Monday, March 31, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 29, 1861

Tuesday [29 October 1861]

Nannie Belle is better, is sitting up.

It is purported that Gen' Holmes is engaged to Carry Barton. She is a girl of my date and he is an old man - deaf and a widower.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 27, 1861

Sunday [27 October 1861]

Nannie Belle has the measles and I’ve been so closely occupied attending to her that I have had not time to write in my diary. I am afraid it is getting too voluminous. Nannie Belle will not read it with interest when she grows to be a woman if it is so long. But these are such eventful times and there are so many interesting incidents that I do not know which to omit.

I hardly know where to begin so much has occurred since last Thursday.

The battle at Leesburg was a more signal victory that at first reported. The enemy killed are not less than five hundred and we took upwards of a thousand prisoners.

Papa recieved a letter some days ago from Col Huger at Sewells Point stating that cousin Jack Maury was so drunk on the two nights appointed by him to blow up the enemy’s vessel that the Pilot and boat’s crews refused to go with him. That he took great interest in the success of the expedition and hated to see it fail through the negligence of an inefficient officer. If cousin Jack would only keep sober he is the best man that could be found for such service. He is entirely forgetful of self, bold and daring and cautious too. He came up from Richmond last night to report to Papa. Wonder what he said.

We all went to Nanny Herndon’s wedding on Wednesday night. After the ceremony we had a dance. The supper was very elegant. Will and I carried home two platefuls to Mama. The ice cream and jelly was the first we had seen since we left Washington.
A North Carolina troop of a thousand horse passed through here to day.

Mr. Randolph had to postpone the service until they had passed. The congregation would not assemble.

Papa has received orders to report in Richmond tomorrow.

I have kept my best news till the last. Last night Will, Molly and I went to uncle Brodie's to spend the evening and tell Nannie Mercer good bye. When we returned we found the party in the parlour in high spirits. Nanny had got well and come down. Mr. Corbin was there and Papa and cousin Jack were roasting oysters.

Papa just received a letter from the Russian Ambassador in Washington inclosing one from H.I.H. the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia inviting him to make that country his home.

Mr. Stoeckl sent the letter through the British Consul at Charleston and says Papa must send his answer in the same way. Papa put it to the vote to know whether he should go. Mama and I said 'yes". He is not appreciated here and is allowed to be of little or no service. He ought to go where his services will be appreciated and where he can do the most good to mankind.

Nanny, Mr. Corbin and Will said 'no'. That he ought not to forsake his country in her hour of need. He ought to stay and do the best he could.

Copy of a letter received in Fredericksburg October 26th 1861 by Captain M. F. Maury. [newspaper text illegible]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 24, 1861

Thursday [24 October 1861]

Papa’s orders to Cuba have been recalled. We do not know why. He got an official letter this morning simply stating that they were recalled.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 24, 1861

Thursday [24 October 1861]

Papa’s orders to Cuba have been recalled. We do not know why. He got an official letter this morning simply stating that they were recalled.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 23, 1861

Wednesday 23d October [1861]

Good news! Good news! Mr. Slaughter called by here yesterday with a telegram he had just received stating that we had had a battle near Leesburg. The enemy were driven into and across the river. They had twelve regiments against five of ours. This battle occurred on the 21st.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 22, 1861

Tuesday [22 October 1861]

Dick's wedding day and he is not here! How entirely the condition of the country changes every thing. Six months ago a gentleman who failed to keep such an engagement would have been forever disgraced. Now it is scarcely a matter of comment.

Sue was here yesterday and read us a letter from Dick. Said he had applied some days before for leave to be married, but was sure now that he could not get it, and even if he could he would not leave at this critical juncture when a battle is expected every day.

I am sorry he applied for leave.

There are grand preparations going on for the wedding at uncle Brodie’s. Mr. George Mercer, the groom, arrived yesterday. He is stationed near Savannah and has a months furlough.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 19, 1861

Saturday [19 October 1861]

General Burnside commands the forces that are expected up the Rappannock [sic]. The last time he was here he was one of cousin Dabney’s groomsmen – and we all came up this river together on a pleasure party. I wonder if he will remember all the incidents of that party? I was not sixteen. It was the first time I had ever officiated as bridesmaid, or been to a grown up party. So every thing made a vivid impression on my mind.

Got a telegram from Dick last night. Says he will not be able to come to his wedding. Johnny carried it up to Sue. I feel sorry for her disappointment. All her preparations made and the guests invited. I took it for granted that Mrs Hart will not give her party now that she knows four days beforehand that Dick cannot come.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 18, 1861

Friday [18 October 1861]

Mrs Hart (Sue Crutchfield’s cousin) was here yesterday to invite us to her house Tuesday evening. She says her oysters and ice cream will not keep, that if Dick comes it will be his wedding. If not, it will be her party.

