Saturday, May 10, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 6, 1862

Note: For another perspective on the events in Fredericksburg in these days, see A Slave No More by David W. Blight, which has the text of a memoir by John Washington of Fredericksburg.

[Sunday] April 6th [1862]

Since our forces have fallen back to this side of the Rappa[ha]nnock and Fredericksburg has become an outpost, we are continually subject to alarms of the approach of the enemy.

Last Thursday night [April 3, 1862] a courier came in to inform Gen’ Smith that they had driven in our pickets and were in force at Stafford C.H. It turned out to be only a marauding party.

Gen’ Stone Wall Jackson had a fight near Winchester a few days ago. The enemy out numbered us three to one. They certainly did not gain the victory. We claim it. Both sides fell back after the fight.

Will went to Richmond last Monday [March 31, 1862] to carry the Government money he holds as Receiver. He took his trunk down, has left only a few clothes here that he can put into a carpet bag and run with whenever the enemy are near. It is his duty to remain as long as there is any property here for him to attend to. He has decided that I shall stay with Mama and the children. I am very unwilling to remain.

Every one who travels about here has to get a passport. This is one Will got when he came up from Richmond last Thursday [April 3, 1862].

We have been without butter for several days. It is impossible to get any. The last we heard of was one dollar a pound. However we do not mind it if we can only whip the Yankees and conquer a peace. Goods of every kind are of course very scarce. Most of the stores are closed. Ten cent calicoes are not to be had at fifty cents. We never see a piece of silver however small, and are reduced to all sorts of devices to make change. I bought a spool of cotton the other day. It cost 39 ½ cts. I gave the shop man half a dollar. He handed me in change this five cent stamp and a row of pins.

Many of the churches through out the South are giving their bells to make cannon. Our church has offered hers.

The ladies of Richmond are building an iron clad gun boat to be presented to the Government for the protection of city.

Have heard nothing from cousin Dabney for a long time. This order to the troops is the last.

The milit[i]a are coming into town every day.

The Battle in the West

The following is a copy of the spirited order issued by Gen. Van Dorn to the gallant troops who were engaged in the recent battle in North-western Arkansas.

Headquarters of the Trans: Miss: District.Van Buren, Ark., March 16, 1862

The Major General commanding this district desires to express to the troops his admiration of their conduct during the recent expedition against the enemy.

Since leaving camp in Boston Mountains, they have been incessantly exposed to the hardships of a winter campaign and have endured such privations as troops have rarely encountered.
In the engagements of the 6th, 7th, and 8th instant, it was the fortune of the General commanding to be immediately with the Missouri division, and he can therefore bear personal testimony to their gallant bearing. From the noble veteran who has led them so long, to the gallant S. Churchill Clark who fell while meeting the enemy’s last charge, the Missourians proved themselves devoted patriots and staunch soldiers. They met the enemy on his chosen positions and took them from him. They captured four of his cannon and many prisoners. They drove him from his field of battle and slept upon it.

The victorious advance of McCulloch’s division upon the strong position of the enemy’s front was inevitably checked by the misfortunes which now sadden the hearts of our countrymen throughout the Confederacy. McCulloch and McIntosh fell in the very front of the battle and in the full tide of success. With them went down the confidence and hope of their troops. No success can repair the loss of such leaders. It is only left to us to mourn their untimely fall, emulate their heroic courage, and avenge their death.

You have inflicted upon the enemy a heavy blow; but we must prepare at once to march against him again. All officers and men must be diligent in perfecting themselves in knowledge of tactics and camp discipline. The regulations of the army upon this subject must be rigidly enforced. Officers will recite daily in tactics, and all must drill as many times daily as other duties will permit. In every company the prescribed roll calls will be made. The arms will be daily inspected, and a careful attention will be given to a neat police of the camp.

Commanders of Brigades will publish and strictly enforce these orders,

By order of Major General Earl Van Dorn,
Dabney H. Maury, A. A. G.

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