Saturday, May 31, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 16, 1862

Friday 16th [May 1862]

Fast day. General Patrick will not allow the church to be opened to day. The ladies are to meet at the charity school this afternoon.

Matters are getting worse and worse here every day with regard to the negroes. They are leaving their owners by the hundred and demanding wages. The citizens have refused to hire their own or other peoples slaves, so that there are numbers of unemployed negroes in town.

Old Dr. Hall agreed to hire his servants but the gentlemen of the town held a meeting and wrote him a letter of remonstrance telling him that he was establishing a most dangerous precedent, that he was breaking the laws of Virginia and was a traitor to his state. So the old man refused to hire them and they all left him.

Ours have gone except one girl, about fifteen, Nanny’s Molly. We clean up and take it by turns to assist and direct in the cooking. It is a great relief to get rid of the others they were so insolent and idle, and Jenny was a dangerous character. She boasted that she had brought the soldiers here to get the swords and threatened to tell that our name was Maury and that we had brought things here from the Observatory.

Two run away negroes applied yesterday for hire. Many little difficulties have occurred since the Yankees have been here, between white people and negroes. In every case the soldiers have interfered in favor of the negroes.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 13, 1862

Tuesday 13th [May 1862]

We have evacuated Norfolk and Portsmouth and destroyed the Navy Yard. The enemy have possession there. That is what the troops here were cheering for last Sunday.

I am much struck with the superior discipline of these Yankee soldiers over ours. I have not seen a drunken man since they have been here. They are much healthier too and are not coughing constantly during drill as our Dixie boys used to do.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 11, 1862

Sunday May 11th [1862]

We claim the victory in both battles at Williamsburg on the 5th and at West Point on the 7th. We fought under great disadvantages, our army being on the retreat. I think it shows very poor Generalship for us always to fight under disadvantages.

Saw twelve of our soldiers brought in as prisoners this evening. Have been hearing nothing but the drum and trumpet all day and now the troops are making night hideous with their cheers. The soldiers in and around the town have been huzzaing for the last half hour. Each cheer strikes to my heart like the knell of some dear one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 10, 1862

Saturday May 10th [1862]

Saw the enemy’s signal lights last night on the court house tower and the answering ones from the hills across the river. They are not stationary but constantly moving in different figures and shapes. They looked beautiful and so mysterious. This morning they are signaling with different coloured flags.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 9, 1862

Friday May 9th [1862]

We hear to day that there has been a battle at Williamsburg. Both sides claim the victory. Gen’ Early’s Brigade was in the fight. He was wounded. My brother, my dear brother where is he? The whole of our army is falling back towards Richmond. Early’s Brigade covered the retreat.

The last accounts are that there is a more extended fight going on in New Kent County. The enemy have landed at West Point.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 7, 1862

Wednesday May 7th [1862]

This morning three officers rode up to the house and one of them sent in his name as Mr. Gregory. Said he was going to Washington next week, had I anything to send. I sent word ‘No’. It was not Alice’s husband, for I peeped through the blinds at him.

The British flag was hoisted to day over the Vice Consul’s. It was no sooner raised than a company of soldiers marched up to the house and demanded that secession flag to be given up. Mr. Goolrick told them to look again that it was the British ensign. They begged his pardon and left.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 5, 1862

Monday night May 5th [1862]

