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

Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War by Judith White McGuire

Tuesday Night.—No light on our sorrow—still gloomy, dark, and uncertain.

I went to-day to the hospital, as was my duty. My dear friend S. T. cheers me, by being utterly incredulous about the reported surrender. As usual, she is cheerfully devoting her powers of mind and body to her hospital. For four years she has never thought of her own comfort, when by sacrificing it she could alleviate a soldier’s sorrow. Miss E. D., who has shared with her every duty, every self-sacrificing effort in behalf of our sick and wounded soldiers, is now enduring the keenest pangs of sorrow from the untimely death of her venerable father. On the day of the evacuation, while walking too near a burning house, he was struck by a piece of falling timber, and the blow soon closed his long life. Alas! the devoted daughter, who had done so much for other wounded, could do nothing for the restoration of one so dear to her.

10th.—Another gloomy Sabbath-day and harrowing night. We went to St. Paul’s in the morning,.and heard a very fine sermon from Dr. Minnegerode—at least so said my companions. My attention, which is generally riveted by his sermons, wandered continually. I could not listen; I felt so strangely, as if in a vivid, horrible dream. Neither President was prayed for; in compliance with some arrangement with the Federal authorities, the prayer was used as for all in authority! How fervently did we all pray for our own President! Thank God, our silent prayers are free from Federal authority. “The oppressor keeps the body bound, but knows not what a range the spirit takes.” Last night, (it seems strange that we have lived to speak or write of it,) between nine and ten o’clock, as some of the ladies of the house were collected in our room, we were startled by the rapid firing of cannon. At first we thought that there must be an attack upon the city; bright thoughts of the return of our army darted through my brain; but the firing was too regular. We began to think it must be a salute for some great event. We threw up the windows, and saw the flashes and smoke of cannon towards Camp Jackson. Some one present counted one hundred guns. What could it be? We called to passers-by: “What do those guns mean?” Sad voices answered several times: “I do not know.” At last a voice pertly, wickedly replied: “General Lee has surrendered, thank God! ” Of course we did not believe him, though the very sound was a knell. Again we called out: “What is the matter? ” A voice answered, as if from a broken heart: “They say General Lee has surrendered.” We cannot believe it, but my heart became dull and heavy, and every nerve and muscle of my frame seems heavy too. I cannot even now shake it off. We passed the night, I cannot tell how—I know not how we live at all. At daybreak the dreadful salute commenced again. Another hundred guns at twelve to-day. Another hundred—can it be so? No, we do not believe it, but how can we bear such a doubt? Where are all our dear ones, our beloved soldiers, and our noble chief to-night, while the rain falls pitilessly? Are they lying on the cold, hard ground, sleeping for sorrow? or are they moving southward trinmphantly, to join General Johnston, still able and willing—ah, far more than willing—to avenge their country’s wrongs? God help usl—we must take refuge in unbelief.

6th.—Mr. Lincoln has visited our devoted city to-day. His reception was any thing but complimentary. Our people were in nothing rude or disrespectful; they only kept themselves away from a scene so painful. There are very few Unionists of the least respectability here; these met them (he was attended by Stanton and others) with cringing loyalty, I hear, but the rest of the small collection were of the low, lower, lowest of creation. They drove through several streets, but the greeting was so feeble from the motley crew of vulgar men and women, that the Federal officers themselves, I suppose, were ashamed of it, for they very soon escaped from the disgraceful association. It is said that they took a collation at General Ord’s—our President’s house!! Ah! it is a bitter pill. I would that dear old house, with all its associations, so sacred to the Southerners, so sweet to us as a family, had shared in the general conflagration. Then its history would have been unsullied, though sad. Oh, how gladly would I have seen it burn! I have been nowhere since Monday, except to see my dear old friend Mrs. R., and to the hospital. There I am not much subjected to the harrowing sights and sounds by which we are surrounded. The wounded must be nursed; poor fellows, they are so sorrowful! Our poor old Irishman died on Sunday. The son of a very old acquaintance was brought to our hospital a few days ago, most severely wounded—Colonel Charles Richardson, of the artillery. We feared at first that he must die, but now there is a little more hope. It is so sad that after four years of bravery and devotion to the cause, he should be brought to his native city, for the defence of which he would have gladly given his life, dangerously if not mortally wounded, when its sad fate is just decided. I love to sit by his bedside and try to cheer him; his friends seem to vie with each other in kind attentions to him.

