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September 19, 1864

Came Amo back from Raleigh on Sat jaded & worn out. He brought good accounts of Hood’s army from an intelligent officer with whom he “fore gathered” in his journey. The army is in fine spirits, well disiplined, & defiant, but long for Johnston to be again at their head. They do not undervalue Hood & he possesses their confidence & affection but in a less degree than Joe Johnston whom they all look upon not only as unequaled in strategy but as martyr to personal ill will, either of the President or some one high in his influence. Rumour whispers that Mrs Davis has much to do with it, that Mrs Johnston and herself do not visit whilst Mrs Bragg is her warm personal friend. I must believe, however, that Mr Davis is superior to such influences. He is not a man to be led by a “Commercia Major” & has the good of the country too much at heart to sacrifice it to personal pique. If he makes mistakes, & who that is mortal does not?, they are honest ones!

Patrick sent Amo some Turnip seed sometime since with directions to sell them & divide the proceeds for his trouble. He brought us on our portion in the shape of Sugar [ — ] lbs of the seed buying [ — ] lbs of Sugar — the one being sold for $[ — ] and the other bought at $6, so ten lbs of sugar standing normally at $60 cost us only [ — ] lbs of turnip seed, for which we have no use & which we never before sold! Indeed barter has become the order of the day. We pay for our weaving in Lard! Two lbs of Lard pays for the weaving of 2 yds of coarse cloth & recently two of our neighbors, Mrs Peter & Mrs Ben Smith, desiring to carry their children for change of air to the up country could get board only on promising to pay for it in Bacon & Lard, and part of their baggage actually consisted of bags of bacon and kegs of lard! Spartan simplicity. The Yankees are endeavouring to force our authorities into a special exchange of prisoners by placing our officers in a Stockade on Morris island outside of Gregg & Wagner & exposed to our fire. They want their officers but not their men & tho we have expressed a desire & have done all that in us lay to effect a general exchange of all prisoners they refuse to accede to it, raising innumerable difficulties & now demanding that we shall surrender our own slaves, captured from them, in return for our free white citizens captured by them. Our government refuses to admit the status of negroes to be equal to that of whites & claim that when we recapture slaves they are ours & return at once to their normal state. Butler has written a letter on the subject, distinguished only for bad Logic & impertinence, which I hope Mr Ould will treat with the contempt it deserves.

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

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August 22, 1864

No mail since the 18th & yesterday came tidings of the cause of the failure which has perplexed us not a little. The enemy have again cut the Petersburg & Weldon R R at Reams’ Station 9 miles from Petersburg. Rumours of a similar disaster to both the Southside & the Danville Road, but we know not how to credit them. God knows how this state of uncertainty & ignorance distresses us! The cutting of the R R is always a preliminary to an advance on Grant’s part. He has been unusually active crossing & recrossing the James as a feint to throw dust into Gen Lee’s eyes, so as to conceal the point of his real attack, & like the cuttle fish muddy the water so as to make good his escape; so the next news (when we get it) will be stirring.

I have fallen into sad idle ways this summer, & in order to correct them take a hint from the Spectator & faithfully record the doings of one day and see how little — how absolutely little, do I effect. The first thing on leaving my chamber on Sat morning was the usual family prayers. Then seizing a stocking I darned a few runs whilst Mr E read the regular no of the Spectator with which we occupy ourselves whilst breakfast is brought in. Breakfast. Peeled a muskmelon & prepared it for pickling, dawdled about, put up a few seeds, & read a sermon on the death of Moses to Patty. Went to the Storeroom with Dolly & ordered dinner & had 2 barrels of flour packed. Darned a little more on Mr E’s stockings. At ½ past 9 father called me to chess — played until 12. Got the Luncheon & cut some water melons for the girls. As it was overcast & pleasant went into the garden, gathered the Musk melons, walked around the Flower Garden, peeped at my grapes, wound up my stroll at the “soltaire” where I had directed Fanny to bring my tea. Read the lessons for the day & did some other little devotional reading. Drank my tea, wrote my Journal, went to the house, arranged the fruit for Dessert, dressed for dinner, dined, talked to Mr E whilst he smoked his cigarrito, chatted with Patty, took up the interminable stocking, darned a little, when father proposed chess. Played for an hour & a half at least, seized the stocking again, put it down to commence Mattie’s straw Hat for her & to teach her how to sew the straw, & as a shower prevented my usual afternoon walk, at the stocking again until near dark. Arranged the waiters for tea with the girls assistance, lit the candles, & superintended the tea table. Ordered breakfast, finished the inevitable pr of socks, darned two pr for myself, went to my room & closed the day with a warm bath & the evening lessons.