Well the Yankees have been here to search for arms. Three came and sent up word that they wanted to see Mrs. Maury. I went down. The head one said “We have been informed that arms are concealed here and want to get them.” I said “There are several swords here. Come and take them. They have been put in the parlour to prevent the house from being searched.” I gave them to him five old swords __ and then asked him if he intended to go upstairs. He said “No__ your word is sufficient that these are all.”
One of our servants told that they were here. They are getting very insolent and unbearable. We did not attach much value to the swords but it was a very humiliating feeling to have to give them up. The soldier was full of apologies all the time but I gave no heed to them.
New Orleans is in possession of the enemy. The forts below the city have surrendered. The troops in fort Jackson mutinied and spiked some of the guard. The Louisiana, our big iron clad steamer, was unmanageable and was blown up by her commander, McIntosh, who had an arm and leg blown off.
Surely the Lord has hidden his face from us. All the cotton and shipping in the city and at Baton Rouge was burnt ___ about 22,000 bales. The people are loyal.
Our forces have fallen back from Yorktown.
The gun boats on the Pamunkey that Papa was having built, and his navy yard there have had to be broken up and abandoned. The enemy have left him no water now to build upon. His occupation is gone. Oh! that Congress had given him the appropriation sooner. The gun boats would have been done by this time and their service would have been invaluable. But it is all for the best I am sure. Maybe he could not have plated his vessels with iron and then he would have been defeated and captured.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 4, 1862

Sunday May 4th [1862]

Gov Seward, Secretary Staunton and two or three Senators were in town yesterday evening with several Generals, McDowell among the number.

The enemy are building a second pontoon bridge above the old Chatham bridge.

Gen’ Van Ranseller was at church to day. He sat in the Mayor’s pew and the Mayor sat in the gallery.

Mr. Randolph has omitted the prayer for our President and for the success of our cause ever since the enemy have been here. Papa and Will say that such time serving is unworthy of the place and the people. I think there is something to be said on both sides.

Received letters yesterday. Johnny had gotten back safe. Papa says “Dave saw the Yankee pickets, and the Yankee pickets saw Dave. Dave ran from the Yankee pickets, and the Yankee pickets ran from Dave.” We hear this evening that our forces are evacuating Yorktown.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - May 1, 1862

Thursday May 1st [1862]

New Orleans has fallen. Commadore Farragut wrote a letter to the Mayor demanding the surrender of the city and that the Confederate and State flags should be hauled down. The Mayor replied that our forces had left the city. There were no armed men there it was useless to surrender and there was not a man within his limits so base as to pull down the flags to which they had vowed allegiance.

The enemy has advanced with mighty strides in the last few months but hope is strong with in us yet.

Thursday night [May 1, 1862]

Such a treat and such a trial too have we had this evening. Just before dusk, as we were all seated around the fire in Mama’s room we heard a light tap at the door, and in walked Johnny, my dear brother Johnny. Cousin Dabney has applied for him as his aid de camp. He expects to start for the west in a day or two and came to tell us good bye. He looked so handsome. It was a precious visit, but at such a risk. The enemy have had guards out for the last few days in search of our stragglers.

He came in with five others, but they stopped on the outskirts of town.

One can realize what the enemy is, and how near he is when our own dear ones are in danger of their lives when they come to their homes and have to hide around corners and steal away after dark like guilty wretches.

Mrs. Hart was here. Johnny left his horse round the corner. She hurried away to have it fed at her stable.

The Secretary of War tells Will that he is appointing no officers of Artillery below the rank of Major. W had applied for a first Lieutenantcy and says he is too ignorant of military duties to apply for an office of any greater responsibility.

He is now at a loss. does not know what to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 30, 1862

Wednesday 30th April [1862]

Went down yesterday evening to see the bridge of canal boats that the Yankees are building at the lower wharf. The boats are laid close together side by side. The length of the boat being the width of the bridge. Eight boats are in place and it already reaches more than half way across the river. The soldiers on the bridge and the surrounding boats were shouting and talking to the colored men and women on the wharf.

The Generals made a requisition upon town yesterday for tools to build the car bridge. The mayor replied that as our authorities had seen fit to destroy the bridges we would not assist in building one.

There are several Artillery companies stationed on the hills above the bridge to protect it.

It is reported that New Orleans has fallen. Papa writes us that if it has not it soon will. It is only a question of time that New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah, Norfolk, Memphis, and all our towns situated on navigable waters, must fall. They cannot stand against the enemies iron clad boats.

