Cedar Hill, October 4.—We came to Ashland on the 29th, to attend the sale of the house in which we lived last year. We got a few pieces of furniture, and determined to rent the little cottage. We spent that night at Mrs. T’s, and came here next morning, and are now collecting hops, brooms, and the various et cœleras necessary for housekeeping. A refugee friend, who will change her location, has lent us her furniture, so that we expect to be very snug. Of course we shall have no curtains nor carpets, which are privations in our old age, but the deficiencies must be made up by large wood fires and bright faces. The war has taught useful lessons, and we can make ourselves comfortable and happy on much less than we ever dreamed of before.
28th.—Mrs. M. and myself went to St. John’s Church yesterday, and heard an excellent sermon from Bishop Wilmer; service read by Dr. Norwood. Encouraging news continues from the West. I am still anxious about our home. Mr. —— is sick, and the prospect of getting a house diminishing. Perhaps I should take comfort from the fact that a great many persons are homeless as well as ourselves. If Mr. —— were well, I should not feel so hopeless. The girls, too, are visiting the country, expecting us to get an impossible home, and I do dislike to disappoint them. Oh, that we could be perfectly satisfied, knowing that we are in the Lord’s hands!
September 26.—Spent this morning seeking information about our plan of living in the country. Nothing satisfactory.
25th.—There has been a great battle in the West, at Chickamauga, in Tennessee, between Bragg and Rosecranz. We are gloriously victorious! The last telegram from General Bragg tells of 7,000 prisoners, thirty-five pieces of cannon, and 15,000 small-arms, taken by our men. The fight is not over, though they have been fighting three days. Longstreet and his corps of veterans are there to reinforce them. A battle is daily expected on the Rapidan; and, to use Lincoln’s expression, they are still “pegging away” at Charleston.
Richmond, 24.—We have all been scattered. The Bishop has obtained good rooms; the other members of the household are temporarily fixed. We are here with our son, looking for rooms every day; very few are vacant, and they are too high for our means. We shall probably have to take the little cottage at Ashland, notwithstanding its reputation—either the cottage or a country-house near Richmond, about which we are in correspondence with a gentleman. This plan will be carried out, and work well if the Lord pleases, and with this assurance we should be satisfied; but still we are restless and anxious. Our ladies, who have been brought up in the greatest luxury, are working with their hands to assist their families. The offices given to ladies have been filled long ago, and yet I hear of a number of applicants. Mr. Memminger says that one vacancy will bring a hundred applications. Some young ladies plait straw hats for sale; I saw one sold this morning for twenty dollars—and their fair fingers, which had not been accustomed to work for their living, plait on merrily; they can dispose of them easily; and, so far from being ashamed of it, they take pride in their own handiwork. I went to see Mrs. — to-day, daughter of one of our gentlemen high in position, and whose husband was a wealthy landholder in Maryland. I found her sitting at her sewing-machine, making an elaborate shirt-bosom. She said she took in sewing, and spoke of it very cheerfully. “How can we rent rooms and live on captain’s pay?” She began by sewing for brothers and cousins, then for neighbours, and now for anybody who will give it to her. She laughingly added, that she thought she would hang out her sign, “Plain sewing done here.” We certainly are a great people, women as well as men. This lady, and all other ladies, have always places at their frugal tables for hungry soldiers. Many ladies take in copying.
September 16.—This house is to be sold on the 29th, so we must all find resting-places before that time. But where? Room-rent in Richmond is enormously high. We may get one very small cottage here for forty dollars per month, but it has the reputation of being unhealthy. Our connection, Mr. P., is here looking out for a home, and we may get one together. It would be delightful to have him and the dear girls with us. No one thinks of boarding; almost all the boarding-house keepers rent out their rooms, and refugees keep house in them as cheaply as they choose.
September 8.—The Government employed the cars yesterday bringing Longstreet’s Corps from Fredericksburg, on its way to Chattanooga. We all stood at our gate last night to give the soldiers water; we had nothing else to give them, poor fellows, as there were three long trains, and they had no time to stay. They looked healthy and cheerful, and went off hurrahing for Virginia.
The year of our sojourn at this cottage is nearly over. Our mess must be broken up, as some of our gentlemen are ordered away. We have had a very pleasant time, and it is painful to dissolve our social relations. Not one of the families is provided with a home; we are all looking out for lodgings, and find it very difficult to get them. This change of home, habits, and association is very trying to old persons; the variety seems rather pleasant to the young.
August 26.—A week ago I was called to Camp Jackson to nurse ——, who has been very sick there. The hospital is very extensive, and in beautiful order. It is under the supervision of Surgeon Hancock, whose whole soul seems engaged in making it an attractive home to the sick and wounded. The beautiful shade-trees and bold spring are delightful to the convalescents during this warm weather. Fast-day was observed there with great solemnity. I heard a Methodist chaplain preach to several hundred soldiers, and I never saw a more attentive congregation.
Wednesday.—We are all pursuing the even tenor of our way, as if there were no war. An order from General Lee is in to-day’s paper, exhorting officers and soldiers to a strict observance of fast-day, which is on Friday. In the mean time the enemy is storming Charleston with unprecedented fury. It is an object of peculiar vengeance. Sumter has literally fallen, but it has not yielded; its battered walls bid defiance to the whole power of the North.
August 10.—Spent this morning in the house of mourning. Our neighbour Mrs. S. has lost her eldest son. The disease was “that most fatal of Pandora’s train,” consumption. He contracted it in the Western Army. His poor mother has watched the ebbing of his life for several months, and last night he died most suddenly. That young soldier related to me an anecdote, some weeks ago, with his short, oppressed breathing and broken sentences, which showed the horrors of this fratricidal war. He said that the day after a battle in Missouri, in the Fall of 1861, he, among others, was detailed to bury the dead. Some Yankee soldiers were on the field doing the same thing. As they turned over a dead man, he saw a Yankee stop, look intently, and then run to the spot with an exclamation of horror. In a moment he was on his knees by the body, in a paroxysm of grief. It was his brother. They were Missourians. The brother now dead had emigrated South some years before. He said that before the war communication had been kept up between them, and he had strongly suspected that he was in the army; he had consequently been in constant search of his brother. The Northern and Southern soldier then united in burying him, who was brother in arms of the one, and the mother’s son of the other!
The Bishop and Mrs. J. returned home to-day from their long trip in the South-west. They travelled with great comfort, but barely escaped a raid at Wytheville. We welcomed them gladly. So many of our family party are wandering about, that our little cottage has become lonely.
Mr. C. has come out, and reports a furious bombardment of Sumter. This has been going on so long, that I begin to feel that it is indeed impregnable.