Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

April 19th, 1865.—It is bedtime and I am writing in my own room; usually I write in the library, where Father sits, but tonight I want to be alone. Oft I have repeated, perhaps repeated boastfully, those brave lines:

“I am the master of my fate;

The captain of my soul.”

And now, I find I am but a broken reed, shaken by the wind. Let me write the day’s happenings while I can.

This morning we sat on the front porch watching the road. Father sat in his big rocker and Mother sat close beside him; Brother Amos and Sister Mag were sitting back in the vines, playing with little Rebecca, who was in her mother’s lap. Mattie was stretched out, full length on one of the porch seats, her beautiful golden curls falling to the floor. I sat on the steps and Eddie was spinning acorns beside me. Sister Mart is at Goodwood. For several days now the front porch has been the favorite place for the family to sit.

Mattie is wild to see her father and she rehearses their meeting, making it different every day.

I was watching Eddie and did not know there was anything to see, when Father said, “There they come.” Entering the front gate, too far for my near-sighted eyes to distinguish one from another, were three Confederate soldiers. Poor fellows; they were pitiful. Thin and so browned by exposure, until they were hardly recognizable. Footsore and weary, on they came, Captain Bernard, stepping quicker than his companions.

We rushed to greet them but Brother Junius, who was next called out, “Do not come near me—send Bill to my room” and then he went rapidly away in the direction of the room which was always known as his.

Mattie burst into tears—”Papa, you are crazy,” she wailed. Cousin Johnnie came last:; his face the saddest you ever saw. Falling on the steps, he put his face in his hands and cried like a child. Cousin Johnnie, who of all men we knew was the most reticent and reserved.

Dear Mother always knows just what is best to do and say and with her sweet words of welcome, her inquiries after the health of each one, the hot coffee and cakes which she has had ready day after day; all this helped to restore the composure of all.

Jordan took Captain Bernard home and Father had his buggy brought to the door and carried cousin Johnnie home himself. Father loves uncle Richard so dearly and I believe his sons are almost as dear to Father as if they were his own.

In the meantime none of us had seen Brother Junius. Bill had made sundry trips back and forth from the room in the yard and the kitchen; several kettles of hot water had been transported and then Bill got a pitch-fork and came out, bearing the clothes Brother Junius had worn, and proceeded to burn them.

An inkling of the truth must have come to Mother for she said, “Come in the house children, Mr. Taylor will be in after awhile.”

Then Bill sent Aunt .Morea to borrow the sharpest scissors. We did not see him until long after Father had returned and when he did get in the house he looked very different from the weary man whom we had caught a fleeting glimpse of. With his golden hair cut as short as Bill could do the work, his face clean shaven, dressed in a suit of civilian clothes, with immaculate linen and a white silk necktie, he was ready to be hugged and kissed and made much of by everyone, from Mother down to little Rebecca; though Mattie of course, came first. She was simply wild with joy.

Mother said he should not tell one word of happenings in Virginia until he had eaten a good, hot supper. She was right, as she always is. After supper we gathered ’round him in the library and he began by telling us of the trying times the army had been exposed to for weeks before the surrender; but not a soldier made complaint and not one listened with any show of patience, to the thought of laying down their arms.

On through the days, his story went until that fateful 9th saw the ragged remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia drawn up in line on either side of the road, to see their beloved Commander pass. He was mounted on “Traveler” and a splendid new uniform added to his fine appearance. His men cheered him all along the line and he acknowledged their greetings. Never had soldiers so loved a chieftain as these men in gray loved Lee.

The army waited; sometime passed and then they saw through unbelieving eyes, their general, riding slowly toward them. His head, usually held so proudly, was low on his breast and not once did he raise his eyes. He made no pause; no need for words to tell them what had happened. When the realization came to them those war-worn veterans wept like David, when the news of Absalom’s death was brought to him.

