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[279]

VI. Foreshadowings of the race problem (June 1-July 16, 1865).

explanatory note.--I would gladly have left out the family dissensions about politics with which this and the preceding chapter abound, could it have been done consistently with faithfulness to the original narrative which I have sought to maintain in giving to the public this contemporary record of the war time. It is due to my father's memory, however, to say that his devotion to the Union was not owing to any want of sympathy with his own section, but to his belief that the interests of the South would be best served by remaining under the old flag. No man was ever in more hearty accord with our civilization and institutions than he. The question with him was not whether these ought to be preserved, but by what means their safety could best be assured. His judgment told him that secession must inevitably be a failure, in any case. Even could we have held our own in the face of the overwhelming odds against us, and established our independence, he believed that the disintegrating forces of inter-state jealousies and the intrigues of self-seeking politicians would soon have dissolved the bonds of a loosely-organized confederation, based on the right of secession, and left us in the end, broken and divided, at the mercy of our powerful centralized neighbor. I think, too, his common sense told him that slavery was bound to go, sooner or later, and if [280] emancipation must come, it would be better that it should take place peacefully and by carefully prearranged steps than with the violence and unreason which he foresaw were sure to follow in case of war. He was a large slaveholder himself, and honestly believed, like most of his class, that a condition of mild servitude secured by strict regulations against abuses, was the best solution of the “negro problem” bequeathed us by our ancestors. We were in the position of the man who had the bull by the horns and couldn't let loose if he wanted to, for fear of being gored. Yet, in spite of the dangers and difficulties that beset this course, his pride and faith in the future of the great republic his father had fought for, were so great, that if forced to choose, he would have preferred emancipation, under proper safeguards, rather than disruption of the Union.

But while he believed that peaceable and gradual emancipation would have been a lesser evil than disunion, he was bitterly and unalterably opposed to negro suffrage, and regarded it as the greatest of all the evils brought upon us by the war. He used to say in the early days, when the possibility of such a thing first began to be talked of among us, that it would be better to concede everything else, and accept any terms we could get, no matter how hard, provided this one thing could be averted, than risk the danger of provoking the North, by useless resistance, to employ this deadliest weapon in the armory of strife to crush us. Such advice was unpopular at the time, but it was a mere question of policy. He deplored the misfortunes of the South as much as anybody; we differed only in our opinion as to who was to blame for them, and how they were to be remedied. We laid all our sufferings at the door of the hated Yankees; he blamed the authors of the secession movement-“the fool [281] secessionists,” he used to call them, when angry or heated by contradiction, but more commonly, “the poor fools,” in a tone of half-pitying rebuke, just as he had spoken of them on that memorable night when the bells were ringing for the secession of his State.

It was probably his warmth in advocating this policy to “agree with the adversary quickly” lest a worse thing should befall us by delay, that led to his action at the public meeting referred to in the text. What was said and done on that occasion, and the substance of the resolutions that gave such offense, I know no more to this day than when the account in the journal was penned. The subject was never alluded to between us and our father. Whether the course of events would have been altered if counsels such as his had prevailed, no one can tell. The passion and fury of the time were not favorable to moderation, and the fatal mistake was made, that has petrified the fifteenth amendment in our national constitution, and injected a race problem into our national life. There it stands to-day, a solid wedge of alien material cleaving the heart wood of our nation's tree of life, and throwing the dead weight of its impenetrable mass on whatever side its own interest or passion, or the influence of designing politicians may direct it.


June 1, Thursday

I dressed up in my best, intending to celebrate the Yankee fast by going out to pay some calls, but I had so many visitors at home that I did not get out till late in the afternoon. I am sorry enough that Lincoln was assassinated, Heaven knows, but this public fast is a political scheme gotten up to [282] throw reproach on the South, and I wouldn't keep it if I were ten times as sorry as I am.

The “righteous Lot” has come back to town. It is uncertain whether he or Capt. Schaeffer is to reign over us; we hope the latter. He is said to be a very gentlemanly-looking person, and above associating with negroes. His men look cleaner than the other garrison, but Garnett saw one of them with a lady's gold bracelet on his arm, which shows what they are capable of. I never look at them, but always turn away my head, or pull down my veil when I meet any of them. The streets are so full of negroes that I don't like to go out when I can help it, though they seem to be behaving better about Washington than in most other places. Capt. Schaeffer does not encourage them in leaving their masters, still, many of them try to play at freedom, and give themselves airs that are exasperating. The last time I went on the street, two great, strapping wenches forced me off the sidewalk. I could have raised a row by calling for protection from the first Confederate I met, or making complaint at Yankee headquarters, but would not stoop to quarrel with negroes. If the question had to be settled by these Yankees who are in the South, and see the working of things, I do not believe emancipation would be forced on us in such a hurry; but unfortunately, the government is in the hands of a set of crazy abolitionists, who will make a pretty mess, meddling with things they know nothing about. Some of the [283] Yankee generals have already been converted from their abolition sentiments, and it is said that Wilson is deviled all but out of his life by the negroes in South-West Georgia. In Atlanta, Judge Irvin says he saw the corpses of two dead negroes kicking about the streets unburied, waiting for the public ambulance to come and cart them away.


June 4, Sunday

Still another batch of Yankees, and one of them proceeded to distinguish himself at once, by “capturing” a negro's watch. They carry out their principles by robbing impartially, without regard to “race, color, or previous condition.” ‘Ginny Dick has kept his watch and chain hid ever since the bluecoats put forth this act of philanthropy, and George Palmer's old Maum Betsy says that she has “knowed white folks all her life, an' some mighty mean ones, but Yankees is de fust ever she seed mean enough to steal fum niggers.” Everybody suspected that mischief was afoot, as soon as the Yankees began coming in such force, and they soon fulfilled expectations by going to the bank and seizing $100,000 in specie belonging to one of the Virginia banks, which the Confederate cavalrymen had restored as soon as they found it was private property. They then arrested the Virginia bank officers, and went about town “pressing” people's horses to take them to Danburg, to get the “robbers” and the rest of the money, which they say is concealed there. One of the men came to our house after supper, while we were sitting out on [284] the piazza, and just beginning to cool off from a furious political quarrel we had had at the table. Father could not see very well without his glasses, and mistook him for a negro and ordered him off — an error which I tool care not to correct. He then made his errand known, and produced an order from Capt. Abraham for father's carriage horses. Garnett and Capt. Hudson quickly moved towards him, ready to resist any insolence. He was mighty civil, however, and tried to enter into conversation by remarking upon the pleasantness of the weather, but people about to be robbed of their carriage horses are not in a mood for seeing the pleasant side of things and nobody took any notice of him, except old Toby, who is too sensible a dog and too good a Confederate to tolerate the enemies of his country. I don't know how father and Garnett managed it, but the fellow finally went off without the horses, followed by a parting growl from Toby.

After this interruption we resumed our conversation, and became so much interested that father, Garnett, Capt. Hudson, and I sat up till twelve o'clock, much to the disgust of Mett and Mary Day, who were trying to sleep, in rooms overlooking the piazza. It was not politics, this time, either, but the relative merits of Dickens and Thackeray, and I think it would be much better if we would stick to peaceful encounters of this sort instead of the furious political battles we have, which always end in fireworks, especially when [285] Henry and I cross swords with father-two hot-heads against one.