Now what a little did I accomplish. True I had more of the servants work to superintend & execute myself on account of its being the midsummer Holidays & I had allowed Betsy & Fanny to go to the dinner at the Plantation & Madame Vinyard’s Confinement threw the stocking darning on me, but what did I that would entitle me to the sensation that “something accomplished — something done had earned a night’s repose”? I must do better for the future.

Vinyard made her appearance in the house today, her child Frances being four weeks old on Sat, so that my labours as a stocking darner are happily at an end. Will I substitute anything as useful in its place? One thing I must arm myself with — a double stock of patience, for Vinyard always a trial will be a double one after her months idleness.

The mail has just come in with details of the engagement of Tuesday at Deep Bottom. At one time the enemy had possession of a mile of our entrenchments, Grant having encassed 40,000 men on one point, but by slowly retreating & keeping a bold front we prevented their further advance until, reinforcements coming up, we drove them from our lines in confusion & with great slaughter. Sad to say we lost Maj Gen Girardy & Brig Gen Chambliss killed, which was not I fear compensated by the loss of their dancing Master Gen Ferero, who cut his last caper at Deep Bottom. Ferero’s death was a gain to them & a corresponding loss to us. Girardy & Chambliss were fine young officers & both leave wives & families of small children to mourn for them.

I referred above to the “Soltaire.” I have never described it. We have had a small house in the garden known to the rest of the world as a tool or root House privately fitted up, as a drawing room. A couch, two chairs, a table for writing, an ink stand, a portfolio, a vase of flowers, a shelf, a few books, & a broom constitute its whole furniture. Here Mr E & myself retire when we wish to be absolutely alone. When I find him in it before me I enter only on suffrance. It is a private place of whose very existence no one but ourselves know of & when we are wearied, out of sorts, or have some thing to do which demands quiet & seclusion we retire there & shut out family cares & with them all the rest of the world. It is so arranged that we can see out without being seen in turn & here have I taken my bible, prayer book, & Journal & with the perfume of sweet flowers around me I can daily read & lift up my heart in gratitude, better I fancy than I can in the house. Here, too, we make little appointments to meet at a certain hour & chat & spend the time at our ease. I come in & find some little evidence that he has been before me, a peach or a pear or a book left open at the page he has been reading, & I go out & leave a memento for him — a Rose, a vase of fresh flowers, a half written letter, & the air of secresy & seclusion with which we invest the time spent there gives it a double zest. It is like “Stolen fruit or bread eaten in secret.”

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

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June 27, 1864

News today from Petersburg brought by a Maj Shepperd, who left that place on horse back & came to Stony Crk where he took the cars, to the effect that “Petersburg is now considered safe.” The wires were last night working between Weldon & Petersburg, but as the enemy were entrenched 8000 strong within 3/8th of a mile of the R R, it was not considered safe to allow cars to pass. The Danville Road has been torn up at Keysville, a short distance from Clarksville, so no more news of Lee or Breckenridge can reach us for a time. Was startled today by a messenger riding up & putting into my hands a note from Col Bell to Mr E enclosing an official dispatch from Gen Whiting to Gen L S Baker to which Mr E wasrequested to forward with all speed & telling him that a raid had been made upon the Wilmington R R below Goldsboro. Gen Baker was kind enough to write by the servant who “sped on the fiery cross” that it was a “threatened” raid which he did not beleive the enemy had force to make. There is in the papers a most disgraceful account of an advance of the enemy below Kinston, in which tho they were but 300 strong they defeated the 6th Cavalry, Folks, &, part at least of the 67th infantry, killed several of them & took 60 prisoners, losing themselves “but one man & he drowned by falling into Cobb’s mill tail”! Disgraceful truly! The papers call it “botched on our side.” They were piloted by a deserter from Nethercutts Bat named Taylor Waters, & to his shame be it said, from Lenoir County.

