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

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A Diary From Dixie.

March 8, 2014

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

March 8th.—Mrs. Preston’s story. As we walked home, she told me she had just been to see a lady she had known more than twenty years before. She had met her in this wise: One of the chambermaids of the St. Charles Hotel (New Orleans) told Mrs. Preston’s nurse—it was when Mary Preston was a baby—that up among the servants in the garret there was a sick lady and her children. The maid was sure she was a lady, and thought she was hiding from somebody. Mrs. Preston went up, knew the lady, had her brought down into comfortable rooms, and nursed her until she recovered from her delirium and fever. She had run away, indeed, and was hiding herself and her children from a worthless husband. Now, she has one son in a Yankee prison, one mortally wounded, and the last of them dying there under her eyes of consumption. This last had married here in Richmond, not wisely, and too soon, for he was a mere boy; his pay as a private was eleven dollars a month, and his wife’s family charged him three hundred dollars a month for her board; so he had to work double tides, do odd jobs by night and by day, and it killed him by exposure to cold in this bitter climate to which his constitution was unadapted.

They had been in Vicksburg during the siege, and during the bombardment sought refuge in a cave. The roar of the cannon ceasing, they came out gladly for a breath of fresh air. At the moment when they emerged, a bomb burst there, among them, so to speak, struck the son already wounded, and smashed off the arm of a beautiful little grandchild not three years old. There was this poor little girl with her touchingly lovely face, and her arm gone. This mutilated little martyr, Mrs. Preston said, was really to her the crowning touch of the woman’s affliction. Mrs. Preston put up her hand, “Her baby face haunts me.”

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