June 5, Monday

Went to call on Mrs. Elzey with some of our gentlemen, and talk over plans for a moonlight picnic on Thursday or Friday night; then to see Mrs. Foreman, and from there to the Alexanders. On my return home, found Porter Alexander in the sitting-room, and Garnett came in soon after with Gen. Elzey, who staid to dinner. Mother was dining out, but fortunately I had a good dinnermock turtle soup, mutton chops, roast lamb with mint sauce, besides ham and vegetables. After dinner, I had just stretched myself on the bed for a nap, when Jim Bryan was announced, and before I had finished dressing to go downstairs, Garnett sent word that he had invited a party of Confederate officers, on their way back to Virginia from various points where they had been stranded, to take supper with us. Only two of them came, however, Maj. Hallet, a very boyishlooking fellow for a major, and Capt. Selden, a very handsome man, and as charming as he was good-looking. The others wouldn't come because they said they were too ragged and disreputable to go where ladies were. Captain Selden said they hadn't twenty-five cents among them, and told some very funny stories of their pinching and scheming to make their way without money. “We have been flanking hotels ever since we left Macon,” he said with a laugh, and I was so glad we had the remains of our good dinner to give [286] them. Maj. Hallet said he staid in Macon four weeks after he got his discharge trying to raise money enough to pay his fare home, but couldn't clear 50, and Garnett consoled him by confessing that he had just had to beg father for a quarter to pay the barber. Then Mett and I related some of our house-keeping difficulties, including poor “Mary Lizzie's” tragic end, which raised shouts of laughter-and we didn't tell the worst, either. It seems strange to think how we laugh and jest now, over things that we would once have thought it impossible to live through. We are all poor together, and nobody is ashamed of it. We live from hand to mouth like beggars. Father has sent to Augusta for a supply of groceries, but it will probably be a week or more before they get here, and in the meantime, all the sugar and coffee we have is what Uncle Osborne brings in. He hires himself out by the day and takes his wages in whatever provisions we need most, and hands them to father when he comes home at night. He is such a good carpenter that he is always in demand, and the Yankees themselves sometimes hire him. Father says that except Big Henry and Long Dick and old Uncle Jacob, he is the most valuable negro he ever owned.1 [287]

A Yankee came this morning before breakfast and took one of father's mules out of the plow. He showed an order from “Marse” Abraham and said he would bring the mule back, but of course we never expect to see it again. I peeped through the blinds, and such a looking creature, I thought, would be quite capable of burning Columbia. Capt. Schaeffer seems to be a more respectable sort of a person than some of the other officers. He not only will not descend to associate with negroes himself, but tries to keep his men from doing it, and when runaways come to town, he either has them thrashed and sent back home, or put to work on the streets and made to earn their rations. The “righteous Lot” too, to do him justice, does try to restrain their insolence on the streets, but mammy, who hears all the negro news, says he went to their balls and danced with the black wenches! And yet, [288] these “conquering heroes” have the face to complain because they are not admitted to our homes — as if we would stoop to share their attentions with our negro maids, even if there was not a yawning gulf of blood between us and them! People are so outraged at the indecent behavior going on in our midst that many good Christians have absented themselves from the Communion Table because they say they don't feel fit to go there while such bitter hatred as they feel towards the Yankees has a place in their hearts. The Methodists have a revival meeting going on, and last night one of our soldier boys went up to be prayed for, and a Yankee went up right after and knelt at his side. The Reb was so overcome by his emotions that he didn't know a Yankee was kneeling beside him till Mr. Norman alluded to it in his prayer, when he spoke of the “lamb and the lion” lying down together. But the congregation don't seem to have been greatly edified by the spectacle. Some of the boys who were there told me they were only sorry to see a good Confederate going to heaven in such bad company. It is dreadful to hate anybody so, and I do try sometimes to get these wicked feelings out of my heart, but as soon as I begin to feel a little like a Christian, I hear of some new piece of rascality the Yankees have done that rouses me up to white heat again.


June 6, Tuesday

Strange to say the Yankee brought back father's mule that was taken yesterdaywhich Garnett says is pretty good evidence that it [289] wasn't worth stealing. They caught five of the men accused of being implicated in the bank robbery, and brought them to Washington, but they have every one escaped, and I am glad of it. I would like to see the guilty ones punished, of course, but not by a military tribunal with no more regard for law and justice than these Yankee courts have, where negro evidence counts against white people just as much, if not more, than a white man's.

They did not find any of the treasure, and I am glad of that, too, for if the proper owners don't get it, I would rather Southern robbers should have it than Yankee ones. They are making a great ado in their Northern newspapers, about the “robbing of the Virginia banks by the Confederates” but not a word is said in their public prints about the $300,000 they stole from the bank at Greenville, S. C., nor the thousands they have taken in spoils from private houses, as well as from banks, since these angels of peace descended upon us. They have everything their own way now, and can tell what tales they please on us, but justice will come yet. Time brings its revenges, though it may move but slowly. Some future Motley or Macaulay will tell the truth about our cause, and some unborn Walter Scott will spread the halo of romance around it. In all the poems and romances that shall be written about this war, I prophesy that the heroes will all be rebels, or if Yankees, from some loyal Southern State. The bare idea of a full-blown [290] Yankee hero or heroine is preposterous. They made no sacrifices, they suffered no loss, and there is nothing on their side to call up scenes of pathos or heroism.

This afternoon our premises were visited by no less a person than the “righteous Lot” himself, who came to inspect Capt. Parker's boxes, which he pronounced to be Confederate property.

I had been out plum hunting with the children, and was up in my room, changing my dress when he came, and I couldn't help feeling “riled” --there is no other word that expresses it-when I peeped through the blinds and saw him breaking open and prying into these poor little relics of the Confederacy. It seemed like desecrating the memory of the dead.

Still another batch of Yankees, on this afternoon's train, and our men say their commander promises better than even Schaeffer. They say he looks like a born gentleman, while Schaeffer was nothing but a tailor when he went into the army. A precious lot of plebeians they are sending among us! It is thought this last comer will rule over us permanently, but they make so many changes that no one can tell who is to be the next lord paramount. There must surely be something in the wind, they are gathering here in such numbers. I feel uneasy about Gen. Toombs, who, not more than a week ago, was still in the county.


June 7, Wednesday

I started out soon after breakfast and got rid of several duty visits to old ladies and invalids. There is certainly something in the air. The [291] town is fuller of bluecoats than I have seen it in a long time. I crossed the street to avoid meeting a squad of them, but as I heard some of them make remarks upon my action, and didn't wish to do anything that would attract their notice, I bulged right through the midst of the next crowd I met, keeping my veil down and my parasol raised, and it wouldn't have broken my heart if the point had punched some of their eyes out. While we were at dinner Gardiner Foster and Sallie May Ford came in from Augusta, and left immediately after for Elberton. They say that when the prayer for the President of the United States was read for the first time in St. Paul's Church, not a single response was heard, but when Mr. Clarke read the “Prayer for prisoners and Captives,” there was a perfect storm of “Amens.”

While we were at dinner the faithful Abraham came with a wagon to carry off Capt. Parker's boxes, and father sent a servant out and invited him to a seat on the piazza till he could go to him. There is some talk of father's being made provisional Governor of Georgia; that is, his old political friends are anxious to have him appointed because they think, that while his well-known Union sentiments all through the war ought to make him satisfactory to the Yankees, they know he would have the interests of Georgia at heart and do everything he could to lighten the tyranny that must, in any case, be exercised over her. But I think, to hold an office under Andy Johnson, even for the [292] good of his country, would be a disgrace, and my dear father is too honorable a man to have his name mixed up with the miserable gang that are swooping down upon us, like buzzards on a battlefield.

I am afraid we shall have to part with Emily and her family. Mother never liked her, and has been wanting to get rid of her ever since “freedom struck the earth.” She says she would enjoy emancipation from the negroes more than they will from their masters. Emily has a savage temper, and yesterday she gave mother some impudence, and mother said she couldn't stand her any longer, and she would have to pack up and go. Then Emily came crying to Mett and me and said that Mistis had turned her off, and we all cried over it together, and Mett went and shut herself up in the library and spent the whole afternoon there crying over Emily's troubles. Mother hasn't said anything more about it to-day, but the poor darkey is very miserable, and I don't know what would become of her with her five children, for Dick can't let whisky alone, and would never make a support for them. Besides, he is not fit for anything but a coachman, and people are not going to be able to keep carriages now. I felt so sorry for the poor little children that I went out and gave them all a big piece of cake, in commiseration for the emptiness their poor little stomachs will sooner or later be doomed to, and then I went and had a talk with father about them. He laughed and told me I needn't be troubled; he would never let any of [293] his negroes suffer as long as he had anything to share with them, and if mother couldn't stand Emily, he would find somebody else to hire her, or see that the family were cared for till they could do something for themselves. Of course, now that they are no longer his property, he can't afford to spend money bringing up families of little negro children like he used to, but humanity, and the natural affection that every rightminded man feels for his own people, will make him do all that he can to keep them from suffering. Our negroes have acted so well through all these troublous times that I feel more attached to them than ever. I had a long talk with mammy on the subject to-day, and she says none of our house servants ever had a thought of quitting us.2 She takes a very sensible view of things, but mammy is a negro of more than usual intelligence. “There is going to be awful times among the black folks,” she says. “Some of ‘em ‘ll work, but most of ‘em won't without whippin‘, and them what won't work will steal from them that does, [294] an‘ so nobody won't have nothin‘.” She will never leave us, unless to go to her children.


