Sunday, December 30, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 4, 1861

Fourth of July [1861]

Not a gun have I heard this morning. I hope our old national holidays will not be dropped by the Southern Confederacy.

Will returned from Richmond yesterday. Whether he got the appointment as Prize Agent, or whether he would accept it if it was offered to him, or what he did in Richmond I have not the most remote idea. I asked him to tell me where he went and what he did. He answered – "oh! I went every where" – and then told me that he had tomatoes for dinner and that Jourdan had a puppy for Nannie Belle. The rest he thought above my comprehension and reserved for some more fortunate male.

Every body gives me credit for more sense than my husband does.

Papa has gone to Norfolk, do not know what for. Cousin Jack has gone on secret service. Dick is here – is ordered to the mouth of the James river with Capt Hollins.
Tom has been sent for from Manassas to see Georgy. They fear that her mind is becoming affected. She rarely speaks and sits all day with a vacant gaze on her face.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 3, 1861

Wednesday 3 [July 1861]

Will went to Richmond this morning. Papa wrote word last night that he was suggesting him for Prize Commissioner since legal proceedings have to be gone through with when ever a prize is brought in I believe. Do not know whether Will would like to have the place.

There are not more than thirty soldiers at the Hospital. The rest have been taken to private houses.

Got a long and affectionate letter from Mother yesterday.

Met several of my suits of clothes on the street, felt like speaking to them.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 1, 1861

Monday July 1st 1861

Well! Our secret expedition has returned.

Yesterday afternoon we heard a steam whistle and knew that no boat was expected here for a week. In a few minutes all Fredericksburg was at the wharf. It was the St. Nicholas, a prize! A Yankee steamer that runs between Baltimore & Washington.

Almost two weeks ago Capt Holland and Col Thomas (a man that dresses like a Japanese) went over to Maryland and arranged with friends there to take the St. Nicholas by strategy. Col Thomas went to Baltimore and with six or eight friends got on board the steamer as passengers. When they reached Point Lookout Capt Hollins with a few friends came on board as passengers also and when the boat was fairly out in the stream they walked up to the Captain, told him that he was their prisoner and that the boat was in the hands of Confederate officers. He made some show of resistance at first, but soon saw that it was of no use and surrendered. The boat was then run into Coan creek, on the Virginia shore opposite to Point Lookout, where Capt Lewis's party, including the four hundred Tennesseeans were awaiting them. They had left the Virginia near the mouth of the Rappannhack [Rappahannock] and marched across the country to Coan Creek the night before.

The plan was for the whole party to embark and under the Federal Flag go up the Potomac, take the Pawnee and Freeborn at Aquia Creek (they would never have suspected that she was in the hands of Confederate officers until they were boarded) and then come round to the mouth of the Rappannack take the blockading force there and come off with flying colors. But the Secretary of War would not allow the Tennesseeans to embark. Said they might do any fighting that was necessary on shore but not on board ship. The rest of the party -- about a hundred officers and sailors together -- would have attempted it but they had only a few hours of coal on board and the Pawnee and Freeborn had left the Creek. As it was all embarked, except Capt Hill and a few others. Capt L thought it was wrong to risk the lives of so many officers unnecessarily and went out into the bay to see what they could find. The first vessel they met was a brig laden with coffee. It made no resistance. Some of the men were dreadfully frightened and begged on their knees for their lives. The Captain and crew were ordered on board the Steamer; and two officers and five men were detailed to man the brig. They then met a schooner filled with ice and another with coal, both of which were taken in the same way.

Mr. Thorburn and Dick were detailed for the coal schooner. Two of the Captains had their wives with them. One of them begged most piteously that her husbands life might be spared. There were thirty nine prisoners in all. Cousin Jack took down the larger part of them this morning. Dick went down in the eleven o clock train with the remainder. I saw them as they came by. They thought they were to be hung. The Mayor went down last night to relieve their minds and say that no harm would be done them.

The passengers that were on the St. Nicholas were put off at Coan Creek. Clarence Helen of Washington – Alice's old beau – was among the number. He was returning from a fishing excursion. expressed much surprise at seeing Dick. The two Captains wives were at work yesterday cutting up their flags and making them into Confederate flags. The bunting at the South has given out. Col Thomas went on board the St. Nicholas dressed as a woman. The party on board did not know each other very well. Each one suspected the other and all suspected the woman. It was Capt Lewis's scheme. Papa only helped to carry it out. Capt L was to have commanded the expedition. The President never fully approved of it. It has been 'hanging' in Richmond for more than a month.