Have been much interested latterly curing & drying my own tea! Tea from my own plants & very fine indeed it is. Good judges pronounce it an excellent article! My stock of either time or patience does not admit of my rolling it “a la Chinoise,” tho I tried it partially. I simply dry the leaves slowly on a chafing dish over the fire taking care to bruise them as they become hot & being careful not to burn or scorch them. I have fifty or more young plants from last year’s nuts which in a few years, if they yeild in the ratio that my present number of old plants (eight) have done, will supply me amply — something of an object when tea is, as now, $50 per lb in Petersburg and $25 in Charleston. So much for our late wise Congress tampering with the law of imports. Our present august body is but little better, as it has left the evil unremedied. I have been also busy plaiting straw for Mr E’s hat. Wheat straw is softer than Rye, but the blanched part of the rye is so much longer that one is tempted to forego beauty for ease of manufacture. It is pleasant to feel that we have the ability at least to be independant of these vile Yankees, that in spite of their boasted blockade, kept up with such expenditure of both men & money by them, we are not forced to forego our usual comforts or luxuries. The excesses the wretches commit are almost incredible.

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

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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

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April 18, 1864

We have had since the first of this month a succession of heavy rains & consequent freshets in the river. So cold, wet, & backward a Spring has rarely been known. Corn planting which should be over is but fairly begun & the Low grounds are a Lake, with the prospect of continuing so for some time to come. Since the Snow Storm of the 22d of March there has been five distinct freshets, one 21 ft 1 in, another 21 ft 7 in, so there has been but little dry land to be seen. We have made three trips to Hascosea & three times has the weather disappointed us & delayed our work there. We came back from one nearly fruitless one on Sat. We succeeded, however, in bedding Potatoes & I in planting my Dahlia & Tube Rose Roots. Sad to say I found on opening my “bank” of the former that I have lost more than half of my ample stock. This would not be so much a subject of regret did I not fear that some of my finest varieties have perished altogether. The prospect for Pears is good & that for Peaches, spite of our fears, fair. The crop is much thinned out, but if we escape future late frosts we will have an abundance. Sowed my Flower seed but was forced to entrust my Ochre & Corn to Allen’s superintendance.

Whilst at Hascosea soldiers were constantly passing & from some Georgians belonging to a Battery, which was en route from Hamilton to Weldon, we learned that an attack was considered iminent there, the Yankees having thrown a Pontoon bridge over the Chowan at Murfreesboro & a cavalry advance in force is expected across the county of Northampton in the tract of that taken by Onderdonk & his plunderers last summer. The men we entertained were intelligent, & most grateful for the little kindness we had it in our power to show them; they confirmed the account we had previously heard of the repulse of a Regt of negro Cavalry at Suffolk by a charge of Artillery. anomalous as it appears! It is a fact they ran too fast for the infantry to keep up or even to get in range when “a Charge” by sections of two Batteries was ordered. They said it was ludicrous in the extreme — Field pieces thundering down upon the ranks of the cavalry! — no need to stop to unlimber, pursuit was the word! & Cuffee scattered right & left. They took no prisoners & never intending taking any. A beautiful field peice was captured from them & tied to it was a prisoner, one of our men, who understood that he was to be hanged! One other was liberated in Suffolk, who had been informed that such was to be his fate the next day!

