Thursday, January 31, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 24, 1861

Wednesday 24th [July 1861]

In the Presidents official report to the War Department he says that not over fifteen thousand of our troops were engaged in the battle at Manassas and about thirty thousand of the enemy. They have from eight to ten thousand killed and taken prisoners. Our loss is about fifteen hundred.

We took thirty seven pieces of cannon and arms enough to arm the state of Maryland.

Edward Fontaine was killed in the battle on Sunday. Three of the Blackford boys were engaged. All are safe.

Mr. Hill called to take letters over the border. He has gone to Maryland on secret service.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 23, 1861

Tuesday 23d [July 1861]

We only pursued the enemy as far as Centerville on Sunday.

Gen' Beauregard commanded the right wing, Gen' Johnson the left and Jeff Davis the center.

President Davis sent the following telegram to his wife.

"We have won a glorious but dear bought victory. The night closed with the enemy in full flight pursued by our troops".

In two of our Virginia regiments every officer above the rank of Lieut' was killed. We fought in the open field and not behind intrenchments.

Oh what suffering there must be among those poor wounded soldiers. Wish I was fit to go and help nurse them. I am trying to raise a little money to buy a few comforts for them.

Am disappointed that our troops only pursued the enemy to Centerville. I had hoped they were now in Alexandria.

Will went over last night to tell Mrs. Temple that Gen' Holmes's command was not engaged that her mind might be relieved about her sons.

Nannie Belle cut her thumb slightly with the scissors yesterday. The sight of the blood made her very sick and she came near fainting. She is exactly like her father.

Received a letter from Dick. He is at Burrels bay on James river.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 22, 1861

Monday 22nd [July 1861]

All the cars were sent for last night to come at once to Richmond. We suppose they are to be put on the Central road to carry more troops to Manassas.

Papa, cousin Dabney and cousin Charles hurried off last night. in all probability there will not be another train for some days.

There was an officer here last night who was in the fight at Bull run. He says that the South Carolinians after firing threw down their muskets and charged with their bowie knives seizing the Yankees by the collar and cutting them down.

Papa saw a gentleman yesterday just from Washington. He said that many members of Congress and others went in carriages to see the fight last Thursday.

A company of five hundred cavalry are to pass through here to day on their way to Manassas. The Hampton Brigade of S. C.

12 pm

More news! More good news! Will has just come to tell me. The battle yesterday was more extensive than we thought. It extended along our whole line. The enemy are routed and we are in hot pursuit. Thank God, thank God. I hope it is all true. What would not I give to hear that they are now on Arlington Hights.

There was great loss on both sides, so the telegram runs. Is a victory worth the loss of so many of our good and brave men?

Shermans battery, their brag battery was taken at the point of the bayonet by our Lynchburg volunteers.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 21, 1861

Sunday 21st [July 1861]

Our victory has is even more decided than we at first thought it to be. We have only sixty one killed and badly wounded. The enemy lost over one thousand. They sent a flag of truce to ask permission to bury their dead.

Twelve thousand of Gen' Johnson's command from Winchester under Gen' Jackson have effected a junction with Beauregard and are on their way to Alexandria. God speed them.

Papa came up last night. He and Will and Nannie Belle have gone down to Farley Vale in a carriage to see Mama. No one here but cousin John and myself.

Distant firing has been heard all day.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 20, 1861

Saturday July 20th [1861]

Hurrah! We have beat the Yankees. On the 18th our out posts retreated as the enemy advanced until they came to Bull run, about four miles from Manassas, where they made a stand.

The Federal troops numbered about ten thousand under Gen' McDowell and the Confederates were but seven thousand.

The enemy were repulsed three times with consideral loss, about five or six hunder. Our loss was not more than sixty.

Gen' Beauregard commanded in person.

Cousin Nanny and the children arrived here last night. Cousin Dabney will be up to night with Papa.

They left Santa Fe the 26th of May and did not stop one day on the way. They were forty days in crossing the plains in uncovered wagon and camped out every night. They look like Indians they are so burned. Cousin Nanny tells us they had no wood on the plains, but used "buffaloa chips".

The Confederate Congress met to day.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 19, 1861

Friday 19th [July 1861]

The Arkansas and Tennessee regiments went up to Manassas yesterday morning, leaving no troops at the Creek except a few Fredericksburg companies.

There is no train from Richmond this morning. All the cars have been put upon the Central road to carry troops to Manassas.

General Lee has gone to Western Virginia.

Papa writes urging us to go up to cousin Frank Minors. But Mama is sick at Farley Vale, and cannot come here even.

Capt Hollins has charge of the defenses on James river. Dick is with him.

Papa says as things are now we must have something decisive very soon. God help us and give victory to the right.

