the Prologue to Reconstruction
explanatory note.-I have no apology to make for the indignation and resentment that fill the remaining pages of this record.
The time has come, I believe, when the nation's returning sense of justice has outgrown the blind passions engendered by war sufficiently to admit that the circumstances narrated fully justified the feelings they awakened.
These events mark the beginning of that deplorable succession of blunders and outrages that has bequeathed us the most terrible legacy of the war-the race problem; a problem which, unless the common sense of the nation shall awaken, and that right early, to the simple fact that a horse and an ox, or an elephant and an antelope, cannot pull together in the same harness, will settle itself before another generation has passed in a tragedy compared with which the tragedy of the Civil War
was child's play.
... The Toombs
girls invited us to meet Mr. Van Houten
, a blind musician from Eufaula
, this afternoon.
He played beautifully, but wanted you to be always going into raptures over him. He is so sensitive, that he can't bear to be reminded of his blindness in any way, and I couldn't help admiring one very tactful thing Jenny
did to spare him.
He is accustomed to have people shake hands with him when they are introduced, as that is the only form of greeting he can perceive, and when Jenny
introduced Mary Lane, he put out his hand as usual, for her to take.
wasn't noticing, and failed to respond, so Jenny
quietly slipped her own hand into his, and he never knew the difference.
I wonder, though, he didn't detect the subterfuge, for the touch of blind people is very sensitive, and Jenny
's hand is so exquisitely soft and delicate that there are not many others in the world like it. I tried to imitate Jenny
's considerateness by talking about subjects where blind people can feel at home, and when the rest of the company rushed to the windows to see the negroes pass on their way to hear the New England
apostle, Dr. French
, give his lecture, I tried to keep him from feeling that he was losing anything, by pretending that I would much rather stay inside and listen to the music.
But all the time I was craning my neck, to see what was going on. The negroes looked very funny in their holiday attire, going to hear “the Frenchman,” as they call this missionary from the Freedman's Bureau
, expound to them the gospel according to Phillips
& Co. The meeting was held in Mr. Barnett
's grove, much against his will, it is said, but he didn't think it wise to refuse, and the negroes flocked there by thousands.
I could hardly have believed there were so many in the county.
tried to get father's grove for their precious conventicle, but to my
delight he refused, on the ground that he didn't want his grass trampled on, . . . [Ms.
mutilated; two pages missing.]
We have great fears of a negro garrison being sent here, and then, Heaven have mercy on us!
The white Yankees
are getting so rude that ladies are afraid to walk on the streets alone.
and Mrs. Matilda Dunwody
have both been insolently ordered off the sidewalk by Yankee soldiers, to make way for their negro companions, and it is said some of them have expressed a determination to insult every Southern woman they meet.
The only thing they allege against us is that we are such d — d rebels we take no more notice of them than if they were dogs, and will not even look toward them when they passas if we hadn't the right to turn away from sights that hurt our eyes!
July 21, Friday
returned at two o'clock this morning from Abbeville
, bringing a wounded soldier in the carriage with him, and parting messages from our friends.
Father sent them as far as Abbeville
in his carriage, and from there they expect to make their way somehow back to their homes.
We had no callers till late in the afternoon, which was a great relief, for I feel used up, and the weather is too hot for anything but to sit undressed in my own room.
I go in dishabille
most of the time, now that the house is free of guests, keeping a dress and coiffure
ready to fling on at a moment's notice, when visitors are seen
coming up the avenue.
I think it is dreadfully vulgar to go dowdy about the house, but what is one to do when one has hardly clothes enough to be respectable when one goes out, and no money to buy any more?
And we have to do so much hard work, too, now, that our clothes would not last a month if we were to wear them around all the time, when there is no one here.
It is too hot to wear clothes, anyway.
I sometimes wish that old Mother Eve had not set the fashion for fig leaves.
An opportune thunder storm, the only one we have had since Monday, came up just in time to cool the air for us and catch Dr. French
in the midst of his daily ceremonies with the negroes.
I was sorry for the poor darkeys to get their Sunday clothes spoilt, but I hope “the Frenchman” will catch a cough that will stop that pestiferous windpipe of his and follow him to his last resting place, wherever that may be. These hypocritical Puritans love to nurse and coddle themselves and enjoy the fat of the land, but they will find no worshiping Mrs. Wellers
here to feed their “shepherd” on pineapple rum and toast.
The negro sisters adore him, but they are too poor to feast him, except on what they can pilfer, and Southern cupboards are, as a rule, too empty just now to furnish fat pickings.
The poor dupes say they believe he is Jesus Christ
-“anyhow, he has done more for them than Jesus Christ
They don't know what horrid blasphemy they are talking, and so are not to be held responsible.
My feeling for them is one of unmixed
Take it all in all, they have behaved remarkably well, considering the circumstances.
The apostles of freedom are doing their best to make them insolent and discontented, and after awhile, I suppose, they will succeed in making them thoroughly unmanageable, but come what will, I don't think I can ever cherish any very hard feelings towards the poor, ignorant blacks.
They are like grown up children turned adrift in the world.
The negro is something like the Irishman in his blundering good nature, his impulsiveness and improvidence, and he is like a child in having always had some one to think and act for him. Poor creatures, I shudder to think of what they must suffer in the future, and of what they are going to make this whole country suffer before we are done with them.
The streets of Washington
are crowded all the time with idle men and women who have no means of support.
They are loitering in the shade of every hedge and tree, and gossiping in every cabin doorway.
Where they lodge, Heaven only knows, but how they are fed, the state of our orchards and cornfields can testify.
hung up two by the thumbs the other day, for robbing father's orchard, but the discipline was of no avail, for we have not gathered a full-grown peach or pear this season.
Roasting-ears are pleasant food, and to be had for the-taking; our early corn gave out before we had used it a week.
shot a negro the other night, for stealing in Mr. Waddey
's garden, and it is a miracle that he escaped being
put in jail.
Fortunately the negro wasn't hurt.
Negroes may kill white men whenever they please, provided the white man wears not a blue coat, but woe to the white man that touches a negro! . . .
That murder case into which Gen. Wild
and Dr. French
have been prying for the last week has wrought these apostles up to a state of boundless indignation, and father is afraid it will bring their vengeance upon the town.
He is counsel for the defense, and I don't think he feels any too much respect for his clients, though it is his duty, as their lawyer, to make out the best case he can for them.
He don't say much about the case because conversation on such subjects nearly always brings on a political row in the family, and we are all so afraid of starting a fracas that we are constrained and uneasy whenever anything touching on politics, no matter how remotely, is mentioned.
However, from the little I have heard father tell, I am afraid this murder is a very ugly affair.
It seems his clients are accused of having killed an old negro woman because she left her master's plantation to go off and try the blessings of freedom.
She certainly was an old fool, but I have never yet heard that folly was a capital offense.
One of the men is said to have shot her, while the other broke her ribs and beat her on the head with a stone till she died.
They left her unburied in a lonely place, and the body was not discovered till ten days after.
