Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - March 16, 1862

Fredericksburg, Va.
Sunday, March 16th, 1862

Nashville has fallen into the hands of the enemy. We have evacuated Columbus. Since our army has fallen back from the line of the Potomac to Fredericksburg and Gordon Mills. We have evacuated Strasburg and Winchester. The enemy’s pickets are at Manassas and the Union flag is flying over Evansport. We are all in a whirl and confusion. Do not know how far our forces will fall back, or how far the enemy has advanced into the country.

There are upwards of thirty thousand soldiers in and around Fredericksburg. We find it difficult, almost impossible, to get meat butter or eggs. The soldiers buy up every thing before it reaches town.

Last Saturday 18th, our big iron plated steamer, Merrimac, now the Virginia, left the Norfolk Navy Yard with two smaller vessels and a gun boat, and attacked the enemy’s squadron at Hampton Roads. She sunk the frigate Congress with all on board, ran the Chamberland aground, and disabled the Minnesota. It was a great victory for our Navy. Captain Buchanan commanded. He and Bob Nixon were wounded. Bob was hurt after the Chamberland had raised a white flag and he had gone in a boat to take off their wounded. Capt B was so indignant at the enemy’s breach of faith that he poured hot shot into the Chamberland and set her on fire. His brother was pay master of the C.

[March 16, 1862 continued]

We fear that the result of the battle will be that the enemy will plate all of his vessels with iron and then Papa’s gun boats will be of no avail.

We have had a battle in Arkansas that lasted three days, 7th 8th and 9th. It is said that our arms are victorious. Cousin Dabney was engaged in it. He has since been made Brigadier General! Cousin Nanny and the children have been here for the last two days. They left for the Old Mansion this morning.

Seventeen of Mr. Mason’s servants have run off. They stole all of cousin Nanny’s dresses but three, and took both cloak and shawl. One party of them went off in a wagon and carried their feather beds. They got on board a cutter that came up the Potomac to receive them.

Our Nanny has broken up at Farley Vale. She has brought all her furniture up here and expects to send the servants to the south.

We have moved up to aunt Eliza’s house and are much more comfortable than we were at cousin John’s. Nanny’s too has added very much to the looks of the house.

Now that our army has fallen back so far Will’s district will soon be occupied by the enemy. Says he will certainly go into the army so soon as it is.

We hear that our forces have been defeated at Newbern, N.C. and that the enemy have possession of the town.

Johnny has been appointed master in the Navy is on the Pamunkey with cousin Lewis building Steam Launches.

Capt Roots has a Navy Yard there and is hard at work with a large force.

Will is in Richmond attending to some of his Receivership business.

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