We hear rumours of battles, and of victories gained by our troops, but we have no certain information beyond the city lines.

April 5.—I feel as if we were groping in the dark; no one knows what to do. The Yankees, so far, have behaved humanely. As usual, they begin with professions of kindness to those whom they have ruined without justifiable cause, without reasonable motive, without right to be here, or anywhere else within the Southern boundary. General Ord is said to be polite and gentlemanly, and seems to do every thing in his power to lessen the horrors of this dire calamity. Other officers are kind in their departments, and the negro regiments look quite subdued. No one can tell how long this will last. Norfolk had its day of grace, and even New Orleans was not down-trodden at once. There are already apprehensions of evil. Is the Church to pray for the Northern President? How is it possible, except as we pray for all other sinners? But I pause for further developments.

April 3.— Agitated and nervous, I turn to my diary to-night as the means of soothing my feelings. We have passed through a fatal thirty-six hours. Yesterday morning (it seems a week ago) we went, as usual, to St. James’s Church, hoping for a day of peace and quietness, as well as of religious improvement and enjoyment. How short-sighted we are, and how little do we know of what is coming, either of judgment or mercy! The sermon being over, as it was the first Sunday in the month, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered. The day was bright, beautiful, and peaceful, and a general quietness and repose seemed to rest upon the congregation, undisturbed by rumours and apprehensions. While the sacred elements were being administered, the sexton came in with a note to General Cooper, which was handed him as he walked from the chancel, and he immediately left the church. It made me anxious; but such things are not uncommon, and caused no excitement in the congregation. The services being over, we left the church, and as the congregations from the various churches were being mingled on Grace Street, our children, who had been at St. Paul’s, joined us, on their way to the usual family gathering in our room on Sunday. After the salutations of the morning, J. remarked, in an agitated voice, to his father, that he had just returned from the War Department, and that there was sad news—General Lee’s lines had been broken, and the city would probably be evacuated within twenty-four hours. Not until then did I observe that every countenance was wild with excitement. The inquiry, “What is the matter?ran from lip to lip. Nobody seemed to hear or to answer. An old friend ran across the street, pale with excitement, repeating what J. had just told us, that unless we heard better news from General Lee the city would be evacuated. We could do nothing; no one suggested any thing to be done. We reached home with a strange, unrealizing feeling. In an hour J. (who is now Professor of Mathematics in the Naval School) received orders to accompany Captain Parker to the South with the Corps of Midshipmen. Then we began to understand that the Government was moving, and that the evacuation was indeed going on. The office-holders were now making arrangements to get off. Every car was ordered to be ready to take them south. Baggage-wagons, carts, drays, and ambulances were driving about the streets; every one was going off that could go, and now there were all the indications of alarm and excitement of every kind which could attend such an awful scene. The people were rushing up and down the streets, vehicles of all kinds were flying along, bearing goods of all sorts and people of all ages and classes who could go beyond the corporation lines. We tried to keep ourselves quiet. We could not go south, nor could we leave the city at all in this hurried way. J. and his wife had gone. The “Colonel,” with B., intended going in the northern train this morning— he to his home in Hanover County, and she to her father’s house in Clarke County, as soon as she could get there. Last night, when we went out to hire a servant to go to Camp Jackson for our sister, we for the first time realized that our money was worthless here, and that we are in fact penniless. About midnight she walked in, escorted by two of the convalescent soldiers. Poor fellows! all the soldiers will go who can, but the sick and wounded must be captured. We collected in one room, and tried to comfort one another; we made large pockets and filled them with as many of our valuables as we could suspend from our waists. The gentlemen walked down to the War Office in the night to see what was going on. Alas! every sight and sound was grievous and heavy.

