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 18, 2012

A Diary From Dixie by Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut.

March 18th.—My war archon is beset for commissions, and somebody says for every one given, you make one ingrate and a thousand enemies.

As I entered Miss Mary Stark’s I whispered: “He has promised to vote for Louis.” What radiant faces. To my friend, Miss Mary said, “Your son-in-law, what is he doing for his country?” “He is a tax collector.” Then spoke up the stout old girl: “Look at my cheek; it is red with blushing for you. A great, hale, hearty young man! Fie on him! fie on him! for shame! Tell his wife; run him out of the house with a broomstick; send him down to the coast at least.” Fancy my cheeks. I could not raise my eyes to the poor lady, so mercilessly assaulted. My face was as hot with compassion as the outspoken Miss Mary pretended hers to be with vicarious mortification.

Went to see sweet and saintly Mrs. Bartow. She read us a letter from Mississippi—not so bad: “More men there than the enemy suspected, and torpedoes to blow up the wretches when they came.” Next to see Mrs. Izard. She had with her a relative just from the North. This lady had asked Seward for passports, and he told her to “hold on a while; the road to South Carolina will soon be open to all, open and safe.” To-day Mrs. Arthur Hayne heard from her daughter that Richmond is to be given up. Mrs. Buell is her daughter.

Met Mr. Chesnut, who said: “New Madrid¹ has been given up. I do not know any more than the dead where New Madrid is. It is bad, all the same, this giving up. I can’t stand it. The hemming-in process is nearly complete. The ring of fire is almost unbroken.”

Mr. Chesnut’s negroes offered to fight for him if he would arm them. He pretended to believe them. He says one man can not do it. The whole country must agree to it. He would trust such as he would select, and he would give so many acres of land and his freedom to each one as he enlisted.

Mrs. Albert Rhett came for an office for her son John. I told her Mr. Chesnut would never propose a kinsman for office, but if any one else would bring him forward he would vote for him certainly, as he is so eminently fit for position. Now he is a private.

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¹ New Madrid, Missouri, had been under siege since March 3, 1862.

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