June 8, Thursday

A letter came from sister while we were at table, giving an account of her experience with the Yankees. The only way she can manage to write to us is by keeping a letter always on hand with Mr. Hobbs, in Albany, to be forwarded by any opportunity he finds. We write to her by sending our letters to Gus Bacon, in Macon, and he has so much communication with Gum Pond that he can easily forward them there. The chief difficulty is in getting them from here to Macon. Nobody has money to travel much, so it is a mere chance if we find anybody to send them by. The express will carry letters, but it is expensive and uncertain.

Capt. Hudson has been amusing himself by teaching Marshall and some of his little friends to dance. They meet in our parlor at six o'clock every afternoon. Mary Day and I assist, she by playing the piano, and I by dancing with the children and making them keep time. At first only the Pope and Alexander children and Touch were invited, but so many others have [295] dropped in that I call him “the village dancing master.” Cousin Bolling came over this afternoon, and we had a pleasant little chat together till the buggy was brought round for Mary and me to drive. We went out the Abbeville road, and met four soldiers just released from the hospitals, marching cheerily on their crutches. I offered to take two of them in the buggy and drive them to town, and send back for the others, but they said they were going to camp there in the fields and would not put me to the trouble. I talked with them a long time and they seemed to enjoy telling of their adventures. Two of them had very bright, intelligent faces, and one smiled so pleasantly that Mary and I agreed it was worth driving five miles just to see him. I told them that the sight of their gray coats did my heart good, and was a relief to my eyes, so long accustomed to the ugly Federal blue.


June 9, Friday

Mary Wynn has come to make us a little visit. None of our gentlemen were home to dinner; but came in just before supper, from a private barbecue at Capt. Steve Pettus's plantation. They tried to tease us by pretending to have forgotten our warnings, and indulged too freely in the captain's favorite form of hospitality-Henry clean done up, Capt. Hudson just far enough gone to be stupid, and Garnett not quite half-seas over. They acted their parts to perfection and gave us a good laugh, but fooled nobody, because we know them well enough to be always on the lookout for a joke, and besides, we [296] knew they would not really do such a thing. We danced awhile after supper, but it was too hot for exercise, so we went out on the lawn and sang Confederate songs. Some Yankee soldiers crept up behind the rose hedge and listened, but Toby's bark betrayed them, so we were careful not to say anything that would give them an excuse for arresting us. I love all the dear old Confederate songs, no matter what sort of doggerel they are-and some of them are dreadful. They remind me of the departed days of liberty and happiness.


June 10, Saturday

Our pleasant evening had a sad termination. We went to our rooms at twelve o'clock, and I had just stretched myself out for a good night's rest when mother came to the door and said that father was very ill. I sprang to the floor and went to get a light and hunt for the laudanum bottle, while Metta flew to the cottage after Henry. He had gone to see a patient, so we sent for Dr. Hardesty. Father began to grow better before the doctor arrived, and when he went away, was pronounced out of danger, but I couldn't help feeling anxious, and slept very little during the night. A man of father's age and feeble health cannot well stand a severe attack of illness, and I felt cold with terror every time I thought of the possibility that he might die. Oh, how I reproached myself for being so often disrespectful about his politics, and I solemnly vow I will never say anything to vex him again. He is the dearest, best old father [297] that ever lived, and I have talked dreadfully to him sometimes, and now I am so sorry. He is much better to-day — entirely out of danger, the doctor says, but must not leave his bed. Mother stays in the room reading to him, so Mett and I have to take charge of the household. I feel like Atlas with the world on my shoulders.


June 12, Monday

We had crowds of callers all the morning, and some in the afternoon, which was rather inconvenient, as Metta and I were busy preparing for a little soiree dansante in compliment to our two Marys. Some of the guests were invited to tea, the others at a later hour, and refreshed between the dances with cake, fruit, and lemon punch. I was in the parlor from six to seven, helping Capt. Hudson with his little dancing circle, and Gen. Elzey came in to look on, and we fooled away the time talking till I forgot how late it was, and Mary Semmes and the captain [her brother-in-law, Spenser Semmes, son of the famous Confederate sea-captain] came in before I was dressed. I ran upstairs and scuttled into my clothes as quick as I could. We had a delightful supper and everybody seemed to enjoy it. About 25 were invited in all, and though it rained, only two invitations were declined. We had a charming evening, and everybody was in the best of spirits. In fact, I don't think I ever saw people enjoy themselves more. We had a few sets of the Lancers and one or two oldfashioned quadrilles for the benefit of those who did [298] not dance the round dances, but the square dances seem very tame to me, in comparison with a good waltz or a galop. Capt. Semmes is delightful to dance with. He supports his partner so well, with barely the palm of his hand touching the bottom of your waist. Metta and I are both charmed with him. Instead of the quiet, reserved sort of person he seemed when I first met him at the time of his marriage, he is as jolly and full of fun as Capt. Irwin himself. When I spoke to him about it, he laughed and said: “How could you expect a man to be anything but solemn at his own wedding?” I turned the tables by saying it was the woman's time to look solemn afterwards. We kept up a sort of mock warfare the whole evening, and I don't know when I have ever laughed more. You can be so free and easy with a married man and let him say things you wouldn't take from a single one. He and Cousin Bolling nicknamed me “Zephyr” because they said my hair looked like a zephyr would if they could see it. I knew they were poking fun at me, for the damp had wilted my frizzes dreadfully, and I put my hand up involuntarily, to see if there was any curl left in them.

“You needn't be uneasy,” the captain said, “they only need another good pinching. I have pinched Paul's hair for her too often not to know the signs.”

Then I said, what was really true,--that I had never used curling irons in my life.

“Then you do worse,” he answered; “you twist up [299] your hair in curl papers.” I asked if he had ever played the part of Mr. Pickwick. He said no, but he had been married long enough not to be fooled with hot iron and yellow paper devices. “Oh, but it is worse even than that sometimes,” I acknowledged, pulling out a little bunch of artificial frizzettes that I use in damp weather to fill in the gaps of my own, “they are ‘ false as fair.’ ”

He laughed at my frankness and proposed that we should have another dance, but I made some excuse, and slipped off upstairs to get a look at myself in the glass. Between the damp and the dancing, my frizzes were in a condition that made me look like a Medusa's head. I fastened them down the best I could with hairpins and hid the worst-looking under a little cluster of rosebuds and then went back to the parlor. I wish now that I had never cut off my front hair. It has grown too long to frizz, and is still too short to do anything else with, and as the false frizzettes I have are made of Metta's and my hair mixed, they won't stay curled in damp weather, and so are not much of a help. I am tired of frizzing, anyway, though it does become me greatly.

Mary Semmes has told the captain of my enthusiastic admiration for his father, and he has promised to give me his autograph. “I will give you a whole letter,” he said, “that he wrote me when I was a youngster at school.” I am delighted at the idea of possessing such a souvenir of the great Confederate [300] sea-captain, the most dashing and romantic hero of the war.

It was two o'clock before our soiree broke up, and everybody seemed loath to go, even then. I had trotted around so much all day and danced so much at night, that my feet ached when I went to bed, as if I were a rheumatic old woman.


June 13, Tuesday

Mary Wynn has gone home and invited us to her house next Monday. Jule Toombs has gone out with her, and several others are invited to meet us there. The more I know of Mary, the better I like her; she is so thoroughly good-hearted . .


June 14, Wednesday

We all spent the morning at Mrs. Paul Semmes's and had a charming time. The two Marys (Mary Semmes and Mary Day) both play divinely, and made music for us, while the captain made mirth. He showed me a beautiful collection of seaweeds, and some interesting cartes de visite, among them one of his father, the great Confederate admiral. He showed me a page in his photograph book, which he said he was saving for my picture, and I told him he should have it when I get to be a “celebrated female.” He gave me two of his father's letters-one of them about the fitting up of his first ship, the Sumter.