A telegram just received from General Lee hastened the evacuation. The public offices were all forsaken. They said that by three o’clock in the morning the work must be completed, and the city ready for the enemy to take possession. Oh, who shall tell the horror of the past night! Hope seemed to fade; none but despairing words were heard, except from a few brave hearts. Union men began to show themselves; treason walked abroad. A gloomy pall seemed to hang over us; but I do not think that any of us felt keenly, or have yet realized our overwhelming calamity. The suddenness and extent of it is too great for us to feel its poignancy at once. About two o’clock in the morning we were startled by a loud sound like thunder; the house shook and the windows rattled; it seemed like an earthquake in our midst. We knew not what it was, nor did we care. It was soon understood to be the blowing up of a magazine below the city. In a few hours another exploded on the outskirts of the city, much louder than the first, and shivering innumerable plate-glass windows all over Shockoe Hill. It was then daylight, and we were standing out upon the pavement. The Colonel and B. had just gone. Shall we ever meet again? Many ladies were now upon the streets. The lower part of the city was burning. About seven o’clock I set off to go to the central depot to see if the cars would go out. As I went from Franklin to Broad Street, and on Broad, the pavements were covered with broken glass; women, both white and coloured, were walking in multitudes from the Commissary offices and burning stores with bags of flour, meal, coffee, sugar, rolls of cotton cloth, etc.; coloured men were rolling wheelbarrows filled in the same way. I went on and on towards the depot, and as I proceeded shouts and screams became louder. The rabble rushed by me in one stream. At last I exclaimed, “Who are those shouting? What is the matter?” I seemed to be answered by a hundred voices, “The Yankees have come.” I turned to come home, but what was my horror, when I reached Ninth Street, to see a regiment of Yankee cavalry come dashing up, yelling, shouting, hallooing, screaming! All Bedlam let loose could not have vied with them in diabolical roarings. I stood riveted to the spot; I could not move nor speak. Then I saw the iron gates of our time-honoured and beautiful Capitol Square, on the walks and greensward of which no hoof had been allowed to tread, thrown open and the cavalry dash in. I could see no more; I must go on with a mighty effort, or faint where I stood. I came home amid what I thought was the firing of cannon. I thought that they were thundering forth a salute that they had reached the goal of their ardent desires; but I afterwards found that the Armory was on fire, and that the flames having reached the shells deposited there for our army, they were exploding. These explosions were kept up until a late hour this evening; I am rejoiced they are gone; they, at least, can never be turned against us. I found the family collected around the breakfast-table, and was glad to see Captain M’s family with them. The captain has gone, and the ladies have left their home on “Union Hill” to stay here among friends, Colonel P. having kindly given them rooms. An hour or two after breakfast we all retired to our rooms exhausted. No one had slept; no one had sought repose or thought of their own comfort. The Federal soldiers were roaming about the streets; either whiskey or the excess of joy had given some of them the appearance of being beside themselves. We had hoped that very little whiskey would be found in the city, as, by order of the Mayor, casks were emptied yesterday evening in the streets, and it flowed like water through the gutters; but the rabble had managed to find it secreted in the burning shops, and bore it away in pitchers and buckets. It soon became evident that protection would be necessary for the residences, and at the request of Colonel P. I went to the Provost Marshal’s office to ask for it. Mrs. P. was unfortunately in the country, and only ladies were allowed to apply for guards. Of course this