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

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Went to Hascosea via Conneconara on the 30th, bent on accomplishing much garden & Horticultural work, but the “clerk of the weather” played us an April Fool on a grand scale, for it rained incessantly — & being on horseback — & knowing that we could not cross at Hill’s Mill (for we left the river rising), we were weather bound until Sunday, when we came down to the Mill, & sending our horses back, crossed in a canoe & found Dick & a mule cart with plenty of clean straw for mistress’ equipage, whilst Ananias held a horse for Master. So through ploughed fields, our bridgeless ditches, across furrows & hedgerows, with many a thump & jolt, I came at last safe home. I was repaid for my ride across “the untrodden ways,” however, by a full sight of a Doe & fawn which started up a few ft only in front of us. I had a view of them in the open field for more than a mile as they ran, startled, to their court. The dam stopped often apparently to allow the fawn to rest & if the eye was once removed from them, when quiet, it was impossible for me to distinguish them again until they recommenced their flight, so exactly correspondant were they in colour to the stubble and dry grass with which the field was covered. In a lane near Hascosea we saw the first martin looking wearied & worn out, with his plumage ruffled as tho just off a long journey! They are late this year, as they generally arrive about the 25th of March. Today a solitary individual made his appearance here, but he looked too much tired & disgusted with the weather which greeted him (a dull cold rain & keen east wind, seemingly laden with Pneumonias, Pleurisys, and all other ills that lungs are heir to) even to chirrup!

The newspapers are dull which is a good sign for us. Grant is to head another “On to Richmond,” which is to start about the 15th of this month. Pray God that Bragg may have nothing to do with the campaign against him. He has been beaten too often by him already. The financial crisis is for the present over. Funding in 4 per ct Bonds having ceased on the first, all notes over the $5 have now lost 33 ⅓ per cent out of every dollar. There is great gratulation & glorification made by some persons over the reduction of the Currency, but I cannot see what permanent good is to result from it so long as that body — Mr Meminger has power to stamp and sign more by the millions. I wish his parents had never thought of emigrating from Germany to this country. He would now in all likelihood be vine dressing, eating black bread & sour Krout instead of faring “sumptuously every day” & coining money as fast as the good genius in a Fairy tale! The analogy holds good in more points than one. Those fairy gifts had a way of becoming useless, turning to gingerbread, dry leaves, nuts & medlars, at the most inconvenient time, even as his Treasury notes are now little but waste paper. I wish Gov Bennett had left him alone in the Orphan House & that he might have filled an humbler sphere with equal happiness to himself & less damage to his adopted country.

To our surprise Forrest is reported at Paducah! “O where was Morgan then?” That is his field & without disparagement to Gen Forrest, it is where Morgan ought to be; but there is a screw loose between him and the Government. I will not accept the Examiner’s account of it, but there is something which we do not see into. I append Gen Johnston’s report of Pemberton and his disobedience of orders with respect to the defence of Vicksburg. The instinct of the country was right in placing the blame where it did. Mr Davis is a firm friend. I preserve also a speech made in the Yankee Congress by a Mr Allen respecting the Yankee hero “Ben Butler.” We do not paint him much blacker. Also some strictures on Burnside the Christian.  Ah! mon General! it is easier to “stand like a sea God,” distinguished only by your “yellow belt,” than to face such an attack as that. You think it too personal, hey my Christian hero? — but you must remember that deeds such as yours, arresting men in the dead of night because they claim freedom of speech, sending soldiers & gentlemen to a Penitentiary & confining them in cells too narrow to turn in, burning houses, stealing carriages & pianos, have two points of view — one, that taken by flatterers & theives who make a convenience of you & the other, that of honest men & patriots who have a rude habit of calling things by their right names.

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

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Tuesday March 22th [1864]

It began to sleet Sunday night and has continued to snow & sleet ever since but is quite cold tho’ not quite as cold as during the storm in Febr. The snow is quite deep & it still continues to sleet. It is the severest weather we have had this late in the season in a long time. I am afraid all the peaches will be killed & all the garden seeds. Buddy has been moved from Yadkin to Dobson Surry Co. Mr. Dye’s little daughter died Sunday night. Mrs. Martine has been quite ill but she is considered better. Ma was out there part of last week.

 

Source: Malinda Ray Diary, Anna Sutton Sherman Papers, North Carolina State Archives.  See also David A. Ray Papers, Southern Historical Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill

 

 

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