June 15, Thursday

This has been a day of jokesas crazy almost as if it were the First of April. It all began by Capt. Hudson trying to get even with me for fooling him about those colored cigarette papers [301] the other night, and laughing at him for his misunderstanding of some complimentary remarks that Mary Day had made about Sidney Lanier. After we had each told everything we could think of to raise a laugh against the other, he put on a serious face, and began to hint, in a very mysterious way, that he thought this house was a dangerous place. “There are ghosts in it,” he said, and then, to our utter amazement, went on to tell, as if he were relating a genuine ghost story, about Capt. Goldthwaite's encounter with Cousin Liza the other morning, as he was coming out of his room to take the early train. He evidently didn't know, when he started, who the real ghost was, but he saw at once, from our laughter, that it was neither Cora nor Metta nor me, so he said it must lie between Cousin Liza and Mary Day, and he would find out by telling the story at the dinner table, and watching their faces, which one it was. We thought this would be a good joke, and it turned out even better than we expected, when Cousin Liza walked right into the trap, before he had said a word, by making a mysterious allusion to her adventure which she thought nobody but herself and Mett and me would understand. Then, when she had betrayed herself as completely as she could, the captain gravely told his ghost story. But instead of laughing with the rest of us, she got on her high horse and gave him a piece of her mind that silenced him for that time as a story-teller. Everybody wanted to laugh, and everybody was afraid to [302] speak, so we all looked down at our plates and ate as hard as we could, in dead silence. I expected every minute to hear somebody break out in a tell-tale snicker, but we held in till dinner was over. Father never allows anybody to make fun of cousin, if he can help it, and he called Metta and me to him when we got up from the table and gave us such a raking over that we ran upstairs and buried our heads in the pillows so that we could laugh as much as we pleased without being heard. While we were lying there, cousin came in and entertained us with such a criticism of the captain and his ghost story that we didn't dare to uncover our faces. Later in the afternoon, when we came downstairs, Garnett proposed that we should all go out in the grove and laugh as loud as we chose. Henry and Cora joined us, and we went to the seat under the big poplar, and when he had arranged us all in a row, Capt. Hudson gave the word of command: “Attention! Make ready! Laugh!” threw up his cap and shouted like a schoolboy. I don't know what makes people so foolish, but I laughed as I don't believe I ever did before in my life, and all about nothing, too. We all whooped and shouted like crazy children. But the mystery remains; where did Capt. Hudson learn about that encounter? I am sure Capt. Goldthwaite couldn't have told him, because he was on his way to take the train when he ran upon her in the entry. Wouldn't it be a comedy, though, sure enough, if there should come an alarm of [303] fire in the night, and we would all have to run out in our homespun nightgowns!


June 21, Wednesday

We staid only two days at the Wynns', because we wanted to get back home before Mary Day leaves. She decided not to go till Thursday, but couldn't stand the long drive into the country, and we didn't want to let her go without seeing her again.

We reached home just before dinner and found the town agog with a difficulty between Charley Irvin and the new commander, a New York counter-jumper named Cooley, who now reigns over the land. Charley had thrashed old Uncle Spenser for being impudent to his mother, and the Yankee fined him fifteen dollars for it. When Charley went to pay the money, he said to the captain, in the midst of a crowd of men on the square:

“Here is fifteen dollars you have made out of me. Put it in your pocket; it will pay your board bill for a month, and get you two or three drinks besides.”

The captain turned to Mr. Barnett, who was standing by, and asked: “What is the law in this country? Is a man allowed to defend himself when he is insulted?”

“That depends on the nature of the insult,” Mr. Barnett answered.

“Do you think this one sufficient to warrant me in knocking that man down?” inquired the Yankee.

“I do think so,” said Mr. Barnett. [304]

“Yes!” cried Charley, “if you have any spirit in you, you ought to knock me down. Just come and try it, if you want a fight; I am ready to accommodate you.”

But it seems he wasn't “spoiling for a fight” after all, and concluded that it was beneath the dignity of a United States officer to engage in a street broil.3

Miss Kate Tupper is at her brother's, completely broken in health, spirit, and fortune. She was in Anderson (S. C.) during the horrors committed there, and Mr. Tupper thinks she will never recover from the shock. All her jewelry was taken except a gold thimble which happened to be overlooked by the robbers, and her youngest brother was beaten by the villains about the head and breast so severely that the poor boy has been spitting blood ever since. Old Mrs. Tupper, one of the handsomest and best-preserved old ladies of my acquaintance, turned perfectly gray in five days, on account of the anxieties and sufferings she underwent. The two daughters of the old gentleman with whom Cousin Liza boarded that summer she spent in Carolina before the war, were treated so brutally that [305] Mr. Tupper would not repeat the circumstances even to his wife. Oh, how I do hate the wretches! No language can express it. Mr. Alexander tells me about a friend of his in Savannah who has taught her children never to use the word “Yankee” without putting some opprobrious epithet before it, as “a hateful Yankee,” “an upstart of a Yankee,” “a thieving Yankee,” and the like; but even this is too mild for me. I feel sometimes as if I would just like to come out with a good round “Damn!”

Father, I am glad to say, has not been appointed provisional governor, so I can say what I please about our new rulers without any disrespect to him. I know he would have done everything in his power to protect our people if he had been appointed, but at the same time it would have been his duty to do many hard things, from the obolquy of which he is now spared, and his name will not be stained by being signed to any of their wicked orders. My dear old father, in spite of his love for the Union, is too honorable a man, and too true a gentleman to be mixed up in the dirty work that is to be done.


June 22, Thursday

Mary Day and her brother left for Macon, which leaves us with nobody outside our own family, except Capt. Hudson. Our gentlemen were from home nearly all day, attending a political meeting at which father, Col. Weems, and Capt. Hudson were to be the principal speakers. We had a great deal of company after dinner, and a number of friends [306] to look on at the dancing lesson. Gen. Elzey, and Capt. and Mary Semmes seemed greatly amused, and I invited them to come and look on whenever they feel like it. Our house is a great resort for Confederate officers out of employment; when they are bored and don't know what else to do with themselves, they are sure of finding a welcome here, and I am only too glad to do all in my power to entertain the dear, brave fellows.

Henry came home to supper with his first greenback, which he exhibited with great glee. “It is both a pleasure and a profit,” he said as he held up his dollar bill in triumph. “I earned it by pulling a Yankee's tooth, and I don't know which I enjoyed most, hurting the Yankee, or getting the money.”

Capt. Cooley has established a camp in Cousin Will Pope's grove, and the white tents would look very picturesque there under the trees, if we didn't know they belonged to the Yankees. Our house is between their camp and the square, so that they are passing our street gate at all hours. We cannot walk in any direction without meeting them. They have established a negro brothel, or rather a colony of them, on the green right in front of our street gate and between Cousin Mary Cooper's and Mrs. Margaret Jones's homes. Whenever Mett and I walk out in company with any of our rebel soldier boys, we are liable to have our eyes greeted with the sight of our conquerors escorting their negro mistresses. They even have the [307] insolence to walk arm in arm with negro women in our grove, and at night, when we are sitting on the piazza, we can hear them singing and laughing at their detestable orgies. This establishment is the greatest insult to public decency I ever heard of. It is situated right under our noses, in the most respectable part of the village, on the fashionable promenade where our citizens have always been accustomed to walk and ride in the evenings. I took a little stroll with Capt. Hudson a few evenings ago, and my cheeks were made to tingle at the sight of two Yankee soldiers sporting on the lawn with their negro “companions.” There is no way of avoiding these disgusting sights except by remaining close prisoners at home, and Cousin Mary and Mrs. Jones can't even look out of their windows without the risk of having indecent exhibitions thrust upon them.4

Charley says that Capt. Cooley went to him this morning and told him that he would have punished old Spenser for his insolence to Mrs. Irvin if Charley had complained to him, instead of taking the law into his own hands. Charley told him that the protection of his mother was a duty that he would delegate to no man living while he had the strength to perform it. “I'll knock down any man that dares to insult her,” [308] he said, “whether he is a runaway-nigger or a Yankee major-general, without asking your permission or anybody else's. My life isn't worth much now, anyway, and I couldn't lose it in a better cause than defending my blind mother.” Bravo, Charley!

I hope the Yankees will get their fill of the blessed nigger before they are done with him. They have placed our people in the most humiliating position it is possible to devise, where we are obliged either to submit to the insolence of our own servants or appeal to our Northern masters for protection, as if we were slaves ourselves-and that is just what they are trying to make of us. Oh, it is abominable!