Gladly would they have followed him into the “jaws of death” but this—it was more than they could bear. After an hour or so officers from General Grant came, with an order to stack arms and prepare to deliver to the United States authorities all army equipment. The entire Army of Northern Virginia were prisoners of war.

Again officers came from General Grant; these men must make oath that they would not bear arms against the government of the United States until such time as they should be exchanged. Still they were not disbanded. Another officer issued paroles and told them that a government transport would sail on the 11th from Norfolk to Savannah. They could go to Norfolk the next day and sail, that is as many as the transport would accommodate. A detachment of Grant’s men went with them. The transport was old and did not look sea-worthy but they were hustled on board, until there was hardly standing room. They had no provisions, no money. To add to the misery of the situation the transport was fairly alive with I. F. W.’s and they, too, were hungry.

“This,” he said, “will explain why I needed Bill and so much soap and water. Bill burned everything I wore, even my shoes and hat. Fortunately my trunk was well filled with clothing. Never in all my life have I felt so desperate, and, when those disgusting creatures took possession of me, I completely lost my self respect.”

With this he laid his head on the library table and <em>sobbed</em>. Such sobs as I had never heard—dry, harsh, choking. The room shook with their violence. Oh! it was awful to see that great, strong, splendid man, so completely unstrung. Before his story was ended Mattie had left the room and when we found her she was doubled up on Mother’s bed, and she had cried herself to sleep.

I sit here and wonder, wonder if all the dear “men in gray” feel as crushed and disconsolate as these? Is the home-coming painful to them all? Will they ever be able to forget? Will the time ever come when they can remember the glory, the honor, the magnificent courage they have shown, and take comfort in that? God help them and help us all.

Tomorrow we will take up our every-day life again, and in the little ordinary things of daily life the tension may be loosed. I will do as Father says and try to be like Mother.


April 19th, 1865.—This morning at breakfast Father said, “Ten days since Lee’s surrender and none of our boys home yet.”

We look for them continually but they do not come. A miserable uncertainty hangs over us and we do not know what to expect. Ever since I can remember Father has been trying to teach me “self-control,” as he expresses it. He is teaching me to “fight my nerves.” Mother has no nerves—so everybody says, and in these trying days she is the mainstay of the household; we all look to her for help and Father says I must be just like Mother. I wish I was, she is such a comfort to us all and I will yet conquer nervousness, which Aunt Robinson says I inherit from the Bradford side of the house.


April 19.—The enemy did not come last night; but I expect they will honor us to-day. We are ready to receive them. Dr. Bemiss has gone to Atlanta. I could scarcely bid him good-by; it seems so sad to think of a man like him running from such wretches.

Mrs. F. has tried her best to frighten me; but the more terrible her stories, the stronger my nerves become. This I can not account for. I opened a prayer-book, and my eye fell on the twenty-seventh psalm: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear,” etc. I read it aloud, and from it we both gained strength. I do not think it was accident made me turn to those appropriate and comforting words — however some may laugh and say so. My faith is strong in the belief that there is an unseen hand directing all our ways.

Dr. Horton called this morning with a young lady, Miss Bailey, who requested Mrs. F. and myself to go and stay with her, as she was in a large house, and no one with her but negroes. If she left it, it would be certain to be destroyed by the enemy. Neither of us could go. I felt very sorry for her, as she can get no one in the place to go with her. All are remaining at home to take care of their property. Her parents are on a visit to South-west Georgia; and so, like many other families, they are separated.

Night.—The enemy marched in about 5 P. M. I have just been on the gallery, watching the burning of the warehouse, and the sad work of destruction is still going on. We hear the sound of axes, and suppose they are tearing up the railroad track. I thank the Giver of all good that I have been enabled to look calmly on the destruction without one feeling of revenge. I gazed up at the heavy columns of smoke ascending to heaven as if pleading in our behalf; I felt that it was incense rising from a sacrifice, and ascended with the prayers of the saints, which I knew had been offered up on every altar from the Potomac to the Rio Grande in behalf of our down-trodden and desolated land—and that God in his own good time would avenge our wrongs.