In spite of the stench, father says Gen. Wild
examined the body with ghoulish curiosity,
even pulling out the broken ribs and staring at them.
And all the while the old woman's son stood looking on with stolid indifference, less moved than I would be over the carcass of a dead animal.
was bred a doctor and didn't seem to mind the most sickening details.
Father says he would rather have the sharpest lawyer in Georgia
as his opposing counsel than these shrewd, painstaking Yankees.
was sent out to collect evidence, and even brought back the stone which was said to be the one with which the poor old creature was beaten on the head.
There is only negro evidence for all these horrors, and nobody can tell how much of it is false, but that makes no difference with a Yankee court.
Father thinks one of the men is sure to hang, and he has very little hope of saving the other.
The latter is a man of family, and his poor wife is at Mrs. Fitzpatrick
's hotel, almost starving herself to death from grief.
She has left her little children at home by themselves, and they say that when the Yankees
went there to arrest their father, they were so frightened that two of them went into convulsions; they had heard such dreadful things about what the Yankees
had done during the war. The younger of the two accused men is only twenty years old, and his poor old father hangs around the courtroom, putting his head in every time the door is opened, trying to catch something of what is going on. He is less privileged than our dog Toby
, who follows father to the courthouse every day, and walks about
the room as if it belonged to him, smelling at the Yankees
, and pricking up his ears as if to ask what business they had there.
Father says he would not, for millions, have had such a case as this come under the eyes of the Yankees
just at this time, for they will believe everything the negroes say and put the very worst construction on it. Brutal crimes happen in all countries now and then, especially in times of disorder and upheaval such as the South
is undergoing, but the North
, fed on Mrs. Stowe
's lurid pictures, likes to believe that such things are habitual among us, and this horrible occurrence will confirm them in their opinion.
Another unfortunate affair took place the other night, in Lincoln County
The negroes were holding a secret meeting, which was suspected of boding no good to the whites, so a party of young men went out to break it up. One of the boys, to frighten them, shot off his gun and accidentally killed a woman.
He didn't mean to hurt anybody, but the Yankees
vow they will hang the whole batch if they can find them.
Fortunately he has made his escape, and they don't know the names of the others.
says that where she lives, about thirty miles from here, over in Carolina
, the men have a recipe for putting troublesome negroes out of the way that the Yankees
can't get the key to. No two go out together, no one lets another know what he is going to do, and so, when mischievous negroes are found dead in the woods, nobody knows who killed them.
All this is horrible, I
If they want to bushwhack anybody, why don't they shoot Yankees?
The poor negroes don't do us any harm except when they are put up to it. Even when they murdered that white man and quartered him, I believe pernicious teachings were responsible.
Such things happen only in places where the negroes have been corrupted by the teachings of such wretches as this French and Wild.
I shall never feel anything but friendship towards father's “freedmen,” though most of the males have left us. I do not blame them for trying to make something for themselves.
They will have no “ole marster” now to look out for them when they are sick and old, so they must learn to take care of themselves.
They have lost the advantages of slaves, they must gain those of freemen.
It is the Yankees
, the accursed Yankees
, who have done all the mischief and tried to set them against us. There has been more insolence and crime among them since that rascal French came here with his pernicious teachings, than in all the 200 years since they were brought into the country.
His escort of negro troops flirt around with the negro women — a ridiculous travesty of what used to take place among ourselves when Washington
was filled with Confederate officers and their brave men. Our Cinthy has two admirers among them who call on her every night, and she generally makes her appearance to wait on the tea-table with her face whitened with flour — contributions being levied on our biscuit allowance,
for the purpose of beautifying her complexion.
My bedroom windows overlook the back yard, and when Emily's house is open, as it always is in summer, every word spoken there is distinctly audible in my room.
It is as good as an evening at the Negro Minstrels
I am often regaled with scraps of conversation and pert witticisms that are such absurd parodies upon what takes place in our own drawing-room that they seem almost like a deliberate attempt to burlesque Metta and me. After all, there is a great deal that is farcical mixed up with all this tragedy we are living through.
has begun his reforms by giving out that he will remarry all negro couples who have not been lawfully married already by a Christian minister.
He worded his notice in the most sensational style, like the news columns in the New York Herald, and ordered the white ministers of Washington
to read it out from their pulpits.
refused, but the other two complied.
No private property could be obtained for the accommodation of the apostle and his followers — not that anybody objected to the harmless farce of remarrying the negroes, but nobody wanted their grounds polluted by the spoutings of such a creature.
His very presence in a town where his first footfall would once have been his death warrant, is a sufficient disgrace.
After fruitless efforts to secure father's, Cousin Will Pope
's, and Mr. Barnett
's groves, he had to take the negro cemetery for the scene of his performances.
about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the candidates for double matrimonial honors went trooping out to their cemetery on the Tan Yard Branch
to be married over again.
If there is anything in omens, never were nuptials more inauspicious.
The ceremonies were interrupted by a thunder storm that drenched the composite bridal party and all the spectators — the “shepherd” taking care to shelter himself under a big umbrella that one of his worshipers held over him. Mammy, who tells me all the negro news, says that thirty-three couples were married.
Among them was our Charity, who six years ago was lawfully married in the Methodist church here, to Mr. Waddy
I remember how father joked Peter, when he came to ask for Charity, about having him for a “nigger-in-law,” but now, Charity has taken to herself Hamp
, one of father's plantation hands — a big, thick-lipped fellow, not half as respectable looking as Peter — but there is no accounting for taste.
Several other marriages of the same “double” kind took place, which would bring the saintly doctor under the laws against bigamy, if anybody cared enough about the matter to prosecute him. I was amused at Charity when she came home in the evening.
She went about her work as usual, but when I stepped into the back porch to get some water, she stopped in the midst of it to tell me that she now had two names, like white folks.
“Oh,” said I, laughing, “what is your new name?”
; I'se Mrs. Tatom
now, and Hamp
is Mr. Sam Ampey Tatom
It sounded so like “amputation” that I could hardly keep a straight face.
“And how did Hamp
get all that name?
” I asked.
“His grandfather used to belong to a Mr. Tatom
,” she answered, “so he took his name for his entitles
. Dr. French
tole us we mus' all have surnames now, an‘ call our childern by ‘em, an‘ drop nicknames.”
I notice that the negroes seldom or never take the names of their present owners in adopting their “entitles,” as they call their surnames, but always that of some former master, and they go as far back as possible.
It was the name of the actual owner that distinguished them in slavery, and I suppose they wish to throw off that badge of servitude.
Then, too, they have their notions of family pride.
All these changes are very sad to me, in spite of their comic side.
There will soon be no more old mammies and daddies, no more old uncles and aunties.
Instead of “maum Judy
” and “uncle Jacob,” we shall have our “Mrs. Ampey Tatoms
,” and our “Mr. Lewis Williamses
The sweet ties that bound our old family servants to us will be broken and replaced with envy and ill-will.
I am determined it shall not be so with ours, unless they do something to forfeit my respect.
Father befriends his men in every possible way. When they fail to get work elsewhere, he tells them they can always come to him and he will give them food and
shelter till they can do better.