June 23, Friday

We are going to form a dancing club for grown people, to meet once or twice a week at our house, as soon as father is well enough. He is quite feeble still, and has been ever since that sudden attack the other night when Mary Wynn was here. I feel very anxious about him and wish there was not any such thing in the world as politics, for they are a never-ending source of warfare in the house, and I believe that has as much to do with his sickness as anything else. Poor, dear old father, he can't help loving the old Union any more than I can help loving the Confederacy. But even if he is a Union man, he is an honest and conscientious one, and was just as stanch and outspoken in the hottest days of secession --even more so than he is now. I will never forget that night when the bells were ringing and the town [309] illuminated for the secession of Georgia, how he darkened his windows and shut up the house, and while Mett and I were pouting in a corner because we were not allowed to take part in the jubilee, he walked up and down the room, and kept saying, as the sound of the bells reached us: “Poor fools, they may ring their bells now, but they will wring their hands-yes, and their hearts, too, before they are done with it!” It has all come out very much as he said, but somehow, I can't help wishing he was on the same side with the rest of us, so there wouldn't be all this quarreling and fretting. We are all stirred up now about that public meeting yesterday. The whole town is in a ferment about some resolutions that were passed. I can't learn much about them, but it seems father was active in pushing them through. One of them, thanking the Yankee officers for their “courteous and considerate conduct,” was particularly odious. There was a hot discussion of them in the courthouse and Garnett was so angry that he left the room and wouldn't go back any more. The returned soldiers held an opposition meeting after dinner before the courthouse door, and declared that instead of repenting for what they had done, they were ready to fight again, if they had the chance, and they say that if these objectionable resolutions are published, they will pass a counter set. Henry came home furious that father should have been mixed up in any such business, but he didn't know much more about what happened than I do. He [310] wouldn't go to either meeting because he said he didn't approve the first one, and he didn't want to show disrespect to father by taking part in the second, or letting anybody talk to him about it. Henry is like me; he can't talk politics without losing his temper, and sometimes he gets so stirred up that he goes off to his room and won't come to the table for fear he might forget himself and say something to father that he would be sorry for. Serious as it all is, I can't help wanting to laugh a little sometimes, in spite of myself, when I see him begin to swell up and hurry out of the way, as if he had a bomb in his pocket and was afraid it would go off before he could get out of the house. But it is dreadful; I wonder what we are all coming to. There may have been some use in talking and wrangling about what to do, in the beginning, when the choice was open to us, but now, as Garnett says, right or wrong, we are all in the same boat, and the whole South has got to sink or swim together. We are like people that have left a great strong ship and put out to sea in a leaky little raft — some of us because we didn't trust the pilot, some, like father, because they had to choose between their friends on the raft, and comfort and safety aboard the big ship. Now, our poor little raft has gone to the bottom, run down by the big ship, that in the meantime, has become a pirate craft. But father can't see the change. He grew old on the big fine ship and longs to get back aboard on the best terms he can. And this seems to be about [311] all the choice that is left us; to make such terms as we can with the pirate crew and go into voluntary slavery, or resist and be thrown into chains. I don't suppose it will make much difference in the end which course we take, but it has always been my doctrine that if you have got to go to the devil anyway, it is better to go fighting, and so keep your self-respect.


June 25, Sunday

I feel like Garnett looks — in a chronic state of ennui. Poor fellow, he is as unhappy as he can be over the wreck of our cause and the ruin of his career.

The latest act of tyranny is that handbills have been posted all over town forbidding the wearing of Confederate uniforms. We have seen the last of the beloved old gray, I fear. I can better endure the gloomy weather because it gives us gray skies instead of blue.


June 27, Tuesday

I have been trying to take advantage of the few days we have been without company to look after my own affairs a little, but have not even found time to darn my stockings. We have a constant stream of visitors, even when there is nobody staying in the house, and so many calls to return that when not entertaining somebody at home, Metta and I are making calls and dropping cards at other people's houses.

I went to see Belle Nash after dinner, before going to the bank to dance with the children. She invited me to go driving with her, but I declined, and walked to the bank with Jim Bryan, who spied me as I was [312] leaving the Randolph house and bolted after me. He was full of news and told me more than I could have found out for myself in a year, from the boil on his finger to the full and complete history of the old striped rag that the Yankees have raised on the courthouse steeple, where my lone star once proudly floated. I consider that flag a personal insult to Cora and me, who made the first rebel one ever raised in Washington. And such a time as we had making it, too, for we had to work on it in secret and smuggle it out of sight every time we heard any one coming, for fear father might find out what we were at and put a stop to our work. But we got it done, and there it floated, while the bells were ringing for secession, just as that horrid old Yankee banner floats there now, the signal of our humiliation and defeat. Poor, dear, old father, my conscience hurts me to think how I have disobeyed him and gone against his wishes ever since the war began. We are all such determined Rebs that I sometimes wonder how he can put up with us as well as he does-though we do have awful family rows sometimes. We barely missed one this evening, when I came in and commenced to tell the news, but luckily the supper bell rang just in the nick of time, though father was so upset he wouldn't say grace. That old flag started it all. We children were so incensed we couldn't hold in, and father reproved us for talking so imprudently before the servants. I said I hated prudence — it was a self-seeking, Puritanical sort of [313] virtue, and the Southerners would never have made the gallant fight we did, if we had stopped to think of prudence. Mother turned this argument against me in a way that made me think of the scene in our house on the night when that first rebel flag was raised. We try to avoid politics at home, because it always brings on strife, but a subject of such vital and general interest will come up, in spite of all we can do. I am afraid all this political turmoil has something to do with father's illness, and my heart smites me. I don't want to be disrespectful to him, but Henry and I are born hot-heads, and never can hold our unruly tongues. In the beginning, I think a great many people, especially the old people, felt, way down in the bottom of their hearts, just as father did. Cora says that her grandpa was ready to crack anybody on the head with his walking stick that talked to him about dissolving the Union, and she never dared to open her mouth on the subject in his presence, or her father either, though he and all the rest of them believe in Toombs next to the Bible. I felt differently myself then. Before Georgia seceded, I used to square my opinions more by father. I could see his reasons for believing that secession would be a mistake, and wished that some honorable way might be found to prevent it. I loved the old Union, too — the Union of Washington and Jefferson --as much as I hate the new Union of compulsion and oppression, and I used to quarrel with Henry and Cora for being such red-hot secessionists. Even after the [314] fight began, though my heart and soul were always with the South, I could still see a certain tragic grandeur in the spectacle of the Great Republic struggling desperately for its very existence. On looking back over the pages of this diary, I cannot accuse myself of unreasonable prejudice against the other side.

Its pages are full of criticisms of our own people all through the war. I could see their faults, and I would have done justice to Yankee virtues, if they had had any, but since that infamous march of Sherman's, and their insolence in bringing negro soldiers among us, my feelings are so changed that the most rabid secession talkers, who used to disgust me, are the only ones that satisfy me now. And I am not the only moderate person they have driven to the other extreme. Not two hours ago I heard Garnett say that if they had shown one spark of magnanimity towards us since we gave up the fight, he would be ready to enter their service the first time they got into a foreign war. “But now,” he says, “I would fight in the ranks of any army against them.” 5

The next war they get into, I think, will be against the negroes, who are already becoming discontented with freedom, so different from what they were taught [315] to expect. Instead of wealth and idleness it has brought them idleness, indeed, but starvation and misery with it. There is no employment for the thousands that are flocking from the plantations to the towns, and no support for those who cannot or will not work. The disappointed ones are as much incensed against their “deliverers” as against us, and when they rise, it will not be against either Yankee or Southerner, but against the white race. Unfortunately, many of them have been drilled and made into soldiers. They have arms in their hands, and when the time comes, will be prepared to act the part of the Sepoys in India, thanks to Northern teaching. At the beginning of the war I was frightened out of my senses, when I read the frightful story of Lucknow and Cawnpore, for fear something of the kind would happen here, but the negroes had not been corrupted by false teachings then, and we soon found that we had nothing to fear from them. Now, when I know that I am standing on a volcano that may burst forth any day, I somehow, do not feel frightened. It seems as if nothing worse could happen than the South has already been through, and I am ready for anything, no matter what comes. The strange part of the situation is that there was no danger when all our men were in the [316] army and only women left to manage the plantations. Sister never even locked her doors at night, though there was often not a white man within three miles of her; but as soon as the Yankees came and began to “elevate the negro” by putting into his ignorant, savage head notions it is impossible to gratify, then the trouble began, and Heaven only knows where it will end. A race war is sure to come, sooner or later, and we shall have only the Yankees to thank for it. They are sowing the wind, but they will leave us to reap the whirlwind. No power on earth can raise an inferior, savage race above their civilized masters and keep them there. No matter what laws they make in his favor, nor how high a prop they build under him, the negro is obliged, sooner or later, to find his level, but we shall be ruined in the process. Eventually the negro race will be either exterminated or reduced to some system of apprenticeship embodying the best features of slavery, but this generation will not live to see it. Nothing but experience, that “dear teacher” of fools, will ever bring the North to its senses on this point, and the fanatics who have caused the trouble will be slow to admit the falsity of their cherished theories and confess themselves in the wrong. The higher above his natural capacity they force the negro in their rash experiments to justify themselves for his emancipation, the greater must be his fall in the end, and the more bitter our sufferings in the meantime. If insurrections take place, the United States government is [317] powerful enough to prevent them from extending very far, but terrible damage might be done before they could or would send succor. Our conquerors can protect themselves, but would they protect us, “rebels and outlaws” ? Think of calling on the destroyers of Columbia for protection! They have disarmed our men, so that we are at their mercy.

