Posts Tagged ‘mourning’

October 24th 1864

This day twelve years ago my dear little Pherba died from the effects of a burn, she was burnt on Saturday, died Sunday night at 8 o’clock and Jesus took her to his bosom. I feel sad today, I do not feel well. I feel tired from a long walk I took yesterday to attend prayermeeting at Union, and was disappointed there was no meeting. I now consecrate myself to God, I beg him to direct me in all things. I look to him as my saviour who I know has been with me in every trial, and I believe he is my best friend who will never leave nor forsake us. All my trials are permitted to cut loose my affections from this world. I will thank God for them. I go to God as a weak and dependant child to it’s Father, he knows our wants, he is able and will help us at the right time. I long and pray to be filled with the Holy Ghost, I shall expect it, for I will fast and pray for it.

Source: Mary Jeffreys Bethell Diary, 1853-1873.  #1737-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/bethell/menu.html


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September 23, 1864

The cannonade on the 21st proves to have been only a rather more than usually vigorous shelling on Grant’s part, from which no damage resulted, God be thanked. News of an engagement near Winchester in which I fear we were not successful, as the bringing off of our guns & waggon trains is mentioned as a cause of gratulation. Early telegraphs that “the loss on both sides was heavy.” We compelled the enemy to retire, but at night fall we also did the same thing, falling back to Fisher’s Hill, Sheridan being too much worsted to pursue. Sad, sad to relate, we lost Maj Gen Rodes, one of the best Generals of Division we have & Brig Gen Godwin, a gallant & good officer. Rodes tho from Alabama commanded N C troops almost exclusively & Godwin’s Brigade were all from this state. Mouring is sown broadcast throughout our land I fear by this sad battle. Thomas Devereux is in Rodes Division. How long will it be ere we are at rest? Godwin was at one time Provost Marshal of Richmond & we saw him frequently there in the spring of 62.

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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Friday 9th [September 1864]

Mr. Vic brought the wrong mail his morning & took it back so we got now news. I finished Jinnie’s dresses & began Fannie’s. Jim’s baby died today about 12 o’clock. It has been sick for three weeks. It was very poor. I crocheted a little sheet & made a pillow for it. This has been a beautiful day, the first bright day we have had in several.


Saturday 10th [September 1864]

They buried the baby at the middle of the day. I finished Fannie’s dress today and began Mr. Henry a pair socks. Matt is going to knit one. This day six years ago, my dear little Cora died. I know it was best that she died but ‘tis hard to think so even now. I often think of her and almost wish her back again to this troublesome world but I can go to her but she can never come to me. May I be ready & willing to go & be with my friends that have gone before.


Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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September 3, 1864

Who can tell what a day will bring forth? The affliction into which poor Pattie was in one moment plunged sends a pang through every heart & makes all tremble for the future. On the first, the day before yesterday, she received a letter from her sister, Mrs Gilliam, telling her that her brother Capt Skinner (whom she idolized more than any other human being) had been instantly killed whilst gallantly leading a charge at the battle of Ream’s Station. He had just shouted to his men, “Forward boys! Forward once more & we have got them!!” when he was struck by a Minnie ball in the left temple & fell. His men pressed on, carried the Yankee works, & returned to find him cold & stiff in death. His cousin Willie Mallory  (a member of his company) & another of his men buried him on the field of battle & wrote his sister an account of his death. Poor Pattie! Her grief is fearful! Her wounds are torn open afresh & the “low beginnings of content” which God in his mercy had granted her are broken up from the foundation. In the most heartrending accents she would call on her husband, on her brother, exclaim that they were her all, her all, Aunt Kate, Aunt Kate my all, my all! until ones heart & brain almost reeled at the presence of such sorrow. Ah! How much more heavy is the pressure of greif when there is nothing to be done but to look the dreadful fact steadily in the face, than when there is a need for action, for exertion, for thought of some kind.