was a very unpleasant duty, but I must undertake it. Mrs. D. agreed to accompany me, and we proceeded to the City Hall—the City Hall, which from my childhood I had regarded with respect and reverence, as the place where my father had for years held his courts, and in which our lawyers, whose names stand among the highest in the Temple of Fame, for fifty years expounded the Constitution and the laws, which must now be trodden under foot. We reached it. After passing through crowds of negro soldiers there, we found on the steps some of the elderly gentlemen of the city seeking admittance, which was denied them. I stopped to speak to Mr. —— ., in whose commission house I was two days ago, and saw him surrounded by all the stores which usually make up the establishment of such a merchant; it was now a mass of blackened ruins. He had come to ask protection for his residence, but was not allowed to enter. We passed the sentinel, and an officer escorted us to the room in which we were to ask our country’s foe to allow us to remain undisturbed in our own houses. Mrs. D. leant on me tremblingly; she shrank from the humiliating duty. For my own part, though my heart beat loudly and my blood boiled, I never felt more high-spirited or lofty than at that moment. A large table was surrounded by officials, writing or talking to the ladies, who came on the same mission that brought us. I approached the officer who sat at the head of the table, and asked him politely if he was the Provost Marshal. “I am the Commandant, madam,” was the respectful reply. “Then to whom am I to apply for protection for our residence?” “You need none, madam; our troops are perfectly disciplined, and dare not enter your premises.” “I am sorry to be obliged to undeceive you, sir, but when I left home seven of your soldiers were in the yard of the residence opposite to us, and one has already been into our kitchen.” He looked surprised, and said, “Then, madam, you are entitled to a guard. Captain, write a protection for the residence on the corner of First and Franklin Streets, and give these ladies a guard.” This was quickly done, and as I turned to go out, I saw standing near me our old friend, Mrs. ——. Oh! how my heart sank when I looked into her calm, sad face, and remembered that she and her venerable and highly esteemed husband must ask leave to remain in peace in their home of many years. The next person who attracted my attention was that sweet young girl, S. W. Having no mother, she of course must go and ask that her father’s beautiful mansion may be allowed to stand uninjured. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she pressed my hand in passing. Other friends were there; we did not speak, we could not; we sadly looked at each other and passed on. Mrs. D. and myself came out, accompanied by our guard. The fire was progressing rapidly, and the crashing sound of falling timbers was distinctly heard. Dr. Read’s church was blazing. Yankees, citizens, and negroes were attempting to arrest the flames. The War Department was falling in; burning papers were being wafted about the streets. The Commissary Department, with our desks and papers, was consumed already. Warwick & Barksdale’s mill was sending its flames to the sky. Cary and Main Streets seemed doomed throughout; Bank Street was beginning to burn, and now it had reached Franklin. At any other moment it would have distracted me, but I had ceased to feel any thing. We brought our guard to Colonel P., who posted him; about three o’clock he came to tell me that the guard was drunk, and threatening to shoot the servants in the yard. Again I went to the City Hall to procure another. I approached the Commandant and told him why I came. He immediately ordered another guard, and a corporal to be sent for the arrest of the drunken man. The flames had decreased, but the business part of the city was in ruins. The second guard was soon posted, and the first carried off by the collar. Almost every house is guarded; and the streets are now (ten o’clock) perfectly quiet. The moon is shining brightly on our captivity. God guide and watch over us!