He tries to find situations for them, and they in return seem as fond of us all as ever.
Father's negroes always were devoted to him, and well they might be, for he was a good, kind master to them.
Emily's brother, Arch, comes to see us often, and takes Emily's children in hand and gives any of them a switching that need it. He is hired to Dr. Hardesty
, but says that if “Marse Fred” can afford to keep him, he will stay with him when he comes back to Georgia
This state of things is about the best we can expect under the new regime
, but there is no telling how long the Yankees
will let well enough alone.
The servants who are still with us are lazy, but not insolent, though the teachings of French and Wild will no doubt soon make them so. Mammy says that Dr. French
told them in one of his speeches that some of them would be called upon to rule over the land hereafter — a pretty strong hint at negro suffrage.
is reported as saying: “Damn French
I had trouble enough with the negroes before he came, and now they are as mad as he is.”
! little Yank
; I really begin to respect you.
July 24, Monday
We had a dancing party at Dr. Robertson
's in the evening.
Most of the young men go to parties fully armed.
The parlor mantelpiece at the bank was covered with pistols brought there by our escorts, and one of our amusements, between dances, was to examine them and learn to cock them.
Some of them were very pretty, with silver and ivory mountings.
made us go and return by back streets in order to avoid, as much as possible, meeting with negroes and Yankees.
A man of honor can hardly be expected not to shoot on the spot any wretch who should dare to insult a lady under his charge, and the consequences of reckless firing have been made so apparent that prudent people think it best to avoid difficulties by keeping out of their way as much as we can. The negroes are frequently out very late at night, attending the meetings of a society they have formed, called the “Sons of Benevolence,” for the protection of female virtue (!) and Heaven-or rather the other place-only knows what else.
But every housekeeper knows that the gardens and henroosts in the neighborhood suffer on the nights when they hold their meetings.
Only two of their acts have become known to me, and these are not very creditable to the morals of a religious
society conducted by religious
They arraigned Mrs. Gabe Toombs
's Chloe for “keeping company with a Yankee,” but when she declared that she “hadn't never kep‘ company with nobody but Joe Barnett
” (who has another wife, if not two or three of them) they let her off. They also reported Mrs. Margaret Jones
to the commandant, as suffering a sick man (in her employ) to lie dying of neglect, and subjected her to the annoyance of a visit from one of the army surgeons, while to my certain knowledge she has had a physician to see him every day, and nurses him as faithfully as if he
were her own servant.
has attended some of their meetings, and if any mischief is afoot, no doubt he is at the bottom of it.
July 25, Tuesday
had a conversation party in the evening, and I enjoyed it only tolerably.
There were not gentlemen enough to go round, and that is always awkward.
was not there, either, but Anderson Reese
, who is almost as nice, supplied his place.
wasn't there, he took me as second best, and we spent half the evening tete-a-tete
. He is delightful, in spite of being in love with another girl, and still wears a gray coat with brass buttons.
I felt as if carried back to the old Confederate days whenever I looked at him. I came home at 1 o'clock, dissatisfied with myself, as I always am after a conversazione
, because I say so many foolish things when I talk too much.
I couldn't sleep, either, after going to bed, because Mett went off to her own room next to father's and left me alone in the end room, with that awful garret door between me and everybody else in the house.
I am like the little boy that said he wasn't afraid
to go through the graveyard alone at night, he was just ashamed
. I don't believe in ghosts, but they make me just as nervous as if I did-and that big garret is such a horrible, gloomy place.
July 27, Thursday
and Brewer Pope
called at 5 o'clock this afternoon, which put me out of temper because I am never up so early this hot
Took tea at the Lawtons, where we had a delightful evening.
I am always so frightened and uneasy in the streets after dark that it greatly detracts from the pleasure of going out. We can generally avoid the Yankees
by taking the back streets, but the negroes swarm in every by-way and rarely condescend to give up the sidewalk, so we have to submit to the indignity of being crowded off by them.
There was a time when such conduct would have been rewarded with a thrashingor rather, when such conduct was unheard of, for the negroes generally had good manners till the Yankees
corrupted them by their “evil communications.”
It is sad to think how things are changing.
In another generation or two, this beautiful country of ours will have lost its distinctive civilization and become no better than a nation of Yankee shopkeepers.
July 28, Friday
One continued stream of notes and messengers and visitors all day long.
I hardly had time to eat my breakfast.
I spent most of the morning nursing John Moore
's family, who are all sick with the measles.
We had a dance at Mrs. Margaret Jones
's in the evening, and I don't think I ever enjoyed anything more in my life.
I nearly danced my feet off, in spite of the hot weather.
Between dances, I enjoyed a long tete-a-tete
with my old Montgomery
friend, Dr. Calhoun
, who looks so much like Henry.
He is a Cousin of Corrie
and Gene, who are visiting the Robertsons.
He came over from Carolina
yesterday, and called to see me as soon as he got here, but I was out. It was really a pleasure to see him again.
has left off his murder cases for the present, and turned his attention to more lucrative business — that everlasting bank robbery.
Some ten thousand dollars have been recovered from negroes in whose hands it was found, and about a dozen of the most respectable citizens of the county are imprisoned in the courthouse under accusation of being implicated.
Among them is the wife of our old camp-meeting friend, Mr. Nish
, who entertained Mrs. Davis
and her party at his house out on the Danburg
road as she was on her way here from Abbeville
She (Mrs. Chenault
) has a little young baby with her, and they have imprisoned Mr. Chenault
's sister, too, and Sallie, his oldest daughter.1
The people of Washington
wanted to entertain the ladies in their homes and give bail for their appearance to stand trial, but that bloodhound, Wild, would not permit them to leave the courthouse.
He tied up Mr. Chenault
by the thumbs and kept him hanging for an hour, trying to extort from him treasure that he did
He is a large, fat man, weighing nearly three hundred pounds, so the torture must have been excruciating.
His son and brother were tied up, too, the latter with his hands behind him, and he was suffered to hang till they were stretched above his head, and he fainted from the pain.
And all this on the lying accusation of a negro!
They even hung up a negro man, Tom, because he would not swear to a pack of lies inculpating his master.
And the Yankees
pretend to be a civilized people!
And these precious missionaries of the gospel of abolitionism have come out from philanthropic Boston
to enlighten us benighted Southerners on our duty to the negroes, while they take a sterling old Wilkes county
planter and treat him worse than we would do a runaway negro!
Such diabolical proceedings have not been heard of since the days of King James and his thumbscrews.
Father has suggested that I might make some money by writing an account of this robbery business for some sensational Northern newspaper, and I mean to try it. I don't suppose any of them would publish the real truth, even if I could get at it, which seems almost impossible, but I will do my best, and it will be worth while, if I can only get a chance to let the Yankees
know how mean they are, even though I do have to soften it down.
Father is one of Mr. Chenault
's counsel, and can tell me all about that part of the business.
I will make a sensational article, with big headlines, and if the thing succeeds, I can make a
good many other salable pieces out of what I see going on around me every day, especially about the “freedmen” and their doings.