One of the enemy rode coolly through the place with his rifle in front of his saddle. I could not but admire his daring, for he was at least a quarter of a mile away from his band, and if any of our men had felt disposed, they might have made way with him, and his comrades never have known what became of him. I wonder if that would be called murder or self-defense? He came hero to kill and rob, and all have a right to defend themselves and property as best they can. This man called at the back door of a house near by, and asked the negro servant for something to eat, which was given him. After awhile an officer galloped past us and rode up to the college, where Dr. de Yampert and Dr. Burks sat, like stoics, ready to receive their distinguished visitor. Dr. de Y. rose on his approach, and conversed with him awhile. He then rode off, looking behind every now and again, as if expecting a stray bullet from some concealed musket.

Mrs. F. and I wondered what he had said to Dr. de Y. We made up our minds he had come to order the sick away, as he meant to fire the building; or, perhaps, with the pleasing information that Dr. de Y. and all the rest of the men were prisoners. We were left to conjecture, for Dr. de Y. did not have the least pity upon us. He certainly knew that we had inherited at least a little of mother Eve’s frailty.

I went over to the hospital to view the fire from the upper gallery. I asked Dr. de Y. if they were going to burn the building; if so, our house would not escape, and we wished to move our clothes. Ho said he did not know what the enemy intended doing, but advised us not to do any thing, it being too late, as our doing so would attract attention.

This evening Dr. B. called, and told us that the Federal officer merely asked how many patients we had, and passed the compliments of the day. I know they were reciprocated.


Burkesville, Va., April 18, 1865.

Dear Hannah, — We are now camped with the brigade about half a mile from the above place. I have got a tent up, and am quite comfortable. My Q. M., who is a — and is only acting as Q. M., furnishes me daily with chickens, ducks, geese, eggs and butter. He wishes to be appointed Q. M., but I don’t think I shall give it to him until he has found all the poultry in the country.

I went to corps headquarters last evening, which are close by us, and saw several of the staff. General Parke, who commands our corps, told me that he saw General Meade the other day, and that General M. expressed a desire to see me. I imagine the mine affair is what he wished to converse about. I shall go up there in a few days and see him, if he would like to gaze upon me.

I am quite busy now, drilling my regiment, and fixing the camp. The regiment is in good condition and discipline. Captain Adams, who is acting as major, tents with me. We have a nice floor to the tent and bedsteads put up made out of poles, so I think on the whole we are as comfortable as could be expected.

Captain Lipp is with the regiment. He cannot perform any duty, as he is very lame indeed. I am trying to get him a staff position, but if I am unsuccessful he will have to resign. . . .

What a fearful thing the assassination of the President was! The feeling is very strong in the army about it. If it turns out to have been done by the sanction of Jeff Davis or any of his crew, but little mercy will be shown to any of them. We have not had any particulars yet.


Raleigh, April 18, 1865.

Sherman has gone out again to see Johnston. Johnston asked for another day in order to see Davis and get his permission to surrender the whole force in arms this side of the Mississippi. I was through the town to-day. Some very fine residences and asylums, but the town is no larger than Canton, and not as pretty except in shrubbery and shade trees.

I visited the Deaf and Dumb and Blind Asylums and the superintendent put a class in each through some exercises. It was very interesting. A Herald of the 10th gives us the particulars of Lee’s surrender. Grant is the hero of the war. The papers all talk about Grant, Sherman and Sheridan, nothing said about Thomas. This whole army thinks that Thomas is slighted by the North. We have as much confidence in him as in Grant or Sherman, and then he never writes any letters or accepts valuable presents, or figures in any way for citizen approbation, or that of his army. The only objection that I ever heard against him is the size of his headquarters or “Thomasville” as it is called by the army. That comes from his West-Pointism.