Mr. Corbin is first mate at Smiths Battery on Potomac creek.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 18, 1861

Thursday 18th [July 1861]

Col. Pegram with two hundred and fifty men made a stand for several hours at Rich mountain against five thousand of the enemy.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 17, 1861

Wednesday 17th [July 1861]

There is news of a most disastrous defeat in Western Virginia. General Garnett was attacked by Gen’ McClelland with a force that out-numbered ours four to one. General Garnett was killed.

The students at the University have gone into camp. Johnny is first lieutenant of a company and drills them seven hours a day.

We were talking with Papa about his expedition the other day. He said if those vessels had been blown up he would have been sorely tempted to pick up some of the poor men. Nanny asked him if he would have picked up 'Pender" (Capt Pendergrast) he replied "I should like to have seen him and asked him if he thought I was fit for active service now?" Capt P was one of that wicked Naval Board that turned Papa out of the Navy. He has never gotten over the mortification of that blow, feels it as keenly now as he did at first.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 16, 1861

Tuesday 16th [July 1861]

The Governor has ordered out the militia in all the counties north of the James river. There is a good deal of discontent felt about it. It is thought as Virginia has furnished so large a proportion of the Southern army that the militia in the cotton States should be called out first.

We heard last night that a portion of Wise’s Legion in western Virginia had been defeated by an overpowering force and upwards of a hundred of our men killed and taken prisoners, Col. Pegram among the number.

The seceded counties in Western Virginia sent several members to the Congress at Washington. They elected a Governor some time ago -- Gov’ Pierpont -- There are between twenty and thirty disaffected counties I believe.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 15, 1861

Monday 15th [July 1861]

Papa left this morning. Mama had gone to Farley Vale with the children.

I have undertaken the housekeeping. We have no cook since the old woman we had in Fanny’s place left us. Rebecca has been doing her best in that capacity, and we do the chamber work.

Mama is very much under the weather. The big and little troubles together with her weak health are more than she can stand.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 14, 1861

Sunday 14th [July 1861]

Papa seems to think there is danger of our furniture, books &c. in Washington being confiscated by the Government. I have written to Mother to claim as her own what ever she can accommodate at her house. It will be hard for us to begin the world again without any thing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 13, 1861

Saturday 13th [July 1861]

I know Pa is plotting some other dangerous schemes in which he intends to take a part. Oh! I wish he would see the thing as we do, as cousin Frank does that it is for him to do the head work, but beneath his dignity to carry such plans into execution.

Neither Jeff Davis or one of the Government officers offered the first word of remonstrance to Papa about periling his life in such an expedition as this last. They have old grudges against him I think and would be glad to put him out of their way. It is weak and wicked in them.

Thank goodness the certificate of aunt Eliza’s pension has been found. She sent it down here last Tuesday for Will to copy. He would not do it, but pitched it into my lap. Since then it has never been seen until this morning when it was found in the grate in Mama’s room. It is worth $300 per annum.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 12, 1861

Friday 12th [July 1861]

William Blackford passed through here a few days ago with his cavalry company, from south western Virginia. He dined with us and gave us a very amusing account of their attempts at cooking. Said they bought half a bushel of rice one day, did not know that cooked rice is three or four times the bulk of raw rice. So they nearly filled a pot with it and added a little water to boil. It soon commenced to swell, and they filled first one vessel and then another until every vessel they had in camp was full even their tin cups.

Received long letters from Mother and Charley this evening.

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 11, 1861

Tuesday July 11th [1861]

Lucy Gordon, Uncle Charles’ wife, had twins yesterday – boys.

Col. Thomas the one who assisted in taking the St. Nicholas, has been captured in Washington. The Convention had changed his name to “Jordon” he said there were so many worthless Thomases.

Papa looks preoccupied and low spirited. Says it is more and more palpable every day that the men at the head of this Government are not the men for the times.

The prizes have been handed over to the District Attorney. Will is not Prize Commissioner.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 10, 1861

Wednesday July 10th [1861]

Papa came yesterday evening. His secret mission failed but I am so thankful that he had gotten back safe that I care very little about the failure. He went down to Sewell’s Point to blow up some of the ships that are at the mouth of the James river. Five noble vessels he says are there. he aimed for the two flag ships the Minnesota and the Roanoke – Commanders Stringham and Pendergrast. Friday night and Saturday night he sent an officer in a boat to reconnoiter but there was a little steamer plying round and round the vessels keeping watch. Sunday as he was spying them through a glass and noting their relative positions he saw the church flag up on two of them. It is a white flag with a cross on it. The stars and stripes are lowered a little and that put above it. When he thought that those men were worshiping God in sincerity and in truth, and no doubt think their cause as righteous as we feel ours to be, his heart softened towards them for he remembered how soon he would be the means of sending them to eternity. That night the party, consisting of five skiffs, set off about ten oclock. Papa was in the first boat with the Pilot and four oarsmen. Each of the other boats manned by an officer and four men, carried a magazine with thirty fathoms of rope attached to it..