I will write as if I were a Yankee myself, and in this way get a better chance to hit the wretches a few good hard raps over the head that they would not take from a Southerner.
July 29, Saturday
I invited Emma Reed
and Miss Ann Simpson
to tea, and a terrible thunder storm came up that kept them here all night.
went to a children's party in the afternoon, and came home sick.
spent the day at a barbecue, with the usual result, so between them and the thunder, which always frightens me out of my wits, I was not in a very lively mood.
I spent the morning making tomato catsup.
My eyes are getting so bad that I can hardly write half a page without stopping to rest them.
Well might St. Paul
pray to be delivered from this “Thorn
in the flesh.”
July 30, Sunday
The latest sensation is the confiscation of the Toombs residence.
went up there to-day and turned Mrs. Toombs
out in the most brutal manner.
He only allowed her to take her clothing and a few other personal effects, peering into the trunks after they had been packed, and even unrolling Mrs. Toombs
's nightgowns to see if anything “contraband” was concealed in them.
A little pincushion from her workstand which she had given to Cora as a keepsake, he jerked out of Ed Morgan
's hand and cut open with his penknife to see if jewels
were not concealed in it. He searched the baggage of Bishop Pierce
, who was at that moment in the Methodist church, preaching one of the best sermons I ever listened to, and made all kinds of sarcastic remarks about what he found there.
He suffered Ed Morgan
's trunk and a basket of fine peaches that Mrs. Toombs
had gathered for Cora
, to come to our house unmolested, as a special favor to Judge Andrews
I don't know what the old brute would think of Judge Andrews
if he knew that in his house were stored at this moment Mrs. Toombs
's family portraits and a good part of her silver plate.
He has so little magnanimity himself that he will never suspect such a thing as the existence of personal esteem between political opponents, as father and Gen. Toombs
have nearly always been.
, who was at Mrs. Toombs
's with a number of other friends while all this was going on, says that his manner was as hard and unfeeling as a rock; his negro sergeant actually seemed ashamed of him. Neither tears, hatred, nor contempt could move him; he actually seemed to glory in his odious work.
He is a little mean-souled edition of that champion persecutor, the Duke
of Alva, and so we call him, for he would make an auto da fe
of the last one of us poor rebels if he could.
It is necessary to have some nickname to use when we talk before the servants, and to speak very carefully, even then, for every black man is a possible spy. Father says we must not even trust mammy too far. Never were people subjected to a
more thorough and complete system of espionage, and by such irresponsible agents.
The least bit of careless speaking is liable to get one into trouble.
was arrested and fined merely for saying that he wished the bullet that hit Wild
's arm had taken off his confounded head.
Father says he is rather a handsome man, but I would sooner face the devil in his worst shape.
He is one of those close, secret, coldblooded villains who keeps his own counsel, just like Alva of old, when he had a new piece of cruelty to perpetrate against the poor Hollanders
Father thinks he has something behind, of a still more astounding nature than anything he has yet done, and tried to sound him, but it was “no go.”
Old French, like the vain fool of a fanatic that he is, blabs everything he knows; father says he saw to the bottom of him in two hours. We have not quarreled much about politics in the last few days, for when it comes to a situation like this, father is too true at the core not to take part with his own people.
He may love the Union
as much as he will, but he is too much of a gentleman to have any part or parcel in the transactions of men like these.
Such Pharisaical hypocrites as Wild and French make Capt. Cooley
seem almost an angel of light.
We are actually beginning to regard this Yankee officer as a friend and protector.
He undoubtedly has behaved like a gentleman in every respect.
While Gen. Wild
and Dr. French
make a business of dining two or three times a week with a party of negroes at
old Uncle Spenser's, Capt. Cooley
never associates with either of them any more than he can help, and does his best to make the negroes behave themselves.
He says that the two newcomers have given him more trouble than all the rebels he ever had to deal with, and has been heard to “damn” them soundly.
says he is a real good fellow, and my heart has softened so that I am not ashamed to think well even of a Yankee, like him. The young men of the town invited him to their barbecue yesterday, and I am glad of it.
Since the Toombses have been turned out of their house, Ed. Morgan
has come to stay with us. Mrs. DuBose
is very near her confinement, but fortunately she has friends enough with whom she can find shelter, and Gen. DuBose
is on his way home.
His bodyservant, who was severely wounded in one of our last battles while trying to carry his master some breakfast, is at the confiscated house, very ill, and the family are reduced to such straits that they can make no provision for him. This seems to distress Mrs. Toombs
more than her own situation.
promised her to render the negro medical service, and if Gen. Wild
was really as fond of the negroes as he pretends to be, he would provide the poor fellow with everything else he needs-but he leaves that to their rebel mastersthose cruel slaveholders whose chief delight was to torture and murder their negroes.
July 31, Monday
The best thing that has ever happened since the world began!
Old Wild arrested!
He had just established himself comfortably in Mrs. Toombs
's house, where he announced his intention of opening a negro school in the basement, reserving the first floor for himself and his gang.
One of the teachers had come, and Dr. French
was in high feather.
The general himself was reveling in power and wickedness.
He had removed his female prisoners from the courthouse to an upper room on the square, where they were confined on a diet of army rations.
Two men were arrested for looking at them as they stood at a window, under suspicion of making signals, and Dick Walton
was also arrested as “guilty of being suspected.”
A Reign of Terror was upon us, and things were looking very squally indeed, with this agent of a tribunal as tyrannical as Robespierre's Jacobins, riding over us rough-shod.
Men dared not speak without looking over their shoulder to see if a spy was in hearing.
Wild, cold and hard as adamant, seemed fairly to glory in making himself hated-but thank Heaven, his day is over.
In the midst of these arbitrary proceedings, just as Dr. Walton
had been placed under arrest, the afternoon train came in with a fresh squad of Yankee soldiers, under the command of splendidly caparisoned officers.
Our hearts failed at the sight, for thus far, in all our experience, a fresh arrival of Yankees has meant a fresh train of woes.
was spending his last evening with us, before leaving Georgia
, and the whole family assembled on the piazza, as the cavalcade passed our
street gate, speculating as to what new calamity was about to befall us. But when father came in a little later and told us the real object of their visit, we clapped our hands and shouted for joy. Cora
danced a pirouette, Marsh
turned a series of somersaults the whole length of the piazza, and father himself laughed with a right good will.
Henry came home in the midst of it all and told us that when he first heard the news down town, he went into the back room of Burwell Ficklen's office, shut the windows, locked the door, and threw his hat up to the ceiling three times.
When our first burst of joy had subsided, we, too, began to look round to see if the negroes were all out of the way, and then proceeded to vent our feelings.
The downfall of these precious apostles of Abolitionism will have a good effect upon the negroes, whom they have all but excited to insurrection.
has been cheating and imposing upon them all the time, but the poor, ignorant creatures can see nothing wrong in him whom they call their “white Jesus,” --little knowing what horrid blasphemy they are uttering.