Cousin Martha Maury is Treasurer of the Ladies Gun Boat Association of Richmond. She has upwards of ten thousand dollars. Molly raised twenty dollars at her school. The girls at Mr. Powells school made upwards of five hundred sand bags for the Government last Saturday and Easter Monday.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 27, 1862

Sunday 27th [April 1862]

Our pickets have succeeded in getting of a large quantity of their stores from here.

Received a budget of letters from the dear ones in Richmond to day.

We hear that the Yankees have set a strong guard at the Depot to night. “They have locked the stable door after the horse has gone.” Our pickets got off a loaded freight train last night.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 25, 1862

Friday 25th April [1862]

Five steam boats and twenty canal boats came up here this evening. We suppose the canal boats are to make a bridge of.

The negroes are going off in great numbers, and are beginning to be very independent and impudent. We hear that our three are going soon. I am afraid of the lawless Yankee soldiers, but that is nothing to my fear of the negroes if they should rise against us.

Mamsey came back yesterday. She left Farley Vale with Mr. Corbin on Friday and went to Richmond. Papa and Mr. C. induced her to come back here and stay with Mama. Mr. Corbin has been ordered to Norfolk. His arm is still in a sling.

Ten of Mr. Corbin’s servants ran off last Friday. The farm, servants, stock and all are now in the hands of the enemy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 23, 1862

Wednesday 23rd April [1862]

Count Mercier, the French Minister, has been in Richmond for the last week. He expresses great surprise at the spirit and unanimity of our people. Says the Yankees have no idea of it. They think the rebellion is nearly crushed.

He is about to return to Washington and will tell his Government and Mr. Seward that a reconstruction of the Union is impossible. We suppose he came to find out exactly how matters stand.

Prince Napoleon has invited Papa, through Count Mercier, to come to France to live. I wish he would go for a time. I feel so miserable when I think of him falling into the hands of the Yankees.

The enemy have not yet crossed the river. A good many soldiers are in town every day, unarmed.

Our pickets have contrived to get off several waggon loads of their tents and baggage from here in the last few nights. They hide in the different houses until dark.

Got a letter from our dear Dick. He had been in a skirmish with the enemy and was complimented [and was complimented (crossed out)]by Gen’ Early for the way in which he conducted it. He thinks there will be no general engagement at Yorktown, and Papa is of the same opinion, unless we bring it on at once which is doubtful. What a ruinous policy we are pursuing. While the enemy is making a feast there, he will advance upon Richmond from some other point.

If we succeed in this struggle it will be in spite of our Generals. The man for the times has not yet been developed.

The enemy could not have a stranger position than they have on these Stafford hills with the river and town in front of them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 20, 1862

Sunday 20th [April 1862]

I was called out of church to day to see one of our scouts who was on the hill at Mr. Harts and would carry letters to Richmond for us. It was a pleasure to see him and give him the letters myself. He promised to deliver them in person.

We can see the Yankees and their tents across the river. They received a reinforcement of ten thousand last night.

One can scarcely realize that the enemy are so near and that we are in their hands. Every thing is quiet. The stores have been closed for the last three days and the streets are deserted except by negroes. They go by in parties of ten or twenty, with their baskets and bags, on their way to the different Commissary depots to get the provisions that are being distributed. I have seen some coming back laden with bacon and kicking a barrel of flour along.

I heard the Yankees this evening with their full brass band playing ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘the star spangled banner’. I could not realize that they were enemies and invaders. The old tunes brought back recollections of the old love for them. It was a sad and painful feeling.

Nanny and Mr. Corbin are in Richmond.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 19, 1862

Saturday, 19th [April 1862]

The truth must be told. Fredericksburg has surrendered to a force that is afraid to come and take it! The town raised three white flags, to show that they were trebly submissive I suppose.

I believe the town Council did send quite a spirited letter over with their flag of truce Saying that our army had retired [and - crossed out] they were forced to surrender and wanted to submit quietly, but that candour required them to state that the people were good and legal citizens of the state of Virginia and of the Confederate States.