Cousin Jack and Dick are both army officers. I suppose Papa got them ordered in this expedition.

There was no blockading vessel at the mouth of the Rappannock when the prizes came in. Suppose she had gone for provisions.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 2, 1861

Tuesday July 2nd [1861]

Mr. Hill came to take Molly on a boating excursion yesterday evening. It commenced to rain very hard soon after they started so it had to be given up.

The clothes for Mr. Hills party are finished and packed in a clothes basket ready to be sent up to Citizens Hall. They look very neat and substantial and comfortable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 30, 1861

Sunday June 30 [1861]

Heard Dr. Sparrow preach a sermon on Grace "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."

Will would not go to church which always annoys me so much.

Mr. Corbin has just sent up a party of Marylanders in his wagon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 29, 1861

Saturday June 29th [1861]

Lieut Worden of the Yankee Navy is in jail in Mobile. He has applied to Papa to get him removed to Virginia and put upon parole. Papa asked General Lee about it, and said it would be particularly gratifying to him if it could be done, without detriment to the public weal. General Lee has no authority over him but thinks he ought to stay where he is. I reckon he is right. These Yankees are slippery people.

The people in town are taking the sick soldiers to their houses to nurse. Dr. Mason is very much opposed to it, but Dr. McClanahan lets some of them go. Some of the poor fellows beg most piteously to be taken away. Say they will die if they stay there. Uncle Brodie has one at his house. Mrs. Ashby (dressmaker) has four. The ladies have made her matron at the Hospital. We wanted to take one here, but cousin John thought the room over the kitchen was too hot for a sick man.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 28, 1861

Friday June 28th 1861

The secret party under Capt Lewis started down the Rappa[ha]nnock last night with five hundred of the Tennessee regiment who came from the Creek to join them. We heard to day that the boat is aground on the bar and they will not be able to get off before one o clock to day when the tide rises. I hope their scheme will not be defeated by the delay.

Mr. Hill and party have rented Citizen's Hall and are recruiting here. A party of twenty five live there, sleep on the benches and cook for themselves. I saw two huge iron pots one the pavement yesterday evening.

They want to raise an artillery company. Say they have the horses and guns ready for them in Richmond whenever they can raise the men. The two Hill's are very enthusiastic about it. Wanted me to come in and see their men eat supper. They pay all, or nearly all, the expenses I think.

Dick brought Sue Crutchfield down to tea last night.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 27, 1861

Thursday 27th [June 1861]

Great suffering and neglect at the hospital. Some of the soldiers are being removed to private houses. Some of the ladies here devote almost their whole time to the sick. Uncle Brodie is attending some of those who are at private houses.

I never saw anything like the spirit here. The women give up the greater part of their time either to nursing the sick or sewing for the soldiers. It is the same case through out the South.

Some of Papa’s secret schemes are to be carried out now I am sure. Dick, Bob Minor, cousin Jack and a number of sailors are here to report to Captain Lewis. Nobody knows where they are going, or what they are to do but I have a strong suspicion.

This is the time that Mr. Hill’s clothes were to be done and he has not brought me a single button or come to see anything about them. These suits are presents to the gentlemen that are with him.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 26, 1861

Wednesday June 26th [1861]

Have been hard at work this week on the shirts for Mr. Hill. Six pairs of pantaloons, six jackets and eight shirts and havelocks all to be done in three days. I was in despair at first but the ladies are so kind and ready to help, every one that I asked took a part and the work now is comparatively easy. It will all be done by tomorrow.

There are upwards of one hundred and fifty soldiers in the hospital here.

The sick suffer a great deal for want of proper medical attendance and good nursing. Many of the soldiers are laid on the floor when brought there and are not touched or their cases looked into for twenty four hours. One or two died when no one was near them. They were found cold and stiff several hours afterwards. The other night at ten oclock when one of the ladies left there was not a soul in the house besides the sick men. Every one in town has been interested in them. Papa went last Sunday to see General Holmes about it. The General came over yesterday so I hope we will soon have an efficient Doctor and honest competent nurses.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 22, 1861

Saturday 22 [June 1861]

Mr. Hill has not made his appearance yet with the shirts.