31st.—A long pause in my diary. Every thing seems so dark and uncertain that I have no heart for keeping records. The croakers croak about Richmond being evacuated, but I can’t and won’t believe it.

There is hard fighting about Petersburg, and General A. P. Hill has been killed. Dreadful to think of losing such a man at such a time; but yet it comes nearer home when we hear of the young soldiers whom we have loved, and whose youth we have watched with anxiety and hope as those on whom our country must depend in days to come, being cut down when their country most needs them. We have just heard of the death of Barksdale Warwick, another of our E. H. S. boys—another son of the parents who yielded up their noble first-born son on the field of battle three years ago. He fell a day or two ago; I did not hear precisely when or where; I only know that he has passed away, as myriads of our young countrymen have done before him, and in the way in which our men would prefer to die.

A week ago we made a furious attack upon the enemy’s fortifications near Petersburg, and several were taken before daylight, but we could not hold them against overwhelming numbers, and batteries vastly too strong for any thing we could command; and so it is still—the enemy is far too strong in numbers and military resources. The Lord save ns, or we perish! Many persons think that Richmond is in the greatest possible danger, and may be evacuated at any time. Perhaps we are apathetic or too hopeful, but none of us are desponding at all, and I find myself planning for the future, and feeling excessively annoyed when I find persons less sanguine than myself.

12th.—A deep gloom has just been thrown over the city by the untimely death of one of its own heroic sons. General John Pegram fell while nobly leading his brigade against the enemy in the neighbourhood of Petersburg. But two weeks before he had been married in St. Paul’s Church, in the presence of a crowd of relatives and friends, to the celebrated Miss H. C., of Baltimore. All was bright and beautiful. Happiness beamed from every eye. Again has St. Paul’s, his own beloved church, been opened to receive the soldier and his bride—the one coffined for a hero’s grave, the other, pale and trembling, though still by his side, in widow’s garb.

11th.—Sheridan’s raid through the country is perfectly awful, and he has joined Grant, without being caught. Oh, how we listened to hear that he had been arrested in his direful career! It was, I suppose, the most cruel and desolating raid upon record—more lawless, if possible, than Hunter’s. He had an overwhelming force, spreading ruin through the Upper Valley, the Piedmont country, the tide-water country, until he reached Grant. His soldiers were allowed to commit any cruelty on non-combatants that suited their rapacious tempers—stealing every thing they could find; ear-rings, breastpins, and finger-rings were taken from the first ladies of the land; nothing escaped them which was worth carrying off from the already desolated country. And can we feel patient at the idea of such soldiers coming to Richmond, the target at which their whole nation, from their President to the meanest soldier upon their army-rolls, has been aiming for four years? Oh, I would that I could see Richmond burnt to the ground by its own people, with not one brick left upon another, before its defenceless inhabitants should be subjected to such degradation!

Fighting is still going on; so near the city, that the sound of cannon is ever in our ears. Farmers are sending in produce which they cannot spare, but which they give with a spirit of self-denial rarely equalled. Ladies are offering their jewelry, their plate, any thing which can be converted into money, for the country. I have heard some of them declare, that, if necessary, they will cut off their long suits of hair, and send them to Paris to be sold for bread for the soldiers; and there is not a woman, worthy of the name of Southerner, who would not do it, if we could get it out of the country, and bread or meat in return. Some gentlemen are giving up their watches, when every thing else has been given. A colonel of our army was seen the other night, after a stirring appeal had been made for food for the soldiers, to approach the speaker’s stand with his watch in his hand, saying: “I have no money, nor provisions; my property was ruined by Hunter’s raid last summer; my watch is very dear to me from association, but it must be sold for bread.” Remembering, as he put it down, that it had been long worn by his wife, now dead, though not a man who liked or approved of scenes, he obeyed the affectionate impulse of his heart, took it up quickly, kissed it, and replaced it on the table.

March 10.—Still we go on as heretofore, hoping and praying that Richmond may be safe. Before Mr. Hunter (Hon. R. M. T.) left Richmond, I watched his countenance whenever I heard the subject mentioned before him, and though he said nothing, I thought he looked sad. I know that he understands the situation of affairs perfectly, and I may have fancied the sad look, but I think not; and whenever it arises before my mind’s eye, it makes me unhappy. I imagine, too, from a conversation which I had with Mr. Secretary Mallory, that he fears much for Richmond. Though it was an unexpressed opinion, yet I fear that I understood it rightly. I know that we ought to feel that whatever General Lee and the President deem right for the cause must be right, and that we should be satisfied that all will be well; but it would almost break my heart to see this dear old city, with its hallowed associations, given over to the Federals. Fearful orders have been given in the offices to keep the papers packed, except such as we are working on. The packed boxes remain in the front room, as if uncertainty still existed about moving them. As we walk in every morning, all eyes are turned to the boxes to see if any have been removed, and we breathe more freely when we find them still there.