They have a miserable, crack-brained fanatic here now, named French, who has been sent out from somewhere in New England to “elevate” the negroes and stuff their poor woolly heads full of all sorts of impossible nonsense. Cousin Liza was telling us the other day what she had heard about him, how he lives among the negroes and eats at the same table with them, and she got so angry before she finished that she had to stop short because she said she didn't know any words bad enough to describe him. Mett told her that if she would go out and listen the next time Emily got into a quarrel with some of the other negroes, she wouldn't have to consult the dictionary, and Cora said if we would wait till Henry came home, she would call him up and let him say “damn” for us, and then we had to laugh in spite of our indignation.

But I am going to stop writing, or even thinking about politics and everything connected with them if I can. I wish I had a pen that would make nothing but blots every time I start the subject. It is an evil one that drags my thoughts down to low and mean objects. There is an atmosphere of greed and vulgar [318] shopkeeper prosperity about the whole Yankee nation that makes the very poverty and desolation of the South seem dignified in comparison. All the best people in the Border States-Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and poor little Delaware--were on our side, while the other kind sided with the Yankees. This is why all the soldiers and refugees from these States are so nice; the other sort staid at home to make money, which people with vulgar souls seem to think will make them ladies and gentlemen .. . .


June 28, Wednesday

Tom Cleveland and Jim Bryan spent the morning with us, and Jim says the young men of the village are trying to contrive some way of getting to the top of the courthouse steeple at night and tearing down the Yankee flag, but there is no possible way save through the building itself, where the garrison is quartered, and they keep such close watch that there is no chance to carry out the design.

Arch has “taken freedom” and left us, so we have no man-servant in the dining-room. Sidney, Garnett's boy, either ran away, or was captured in Virginia. To do Arch justice, he didn't go without asking father's permission, but it is a surprise that he, who was so devoted to “Marse Fred,” should be the very first of the house servants to go. Father called up all his servants the other day and told the men that if they would go back to the plantation in Mississippi and work there the rest of the year, he would give them seven dollars a month, besides their food and clothing; [319] but if they chose to remain with him here, he would not be able to pay them wages till after Christmas. They were at liberty, he told them, either to stay with him for the present, on the old terms, or to take their freedom and hire out to somebody else if they preferred; he would give them a home and feed them till they could do better for themselves. In the altered state of his fortunes it will be impossible for him to keep up an establishment of twenty or thirty house servants and children, who are no longer his property. The poor ignorant creatures have such extravagant ideas as to the value of their services that they are sadly discontented with the wages they are able to get. There is going to be great suffering among them, for Southerners will not employ the faithless ones if they can help it, and the Yankees cannot take care of all the idle ones, though they may force us to do it in the end. I feel sorry for the poor negroes. They are not to blame for taking freedom when it is brought to their very doors and almost forced upon them. Anybody would do the same, still when they go I can't help feeling as if they are deserting us for the enemy, and it seems humiliating to be compelled to bargain and haggle with our own servants about wages. I am really attached to father's negroes, and even when they leave us, as Alfred, Arch, and Harrison have done, cannot help feeling interested in their welfare and hoping they will find good places. None of ours nave ever shown a disposition to be insolent, like some of those I see [320] on the streets. Arch was perfectly respectful to the last, and did his work faithfully, but then he left us in a sneaky way, slipping off just before dinner-time, without telling us good-by, or saying a word to anybody but father, as if he was ashamed of himself. Mammy says that the real cause of his departure is the fear that his wife will come after him from the plantation, and as he is about to marry Mrs. Pettus's Betsy, that would be an inconvenience. I wonder if the Yankees will force them to observe the marriage tie any better than they have done in the past. I don't think it exactly consistent with the honor of freemen to have wives scattered about, all over the country. Isaac refuses to go back to the plantation because he has a new wife here and an old one there that he don't want. He says he “ain't a-goin‘ to leave a young ‘oman and go back to an old one.” Mammy tells me all this gossip about the other negroes. She is not going to leave us till she can hear from Jane and Charlotte, who are supposed to be in Philadelphia. She says she will stay with us if she can't go to them, and more could not be expected of her. It is not in human nature that fidelity to a master should outweigh maternal affection, though mammy has always been more like a member of the white family than a negro. Except Uncle Osborne, Big Henry is the most shining instance of fidelity that has come under my observation. He was hired at the salt works in Alabama, but made his escape with Frank and Abram and Isham, and all [321] of them worked their way back here to father. As soon as he found that father wanted him to go back to the plantation but had no money to pay his way, Henry packed his wallet and marched off, saying he could work his way. The other three went also, and father got some soldiers who were going in that direction to take them along as their servants. “Well done, good and faithful ones.”

In black contrast to Big Henry's shining example, is the rascality of Aunty's fallen saint, old Uncle Lewis. He is an old gray-haired darkey who has done nothing for years but live at his ease, petted and coddled and believed in by the whole family. The children called him, not “Uncle Lewis,” but simply “Uncle,” as if he had really been kin to them. Uncle Alex had such faith in him that during his last illness he would often send for the old darkey to talk and pray with him, and as Uncle Lewis is a great Baptist, and his master was an equally stanch Methodist, they used to have some high old religious discussions together. A special place was always reserved for him at family prayer, which Uncle Alex was very particular that all the servants should attend, and “brother Lewis” was often called on to lead the devotions. I have often listened to his prayers when staying at Aunty's, and was brought up with as firm a belief in him as in the Bible itself. He was an honored institution of the townscarcely less so than old Uncle Jarret, the old shouting sexton of the Methodist church. But now see the debasing [322] effects of the new regime in destroying all that was most good and beautiful in these simple-hearted folk. Uncle Lewis, the pious, the honored, the venerated, gets his poor old head turned with false notions of freedom and independence, runs off to the Yankees with a pack of lies against his mistress, and sets up a claim to part of her land! Aunty found him out and turned him off in disgrace. She says that he shall never put his foot on her lot again. She knows, however, that he is in no danger of suffering for anything, because his sons have excellent trades and can take good care of him. One of them, our Uncle Osborne, is as fine a carpenter as there is in the county. He was one of the most valuable servants father owned. He, too, has taken freedom now, but he is not to blame for that. He stood by us when we most needed him, and now he has a right to look out for himself. Father says he shall never suffer for anything as long as he lives and has a roof over his own head.

I don't know what is to become of the free negroes. Every vacant house in town is packed full of them, and in the country they are living in brush arbors in the woods, stealing corn from the fields and killing the planters' stock to feed on. The mongrel population on the green in front of our street gate has increased until all the tents and hovels are teeming like a pile of maggots. They are very noisy, especially at night, when they disturb the whole neighborhood with their orgies. They are growing more discontented every [323] day, as freedom fails to bring them all the great things they expected, and are getting all manner of insolent notions into their heads. Last Sunday a Yankee soldier, with two black creatures on his arms, tried to push Mr. and Mrs.-(name illegible) off the sidewalk as they were coming home from church. Mr. E. raised his cane, but happily for him, a Yankee officer stepped up before he had time to use it and reproved the soldier for his insolence.