No tidings of Fanny. I think she is too smart to be caught.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 21, 1861

Friday June 21st [1861]

Was interrupted yesterday to go down and see a soldier. It turned out to be my friend Nick Hill, one of our old law students. He came South to join the army more than a month ago and was sent back to Maryland on recruiting service. He came back yesterday morning and swam his horse across the Potomac. He brought a good many Marylanders with him and more will follow today. They went to Mr. Corbin’s and he sent them up in a wagon. This is their place of rendevouz.

Mr. Hill asked me to make some shirts for them. He is to bring me the materials to day from Richmond.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 20, 1861

Thursday 20th [June 1861]

The Convention in Richmond were surprised and delighted to see how much good the Governor’s Council had done, thought the State could not do without it. But the Council thought they were unnecessary now that everything has been handed over to the Confederate States. So it has been abolished.

Papa is going up Saturday to see cousin Frank Minor. What a warm and true friend he is. He is very anxious that Papa shall be sent as Minister to England thinks it would be an appointment that would please the people and that he would have more influence abroad than any other man. Cousin Frank need not take to himself the credit of having first thought of it. I have been wishing for it for more than a month. It is the only office in the gift of the Government that I covet for Papa. They surely would not send him into active service. He is too valuable and great a man for that.

Dick is chafing very much at being kept so long in Lexington. He wants to be in active service somewhere. Says he thirsts for Yankee blood and cannot bear to be up there behind the mountains when so many others are in the field.

I have found an old black satin cloak that I have been looking for to make a puffing round the bottom of my three year old brown silk to make it long enough. It is the only thick dress I have with me. All my handsomest clothes were left in the trunk in Alexandria.

It is strange how one can become accustomed to almost any mode of life. Here we are now almost as happy as in our last days and we cannot look into the future of this world at all. Cannot form an idea as to where or in what condition we might be one month hence.

Will has gone to the Creek this morning. Hope he will have as pleasant a day. Six or eight gentlemen went.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 19, 1861

Wednesday 19th [June 1861]

General Holmes was wrong. Harpers Ferry has been evacuated. Our troops are somewhere between there and Winchester.

Papa returned to Richmond Monday morning. He has a scheme to blow up the enemy vessels in the different rivers by submarine works of some kind. I do not know whether he will be able to carry it out. It is a great secret now.

Troops from Lynchburg and Richmond are being sent to Manassas every day. We look for the great battle there. God help us and give us the victory.

The fight at little Bethel church was more destructive to the enemy than was at first suspected. From the Northern papers we learn that at the roll call at Fortress Monroe there were upwards of a thousand missing. A few were on furlough.

Will received a very cordial letter from Judge Badger a few days ago welcoming him to the South and inviting him to his house in Raleigh. Will would like very much to go and only hesitates because of the expense but I suspect the temptation will prove too strong for him. He is invited to go with a party of gentlemen to see the batteries at Aquia Creek tomorrow, and to dine at Mr. William Little’s in Stafford. I am glad he is making some acquaintances here though time hangs much less heavy on his hands than I thought it would. He is more and more relieved each day that we have left Washington.

I have been busy for the last two days making a shirt for one of the soldiers.

Sue Crutchfield was to see us yesterday evening. She is not so pretty with her bonnet off.

Molly has a very devoted beau who comes very often and stays very late. But Johnny Scott will never do. he has a grandfather, two uncles and an aunt that are crazy!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 16, 1861

Sunday 16th [June 1861]

Papa came up from Richmond yesterday evening. He brings us the good news of the secession of Missouri – or rather that her Governor has ordered out fifty thousand troops to repel the invaders which is a virtual secession. The Arkansas regiments are sent to assist them.

The bridges at Harpers Ferry have been burnt by our troops. All the valuable machinery has been removed from there and Pa thinks they mean to evacuate the place and take a stand nearer Winchester, where they cannot so easily be surrounded and cut off.

General Holmes was here just now. He thinks that because the bridges have been burned it by no means follows that they intend to evacuate Harpers Ferry.

Mr. Corbin came up this morning. He has been with his company to Mathias point. Says there is no battery there.

