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

March 29 — The Second United States Artillery band from Washington was in our prison camp to-day and played for us. The members of the band are all finely uniformed, make a showy appearance, and play very well. After playing a few pieces some Rebel called for “Dixie,” and the band at once struck up old “Dixie” and played it as well as I ever heard it. As the first sweet strain swelled over the listening throng the prisoners all over camp gave a regular Rebel yell that shook the prison wall and made the welkin ring. As soon as the band got through with “Dixie” they quickly covered it up with ” Hail Columbia.”

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March 29th.—I was awakened with a bunch of violets from Mrs. Pride. Violets always remind me of Kate and of the sweet South wind that blew in the garden of paradise part of my life. Then, it all came back: the dread unspeakable that lies behind every thought now.

Thursday.—I find I have not spoken of the box-car which held the Preston party that day on their way to York from Richmond. In the party were Mr. and Mrs. Lawson Clay, General and Mrs. Preston and their three daughters, Captain Rodgers, and Mr. Portman, whose father is an English earl, and connected financially and happily with Portman Square. In my American ignorance I may not state Mr. Portman’s case plainly. Mr. Portman is, of course, a younger son. Then there was Cellie and her baby and wet-nurse, with no end of servants, male and female. In this ark they slept, ate, and drank, such being the fortune of war. We were there but a short time, but Mr. Portman, during that brief visit of ours, was said to have eaten three luncheons, and the number of his drinks, toddies, so called, were counted, too. Mr. Portman’s contribution to the larder had been three small pigs. They were, however, run over by the train, and made sausage meat of unduly and before their time.

General Lee says to the men who shirk duty, “This is the people’s war; when they tire, I stop.” Wigfall says, “It is all over; the game is up.” He is on his way to Texas, and when the hanging begins he can step over into Mexico.

I am plucking up heart, such troops do I see go by every day. They must turn the tide, and surely they are going for something more than surrender. It is very late, and the wind flaps my curtain, which seems to moan, “Too late.” All this will end by making me a nervous lunatic.

Yesterday while I was driving with Mrs. Pride, Colonel McCaw passed us! He called out, “I do hope you are in comfortable quarters.” “Very comfortable,” I replied. “Oh, Mrs. Chesnut!” said Mrs. Pride, “how can you say that?” “Perfectly comfortable, and hope it may never be worse with me,” said I. “I have a clean little parlor, 16 by 18, with its bare floor well scrubbed, a dinner-table, six chairs, and—well, that is all; but I have a charming lookout from my window high. My world is now thus divided into two parts—where Yankees are and where Yankees are not.”

As I sat disconsolate, looking out, ready for any new tramp of men and arms, the magnificent figure of General Preston hove in sight. He was mounted on a mighty steed, worthy of its rider, followed by his trusty squire, William Walker, who bore before him the General’s portmanteau. When I had time to realize the situation, I perceived at General Preston’s right hand Mr. Christopher Hampton and Mr. Portman, who passed by. Soon Mrs. Pride, in some occult way, divined or heard that they were coming here, and she sent me at once no end of good things for my tea-table. General Preston entered very soon after, and with him Clement Clay, of Alabama, the latter in pursuit of his wife’s trunk. I left it with the Rev. Mr. Martin, and have no doubt it is perfectly safe, but where? We have written to Mr. Martin to inquire. Then Wilmot de Saussure appeared. “I am here,” he said, “to consult with General Chesnut. He and I always think alike.” He added, emphatically: “Slavery is stronger than ever.” “If you think so,” said I, “you will find that for once you and General Chesnut do not think alike. He has held that slavery was a thing of the past, this many a year.”

I said to General Preston: “I pass my days and nights partly at this window. I am sure our army is silently dispersing. Men are moving the wrong way, all the time. They slip by with no songs and no shouts now. They have given the thing up. See for yourself. Look there.” For a while the streets were thronged with soldiers and then they were empty again. But the marching now is without tap of drum.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

March 29, 1865.—After the march of yesterday it took some courage to get started. The Adjutant and Jerry went with us. The Adjutant went to town for a conveyance for us, and we had to say good-bye to our husbands. The Adjutant found a mule team and double wagon, and we all got in with our traps and went to the depot. We waited there for the train, but it did not come on time. After a while we learned that it had run through a bridge and would not be in for several days. The Adjutant then found a place in town where we might stay a few days. We are making ourselves as comfortable as we can. We are staying with a Union family who are Quakers.

