Suffering in Fredericksburg.Refugees returned after battle to find chaos in old city.
Lieutenant Eustace returned in breathless haste to say that he had just heard an order from General Lee read on Commerce street, saying that the women and children must leave town, as he would destroy it with shell that night sooner than let it fall into the hands of the enemy, who were rapidly crossing the river on pontoon bridges. They urged my mother to take her children and fly at once from the town. After resisting until the men, in despair, were almost ready to drag her from her dangerous situation, she finally consented to leave. The wildest confusion now reigned, the servants wringing their hands and declaring they could not go without their ‘chists,’ which they all managed to get somehow, and put upon their heads, but the men insisted so that we had only time to save our lives, that they would not even let my mother go back into the house to get her purse or a single valuable. So we started just as we were; my wrapping, I remember, was an old ironing blanket, with a large hole burnt in the middle. I never did find out whether Aunt B—ever got her clothes on, for she stalked ahead of us, wrapped in a pure white counterpane, a tall, ghostly-looking figure, who seemed to glide with incredible rapidity over the frozen ground.