There is great jealousy between the Virginian and Confederate forces. Papa thinks that the Confederate officers and politicians want to usurp too much power and are unjust towards many of the Virginia soldiers. I hope Tom will be able to keep his place.

Sixty of the Federal troops landed on our side of the Potomac the other night and broke up all the boats and skiffs on this side of the river. That is the only way the Marylanders can come over to join us. Ten or fifteen come every day. It is owing to the Richmond Dispatch and the Examiner that these things are known at the North. They publish a great many things in their papers that ought not to be known North of the Potomac and injure the cause a great deal. The other day the Dispatch told of a woman who had brought fifty thousand caps under her hoops to the soldiers at Harpers Ferry. Of course she can never do it again now.

Papa’s post as one of the Governor’s council is to be abolished tomorrow. We do not know what will become of him then.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 14, 1861

Friday 14th [June 1861]

The fight was not at Newport News, but between Hampton and York. Our troops were in an entrenched camp and numbered twelve hundred. The enemy were thirty five hundred strong. The battle lasted from half past nine until one. The enemy were completely routed and driven back to Hampton, several of our cavalry companies pursuing them close to the town. Their men did not stand fir[e] at all. The celebrated New York fire zouves were the first to run. They acknowledge two hundred and fifty killed. it is thought there are many more. We had one man killed and not more than twenty wounded. Col Magruder commanded our forces and conducted the battle with the greatest bravery and ability. Mama says it shows how a man may change.

She used to know John Magruder when she was young. that he was the butt of all the girls. He was so stupid and conceited.

Several hours after the battle our forces retired to York. There are many thousand of the Federal troops at Fortress Munroe that might at any time be sent out and cut them off completely where they were.

Went to church yesterday and heard a sermon on patriotism. I fall far short of the mark of a true patriot. I am so selfish and narrow minded. Nanny puts me to the blush continually, she is so patriotic and unselfish.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 12, 1861

Wednesday June 12th 1861

Will came yesterday quite unexpectedly. I was so glad to see him. Do not mean to let him go away again without me. Our family is small enough for us to move with ease and this is no time for unnecessary separations.

We hear that cousin Dabney (with a number of other army officers out west) have resigned and are on their way home.

There are rumours of a fight that lasted five hours at Newport News.

General Holmes, who has command of the forces here and at Aquia Creek, has evicted a battery at Mathias point. It was done at night by one thousand negroes. The enemy would have prevented it if attempted in the day time.

Papa said he was coming up this evening to spend tomorrow with us. It is a day of humiliation fasting and prayer throughout the South.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 10, 1861

Monday June 10th [1861]

Mama returned from Farley Vale on Saturday and Papa came up from Richmond. He is rather blue. does not know how Jeff Davis and his ‘clique’ will work. He has made it understood that now Virginia is given up to him and is one of the Confederate States that all the commissions and appointments given by her are null and void and that if any retain their places it is a gift from him.

Got a letter from Dick. Says there was great excitement among the people at Lexington a few days ago. They heard that the Ohio troops had taken possession of the White Sulphur Springs and were on their way to Lexington. The people telegraphed to Lynchburg and Staunton for aid. They were wild with fear. Dick offered to ride out on the road by which they were expected, but he was ordered to stay to protect the barracks. One man offered to stay on the powder magazine, and when the enemy had filled the town to blow up self, magazine, enemy and all. Such is the spirit of our western men.

These panics are raised continually throughout the State. The enemy are narrowing in upon us on every side except the South. On the east, north and west they get nearer and nearer every day.

Governor Wise is forming a legion for the protection of Western Virginia. It is likely to be very popular. Charley Blackford is Captain in it.

Nanny and Mr. Corbin came up on Sunday. The latter was dressed in a full suit of uniform Nanny had made for him. He had Papa’s old Navy buttons on his blue flannel shirt. N says the U.S. stands for United South. Mr. C wears a sword taken from a French officer at Waterloo. Papa returned to Richmond this morning.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 7, 1861

Friday 7th [June 1861]

Started a constable on Fanny’s track this morning. He thinks she must be in town.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 6, 1861

Thursday June 6th [1861]

Another rainy day and I have too bad a cold to go to the society.

Ellen Mercer came to see me this evening and Mrs. Hart and Sue Crutchfield. The latter is very pretty – is engaged to my brother Dick.

Johnny came this evening from the university. He expects to enter the military school there in a week or ten days.