Gen’ Augur told our Commissioner that he could make no terms with them and promised but little. Said that Gen’ McDowell was coming to command in person.

Some of our cavalry pickets came into town to day for a few minutes. Those who had letters ready gave them to them to mail at their camps. Thought they were Yankee horsemen when we first saw them.

We are going to write tonight to be ready in case any more should venture in.

The enemy have cannon planted on the hills commanding the town. No train or body of troops can come or go but individuals can leave easily.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Photos - Rocky Lane, Rappahannock River

Rocky Lane leading from Caroline Street to what is now known as City Dock
Fredericksburg, Virginia
This is probably the route Betty Herndon Maury walked to the Rappahannock River on April 18, 1862. See Diary entry for that date.

View of the Rappahannock River from City Dock, the end of Rocky Lane, Fredericksburg, Virginia, as it appeared in 2007.

1885 view from Fredericksburg to a spot called The Ferry across the Rappahannock River
Harper's New Monthly Magazine, March 1885, page 607

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 18, 1862

Good Friday, April 18th [1862]

Last night we heard that the enemy were four miles from Falmouth. did not know their strength. Our forces went across the river to meet them. I believe they had a short skirmish in the night.

While we were dressing we saw great columns rising from the river and soon learned that the army were in strong force, that our troops had retreated to this side of the river and fired the bridges.

I went down to the river and shall never forget the scene there. Above were our three bridges, all in a light blaze from one end to the other and every few minutes the beams and timbers would splash into the water with a great noise. Below were two large steam boats, the Virginia and the St. Nicholas, all wrapt in flames. There were two or three rafts dodging in between the burning vessels containing families coming over to this side with their negroes and horses.

Our troops went off quietly telling us good bye as they passed along.

The streets have been filled with waggons and drays and men and women in carriages and buggys leaving the town. But all have gone now and the streets are deserted.

The stars and stripes are floating in Falmouth. Some say the enemy is eight and some ten thousand strong. Our town council has met and sent over a flag of truce asking them to come quietly and not to shell the town, that we have no forces here. They can take possession when ever they choose. We expect them every hour. They can wade across the river just above Falmouth, or cross in rafts below.

The Commissary stores left here are to be given to the people at one o’clock.

Mr. Corbin was thrown from his horse two days ago and dislocated his arm. He is at Moss Neck and cannot be moved. Nanny went down to him yesterday. I am afraid he will be caught.

Received a letter from Dick a few days ago. He is in the trenches not two hundred yards from the enemy.

We heard that the fighting had commenced at Yorktown. I doubt it. The enemy does not intend to attack us. If there is a battle we must bring it on.

No cars came up this morning of course. It will be dreadful to be cut off from all tidings of those that are nearest and dearest to us.

Note: April 18, 1862 is the day John Washington walked away from Fredericksburg to freedom. Read his account of this and subsequent days in A Slave No More.

Jane Howison Beale also describes the events of April 1862 in Fredericksburg in her Journal. This book is currently sold out but may be available again at some point through the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The House on Caroline Street Web Page

This is to announce that The House on Caroline Street has created a web page for the publication of related items concerning Virginia in the Civil War. The first article to be published there is an article originally published in Appleton's magazine on July 6, 1872: War Days in Richmond by Constance Cary Harrison, also known as Mrs. Burton Harrison. To view this article, click on the title above or here.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 17, 1862

Thursday, 17th April [1862]

My dear husband went to Richmond to day. It goes very hard with me to part with him. We may be separated for years and maybe for ever. God only knows.

He has applied for a Lieutenantcy in the artillery service.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 13, 1862

[Sunday] April 13th, 1862

All of our forces have left except one Brigade commanded by Gen’ Field. They are here as out posts and scouts and expect to retire when ever the enemy come to take possession.