The magazines were thick and casks filled with powder in each of which was a fuse. Two of their barrels, joined by the rope were stretched across the ebb tide and when directly ahead of the ship let go. The rope then catching across the cable the magazines would drift down under the ship. When the strain upon the rope would pull a trigger that would ignite the fuse.

Pa says “The night was still, clear, calm and lovely. Thatcher’s comet was flaming in the sky. We steered by it, pulling along in the plane of its splendid train. All the noise and turmoil of the enemy’s camp and fleet were hushed. They had no guard boats of any sort out and as with muffled oars we began to punt them, we heard ‘seven bells’ strike.” After putting the magazines under one ship the boats that carried them were ordered back, and Papa went with the other two to plant the magazines under the other vessel.

They then rowed to some distance and waited for the explosion, but it never came, thank God, for if it had Pa would have been hung long before now.

At the first explosion the calcium light at Fortress Monroe would have been lit and the little steamer – whose steam was up, they could hear her – would have caught them in a few minutes. It took them an hour to get back.

If Papa’s going again would ensure the destruction of every ship in the Yankee Navy I would not have him go. If he had been lost then it would have been an everlasting stain upon the Southern Government that they allowed so celebrated, valuable, and clever a man as my father to risk his life in such an expedition. Europe would cry shame upon them. Are not his brains worth more than two ships? He might have gone to the boats to see that all was right, but not in them to plant the magazines.

The Yankees would never have let him go. They appreciate his services better than that.

Pa thinks he can account for the failure and could rectify it very easily.

Says he was very much struck with the culpable negligence of the enemy. That he could have gone up and put his hand on those vessels with impunity.

In their state of intense excitement the silence and stillness was oppressive. Scarcely a word was spoken while they were out and only in the lowest whisper.

Cousin Jack Maury was one of the party and was the best man Pa had, the most reliable and the most unselfish.

There was a little mechanic who went down with them from Richmond with the express stipulation that he should not go in the boats with the expedition. But at the last he got so excited and interested that he begged and implored to be allowed to go.

It would have been a grand success if they could have blown up those vessels.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 11, 1861

Tuesday July 11th [1861]

Lucy Gordon, Uncle Charles’ wife, had twins yesterday – boys.

Col. Thomas the one who assisted in taking the St. Nicholas, has been captured in Washington. The Convention had changed his name to “Jordon” he said there were so many worthless Thomases.

Papa looks preoccupied and low spirited. Says it is more and more palpable every day that the men at the head of this Government are not the men for the times.

The prizes have been handed over to the District Attorney. Will is not Prize Commissioner.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Diary - July 9, 1861

Tuesday 9th [July 1861]

Read the U.S. Presidents message yesterday. He asks Congress for four hundred thousand (400,000) men and four hundred million (400,000,000) dollars to carry on the war. Wonder if he will get it?

Mr. Hill brought his company down last night to sing their Maryland camp song for us. They leave to day for Richmond, where they will be mustered into service.

Went to return a visit at Mr. Rog. Mason’s last night. Saw Sister Nanny and Capt Fields there, and Lieut. Collins. They are army officers – one a Kentuckian, the other a native of Pennsylvania. Both have resigned and are now in the service of the Confederate government. Those Mason girls are fortunate. five of them married army officers and every one of them have resigned and offered their services to the South.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 8, 1861

Monday 8th [July 1861]

Capt Lynch was here last night. Told us how the scheme for blowing up the Pawnee failed. The inventor – who was at the creek – thought there must be a leak in one of the pipes connected with the machine. Said there were too many people that had a hand in it (upwards of a hundred!)

Many persons thought it was Papa’s scheme but he had nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 7, 1861

Sunday 7th [July 1861]

Will and cousin John Minor dined with the Flying Artillery to day.

We hear that there was an attempt to blow up the Pawnee last night – but it failed and was discovered – which is worse.

I do not heed half that I hear now. There are so many ‘lies’ told that have no foundation atall. Lying and exageration are the great sins of the age I think.

Almost every day we hear in an exciting story about a fresh battle – when there has been none and no approach to one. A few evenings ago, when the cars arrived, the crowd pressed forward with the usual question “What is the news?

“No news – not even a lie” was the reply.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Diary of Betty Herndon Maury - July 6, 1861

Saturday July 6th [1861]

Did not write yesterday because we thought Dick was going away and I was busy helping to fix him off. Do not know when he will leave. it depends upon Capt Hollins.

Molly went boating with Mr. Hill yesterday evening. The evening before the Flying Artillery – Mr. H's company – gave the girls a picnic and last night they had a dance at Mrs. Wolfe's. I am very glad for M to have an opportunity to go out some. It is right funny to see Eliza. She thinks it so hard that Molly should be invited to go any where that she is not. She cannot realize that M is a young lady, and she still a child. Says "but sister Betty I am only two years younger than Tots and I think they might invite me." Even Lucy had an injured and slighted look all day yesterday.