Got a letter from Will. Says he cannot get back to Washington. Is going to Caroline to see Uncle Jourdan Woolfork for a few days.

Cousin Sally said family are boarding here at Uncle Brodie’s. Cousin Charles talks of going into the powder business in Richmond.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 5, 1861

Wednesday 5th [June 1861]

Fanny (our cook) was not to be found this morning. She has gone off with all her possessions. It seems that she and Nanny had some difficulty about ten days ago, and Papa told her if she did not apologize to N he shold send her to Farley Vale to Mr. Corbin.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 4, 1861

Tuesday June 4th 1861

Mama and the children went down to Farley Vale this morning in Captain Lewis’ vessel. He is a Navy officer who has come South and has charge of the Rapponnack [Rappahannock].

I went up to the sewing society with aunt Mary and Molly. The ladies are busy making tents for the soldiers and sheets and pillow cases for the hospital.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cousin John Minor's house

This is "Cousin John Minor's" house on Caroline Street in Fredericksburg where Betty Herndon Maury was living when she began her diary on June 3, 1861.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - June 3, 1861

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury

Fredericksburg VA
At Cousin John Minor’s

June 3d 1861

A diary, faithfully kept in such eventful times as these, must be interesting to our children even though it be indifferently written.

I commenced one about three weeks ago at our home in Washington, but in the hurry and confusion of getting off it was forgotten.

I shall commence where I left off there hoping to get that one of these days. Though God knows when or where we shall ever see our possessions there again. Will left his business, furniture and every thing to come here and be with his people on the right side.

Last Thursday and Friday we got letters from Papa, by private hand (there are no mails now between the North and the South) commanding us to come out of Washington at once. On Friday Will went down to Alexandria to see if he could get wagons or conveyance of any kind, to carry us to Manassas junction.

While he was gone it occured to me that I had better go to the War Department and try to get a pass for us to leave the next day. So I got a hack and drove to the Department, intending to get Major John Lee to go with me to see General Mansfield and ask for the pass. Major Lee was out after waiting half an hour for him I went over to General Mansfield’s office. He refused to give us a pass – refused even to give one to Nannie Belle and myself without Will. Said no one was allowed to cross the lines now. My heart died within me, and my eyes filled with tears. I began to despair. Just then Major Lee came in. He heard I had been waiting for him and had followed me over. He took me back to the department and said that he would go and ask the Secretary of War (Mr. Cameron). So we went up to Mr. Cameron’s office, but he was at home – sick. Then we applied to General Scott. He gave one for Nannie Belle and myself, but refused to allow Will to go. But when Major Lee learned that we were going in a hack across the country and through the “rebel camp” alone, he said it would never do for us to go with Mr. Maury.

Upon second application General Scott gave a pass to Will – first inquiring whether he was any relation to Capt Maury of the Observatory now in Richmond. The Clerk who carried a note making the second application, did not know and said he was not. The old General little knew that I was his daughter.

Will was delighted when he saw the pass. Said that he could never have gotten it. I felt like all the strong minded women I knew.

Mr. Hasbrouck of Newburg, N.Y. came to see us that night. He came down hoping to get to Richmond to see Papa but was told that there was danger of his being arrested. So he gave it up. He could have come with perfect safety. Papa could get him back. He speaks with the greatest regret and grief of Pa’s resignation talked as if he was dead. I told him that I was proud of my father before, but I was a hundred times prouder of him now. That if he had considered his own personal welfare he would have remained with the North. Their people have always honoured and appreciated him far more than those at the South. . . but he could not take sides against his own people – against his native State and against the right.

Mr. H wanted Will and myself to come up to Newburgh and stay until the troubles are over.
Saturday morning we left Washington. We gave up our house and stowed our furniture at cousin Charles’ – left a great many things undone, but I reckon Mother will attend to them. There was a good deal of furniture in the house still to be moved.

We missed the boat and came all the way to Alexandria in a hack. Will paid $25 for a carriage to take us to Manassas junction. it could only take two small trunks, so I had to leave mine with the greater part of my clothes.

We were stopped by a sentinel every fifteen minutes of our ride for eight miles out of Alexandria. Nannie Belle was so delighted at the prospect of seeing her Grandma and aunt Lucy that she would sing “Dixie” all the way. I was afraid it would make the soldiers suspect us. So in order to stop her I had to give her a sugar cracker whenever we came to a sentinel. She soon understood it and would call out “Mama here is another soldier, give me a sugar tacker.