We have piles of tarred lumber all along the bridges ready to burn them when ever occasion requires it. There were two forts on this river but both have been dismantled.

Papa came up yesterday in an extra. It is his last visit I reckon..

It was Grant's army that Gen’ Beauregard whipped on the 6th. On the 7th Grant was reinforced by Gen’ Buell and after a short fight Beauregard retired to Corinth. They retook the stores that had been taken the day before. Beauregard has telegraphed to the Department for reinforcements. Gen’ Van Dorn joined him. Papa has had a telegram from cousin Dabney at Corinth on the 8.

We are expecting hourly to hear of a great battle at Yorktown. The enemy is one hundred and twenty thousand strong. Do not know how many troops we have. Nearly all of our Manassas army and the army from here are there. Dick and Sam are both there.

Dick has not been court martialed and has been released from arrest and resumed his command by order of Gen’ Joe Johnson. Gen’ J. commands our troops at Yorktown.

Nanny and Mr. Corbin are still at Farley Vale. Do not know what he is thinking about not to bring his servants away. It will be a severe loss to Papa as well as to him if he loses all there. Papa went security for him when he bought the farm and has been urging him to move the servants for the last two weeks.

I cannot help feeling hurt at Will’s determination to leave me here to the Yankees when I am willing to follow him every where. I think he will regret it.

Most of our army stores have been removed from here. Mr. Scott has a great many thousand dollars worth of cotton. They have been carrying that away to day.

Papa has ordered the boat yards on the Rappahannock to be abandoned. There is one here and one a few miles below. They are to destroy all they cannot take away.

Fort Pulaski near Savannah has fallen.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - April 8, 1862

Tuesday, 8th [April 1862]

We have had a grand a[nd] glorious victory in Tennessee but our commander in chief Gen’ A. S. Johns[t]on was killed, Gen’ Beauregard’s official dispatch says.

Battle of Shiloh Sunday 6th [April 1862]

We this morning attacked the enemy in front of Pittsburg, and after a severe battle of ten hours, thanks be to the Almighty, gained a complete victory, driving the enemy from every position.

This has been a most exciting day. From breakfast time until dark there has been one continuous stream of soldiers, four abreast, on the march to Yorktown.

Poor fellows. I felt so sorry for them. It has been raining hard all day, and they were wet to the skin but they all looked bright and cheerful, kept looking to us and calling out “good-bye ladies, far well, ladies”. Mama gave them all the bread she had in the house. This evening we had a pot of coffee made and gave some of them a can of hot coffee as they passed along. They seemed to enjoy it so much. We gave a few some dinner. More than ten thousand left to day. God bless them and make them successful.

We hear that McClellan and most of his Potomac army are in the Peninsula and that the grand battle is to be there.

We have but a small force in this vicinity, two brigades not full, and they have gone over to the other side of the river.

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.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - March 30, 1862

[Sunday] March 30th [1862]

Our Dick wrote a noble letter to Gen’ Early telling him that he would accept his offer in consideration of the perilous condition of the times and the mortification it would occasion him to be deprived of his command during a battle. But that under any other circumstances he should insist on the court martial, and also that the justice of Gen’ Early’s conduct to him should be inquired into.

Gen’ Early refused now to let it drop and says that Dick shall be court martialed.

Dick will prefer charges against him.

Fanny Minor is here. She has been teaching in Essex and is on her way home.

Have a Mr. Pendleton staying with us a sick soldier.

Dick is near Orange C.H,. and only thirty miles from here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - March 24, 1862

Monday, March [24, 1862]

Papa came up yesterday. He looks very much depressed. He wants Mama and all of us women kind to make up our minds to stay here when the place is occupied by the Yankees, as everyone says it must be ere long. I am not willing to stay. Will expects to go into the army [before long - crossed out]. I want to be on the Southern side so that if anything happens to him or to Papa or any of our brothers I can go and nurse them and take care of them.