I do not see how she or aunt Lucy can have the heart to prepare a party or wedding entertainment in these times, when we cannot look one day into the future, and every thing before us is so dark and gloomy. The very night of the party Dick and many other dear ones may be engaged in a terrible battle.

Have been busy this morning packing all of our clothes that are not is use so that we can move at short notice.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Chimneys at 623 Caroline Street, home of Brodie Herndon, Betty's uncle.

Thursday [ 17 October 1861]

There have been many reports about the battery at Evansport upon which we depended to stop the navigation of the Potomac. It has been opened and vessels have passed up and down since. Some say it is entirely inefficient, others that the range of the guns has not yet been adjusted, and the gunners want practice. And others that the main battery close to the river has not yet been opened.

Got a letter from Cousin Jack [Minor] yesterday. He has made one trial but had a drunken pilot and could not find the ship. He kept his batteries however and means to try again.

Spent yesterday evening at Uncle Brodie’s. Parker has come and brought her baby only six weeks old. She has come to Nanny Herndon’s wedding. Our Dick and Sue Crutchfield are to be married next Tuesday (if he can get leave) and Nanny will be married on Wednesday.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 16, 1861

Wednesday [16 October 1861]

Little Lewis died Sunday night.

No tidings from Cousin Jack yet. I fear very much that he is on a spree, and that his expedition has failed.

Capt Hollins has sunk the Vincennes at the mouth of the Mississippi, and driven others of the blockading squadron away.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 13, 1861

Sunday night [13 October 1861]

Papa got a telegram last night from cousin Jack and one his morning from Bob Minor. The former did not plant his batteries on Thursday night, the weather was not propitious.

Cousin Bob placed his at eight hundred yards from the ship with no visible result. Papa says he should have gone closer. He is much disappointed at the failure.

One of Uncle Charley’s twins – Lewis Herndon – is very ill. They think he will die tonight. I went this evening to offer to sit up with him but was not needed.

Bless Will’s heart. He has stopped chewing tobacco because it was so disagreeable to me. He came up last night and said he had a present for me, and gave me the last piece he had.

We are in hourly dread of the summons to start on the Cuban expedition.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 12, 1861

Saturday 12th [October 1861]

Have heard nothing yet from cousin Jack or Bob Minor. Begin to feel anxious about them

Bob Minor is to be put in Papa’s plans in charge of the Secret Service Bureau. He - a young Lieutenant, good hearted but not clever – to be put at the head of the Bureau while my father – the cleverest and most distinguished scientific man in this country, a man whom all nations have sought to honour, is sent upon this trivial and most dangerous duty to Cuba. It is a bitter mortification to him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 11, 1861

Friday 11th [October 1861]

Was busy yesterday and the day before copying for Papa. He is writing a letter to the Governor of Virginia asking him to get the state to appropriate one million of dollars to build a hundred Steam launches with which to drive the enemy from our waters.

Last night was the time for the Savannah and the Minnesota to be blown up. It was a beautiful night for the expedition – cloudy and dark. I hope they have succeeded.

Papa got a telegram from cousin Dabney last night asking if he could furnish at once two sub marine batteries for the Potomac but he could not. He only has them made as they are wanted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 9, 1861

Wednesday 9th [October 1861]

Molly went up to see Sue Crutchfield yesterday evening. She had received a letter from Dick. He had been in a skirmish and shot a Yankee.

I wrote to Hon’ Charles M. Conrad yesterday asking him if he could do any thing to get these orders to Papa recalled. I never saw him and do not know what influence he has. At any rate the letter can do no harm. He is Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs.

Hon. Charles M. Conrad

Dear Sir

I believe you know that my Father, Commander M. F. Maury, has been ordered to Cuba to pay for some arms & that have been purchased there. A duty for which any officer of the Army or Navy is as well qualified as he.

The Secretary of War, not having an Army officer to spare, asks for a Navy officer and Father is ordered, this showing that in Mr. Mallory’s judgment he can better be spared than any other officer of the Army or Navy.

He is here waiting a summons by telegraph to go to New Orleans and leave in a yacht for Cuba. We have a steam man of war there that has been waiting for months, and in vain, to get out to sea.

Even if he should reach Havana safely, the chances are few for his getting back. The Yankee Consul there, Mr. Shoefeldt, will at once inform his Government that Father is there and what for. So that he will be watched.

Cannot you do some thing to get these orders recalled?

We his children would never shrink from his going on any duty that was as honourable as it was dangerous. But these orders seem to be given to mortify him and put him out of the way.

He knows nothing of this letter.

