Saturday, March 15, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 6, 1861

Sunday 6th [October 1861]

Papa came up last night. He has been ordered to Cuba on a most trivial duty to pay for some arms that have been bought there, a duty that any honest man, however poor his capacity, can attend to just as well. He says it is a sentence of banishment or exile, and that he is as likely to bring up at Fort Lafayette as at Cuba. Even if he gets there safely the Yankee Consul, Mr. Shoefeldt, who is a most zealous and active man, will at once inform his government that Papa is there, and what he has come for. So that he will be closely watched and not allowed to return. The duty is a dangerous one at best, and doubly so for him.

I want to go with him. It would be a great comfort to have one of his children with him. He requires some one to write for him. If the worst came to the worst and we were captured, they certainly would not put a woman in Fort Lafayette and I could be of great service in sending him many comforts from New York.

Nanny thinks she ought to go but Papa says he cannot take either of us. We would delay his movements.

Every one who has heard of the order is very indignant about it. Mr. Conrad M.C. says it is a virtual repeal of the late act of Congress appropriating _____ thousand dollars for Papa to use in blowing up vessels and planting sub-marine batteries etc., for the probability is if he gets to Cuba he will have to remain there till the end of the war.

Cousin Dabney spent to day here. He has always been very unwilling for Papa to have any thing to do with these infernal machines. Thinks it is very dangerous service and one in which there is very little chance of success.

If Papa were prepared I had rather see him die peacefully on his bed to night than start on this expedition.

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