President Davis and Gen’ Johnson were here yesterday in consultation with Gen’ Holmes. They rode over the Stafford Hills. Wonder what they decided to do.

Gen’ Holmes said five thousand troops are being sent from here to North Carolina. Gen’ Smith is to supersede Gen’ H.

Mr. Corbin returned yesterday from his trip through the south to get ship carpenters for Papa. He has been made Lieutenant in the Navy.

We have heard nothing from Dick for three weeks. Do not know where he is, or whether he is still under arrest. Gen’ Early has got sober enough to see how frivolous the charges are which he brought against Dick and offered to let them drop. The first impulse of each of us was to refuse, but Papa says these are no times for a officer to be under arrest if he can help it, and has written to Dick to accept the offer.

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.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - March 2, 1862

March 2nd 1862

Mama has gone to Richmond to enter Molly at Mr. Powell's school. She will stop.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - February 23, 1862

Sunday 23d [February 1862]

Yesterday Jeff Davis was inaugurated for six years.

We hear many reports from Fort Donaldson, hear that our Generals and most of our troops have cut their way through the enemies lines, and that their loss is many times heavier than ours. Do not know that it is true.

Today we hear that Gen' Sidney Johnson has evacuated Nashville and that Columbus is untenable.

The English Government express themselves satisfied with Seward's apology and the return of Mason and Slidell. There is no hope of foreign recognition now.

Mama said the other day "I cannot help regretting the old union sometimes. We never felt any of the evils of it and the advantages of being an independent nation will not be felt in our life time." I know what the answer is – that it is plain we would have felt the evils in a short time very severely – that we are fighting for the good of posterity, that we may prevent a servile war & &. But I cannot help being unpatriotic enough to feel a little selfish sometime and regret our peace and comfort in the old union.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - February 19, 1862

Wednesday 19th [February 1862]

The news from Fort Donaldson is confirmed. We repulsed the enemy for three days but on Sunday the fort was taken. We can learn no particulars yet. It is reported that the enemy captured 15,000 of our troops with Generals Johnson, Pillow and Buckner.

Gen' McClellan is waiting to advance from the Potomac until May when the time of service of our soldiers will have expired and we shall have only raw boys in the field. But our men are all reenlisting. They are not going home at such a time as this. Those that know most about it say that three fourths at least will reenlist.

Will has received an answer from Papa. He says "stay where you are for the present. My family has furnished a large share to the military service, myself, two sons and a son-in-law. You alone are left with an important public trust in your hands, and the care of my large and dependant family." He tells him to join with those that stay at home to form companies and drill so that he may be ready for anything. Will does not entirely agree with him. Says he ought to go for the sake of the example to others. He has written to Papa again. Whatever he does, I shall be satisfied, for I know he will do what is right.

It is strange to see such peace loving and quiet people as Will and Johnny studying every night Gilham's tactical and a work on ordnance.

Johnny joined Commodore Lynch in order to learn something about naval warfare before he gets an appointment as master in the Navy.

He was with Com' Lynch on board the 'Sea Bird' and in the fort at Elizabeth City. When he gave the order to retreat each man held back waiting for the others to start. They all walked away very quietly and respectably. There were not more than twenty in the party.

When they left the Sea Bird and went to the Fort Com' Lynch sent J. to get him a horse and to see if the enemy were landing in their rear as reported. After a long march J. encountered a man galloping in to the town. He pulled out his pistol and seizing the rider's bridle told him that he wanted that horse for the Commodore. The man dismounted without a word of remonstrance, and J. galloped off without even asking his name.

Com' Lynch fought until his ammunition gave out. He had five vessels, the enemy fifteen. The officers and crew of the Sea Bird were captured. John lost all his clothes, everything except the suit he wore.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - February 18, 1862

Tuesday 18th [February 1862]

It was a false report about Fort Donaldson. We hear today by telegraph that the enemy have possession of the fort with all our men, arms and equipment.

Our Johnny came yesterday.