Thursday, July 31, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - December 28, 1862

Richmond December 28th 1862

It has been nearly three months since I wrote in my diary, and how much has happened since then.

Papa and Matsy succeeded in running the blockade on the 12th of October. They wrote from Bermuda, and sent us a box of shoes from there. We have since heard, through the Yankee papers, of their safe arrival in England.

I came down here the first of November to make Will a visit of a week or two.

On the 19th of November the whole Yankee army moved down and occupied the heights opposite Fredericksburg. Our forces fronting them on this side of the Rappannack [Rappahannock].

In a few days Gen' Burnside gave notice to the women and children to leave the town that he would shell it in sixteen hours.

Mama and the children came down in a calico car and were put out at Milford Depot with five hundred others. The kind and hospitable people of Carolina sent their carriages and wagons to the cars for the refugees and opened their houses to them. Uncle Jourdan had upwards of thirty at his house.

The sick and aged were brought out of town on beds. Mrs. Randolph had a baby but two days old when she was moved. The scene at the cars is described as very touching.

On the 13th of December [1862] God blessed us with a great victory at Fredericksburg. Upwards of eighteen thousand of the enemy were killed. We lost but one thousand. Even the Yankees acknowledge it to be a great defeat.

The battle took place in and around the town. The streets were strewn with the fallen enemy, the houses were broken open, sacked and used for hospitals, and their dead were buried in almost every yard.

Dr. Nichols was there – came as an amateur with his friend Gen’ Hooker – he occupied Uncle John’s house (where his wife has been most hospitably entertained for weeks at a time) drank up Uncle J’s wine, used his flour and ate up Ellen Mercer’s preserves.

I cannot find words to express my disgust and horror of the man who is so lost to all sense of delicacy, and so cold blooded and heartless as to come – not at the stern call of duty, [but for the love of it - underlined] – to gloat over the desolated homes of people whom he once called friends, and who are relations and [friends - crossed out] connections of his wife’s.

Mr. Corbin was here last night and gave us some account of the appearance of things at home. Almost every house had six or eight shells through it, the doors are wide open, the locks and windows broken and the shutters torn town. Two blocks of buildings were burned to the ground. Our house was used as a hospital. Mr. Corbin says every vessel in the house even the vegetables dishes and cups are filled with blood & water – there are large pools of gore on the floor. The table in the parlour was used as an amputating table and a Yankee (Byron Pearce of N.Y.) is buried at the kitchen door.

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