It has become a fashion among them to be married by him, though he takes the last cent they have, as a fee. I thought something of that kind must be at the bottom of his anxiety to “settle the marriage relations” of the negroes.
One woman left her husband and married another man, like Charity did Peter.
Husband No. 1
went to Dr. French
while he was performing the ceremony, and objected to the proceeding, but No. 2 had the
woman and the fee on his side, so he carried the day. I believe this whang-nosed fanatic is a more despicable creature than even Gen. Wild
; he is one of the sleek, unctuous kind that tries to cover his rascality under the cloak of religion, but his-(word illegible) comes out too strong for that much patched garment to hide.
Father fears that our rejoicing over the downfall of Wild is vain.
He says that such a wily rascal would hardly commit himself as he has done, without good authority.
He may have orders from a higher power than Gen. Steadman
, of which that officer is ignorant, and if this be the case, he may not remain long under arrest.
Those people at Washington
are capable of anything, and if he should be turned loose upon us again, his desire for vengeance will make him worse than ever, and then, woe to the Toombses and Chenaults, whose complaints to Gen. Steadman
caused his arrest.
While we were at supper there was heard a noise precisely like the firing of a cannon, but a rumbling sound that followed immediately after, convinced us it was only a peal of thunder.
After we got up from the table, Henry took me aside and told me that it really was the old cannon, which some young harebrains among the boys had determined to fire off for joy at “Alva's” arrest.
The rumbling of thunder which accompanied it seems almost like an interposition of Providence
to save our young rebels from the possible consequences of their imprudence.
the old blunderbuss never opened its mouth in a better cause.
After supper, Capt. Semmes
, the last of our war friends, took his leave.
He sets out for New Orleans on Wednesday, but will return in a month or two for his family.
“I expect Gen. Wild
will have you up by the thumbs next,” he said to me laughing, as he moved away.
“You and Miss Metta and Mary
would make a pretty trio, with your three red heads.”
“I hope,” I answered, “that my new shoes will come before I am strung up, for I believe the operation is very exposing to the feet.”
It seems unfeeling to jest about such things, and yet, we all do it. I suppose the very desperateness of our situation makes us reckless.
Even father's face was one broad sunbeam when he told us of “Alva's” arrest, and he never shuts us up for abusing him-only looks round to see if the doors are closed and none of the servants within hearing.
For all he is such a strong Union man, I am sure that he detests the brute.
It does my heart good to hear him tell how he took advantage of the only legal mistake the old sleuth hound made in that murder case, and thus will probably save the neck of his client.
I am like everybody else; I want these men to be punished if they are guilty, but not by an illegal, secret military tribunal, nor convicted on negro evidence.
says they give more weight to negro evidence than to that of white people.
Aug. 1, Tuesday
's negro bodyguard left this morning, and it is said we are to be rid of the tyrant himself to-morrow.
is reported as saying that he would not like to be in Wild
's place when he gets back to Augusta
, and bitterly censures his conduct.
There seems to be some sense of decency left among the Yankee
army officers, even yet. This Col. Drayton
is evidently a gentleman.
Bless his heart, I feel as if I should really like to shake hands with him. Our town is full of Yanks
, and new ones coming in every day. The last to arrive is a staff officer 2
from the War Department.
Something of importance must be on foot, but of course we, who are most nearly concerned, know not what.
We see the splendidly-equipped officers dashing about the streets, and think bitterly of the days when our own ragged rebels were there instead, but we never have time to think long before the storm bursts over our heads, somebody is plunged into the abyss, and present misery leaves no time for vain regrets.
I sincerely pray that no more negro troops may be sent here.
Those of Wild were exceedingly insolent, and came near raising a riot at the depot just before they boarded the cars.
They cursed the white citizens who happened to be there, threatened to shoot them, and were with difficulty restrained by the Yankee
officers themselves from making good their threat.
white men were compelled to submit to this insolence, while hundreds of idle negroes stood around, laughing and applauding it. Father came home in a state of indignation to which I have rarely seen him wrought up. He says it was the most alarming and exasperating scene he has yet witnessed.
Contrary to everybody's expectation, the negro troops are less disposed to submit to discipline than the white ones.
One would think that after the plantation discipline to which they have been accustomed, there would be no difficulty with them in the army, but the Yankee
officers say they are the most turbulent and insubordinate troops in the service.
With Southern men to command them they would soon be made to know their place, but the Yankees
have spoiled them by making a hobby of them.
They never did know how to treat negroes, anyway, and if they don't mind, they will raise a spirit which it will be out of their power to lay. The negro troops are said to be better fed, better clothed, and better paid, than any others in the army, and there is a good deal of jealousy already between them and their white comrades.
Serves them right.
I wish every wretch of them had a strapping, loudsmelling African
tied to him like a Siamese twin, and that Wild had one on both sides.
Oh, how I hate them!
I will have to say “Damn!”
yet, before I am done with them.
Aug. 2, Wednesday
Wild and French have gone their way; the Reign of Terror in our town is over
for the present.
If the Yankees cashier Wild
, it will give me more respect for them than I ever thought it possible to feel.
He is the most atrocious villain extant.
Before bringing the Chenaults to town, he went into the country to their home, and tortured all the men till Mr. Nish Chenault
fainted three times under the operation.
Then he shut up the two ladies, Mrs. Chenault
, in a room, to be searched by a negro woman, with a Yankee officer standing outside the door to make sure that it was thoroughly done.
When the ladies had stripped to their last garment, they stopped and objected to undressing any further, but were compelled to drop it to the waist . . . Disappointed at not finding any other plunder, the Yankees
took their watches and family jewelry, and $150 in gold that Mr. Chenault
had saved through the war. I have this from Mrs. Reese
, who got it from Sallie Chenault
herself, after they were released.
After searching the ladies, they kept them in the woods all day, while they searched and plundered the house.
says she doesn't suppose there was much left in the house worth having, when the Yankees
and negroes had gone through it. I believe all the ladies have now been released by Col. Drayton
, except Mrs. Nish Chenault
, who is detained on a charge of assault and battery for slapping one of her own negro women who was insolent to her!
How are the tables turned!
This robbery business furnishes a good exposition of Yankee character.
Each one that
meddles with it goes off with some of the gold sticking to his fingers, and then gets into trouble with the others, who are afraid there will be none of it left for them.
Let a Yankee alone for scenting out plunder.
Aug. 4, Friday
went out of town on some business or other, and it seemed as if the negroes and common soldiers would drive the rest of us out after him. I went to walk with Mary Semmes
in the afternoon, and every lady we met on the street had had some unpleasant adventure.
A negro called to Cora
, in the most insulting manner, from an upper window on the square, and two drunken Yankees ran across the street at Mary and me and almost knocked us down, whooping and yelling with all their might.
We were glad to hurry back home, as fast as our feet would carry us. Things are coming to such a pass that it is unsafe for ladies to walk on the street.
The town is becoming more crowded with “freedmen” every day, and their insolence increases with their numbers.
Every available house is running over with them, and there are some quarters of the village where white people can hardly pass without being insulted.
