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

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A Diary From Dixie.

January 1, 2014

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

January 1, 1864.—General Hood’s an awful flatterer— I mean an awkward flatterer. I told him to praise my husband to some one else, not to me. He ought to praise me to somebody who would tell my husband, and then praise my husband to another person who would tell me. Man and wife are too much one person—to wave a compliment straight in the face of one about the other is not graceful.

One more year of Stonewall would have saved us. Chickamauga is the only battle we have gained since Stonewall died, and no results follow as usual. Stonewall was not so much as killed by a Yankee: he was shot by his own men; that is hard. General Lee can do no more than keep back Meade. "One of Meade’s armies, you mean," said I, ” for they have only to double on him when Lee whips one of them."

General Edward Johnston says he got Grant a place— esprit de corps, you know. He could not bear to see an old army man driving a wagon; that was when he found him out West, put out of the army for habitual drunkenness. He is their right man, a bull-headed Suwarrow. He don’t care a snap if men fall like the leaves fall; he fights to win, that chap does. He is not distracted by a thousand side issues; he does not see them. He is narrow and sure—sees only in a straight line. Like Louis Napoleon, from a battle in the gutter, he goes straight up. Yes, as with Lincoln, they have ceased to carp at him as a rough clown, no gentleman, etc. You never hear now of Lincoln’s nasty fun; only of his wisdom. Doesn’t take much soap and water to wash the hands that the rod of empire sway. They talked of Lincoln’s drunkenness, too. Now, since Vicksburg they have not a word to say against Grant’s habits. He has the disagreeable habit of not retreating before irresistible veterans. General Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston show blood and breeding. They are of the Bayard and Philip Sidney order of soldiers. Listen: if General Lee had had Grant’s resources he would have bagged the last Yankee, or have had them all safe back in Massachusetts. "You mean if he had not the weight of the negro question upon him?" "No, I mean if he had Grant’s unlimited allowance of the powers of war—men, money, ammunition, arms."

Mrs. Ould says Mrs. Lincoln found the gardener of the White House so nice, she would make him a major-general. Lincoln remarked to the secretary: "Well, the little woman must have her way sometimes.”

A word of the last night of the old year. "Gloria Mundi ” sent me a cup of strong, good coffee, I drank two cups and so I did not sleep a wink. Like a fool I passed my whole life in review, and bitter memories maddened me quite. Then came a happy thought. I mapped out a story of the war. The plot came to hand, for it was true. Johnny is the hero, a light dragoon and heavy swell. I will call it F. F.’s, for it is the F. F.’s both of South Carolina and Virginia. It is to be a war story, and the filling out of the skeleton was the best way to put myself to sleep.

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