Her sisters entertain hopes of recovering the body & burying for the present in Oxford & I have sent a man on to the battle field to make the attempt. Mr Edmondston accordingly took her yesterday to that place in the hope of being in time for the funeral. Poor thing, my heart bleeds for her! He was indeed her “all,” her stay, her support, & her comfort & to him alone she looked for what of happiness the future had in store for her. I cannot trust myself to speak of his death. It seems to have brought the war even nearer to me than the death of my own nephew did. Perhaps on account of its suddenness! But if there is one fate in the future, one punishment for the damned more terrible than another, it will surely be those who have inaugerated and carried on this dreadful war, who have sown the country broadcast with blood & misery. Mr Lincoln! Mr Lincoln! We call you to the bar of Judgment, you and your arch tool Seward! On you two falls the weight of the heaviest retribution which man was ever yet called to suffer.

Capt Benjamin Skinner was an uncommonly fine young man of parts more solid than brilliant. He had made himself beloved by his associates & idolized by his family for a kindness of disposition, an unselfishness of character, which showed itself in constant acts of self denial for their sakes. Firm, upright, & just in his dealings with all men, he was distinguished for modesty of disposition, a cheerful evenness of temper, a kindly playfulness of manner as rare as it is valuable, a good soldier, — gallant, brave, and uncomplaining even amids the greatest of hardships. He was almost worshiped by his men and he commanded in no small degree the respect and admiration of his superior officers. As the head of his family his death will long be felt by them; for to him, young as he was, they all looked up as to a common centre. To his Mother & Pattie his loss is irreparable & to his youngest brother now immured in a Northern Prison the want of his example & influence is incalculable. He was but a type of thousands of other young men who daily lose their lives on the altar of Southern independance. “Independance” my God! how dearly bought! Hasten the time O Lord when we shall be free! free from the ravages of this Northern Minos who thus devours the flower of our youth!

All day yesterday I wandered about worn out in body & mind, unable to do anything or even to think of any thing save Pattie & her sorrow’s. Mr E & herself left early in the morning & he cannot get back at earliest before twelve o’clock tomorrow. I think I shall scarce know rest until he comes. A tiny note from him this morning dated Weldon gives us the ill omened news that in spite of the blood shed at Ream’s the Yankees still hold the R R at that point. No explanation of the heavy firing on the 1st, so we are forced to think it must have been further down the road. He tells me also that McClellan & Wood are the nominees for the Chicago Convention for Pres & Vice Pres of the U S. Little do I care whom they place in that seat; be it the arch Enemy himself, he would suit his subjects rarely. I do not beleive in their Peace humbugs & Restoration of the Unions — canards “Peace,” “Reconstruction,” & “Union” are party cries all alike empty. Give them but the power & we will see what kind of Peace they will give us. Peace lies in our own good swords & unerring aim.

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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September 2nd [1864]

The weather is light & beautiful but our hearts are sad. The angel of death has again spread his gloomy wings over our family-circle. Another visitation on the altar of his Country. Robert smith, our young cousin has fallen. His remains were interred in our family burying ground & fair hands placed a wreath of evergreens over the grave of the young hero & left him to sleep with kindred dust. We have the comforting hope that he was ready for the summons. He sent word to his Brother that he had “found peace & it was all well with him.” Oh may these trials be blessed to us all!


Source: Jane Evans Elliot Diaries #5343, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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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

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Monday 8th [August 1864]

Tom gone to see about the cattle. Anon Jones here all day. I made a jar of pickles this morning, have been doing odds & ends all day. Mr. Henry got done his oats last week. The mail brought no news of importance. We had a terrible fight at Petersburg a short time ago. The yanks sprung a mine & killed about 100 of men & then took our breast works. Our forces rallied & recaptured them. Capt Jim Cathey was instantly killed, also Lucious Welch. I know Aunt Welch will grieve herself nearly to death about him.

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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