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Chattanooga, Tuesday, March 28. Last night when darkness spread her protecting veil over us, Griff, D. Evans and myself started out and appropriated some of Uncle Sam’s lumber for Uncle Sam’s benefit, or at least his boys. Returned with enough to make our bunks. Makes no difference where we got them. Cloudy and rained a little this forenoon. On duty all day with Sergeant Goodwin covering stables. Somewhat tired. Have caught a bad cold, mouth and throat sore. Sergeant James and Van Brocklin taken sick very sudden about 4 P. M. James will not live long if no change takes place.

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March 28th.—Cloudy and sunshine; but little wind. Too ill to go to the department, and I get nothing new except what I read in the papers. Some of the editorials are very equivocal, and have a squint toward reconstruction.

The President, and one of his Aids, Col. Lubbock, ex-Governor of Texas, rode by my house, going toward Camp Lee. If driven from this side the Mississippi, no doubt the President would retire into Texas.

And Lee must gain a victory soon, or his communications will be likely to be interrupted. Richmond and Virginia are probably in extreme peril at this moment.

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Tuesday, 28th—We have had pleasant weather for several days, but today it is cloudy, with some rain. The men drew new clothing today just as fast as the quartermaster could receive the supply from the general quartermaster. Nearly every man in the regiment is drawing a full suit, out and out. Some of the men have to get new knapsacks, canteens and haversacks, while all are getting new shoes. I drew a pair of pants and a blouse, a pair of drawers and a pair of socks. Our regiment out on dress parade has the appearance of a new regiment.

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28th. Rested in the morning. Charley Smith, Sergt., came over from the 60th Ohio. Went down to Hancock Station. Troops passing to the left. Orders to march tomorrow morning at 6. Work ahead. Broke up mess. In with Stearns.

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March 28 — Worse and more of it. A telegraphic dispatch was received here at headquarters last night from General Grant, stating that there are no more prisoners to be exchanged until after the summer campaign, which means after the war is over, for if all accounts be true the star of the Confederacy will set in eternal night before the summer will be half over. Sherman’s march to the sea cut a deadly swath right through the heart of Dixie, which will cause the lifeblood of the Southern Confederacy to ebb quickly away.

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Camp 1st Mass. H. Art., March 28, 1865.

Dear Jed:

I received your letter. I take this opportunity to answer, not knowing that I shall ever have another. We are under orders to move at 6 A.M. tomorrow; rations are being drawn and other little matters attended to, but you know too well how this is all done. The 24th Corps is here with Sheridan’s famous raiders and rumors have it that we are to join Sherman across the Country. I hope so for one; but it may only be a move for the south side of the R. R. The recommendations that you wished me to get for you have been obtained. I feel as though I must give you a little advice. Have you considered and made up your mind to give the rest of your years to your country? Either branches of the service are apt to lose their charm after a few years. It seems to me that you could choose some occupation or profession that you would be more capable of, and feel better satisfied with. I am willing, so far as it lays in my power, to do anything for you, even giving money for your advancement, of which you were robbed, by entering the service at so youthful an age. We can say that we passed three years in our country’s service together. I will close now, to get a little sleep before tomorrow’s movements. I beg of you now give this subject a long thought, for I think that your future depends upon it. You are moulding what is to be the man.

Give my love to all; please remember me to all enquiring friends.

Ever your brother,

L. Bradley, Jr.

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Mrs. Lyon’s Diary.

 

March 28, 1865.—We started this morning at six o’clock. We went over the mountains, and forded the rivers. There is only a track for one horse, and we are traveling with six mules. The people here all ride horseback and have no use for roads. I have been very nervous all day. We went through places where there is no road, and it seemed impossible to get through. But we did, however, get through to New Market about five o’clock. We came through Strawberry Plains. Had our dinner there, coffee and hard crackers again.

The 4th Army Corps makes a large army. They put up the tent and we ate our supper and thought we should be there for some time. We fixed up our bed as well as we could and I went to bed. This was my first experience in sleeping on the ground. William and the Adjutant sent over to town and found that they were ordered to go to Bull’s Gap at six o’clock tomorrow morning. In coming from town they rode over an opossum. The darkies were much pleased to get it. They sat up nearly all night in order to have it for breakfast.

Now we have gotten to the end of the railroad and we women must go back to Knoxville. The Adjutant goes with us. William left him to take care of us. We had to get up early to get packed again to move.

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