June 29, Thursday

Cousin Jim Farley and Mr. Cullom arrived from Montgomery to look after the cotton father has been keeping stored for them here. They brought us all manner of nice things-candy, raisins and almonds, canned fruits, fish, sardines, cheese, and other foreign luxuries, including a basket of Champagne. I never had such a feast in my life before-at least, I never enjoyed one so much because I never was so starved out. It is the first time in four years that I have tasted any candy except home-made, and generally sorghum, at that. But the best of all are two beautiful new hats, in the very latest fashion, that Cousin Jim brought to Mett and me. We were so delighted that we danced all over the house when not standing before the glass to admire ourselves. We dressed up in our new finery and went to the bank, where Mrs. Elzey and the general and Capt. Semmes were sitting on the porch, and we dazzled them with our glory.

Will Ficklen and Charley Irvin called soon after [324] breakfast, to ask us to join in getting up a barbecue they want to have on the 6th of July, for the purpose of showing their contempt for the 4th, which the negroes and Yankees are going to celebrate. But while we sympathize with their intentions, we think it best to have nothing to do with the barbecue, as it is a public affair, and as father's Union sentiments are so well known, it might look like a want of respect for him. Garnett, Capt. Semmes, and the Elzeys all advise against it, too, and I agree with them, that simply to ignore the Yankees is more dignified than any positive action. The Irvin Artillery are at the head of the project and we didn't want to hurt the feelings of the boys by giving them a direct refusal, so we just told them that we couldn't promise to serve on their committee without first consulting our father and brothers.


July 1, Saturday

Our gentlemen, with about 12 others in the village, gave a barbecue complimentary to Capt. Stephen Pettus, who has entertained them so often. Barbecues, both public and private, are raging with a fury that seems determined to make amends for the four years intermission caused by the war, but I think there ought to be another intermission, and a good long one, after the results of the carousal to-day. I never did believe in these entertainments for men only; they are so apt to forget themselves when there are no ladies about to keep them straight. The whole party came back to town with more liquor aboard than they could hold, except Eddie Morgan; he was the only [325] sober one in the whole crowd .... It really would have been comical if it hadn't turned out so seriously. Our Beau Brummel came blundering home just before supper, while I was talking with some visitors on the piazza, with just sense enough left to know that he couldn't trust himself. He tried very hard not to betray his condition, and spoke with such a precision and elaboration of utterance that I could hardly keep from laughing outright. When the visitors had gone he began to protest, in language worthy of Sir Piercy Shafton, that he was not drunk-he never did such an ungentlemanly thing as that-but only a little tight, and then asked in a tone of the most exaggerated courtesy, like a courtier addressing his sovereign, if I would not have a brush and comb brought out to him on the piazza, so that he could make himself presentable before mother saw him! It was all so absurd that I fairly roared, in spite of myself. I lit a candle and started him upstairs to his room, where he managed, somehow or other, to get himself in hand by suppertime. Garnett came straggling in just before we got up from the table and was so afraid of betraying himself that he never once opened his mouth to say a word to anybody. We can always tell when he has made a slip overboard by the rigid silence he maintains. It is as full of meaning as the “beau's” overstrained courtesy.

But the serious part of the business is Henry's exploit. The whole affair might have passed off as a [326] joke, but for that. He came home too far gone for anything except to be put to bed, but before making that proper disposition of himself, he went round to the hotel, where Capt. Cooley and the other officers of the garrison are boarding, and “cussed out” the whole lot. Garnett, and Anderson Reese, who had taken charge of him, did their best to hold him back, and apologized to the commandant, explaining that Henry was in liquor, and they hoped no notice would be taken of his irresponsible utterances. But the Yankee saw that they were pretty far gone on the same road themselves, and I suppose did not regard the apology any more than he ought to have regarded the insult, under the circumstances. To make matters worse, when they had at last gotten Henry quiet and were carrying him off home, as they were passing through the square, he happened to spy a party of Yankee soldiers on a corner, and stopped to pay his respects to them in language which made them furious. Garnett tried to appease them by explaining his brother's condition, which was sufficiently apparent of itself to anybody not looking for an excuse to annoy a “d---d” rebel.

Capt. Cooley is reported to have said that if the barbecue projected for the purpose of throwing contempt on the Fourth does take place, he will leave this post and send a garrison of negro troops here. If he carries out the threat I hope our citizens will resist, be the consequences what they [327] may. I would rather die than submit to such an indignity.


July 2, Sunday.

Henry's escapade threatens to turn out a very serious affair. Soon after breakfast there came an anonymous note to father saying that Capt. Cooley had started for Augusta on the morning train, but had left orders with one of his lieutenants to arrest Henry immediately and send him to jail. Father went to see the officer and prevailed on him to put off the arrest for one hour, till Henry could find friends to stand bail for him. This saved him from being sent to jail, but I fear it may go hard with him in the end. Any Southerner would have dropped the matter at once after finding that Henry was in his cups and not responsible; or if he chose to resent the insult, would have demanded satisfaction in the proper way, like a gentleman; but this Yankee shopkeeper prefers to defend his honor with the long arm of the law. Our returned soldier boys have bedeviled him in a thousand ways that he can't take up, just like we school children used to worry our Yankee teachers before the war, and he is no doubt glad to have an opportunity to make an example of somebody. I am afraid the weight of his wrath will fall heavy on poor Henry, unless father can have influence enough to save him. Henry did wrong, undoubtedly, and he knows it. He is so mortified at the thought of his indiscretion that he hadn't the face to show himself even to the family till late this evening, and then he looked so sheepish and guilty that we [328] all felt sorry for him and tried to make him feel more comfortable by acting as if we didn't know of what he had done. After all, such accidents are liable to happen when men get off by themselves, with no ladies present to act as a restraint on them. Anybody else might have done the same thing, and we can all sympathize with him anyway, in wanting to “cuss out” the Yankees. Garnett and Capt. Hudson pretend to be on the stool of repentance too, but every now and then they forget their role of “bons garcons” and begin to tell some of the funny things that were done by the “other fellows.” 6


July 3, Monday

The boys came again to beg us to attend their barbecue on the 6th, but after the recent experiences in our family, I don't think anybody can blame us for preferring to keep quiet awhile.

Cousin Liza says people are talking dreadfully about that meeting at the courthouse the other day. None of us knows exactly what did happen. The boys (Henry and Garnett) wouldn't stay to hear, and we [329] are all afraid to ask father, because some of us would be sure to say something that would start a family row. If it wasn't for Cousin Liza and her little black umbrella, that go poking into everything, we should never have known what a tempest was stirring outside. But I don't believe anybody in Washington would say anything bad about father; they all know him too well. I wish Mr. Cotting and Mr. Akerman were both a thousand miles away. They are his chief cronies, and I shouldn't be surprised if they were at the bottom of the whole thing.


July 4, Tuesday

I was awakened at daybreak by the noisy salutes fired by the Yankees in honor of the day. They had a nigger barbecue out at our old picnic ground, the Cool Spring, where they no doubt found themselves in congenial society, with their black Dulcineas. They have strung up one of their flags across the sidewalk, where we have to pass on our way to the bank, so I shall be forced to walk all around the square, in future, to keep from going under it.

The decent people of the town celebrated this anniversary [330] of our forefathers' folly by keeping themselves shut up at home-except those of us who celebrated it very appropriately by attending a funeral. Mary Wynn's mother died yesterday and was brought to town this afternoon for interment. Mrs. Ben Jordan and Mrs. Wilkerson came in with the cortege and dined at our house, and Mett and I couldn't do less than go with them to the funeral. It was three o'clock, and the heat and dust nearly killed me, but as the old lady had to die anyway, I am glad she furnished such a lugubrious celebration for the “glorious Fourth.” The Yankees gained it no favor, waking people up before day with their vexatious salutes. Every good rebel, as he turned over in bed, gave them and their day a silent execration for disturbing his slumbers. I never heard such hideous noises as they madebut I suppose it was only proper that the reign of pandemonium should be celebrated with diabolical sounds.

Our negroes all went to the mongrel barbecue, so Mett and I had most of the housework to do, and were tired out when the day was over.


July 7, Friday

The rebel “cue” came off yesterday, in spite of Capt. Cooley's threats to stop it, but Capt. Semmes tells me it was hot enough to roast a salamander, and nobody enjoyed it very much.

The Toombs girls spent the morning with us. John Ficklen dropped in and we kept tolerably cool in our [331] large, airy parlor, but I have been too ailing and languid all the week to take much interest in anything. After dinner I arranged my hair in a new style and crawled out to the dancing circle. The Elzeys called after tea, but I could not interest myself even in them. I am really ill-so weak that I can scarcely talk, and with all my fondness for company, it taxes my powers to entertain the visitors who call.