We expect the telegram every day.

Yours truly,
Betty H. Maury

Signed it with my maiden name because I thought he might give it more attention if he thought I was a pretty young girl. Am afraid the letter is not courteous enough.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 8, 1861

Tuesday 8th [October 1861]

Will says he feels so much like a gentleman going up to his office every day, and having something to do. His District consists of fourteen counties and the town of Fredericksburg. He has rented Uncle John’s office. I feel as though this appointment were given to Will in answer to my prayers. I prayed so earnestly and unceasingly for it. It was more to him than to any of the other applicants. He has promised that we shall give a good deal to the sick and suffering soldiers this winter.

I wish Papa would resign rather than be sent on this duty. He says I must keep house this winter, that Mama is not able to do it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 7, 1861

Monday 7th [October 1861]

Papa has sent cousin Jack and Bob Minor with his infernal machines one to blow up the Minnesota, the other the Wabash on Thursday night.

If they succeed and he is not telegraphed to leave before then, his orders may be recalled. If it is right God grant that they may be successful.

Papa is to leave in a yacht from New Orleans, and will receive a telegram as soon as it is ready.

He has been writing a series of letters lately on ‘Our Navy’ signed “Ben Bow”. Says we want a smooth water Navy – a Navy for our bays and creeks. If he could get an appropriation of one million dollars – what the Minnesota cost – he could build a hundred little steam launches of two guns each. At the distance of two miles they would present a very small target to the enemy, and a dozen of them could pop away at one big ship until they sunk her, our guns being as effective as those of the enemy. “Big guns and little ships” is his thing.

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.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Old Mansion - Bowling Green, Virginia

Betty Herndon Maury mentions Old Mansion of Bowling Green (Caroline County), Virginia several times in her diary. This beautiful home, also known as Bowling Green Farm, will be open on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 as a part of Historic Garden Week in Virginia (April 19-27, 2008.

To read a ghost story set at Old Mansion, follow this link.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 5, 1861

Saturday 5th [October 1861]

Will came last night, and Bob came from the Old Mansion to see about joining Johnny’s company.

[Note: To see a photo of the Old Mansion in Caroline County, follow this link.]

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 4, 1861

Friday 4th [October 1861]

No Will yet.

Johnny is very silent and rather blue I think. He said young Charles Minor has been recruiting in Madison and Greene counties trying to raise an artillery company. If they do not succeed Johnny will join Pendleton’s Artillery. J. has been first lieutenant of cadets at the University of Virginia all the summer and has had to drill them every day. It has had a bad effect upon him and increased his stammering very much. He perseveres and would go on but it got worse and worse every day. There were some commands that he could not give at all for a week or two, and then those would be easy and another set impossible. Bless his heart. I know what a trial it is to him for I can sympathize with him.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 3, 1861

Thursday [3 October 1861]

Was so disappointed that my dear Will did not come last night. Got a letter from him this morning. He says the Recievers for all the Districts are there and are to hold a caucus to decide upon many questions that are likely to arise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 2, 1861

Wednesday [2 October 1861]

Mama and the girls came last night. Johnny escorted them. Matsy is to remain at Cousin Frank’s yet a while.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - October 1, 1861

Tuesday October 1st 1861

A letter from my dear Will this morning. Says he will not be able to come up before Wednesday or Thursday. Judge Halliburton has promised to define the limits of his District tomorrow and then he has to ‘qualify’ for the office.

P. Phillips and family have arrived from Washington. He says that Mr. Carlisle fears being arrested every day.

I wish he could hear of Will’s good fortune and that I could write to Mother and thank her for my trunk.

We are erecting a battery at Evansport..

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 30, 1861

Monday September 30th [1861]

Have been too busy to write lately. Mama is coming tomorrow and we have had a great deal to do in getting things ready for her.

Papa came up Friday and stayed two days with us. He brought my trunk!!!

Mrs Senator Morton brought it from Washington. She was sent across from Fortress Monroe under a flag of truce. My dear old trunk had every thing in it that I had written for and Mother had thought of many little things that I needed besides. Such as needles, cotton, silk, tape & &.

It was elegantly packed and Mother had hid Nanny’s portraits of Papa and Mama way up in the skirt of one of my dresses for fear the trunk might be searched and Pa’s pictures recognized.

Cousin Charles had heard it was his trunk and was much disappointed about it. However there were many of his clothes in with mine.
I was so thankful to get it for I had given it up for lost.

Papa has been writing a letter lately to England, France and Holland giving an account of our National difficulties from the Southern side. They only see the Northern accounts. It is said to be a very able letter but I am rather disappointed in it. He brought it up for Nanny and my self each to make a copy. It was thirty pages long and we have just finished. Commissioner Mason is to take them over when he goes. Papa says he reckons he will have to swim across.