Tuesday, 18th—General Sherman went out to the front on the cars, and the two generals agreed upon the terms for the surrender of Johnston’s army. Both armies are to go into camp and remain until the terms of surrender have been approved by the War Department at Washington. The Union army is to go into camp in the vicinity of Raleigh, and the rebel army in the vicinity of Chapel Hill. I came in from picket this morning, having been out on the picket line for twenty-four hours.


Tuesday, 18th. Had a very good night’s rest. Up early. Pleasant visit with an Indiana man. Several Southern ladies on board the boat. Great gloom in Washington. Excitement very high. Went to White House and viewed the President’s remains in state. Everybody on the alert to discover the conspirators. Drew pay for January and February. Took the evening train via Harrisburg. Read papers and slept. The whole nation in mourning. All business places draped.


Chattanooga, Tuesday, April 18. Prepared for inspection early. Moved out at 8 A. M. Formed west of the National Cemetery, a mile from camp, four batteries out. After a close inspection by the Inspector and Major, Captain Nicklin mounted his horse, and put us through brigade drill for two hours, sharply much of the time on a trot. Our Battery was on the flank, consequently had to “git” often. I like horse artillery well on drill. ‘Tis fun to ride a good horse through the maneuvers. ”Coly” took a team to-day and I am restored to my old position of No. 6, which I like the best of any. In the afternoon, Inspector visited camp and quarters, so the thing is over for this month.


Tuesday Night.—I try to dwell as little as possible on public events. I only feel that we have no country, no government, no future. I cannot, like some others, look with hope on Johnston’s army. He will do what he can; but ah, what can he do? Our anxiety now is that our President and other public men may get off in safety. O God! have mercy upon them and help them! For ourselves, like the rest of the refugees, we are striving to get from the city. The stereotyped question when we meet is, “When and where are you going?” Our country relatives have been very kind. My brother offers us an asylum in his devastated home at W. While there we must look around for some other place, in which to build up a home for our declining years. Property we have none—all gone. Thank God, we have our faculties; the girls and myself, at least, have health. Mr. —— bears up under our difficulties with the same hopeful spirit which he has ever manifested. “The Lord will provide,” is still his answer to any doubt on our part. The Northern officials offer free tickets to persons returning to their homes — alas! to their homes! How few of us have homes! Some are confiscated; others destroyed. The families of the army and navy officers are here. The husbands and sons are absent, and they remain with nothing to anticipate and nothing to enjoy. To-day I met a friend, the wife of a high official, whose hospitality I have often enjoyed in one of the most elegant residences in Virginia, which has been confiscated and used as a hospital for “contrabands.” Our conversation naturally turned on our prospects. Hearing where we were going, she replied, “I have no brother, but when I hear from my husband and son, I shall accept the whole-souled invitation of a relative in the country, who has invited me to make his house my home; but,” she added, as her beautiful eyes filled with tears, “when are our visits to end? We can’t live with our ruined relatives, and when our visits are over, what then? And how long must our visits of charity last?” The question was too sad; neither of us could command our voices, and we parted in silence and tears.


April 18th, 1865.—There are several companies of negro troops commanded by white officers, stationed at Centreville only two miles away. We fear the effect this will have on the neighboring plantations. We hear that these troops are a part of those who came with General Newton to attack Tallahassee. Generl Newton, himself, is in command at Tallahassee.

Miss Hennie, who is anxious to get back to her home in Memphis, went to see if she could get from him a passport to take her across the lines. Uncle Arvah accompanied her and they were both of them astonished and indignant at his reply:

“You are a very pretty girl Miss Winchester, give me a kiss and I will give you the pass.”

She was angry beyond the telling, and this was her answer, “I’ll die in my tracks before I would kiss you.”

General Newton laughed heartily, as if it was a joke and not an insult. “Heigh-ho little Rebel, you’ll get some of, that knocked out of you before you get to Memphis.”

Between anger and disappointment, she cried all night. I am not going to have a word to say to any of them. I might say too much.