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 22, 2014

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

January 22d.—At Mrs. Lyons’s met another beautiful woman, Mrs. Penn, the wife of Colonel Penn, who is making shoes in a Yankee prison. She had a little son with her, barely two years old, a mere infant. She said to him, “Faites comme Butler.” The child crossed his eyes and made himself hideous, then laughed and rioted around as if he enjoyed the joke hugely.

Went to Mrs. Davis’s. It was sad enough. Fancy having to be always ready to have your servants set your house on fire, being bribed to do it. Such constant robberies, such servants coming and going daily to the Yankees, carrying one’s silver, one’s other possessions, does not conduce to home happiness.

Saw Hood on his legs once more. He rode off on a fine horse, and managed it well, though he is disabled in one hand, too. After all, as the woman said, “He has body enough left to hold his soul.” “How plucky of him to ride a gay horse like that.” “Oh, a Kentuckian prides himself upon being half horse and half man!” “And the girl who rode beside him. Did you ever see a more brilliant beauty? Three cheers for South Carolina!!”

I imparted a plan of mine to Brewster. I would have a breakfast, a luncheon, a matinee, call it what you please, but I would try and return some of the hospitalities of this most hospitable people. Just think of the dinners, suppers, breakfasts we have been to. People have no variety in war times, but they make up for that lack in exquisite cooking.

“Variety,” said he. “You are hard to please, with terrapin stew, gumbo, fish, oysters in every shape, game, and wine—as good as wine ever is. I do not mention juleps, claret cup, apple toddy, whisky punches and all that. I tell you it is good enough for me. Variety would spoil it. Such hams as these Virginia people cure; such home-made bread—there is no such bread in the world. Call yours a ‘cold collation.'” “Yes, I have eggs, butter, hams, game, everything from home; no stint just now; even fruit.”

“You ought to do your best. They are so generous and hospitable and so unconscious of any merit, or exceptional’ credit, in the matter of hospitality.” “They are no better than the Columbia people always were to us.” So I fired up for my own country.

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