We were told that we would find a company of Federal cavalry close to the rebel lines! So when it was nearly dark, and we were near Fairfax courthouse we were stopped by two dragoons. I was struck by their gentlemanly appearance, they looked very different from the pickets we had passed. Will handed them General Huntzleman’s pass that he had got in Alexandria. They said that was signed by none of their officers and would not do. W then gave them Gen’ Scott’s pass. They laughed and said they belonged to the Southern troops. I exclaimed Thank God we are among our own people at last. They told us we might go on to Fairfax but must get a pass there. We stayed all night there. The night before (Friday) a company of eighty horse had ridden into the village and attacked our troops, fifty in number. They were repulsed with the loss of three killed and three prisoners. Our Captain (Marr) was killed and three prisoners taken. There were expected again that night. We laid down in our clothes, but were undisturbed .

Rose at four o clock and started at five for Manassas. We stopped at the Court house & jail to get our pass. There among a crowd of soldiers and horses I discovered our brother Tom. He had arrived in the night with his company from Manassas.

Were only stopped three or four times between Fairfax and the junction.
About three miles below Manassas a South Carolina regiment is stationed. They are fortifying themselves and throwing up breast works.

We reached Manassas too late for the eight o clock train and had to stay there till Monday morning. There are no accommodations for us. The tavern was filled with soldiers. I spent the day in the carriage under the trees with men, horses and tents all around us.

We had service during the day. The first time Nannie Belle had ever been to church. It was in imposing and affecting sight to see so many soldiers worshiping God under the broad canopy of Heaven.

I was the only woman present. Saw a great many acquaintances and friends there. We got a room at night, but did not take off our clothes, the place was too public.

Our troops are fewer and mor indifferently armed than I expected to see. But with such indomitable spirits and such mothers and wives they can never be beaten. I saw some plain country people there telling their sons and husbands good bye. I did not hear the first word of repining or grief. Only encouragement to do their best and be of good service. One woman after taking leave of her husband said to two youths when telling them good bye “Don’t mind my tears boys. They do no mean any thing.” After they left their mother shamed her and said “how could you let them see you crying? it will unman them.” These were plain people who talked about “Farfax” and said ‘farwell.’

Will went to Richmond. I arrived here Monday evening in time for tea. Mama did not expect us, so there was no one at the cars to meet me.

There have been two engagements at Aquia Creek Friday and Saturday. The vessels were repulsed and the last time the Pawnee must have been very much injured. Only a chicken and a horse were killed on our side.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Slave No More - by David Blight

A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom
by David Blight
Harcourt, Inc. 2007
ISBN 978-0-15-101232-9

For anyone interested in the history of Fredericksburg, Virginia, this book is a must read. Two slave narratives are presented here, life stories of men who escaped slavery to freedom. One of the two, John M. Washington, was born and raised in Fredericksburg. On April 18, 1862, he crossed his beloved Rappahannock River to join up with the Union Army at Falmouth. Mr. Washington's view of the events in Fredericksburg in 1862 is from an entirely different perspective from other memoirs I have read and provides a balance sorely needed in the literature chronicling this tumultuous time in the history of this wonderful town.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Civil War Diary of Betty Herndon Maury

The House on Caroline Street will begin publishing in serial form here the Civil War Diary of Betty Herndon Maury in the very near future.

Elizabeth Herndon Maury was the daughter of Matthew Fontaine Maury, also known as Pathfinder of the Seas. She and her husband were living in Washington, D.C. before the outbreak of the war. She left Washington for Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she began her diary on June 3, 1861. The diary chronicles her life from then until February 18, 1863, when she breaks off in Richmond, about to be evicted from the house she has been renting there, eight months pregnant, fearful for the future.

This transcription of Betty Herndon Maury's diary was made from a microfilm copy of the handwritten diary and seeks to preserve Betty's spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Betty's sister, Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin, later published a biography of their father: A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, which can be found at:

Commemoration of the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg

On the weekend of December 8-9, 2007, the National Park Service will be commemorating the 145th anniversary of the first battle of Fredericksburg (11-13 December 1862). For the schedule of events, see: