrs Wood, & Mrs Whitaker. I do not think we see Company enough. I get out of the way of entertaining them & I fear I was unable to make my guests forget the heat as I would have liked to have done. When we have Peace I will do better.
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