The negroes are nearly all idle, and most of them live by stealing.
I don't know what is to become of them in winter, when fruits and vegetables are gone.
Sometimes my sympathies are very much excited by the poor creatures, notwithstanding their outrageous conductfor which the Yankees
are more to blame, after all, than they.
The other day I met a half-grown boy with
all his worldly goods in a little wallet slung over his shoulder.
He was a poor, ignorant, country darkey, and seemed utterly lost in the big world of little Washington
He stopped at our street gate as I passed out, and asked in a timid voice, almost breaking into sobs: “Does you know anybody what wants to hire a boy, mistis?”
I was so sorry for him that I felt like crying myself, but I could do nothing.
have taken all that out of our hands, and deprived us of the means of caring for even our own negroes.
There is nothing for it but to harden our hearts against sufferings we never caused and have no power to prevent.
Our enemies have done it all; let them glory in their work.
Aug. 5, Saturday
It rained like fury all the afternoon, and I finished my account of the bank robbery which I intend trying to sell to one of the New York papers.
I did my best to get at the exact truth, and father did all he could to help me, so I think it is, in the main, about as clear a statement of the facts as can be got at. Gardiner Foster
came over from Elberton
and spent the evening with us. Somebody is always sure to come when I neglect to change my dress in the evening.
and I took a long walk together before breakfast, and met neither Yankees nor negroes.
The “freedmen” are living up to their privileges now, and leave the early morning hours to us “white trash.”
told me about an adventure of his
that might have strayed out of a “New York Ledger” story.
Returning home late the other night, from an evening call, he found a note under the front door, addressed to himself, in blood.
Opening it, he found inside only a drop of blood!
His sisters are frightened out of their wits about it, but Willie thinks that it is only a trick of some darkey he has offended, trying to “cunjur” him. Negroes are given to such modes of vengeance, and one could easily have gotten some Yankee, or other low person, to write the address for him. Willie says it is in the cramped hand of an illiterate person, such as people of this sort might be expected to write.
Aug. 7, Monday
left for Baltimore
and we sent off a big mail to be posted by him thereletters to the Elzeys and other friends.
brought Taz Anderson
and Dr. McMillan
home to dinner.
It seemed just like the quiet antebellum days, before Washington
had become such a thoroughfare, and our house a sort of headquarters for the officers of two Confederate armies.
It was almost as if the last four years had been blotted out, and all of us transported back for a day, to the time when Garnett
was a rising young lawyer just beginning his career, and used to fill the house with his clients and friends.
A sense of grinding oppression, a deep humiliation, bitter disappointment for the past, and hopelessness for the future, and the absence of many well known faces that used to meet us, is all that
marks the change betwixt the now and the then, so far as our social life is concerned.
The pleasant strangers the war brought here have nearly all gone their ways, and Washington
is becoming nothing but a small, dull country village again.
Everything relating to the dear old Confederate times is already so completely dead and buried that they seem to have existed only in imagination.
I feel like one awaking from some bright dream, to face the bitter realities of a hard, sordid world.
The frightful results of its downfall are all that remain to tell us that there ever was a Southern Confederacy.
Oh, for the glorious old days back again, with all their hardships and heroism, with all their “pomp and circumstance of glorious war!” --for war, with all its cruelty and destruction, is better than such a degrading peace as this.
Aug. 9, Wednesday
I took a horseback ride before breakfast, and learned the “catch trot,” which is a great help in riding a rough-going horse.
We had a dance in the evening, which I did not enjoy much. . . . I have sent my account of the bank robbery to try its fate with the “New York world.”
In a private letter to the editor, I explained that I wrote as if I were a Yankee sojourning at the South
, in order to make some of the hard things it was necessary to say in telling the truth, as little unpalatable as possible to a Northern public.
What a humiliation!
But it gave me the satisfaction of hitting a few hard knocks that I could not have ventured in any other way. I
could say: “We
have been guilty of” so and so, where it would not do to say: “You
have been guilty.”
Aug. 11, Friday
A charming dance at Mrs. Ben Bowdre
's. Jim Bryan
and Mr. Berry
went with Mett and me. Garnett
She had her head dressed with a huge pile of evergreens that made her look like Birnam Wood
coming to Dunsinane.
She never did have any taste in arranging her hair.
Aug. 18, Friday
Just returned from a visit to Woodstock
, where I had a perfectly charming time.
wrote for Minnie Evans
to bring out a party of us to spend a few days at her house, and fortunately left the selection of the guests to Minnie.
Nine of us went out Thursday morning and came back this afternoon.
We left Washington
immediately after breakfast, and reached Woodstock
just in time for dinner, after a jolly ride of eighteen miles, with plenty of good fruit and melons to eat on the way. Ella and her brother, Cicero
, were our entertainers.
They have a large, elegant house, with two beautiful front parlors and a wide hall that can be thrown together by means of sliding doors — a glorious place for dancing.
Mamma and Papa Daniel
have both departed this life, there were no maiden aunts or married sisters to interfere, and we young people had everything our own way. It rained all the first afternoon, so there could
be no riding, but we had no reason to regret that, with those nice rooms for dancing.
We danced half the night and then went to our rooms and talked away the rest of it. We danced again before breakfast, played cards, ate fruit, and idled about the house till dinnertime, after which we started back home, though Ella and her brother did their best to keep us another day, but we thought it would be an imposition, as there were so many of us, though their hospitality was equal to anything, and they entertained us delightfully.
The dinners, especially, were charming-none of the awkwardness and constraint one so often finds where people have come together to make a business of enjoying themselves.
and his cousin, Tom Daniel
, joined us at Woodstock
and helped on the fun. The Daniels
are as thick as peas there,--and as nice.
But pleasant as it all was, the best part of our trip was the journey home.
, our driver, on his horse, and he and I mounted the box and drove home that way. It was a delightfully cool seat-so high and airy; I felt as if I were flying-and Willie did make the horses fly. We laughed and sang rebel songs, and the whole party were as jolly and as noisy as if we had been half-tight.
We stopped at several country houses on the road to get water, or peaches and melons, and sometimes to have a chat with the people.
On reaching home, I found that sister had arrived, with the children.
There was a big mail, too, with
letters from our friends in Richmond
, and a quantity of Northern papers they sent us. I hate the Yankees
more and more, every time I look at one of their horrid newspapers and read the lies they tell about us, while we have our mouths closed and padlocked.
The world will not hear our story, and we must figure just as our enemies choose to paint us. The pictures in Harper's Weekly and “Frank Leslie
's” tell more lies than Satan himself was ever the father of. I get in such a rage when I look at them that I sometimes take off my slipper and beat the senseless paper with it. No words can express the wrath of a Southerner on beholding pictures of President Davis
in woman's dress; and Lee
, that star of light before which even Washington
's glory pales, crouching on his knees before a beetle-browed image of “Columbia
,” suing for pardon!
And these in the same sheet with disgusting representations of the execution of the so-called “conspirators” in Lincoln
Nothing is sacred from their disgusting love of the sensational.
