Sunday, February 3, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - August 3, 1861

Saturday August 3d 1861

Have been in such a state of suspense and anxiety for the past week that I have not had the heart to write.

Each day we hoped to hear that Gen. Beauregard had attacked Alexandria and Arlington Heights but each day we were disappointed. I understand that he is within a few miles of Alexandria and has been for more than a week. Why did not he attack them the day after the battle when their troops were so panic stricken and demoralized? However I reckon he knows his own business best.
Received a letter from Johnny yesterday. He says there are one thousand sick and five hundred wounded at the University and Charlottesville together.

The wounded were brought in open cars and had been exposed to the rain for twenty four hours. J. says “In spite of all their sufferings it is astonishing how they bore up. Their eyes were as bright and their voices as clear as though sound and well, not a complaint was uttered, they gloried in their wounds and he was proudest who was hardest hit.”

Johnny is sleeping on the bare floor, has given up his bed to one of them. Many of the wounded are Yankees.

In a letter received from cousin Frank last night he says “Saw Johnny on guard at one of the sick wards yesterday. When the wounded came at midnight, without any notice to the Faculty, the cadets shouldered their own beds, fixed them in the lecture rooms and then worked till after daybreak carrying the wounded from the cars.”

Got a letter from Tom at Centerville. He gives some very interesting incidents connected with the battle.

Says, “When I reached the hospital it was crowded with the wounded, whose shrieks and moans were most distressing. When I beheld Col’ Moore, Billy Allen, ‘Capt’ Lee, and others my intimate friends lying on the floor and covered with blood, the tears started from my eyes. I cannot describe the emotions I felt on that occasion.

For two long hours the enemies batteries played on our hospital, and we Doctors had to remove all the wounded and place them on the slope of a hill some distance in the rear. Even here they were not safe for several shot fell among them.

Our flag – a yellow one – was eight feet long and six wide, and could readily be distinguished with the naked eye from the point where the enemy’s batteries were. What a set of Barbarians!”

Tom is surgeon in the 1st Va. Regiment.

Cousin Dabney is Acting adjutant General with the rank of Col under Gen’ Holmes. Is at Brookes Station between here and the creek.

General McClelland has been put in command of the forces near Washington. Cousin D says he is the most able General they have when he is not drunk!!

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