WE have had another victory at Lexington Missouri.

Hurrah! Will has been appointed Receiver for this District. I got a telegram this morning saying “I have succeeded.” I hope he will be able to fulfill the duties of the office ably and entirely.

I want to see him very much.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 27, 1861

Friday [27 September 1861]

There is still some hope of Will’s getting the office. The Judge has appointed Mr. Chew but is of opinion that he cannot hold that and the office of Clerk of the courts here too. Mr. Chew had rather give up the new office than the old one. He has gone down to Richmond this morning to see about it, and if he has to decline the Receivership, a strong petition will be sent from here asking that it may be given to Will. I pray that he may get it, but I am afraid to be very hopeful.

Cousin Charles came up night before last to see about it for Will. He left this morning with a petition and two strong letters, letters be used if Mr. C declines.

Papa is coming up tonight.

We put down two carpets yesterday and are fixing up the house so nice that Mama will not know it when she comes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 25, 1861

Wednesday [25 September 1861]

There is no chance of Will’s getting the appointment as Receiver. Mr. Chew will get it this evening by the cars, so Mr. Aplett has written him word.

Well, I am sure it is all for the best. It was to have been our sole support. The other applicants are already well off, but that is the way of the world.

We hear that an English vessel has come into Savannah laden with blankets, shoes and ammunition. Hope it is true.

There has been a skirmish in Kentucky. We whipped them.

Papa is going to move back here as soon as Nanny and I can get servants and fix up the house.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 21, 1861

Saturday [ 21 September 1861]

Heard firing all day yesterday. The town is full of rumours that we have taken Arlington Heights – that Alexandria is burned, &c. &c. I doubt it all.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 20, 1861

Friday [20 September 1861]

Got a letter from Dick. He says that the 24th regiment has no field officers and therefore he, as Major, finds himself in command! The Col had been promoted. The Lieut Col’ was absent on leave and the Major had resigned in disgust. I know Dick will do his best, but he is so young and has so little military experience. God help him. I cannot help thinking it was a most injudicious appointment.

The Yankees are fitting out a secret expedition. It is suspected to be against the Rappannock. Cary’s regiment has been ordered down to Middlesex, on the left bank of the river.

Fanny, our servant that ran away three months ago, came back last night of her own
accord. She refuses still to appologize to Nanny for her misconduct. Says she wants to be sold or hired out.

Will wants to bring Bob and Dr. Young here!!!

Papa talks of bringing the family back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 19, 1861

Thursday 19th [September 1861]

Got a letter from Will. Says that his brother Bob, and Dr. Goring have just arrived from Washington. They went to Wilmington and came down through Deleware and Maryland and across the bay. They were suspected and taken prisoners at West Point and brought up to Richmond in charge of an officer but were soon set at liberty. I am thankful that Bob has come to join the right side.

No news about the appointment. I am afraid Will won’t get it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 18, 1861

Wednesday [18th September 1861]

Walker, our inefficient Secretary of War, has resigned.

Nannie is better to day. Mr. Corbin came last night.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hobby School

I have learned that the log and brick schoolhouse in Falmouth, Virginia is known as the Hobby School. This information comes from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library History Point page at:

Log and Brick Schoolhouse, Falmouth, Virginia

Falmouth, Virginia is across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg and is part of Stafford County.

Today I went out with my camera to the Falmouth Cemetery, established in 1727. While wandering around the cemetery, I discovered a schoolhouse of what seemed to me most unusual construction: I have never seen anything like it before. It was constructed of brick and logs, and rather than try to describe it, I will insert two photos of it here.
Can anyone point me to more information about this style of construction?

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 17, 1861

Tuesday 17th [September 1861]

Will arrived last Saturday. He has some hope that Judge Halliburton will give him the office of Receiver for this District, but I am afraid he will be disappointed. Mr Rowe and Mr Chew are both very sanguine. Judge H must be an old hypocritie to lead all to hope.

I persuaded Will to return to Richmond Monday to remain until it is decided and look after his interests.

I went down with Nanny to Farley Vale on Monday to spend a week. She was taken quite sick soon after we arrived. I felt very anxious about her, there being no other white person on the place besides myself. At dinner time I sent Jim with the horses to borrow one of the neighbour’s carriages and prevailed upon Nanny to come up with me this morning. Uncle Bradie says it is the best thing I could have done.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - September 13, 1861

Friday [13 September 1861]

Dick left this morning for Manassas. He has been ordered to join the twenty fourth Virginia regiment near the chain bridge about a mile above Georgetown.

Papa talks of renting a furnished house in Charlottesville.