The Yankees have pulled down the shanties in front of our street gate at last, and turned the negroes out of doors. They are living as they can, under trees and hedges, and some of them have no shelter but an old blanket stretched over a pole, or a few boards propped against a fence. It is distressing to see the poor wretches in such a plight, but what is to be done? The Yankees have taken them out of our hands, and we Southerners are not to blame for what happens to them now. I hate to go into the street, because in doing so I have to pass that scene of wretchedness and vice. They live by stealing-and worse. Everybody in the neighborhood suffers from their depredations. The common soldiers associate with them, but the officers do not, under the present administration. They seem to have no scruples about beating and ill-using them if they trouble their sacred majesties. One of their favorite punishments is to hang offenders up by the thumbs, which I think is a horrible piece of barbarism. It would be much more merciful, and the [332] negroes would understand it better, if they would give them a good whipping and let them go. I am almost as sorry for these poor, deluded negroes as for their masters, but there is indignation mingled with my pity. There are sad changes in store for both races, who were once so happy together. I wonder the Yankees do not shudder to behold their work. My heart sickens when I see our once fat, lazy, well-fed servants reduced to a condition as miserable as the most wretched of their brethren in Africa, and the grand old planters, who used to live like lords, toiling for their daily bread. Maj. Dunwody is trying to raise a little money by driving an express wagon between Washington and Abbeville, and Fred writes from Yazoo City that he found one of his old neighbors, the owner of a big plantation in the Delta, working as a deck-hand on a dirty little river steamer, hardly fit to ship cotton on.

Capt. Cooley has returned from Augusta, and they say he is going to deal hardly with Henry. The young men of the county take so much interest in the affair, and express such sympathy with him, that there are threats of a general row. . . . Two ladies of our family have been insulted by Yankee soldiers. One of them met Cousin Liza alone in the street as she was coming home late this afternoon, and said, with an insolent laugh: “How do you do, my dear?” Another ran against Metta on the sidewalk and almost knocked her down. We don't dare to speak of these things where [333] the gentlemen of the family can hear us, for fear they might knock somebody down, and cause fresh trouble. It wouldn't do for any of this family to raise another row while Henry's case is hanging in the balance. We have to submit to everything put upon us, or humiliate ourselves still more by appealing . . .7


July 14, Friday

Making calls all the morning with Mrs. Elzey, and came home to dinner very tired and hungry. The general and Mrs. Elzey are really going to leave on Monday with Capt. Hudson, if they can raise the money.

Col. Coulter Cabel, an army friend of Garnett's, en route from Richmond to Augusta, is stopping with us. He was a dashing cavalry officer in the dear old rebel army, but does not look very dashy now, in the suit of seedy black resurrected from heaven knows where, to which the proscription of the gray and the exigencies of a Confederate pocketbook have reduced him. It is a droll thing to see the queer costumes our Confederate officers have brought to light out of old chests and lumber rooms, since they have had to lay aside their uniforms, but I like them better in the meanest rags to which they can be reduced than I did even in the palmiest days of brass buttons and gold lace.

Gen. Elzey took tea with us and the Lawtons called afterwards to see Col. Cabel. Capt. and Mary [334] Semmes, Ed Morgan, Will Ficklen, and a number of others, came round in the face of a big thunder cloud, to dance. We had a merry evening and kept it up till 12 o'clock. The general danced round dances for the first time in five years, and chose me for his partner every time, which I took as a great compliment. He said he liked my way of dancing. I was agreeably surprised that the evening should have been such a success, for the threatening weather kept away nearly half our club members, and I was so disappointed at not being able to get my new white dress from Mrs. Crenshaw that I didn't expect to enjoy myself at all.


July 16, Sunday

The Elzeys' last day in Washington, and our last pleasant evening together. They took tea with us, and we tried hard to be cheerful, but the thought that we shall probably never all sit together again around that cheery old table, where so many friends have met, came like a wet blanket between us and mirth. The captain and Cousin Bolling are going to make their home in New Orleans. The Elzeys return to Baltimore. . . . When Touchy's turn came to say good-by, he didn't seem to know exactly how far to go, but Metta told him that if he grew up to be as nice as he is now, she would want to kiss him and couldn't, if we ever met again, so she would take the opportunity now-and so we gave the handsome boy a smack all round, and sent him off laughing. The general took [335] leave earlier than usual, and with sad hearts we saw his soldierly figure in the well-known white army jacket, moving, for the last time, down the front walk. “General,” I said, as we parted at the head of the steps, “I feel if I am shaking hands with the Confederacy; you are the last relic of it that is left us.” . .. [Ms. torn.]

1 The end of this good old negro is a pathetic example of the unavoidable tragedies that have so often followed the severing of the old ties between master and servant throughout the South. For some years he prospered and became the owner of a comfortable home of his own. When sickness and old age overtook him, my father invited him to come and eat from his kitchen as long as he lived. It was not advisable to send him food at his home, because he had become weak-minded, and there could be no assurance that the charity intended for him would not be appropriated by idlers and hangers-on. He came to us regularly for a year or two, only missing a day now and then, on account of sickness or bad weather. At last he failed to appear for a longer time than usual, and on inquiring at his home, it was found that he had not been seen there since he started out, several days before, for his accustomed visit to “old marster's kitchen.” Search was then made and his dead body found in a wood on the outskirts of the village. He had probably been seized with a sudden attack of some sort, and had wandered off and lost his way looking for the old home. It was a source of bitter regret to my father, and to us all, that his faithfulness and devotion should have met with no better reward.

2 I am sorry to say that my dear old mammy — Sophia by name — while so superior, and as genuine a “lady” as I ever knew, in other respects, shared the weakness of her race in regard to chastity. She was the mother of five children. Her two daughters, Jane and Charlotte, of nearly the same age as my sister Metta and myself, respectively, were assigned to us as our maids, and were the favorite playmates of our childhood. They were both handsome mulattoes, and Jane, particularly, I remember as one of the most amiable and affectionate characters I have ever known. Just before the outbreak of the war they were purchased, with mammy's consent and approval, by a wealthy white man, reputed to be their father, who set them free, and sent them North to be educated. Jane, who had married in the meantime, came to visit us about a year after the close of the war, and took her mother back home with her. But the dear old lady — I use the word advisedly, for she was one in spite of inherited instincts which would make it unfair to judge her by the white woman's standard-could not be happy amid such changed surroundings, and finally drifted back South, to live with one of her sons, who had settled in Alabama.

3 It is the mature judgment of “Philip sober” that this Federal officer was acting the part of a gentleman in avoiding a difficulty which, in the excited state of public feeling, must have led to a general melee. My recollection is that his whole conduct, while in command of our town, was characterized by a desire to make his unpopular office as little offensive as possible, and I take pleasure in stating that his efforts were afterwards more fully appreciated by the people.

4 It is possible that these associations may not have been, in all cases, open to the worst interpretation, since Northern sentiment is, theoretically, at least, so different from ours in regard to social intercourse between whites and negroes; but, from our point of view, any other interpretation was simply inconceivable.

5 In the face of this bitter animosity, it is curious to know that the son of this irreconcilable “rebel,” with the full consent and approval of his father, raised and commanded a company of volunteers in the Spanish-American War — the very first conflict in which the United States was involved after the hostile declaration just recorded — a fact which shows how little fiery talk like this and the sophomorical thunder on page 254 counts for now. Were it not for the bitter wrongs of Reconstruction and the fatal legacy it has left us, the animosities engendered by the war would long ago have become what it is the author's wish that this record of them should now be regarded — a mere fossil curiosity.

6

I have hesitated a long time about the propriety of publishing the story of this unlucky barbecue, but some of the incidents connected with it are so characteristic of the time that I have decided not to depart from my rule of using the utmost frankness possible in giving to the public this record of what may now be almost considered a bygone age. No entertainment was complete without “something to drink,” and an occasional over-indulgence, if not carried too far, nor repeated too often, was regarded, at worst, as a pardonable accident.

The sequel to my brother Henry's adventure has been lost in the numerous mutilations which this part of the Ms. has suffered. To the best of my recollection the “little Yankee shopkeeper” acted the part of a gentleman throughout. A small fine of some or was imposed, with a private explanation from the Federal captain that he would have been glad to overlook the matter altogether, but his men were so incensed by Henry's language to them that he was obliged to impose some penalty in order to satisfy them.

7 Three pages are missing here. This part of the Ms. is much torn and defaced.

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