August 28, 1864
The past week we have fully exemplified in our daily life the beauty & value of faith! Faith! Is it in God? In our cause? Or in Gen Lee and his army? Or, as I hope and beleive, is it in all three? On Monday came news that we had recovered possession of the Petersburg & Weldon R R, that Heth had advanced, & after flanking had driven back the enemy, taking 3,000 (three thousand) prisoners, that in another fight 800 more were captured, & that the road would soon be in running order. All this occurred on Thursday and Friday 18 and 19th. Then an ominous silence until Thursday. No mail, no rumours even; yet, tho uneasy, we were not depressed. Congratulated ourselves that the Danville road was uncut & hoped each day for papers. They came at last & with them bad news. After his repulse on Friday Grant on Sunday advanced in heavy force, again seized the R R & driving our men back hastily & strongly entrenched himself, his centre holding the Weldon R R whilst his left flank stretched westward for more than a mile to the Vaughn waggon road. We attacked with great fury, carried his outer works, but retired from the inner which were found to be too strong for us & at going to press we had been unable to dislodge him. Then came the triumph, the comfort of our Faith. Serious tho our position was, terrible as would be the result to us nationally & personally should Grant be enabled to maintain himself, interposing as it were his whole body between us & Lee & allowing forage parties to range at will through our whole country which would be in his rear, yet not a despondant thought, not a doubt arose in our minds, but we rested in the calm conviction that Gen Lee would in some manner out general Grant & regain possession of the R R before he could inflict much damage upon us. Some feared as the intrenchments “which had sprung up like magic” were so strong that a great loss of life would ensue, whilst others more confident in Lee’s strategy trusted in his skill to manoevre the Yankees from their post; & true enough the next day brought news by letter from Mr R. Dunlop, now at Weldon, that the train from Stony Crk had come in & reported that two severe fights had taken place, that Lee had dislodged Grant, & then held the whole line of the road & that our prisoners were estimated at from 3 to 7000 & that he had captured 16 peices of Artillery. As yet no particulars and this is but passenger news, yet we trust & beleive it implicitly!
No official accounts of the capture of Memphis by Forrest, a complete surprise, the Yankee Gen Washburne – with his whole staff & 500 prisoners falling into our hands. Forrest was unable to hold it but retreated with his prisoners & immense booty. An offset to this triumph on our part we, however, find in the loss of Fort Morgan below Mobile which has fallen into the enemies hands, whether by surrender or assault we do not yet understand. Fort Gaines fall has never yet been explained; so, as in that case, we must also reserve our judgment until the facts are before us. Hood holds his own before Atlanta. Wheeler is in Sherman’s rear cutting off his waggon trains, destroying bridges, & interrupting his communications generally. He, at the last account, menaces Dalton where Sherman has collected immense supplies. Pray God he may succeed in destroying them! Northern news that Mr Lincoln has consented to receive Peace Commissioners at Baltimore. His famous bulletin addressed “To all whom it may concern” has brought him into such disfavour with the Yankee Peace party that he trembles for his reelection. He now wishes to patch up matters with them before the Chicago Convention nominates his successor — hence this “Canard.” He hopes with its feeble Quack to drown the voice of the “Peace Democrats,” who accuse him of a desire to prolong the War. Mr Lincoln, we thank you & we see clearly through your shallow designs. Your Olive branch is not large enough to hide the drawn sword with which you still menace us.
News but meagre from the Valley. Sheridan has fallen back from before Early (who is still at Strasburg) the Yankees say to a more defensive position on the Potomac. We say Early drove him to it! Early has received the cognomen of the “Great Harvester” from the fact that he captured many hundred Reaping machines on the B & Ohio R R &, dividing them amongst his men, he has been for weeks quietly thrashing & sending South the Wheat Crop of that fertile section & that under the very nose of the Yankee Gen! Below Wilmington Yankee War Steamers are shelling the woods along the Coast at Masonborough Sound & Rumour has it are preparing to land troops for an overland attack on Wilmington. “Nous verrons”! The Yankee prisoners in our hands are increasing to that extent that we are almost in the condition of “the man who caught the Elephant.” We know not what to do with them.
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