Even poor Harold
's sisters, in their last interview with him, are pictured for the public delectation, in “Frank Leslie
, one would think, was bad enough as it was, to satisfy them, but no; they must lie even about that, and make it out ten times worse than the reality-never realizing that they themselves are the only ones to blame for the horrors of that “prison pen,” as they call it. They were the ones that refused to exchange prisoners.
government could not defend its own cities nor feed its own soldiers; how could it help crowding its prisoners and giving them hard fare?
I have seen both Northern and Southern prisoners, and the traces of more bitter suffering were shown in the pinched features and half-naked bodies of the latter than appeared to me even in the faces of the Andersonville prisoners I used to pass last winter, on the cars.
The world is filled with tales of the horrors of Andersonville
, but never a word does it hear about Elmira
and Fort Delaware
The “Augusta Transcript” was suppressed, and its editor imprisoned merely for publishing the obituary of a Southern soldier, in which it was stated that he died of disease “contracted in the icy prisons of the North
Splendid monuments are being reared to the Yankee
dead, and the whole world resounds with paeans because they overwhelmed us with their big, plundering armies, while our Southern dead lie unheeded on the fields where they fought so bravely, and our real heroes, our noblest and best, the glory of human nature, the grandest of God's works, are defamed, vilified, spit upon.
Oh! you brave unfortunates!
history will yet do you justice.
Your monuments are raised in the hearts of a people whose love is stronger than fate, and they will see that your memory does not perish.
Let the enemy triumph; they will only disgrace themselves in the eyes of all decent people.
They are so blind that they boast of their own shame.
They make pictures of the ruin of
our cities and exult in their work.
They picture the destitution of Southern homes and gloat over the desolation they have made.
's” goes so far as to publish a picture of Kilpatrick
's “foragers” in South-West Georgia
, displaying the plate and jewels they have stolen from our homes!
“Out of their own mouths they are condemned,” and they are so base they do not even know that they are publishing their own shame.
Aug. 22, Tuesday
Charity and Mammy both sick, and Emily preparing to leave.
I don't think the poor darkey wants to go, but mother never liked to have her about the house, and father can't afford to keep such a big family on his hands when he has no use for them, though he says he will do all in his power to keep them from suffering.
Our circumstances are so reduced that it is necessary to reduce our establishment and retrench our expensive manner of living.
We have not even an errand boy now, for George, the only child left on the place, besides Emily's gang, is going to school!
and I do most of the housework while Mammy and Charity are laid up. Sister
attended to the bedrooms this morning, while Mett and I cleaned up downstairs and mother washed the dishes.
It is very different from having a servant always at hand to attend to your smallest need, but I can't say that I altogether regret the change; in fact, I had a very merry time over my work.
came in while I was sweeping the parlor, to invite
, Mett, and me to a party at his house.
Then came John Ficklen
with Ella Daniel
, now on a visit to Minnie Evans
, and Anna Robertson
and Dr. Calhoun
dropped in later.
I had my head tied up in a veil to keep the dust off, and a linen apron round my waist.
They called me “Bridget” and laughed a great deal at my blunders and ignorance, such as dusting the top shelves first and flirting the trash behind me as I swept.
However, I will soon learn better, and the rooms really did look very nice when I got through with them.
I never saw the parlor and library so tidy.
I was in high good humor at the result of my labors, and the gentlemen complimented me on them.
I don't think I shall mind working at all when I get used to it. Everybody else is doing housework, and it is so funny to compare our experiences.
Father says this is what has made the Anglo-Saxon
race great; they are not afraid of work, and when put to the test, never shirk anything that they know has got to be done, no matter how disagreeable.
But it does seem to me a waste of time for people who are capable of doing something better to spend their time sweeping and dusting while scores of lazy negroes that are fit for nothing else are lying around idle.
suggested that it would be a good idea to import some of those man-apes from Africa
and teach them to take the place of the negroes, but Henry said that just as soon as we had got them tamed, and taught them to be of some use, those crazy fanatics at the North
insist on coming down here to emancipate them and give them universal suffrage.
A good many people seem to think that the Yankees
are never going to be satisfied till they get the negroes to voting.
Father says it is the worst thing we have to fear now.
's party was charming, though I was too tired to enjoy the dancing as much as usual.
gave us a splendid little supper — the second one we have had this summer, besides the few given at our house.
Most of our entertainments are starvation parties.
We are too poor to have suppers often, but when we do get one we enjoy it famously.
and John Ficklen
walked home with Metta and me. It was nearly three o'clock before we got to bed, and then we were both too tired to sleep.
My legs ached as if they had been in the stocks, but when I become more accustomed to hard work, I hope it won't be so bad. I think it is an advantage to clean up the house ourselves, sometimes, for we do it so much better than the negroes.
The children are having a great time.
Cousin Mary gave them a little party this evening, and they have two or three every week.
is a famous belle among the little boys.
Aug. 23, Wednesday
Up very early, sweeping and cleaning the house.
Our establishment has been reduced from 25 servants to 5, and two of these are sick.
Uncle Watson and Buck
do the outdoor
work, or rather the small part of it that can be done by two men. The yard, grove, orchards, vineyards, and garden, already show sad evidences of neglect.
Grace does the washing and milks the cows, mammy cooks, and Charity does part of the housework, when well.
has hired Maum Rose, a nice old darkey that used to belong to the Dunwodys, to wait on her, and she is a great help to us. I worked very hard in the morning because I had a great deal to do. I got through by ten o'clock and was preparing for a nap when Cousin Liza came in with some of our country kin, and immediately after, Mrs. Jordan
, with her sister, two children and three servants, came to spend the night.
Other people came in to dinner — I counted twenty at table.
Charity was well enough to wait in the dining-room, mammy and Emily did the cooking, but Mett and I had the other work to do, besides looking after all the company.
I never was so tired in my life; every bone in my body felt as if it were ready to drop out, and my eyes were so heavy that I could hardly keep them open.
I don't find doing housework quite so much of a joke as I imagined it was going to be, especially when we have company to entertain at the same time, and want to make them enjoy themselves.
By the way, Mrs. Jordan
says I was right in dusting the top shelves first, so the laugh is on the other side.
After dinner Mrs. Jordan
and Mary Anderson
wanted to do some shopping, and then we went to make some visits.
On our return home we met
and Emily, with their children, at the'front gate, going out to begin life for themselves.
All their worldly possessions, considerably increased by gifts of poultry, meal, bacon, and other provisions-enough to last them till they can make a start for themselves, besides crockery and kitchen utensils that mother gave them, had gone before in a wagon.
's voice trembled as he bade me good-by, Emily could not speak at all, and Cinthy cried as if her heart would break.
I felt very much like crying myself — it was so pitiful.
Poor little Sumter
, who has been fed every day of his life from father's own hand, as regularly as old Toby
from mine, was laughing in great glee, little dreaming what is in store for him, I fear.
Little Charlotte, too, the baby, who always came to me for a lump of sugar or a bit of cake whenever she saw me in the kitchen, sat crowing in her mother's arms, and laughed when she held out her little fat hand to tell me good-by.
Poor little creature, I wonder how long it will be before her little shiny black face will be pinched and ashy from want!
If it hadn't been for the presence of all those strangers, I should have broken down and cried outright.
Father took some silver change out of his purse and placed it in the child's hand, and I saw a tear trickle down his cheek as he did so.
has hired himself out to do stable work, and has taken his family to live in a house out at Thompson
's, that den of iniquity.
I am distressed about
Cinthy, exposed to such temptations, for they say it is disgraceful the way those Yankee soldiers carry on with the negro women.4
Altogether it has been a sad, trying day, and as soon as I could go to my room and be alone for awhile, I sat on the edge of the bed and relieved myself by taking a good cry, while Metta, like Rachael-refused to be comforted.
But we had not long to indulge our feelings, for we had promised Minnie Evans
to go to a dance she was giving for Ella Daniel
, and we always stand by Minnie, though we would both a great deal rather have stayed at home.
I was so tired that I made Jim Bryan
tell the boys not to ask me to dance.
Mett and Kate Robertson
were in the same plight, so we hid off in a corner and called ourselves “the
Kate is a splendid girl; she takes to hard work as unmurmuringly as if she had been used to it all her life, and always looks stylish and pretty, in the face of broom-sticks and dish-rags.
Aug. 24, Thursday
I had to be up early and clean up my room, though half-dead with fatigue.
After breakfast I went out again with Mrs. Jordan
, and we were almost suffocated by the dust.
While we were crossing the square I received a piece of politeness from a Yankee, which astonished me so that I almost lost my breath.
He had a gang of negro vagrants with balls and chains, sweeping the street in front of their quarters.
The dust flew frightfully, but we were obliged to pass, and the Yankee
ordered the sweeping stopped till we were out of the way. I also saw Capt. Cooley
for the first time.
His head was turned away, so I took a good look at him, and his appearance was not bad at all — that is, he would be a very good-looking man in any other dress than that odious Yankee blue.
He is very anxious to visit some of the girls in Washington
, I hear, but says that he knows he would not be received.
He saw the Robertson
girls pass his quarters one day, and said to some men standing near: “Oh, I wish I wasn't a Yankee!”
Our friends left soon after dinner.
wanted Mett and me to go home with her and attend a big country dance at old Mrs. Huling
's. We would like to go, but have no driver, and could not leave our
work at home — to say nothing of the state of our wardrobes.
I had no time to rest after dinner, being obliged to take a long walk on business and having neither carriage-driver nor errand-boy.
I was so tired at night that I went to bed as soon as I had eaten my supper.
Aug. 25, Friday
sent us some books of fashion brought by Mr. Boyce
from New York.
The styles are very pretty, but too expensive for us broken-down Southerners.
I intend always to dress as well as my means will allow, but shall attempt nothing in the way of finery so long as I have to sweep floors and make up beds.
It is more graceful and more sensible to accept poverty as it comes than to try to hide it under a flimsy covering of false appearances.
Nothing is more contemptible than brokendown gentility trying to ape rich vulgarity — not even rich vulgarity trying to ape its betters.
For my part, I am prouder of my poverty than I ever was of my former prosperity, when I remember in what a noble cause all was lost.
We Southerners are the Faubourg St. Germain
of American society, and I feel, with perfect sincerity, that my faded calico dress has a right to look with scorn at the rich toilettes of our plunderers.
Notwithstanding all our trouble and wretchedness, I thank Heaven that I was born a Southerner,that I belong to the noblest race on earth — for this is a heritage that nothing can ever take from me. The greatness of the Southern
character is showing itself
beyond the mere accidents of time and fortune; though reduced to the lowest state of poverty and subjection, we can still feel that we are superior to those whom brute force has placed above us in worldly state.
Solomon says: “Better is a living dog than a dead lion,” but I don't believe it, even if it is in the Bible
Aug. 27, Sunday
The bolt has fallen.
, the Methodist
minister, launched the thunders of the church against dancing, in his morning discourse.
wanted to turn his guns on us, too, but his elders spiked them.
I could not help being amused when Mr. Adams
placed dancing in the same category with bribery, gambling, drunkenness, and murder.
He fell hard upon wicked Achan, who caused Israel to sin, and I saw some of the good brethren on the “amen” benches turn their eyes upon me. I was sitting near the pulpit, under full fire, and half-expected to hear him call me “Jezabel,” but I suppose he is reserving his heavy ammunition for the grand attack he is going to make next Sunday.
The country preachers have been attacking us, too, from all
I understand that some of them have given Washington
over to destruction, and the country people call it “Sodom
I thought I should die laughing when I first heard of this name being applied to our quiet, innocent little village-though it might not have been such a misnomer when the “righteous Lot” was in our midst.
It is a pity that good, pious people, as some of these preachers undoubtedly are, should be so blinded by prejudice.
I wish we had an Episcopal Church established here to serve as a refuge for the many worthy people who are not gamblers and murderers, but who like to indulge in a little dancing now and then.
Aug. 29, Tuesday
... Capt. Cooley
is to be removed and Washington
is to have a new commander.
Everybody regrets it deeply, and the gentlemen proposed getting up a petition to have him retained, but finally concluded that any such proceeding would only render his removal the more certain.
I do not know the name of our new master, but they say he is drunk most of the time, and his men are the ones that acted so badly in the case of Mr. Rhodes
, near Greensborough
One of Mr. Rhodes
's “freedmen” lurked in the woods around his plantation, committing such depredations that finally he appealed to the garrison at Greensborough
The commandant ordered him to arrest the negro and bring him to Greensborough
With the assistance of some neighboring planters, Mr. Rhodes
succeeded in making
the arrest, late one evening.
He kept the culprit at his house that night, intending to take him to town next day, but in the meantime, a body of negroes marched to the village and informed the officer that Mr. Rhodes
and his friends were making ready to kill their prisoner at midnight. A party of bluecoats was at once dispatched to the Rhodes plantation
, where they arrived after the family had gone to bed. Without waiting for admission, they fired two shots into the house, one of which killed Mrs. Rhodes
They left her alone with the dead man, on a plantation full of insolent negroes, taking the rest of the men to Greensborough
, where the Yankees
and negroes united in swearing that the Rhodes party had fired upon them.
was carried to Augusta
, and on the point of being hanged, when a hitch in the evidence saved his life.
themselves confessed to having fired two shots, of which the dead man, and a bullet lodged in the wall, were proof positive.
But the negroes, not knowing the importance of their admission (for want of being properly coached, no doubt) gave evidence that only two shots in all had been fired.
When they found that it went against them, the Yankees
tried to throw out the negro evidence altogether, but here Miss Columbia
's passion for her black paramour balked them.
's life was saved, but his property was confiscated — when did a Yankee ever lose sight of the plunder?--while the wretch who shot his brother-in-law was merely
removed from Greensborough
to another garrison.
This and the Chenault case are samples of the peace they are offering us. Heaven grant me rather the horrors of war!
[Note.-The rest of the Ms. is missing, the last pages being torn from the book.]