To-day I have spent in the hospital, and was very much interested in our old Irishman. He has been there for more than two years; first as a patient sent from Drury’s Bluff, with ague and fever. Though apparently long past the military age, he had enlisted as a soldier in a Georgia regiment, but it was soon discovered that he was physically unable to stand camp-life; he was therefore detailed to work in the gardens, which supplied the soldiers at the Bluff with vegetables. He got well, and returned to his post, but was soon sent back again, too sick for service. The climate did not suit him, and when he again recovered Miss T. employed him as gardener and marketman to her hospital. We all became interested in him, because of his quiet, subdued manner, faithfulness to his duty, and respectful bearing. Some months ago his health began to decline, and day after day he has been watched and cared for by the surgeon and ladies with deep interest; but he steadily declines in strength, and is now confined to his cot, and it is but too evident that his end is approaching. We had all remarked that he never alluded to his early history, and was singularly reserved with regard to his religious faith; yet, as long as he was able to go out, he might be seen every Sunday seated alone in a corner of the gallery of St. James’s Church. This evening, as I was walking around the room in which he lies, and had just administered to him some nourishment, he said to me: “When you get through with the men won’t you come back and let me talk to ye?” When I returned and took my seat by him, he looked earnestly in my face, and said: ” Mrs. ——, you have an Irish name—have you friends there?” “No, my husband’s grandfather was from Ireland, but we have no relatives there now.” “Yes,” was his reply, “it is a good name in Ireland, and you have been kind to me, and I want to talk to you a bit before I die. You know that I am a Protestant, and I have been constantly to Mr Peterkin’s church since I came here, because I like the church, and I like him; and I hope that now I am prepared to die. But I was not brought up an Episcopalian in the old country—our house was divided, like.

My father was a Catholic, and my mother was a Presbyterian; neither went to the church of the other, but they were a loving couple for all that. He said to her, when we were but wee things: ‘Mary,’ said he, ‘the children mast go to your church sometimes, and to mine sometimes; you may teach them the Bible; but when they are old enough, they must judge for themselves.’ And so it was; we were obliged every Sunday to go to one church or the other, but we determined for ourselves. I most always went with mother, because she was so good and gentle, and I loved her so much. We grew up a cheerful, happy family. My father was a gardener, three-quarters of a mile from Londonderry; he had a good little farm, and sold his fruit and vegetables in Derry, and had made a great deal of money; and we had a good house, and were so comfortable. We all went to school, and kept on so until I, the eldest child, was grown. In the neighbourhood was a man that my father hated. Oh, how he hated that man! But I loved that man’s daughter; with my whole heart I loved that girl.”

Here his voice became excited, his eyes were suffused with tears, and his emaciated, pock-marked face almost glowed with animation. The room had become still; the sick and wounded and visitors to the room were all listening with deep attention to the old man’s story. “I knew,” he continued, “that my father would see me dead before he would agree to my marrying into that family, and he was a stern man, and I was afraid to let him know; and I tried to get over my love; but I saw her whenever I went to church, and at last I told her that I loved her, and she said she would marry me, and then, Mrs. ——,” he said with energy, “no mortal man could have made me give her up. After awhile my father said to me, ‘Johnny,’ said he,’you are of age, and must work for yourself now; I will give you ten acres of my farm; begin early in spring, break it up, and make a garden; in a few years you will be an independent man.’ Said I, ‘Father, may I put a house on it?’ ‘ No, my son; when I die you will have this house; can’t you live now with your mother and me?’ ‘ But, father,’ said I, ‘suppose I get married, where can I live then?’ ‘If I like the match,’ said he, ‘you may live here.’ I said no more then, but I saw Mary Dare,’ (he added, in a subdued voice, ‘her name was Mary Dare,’) and I told her I would try my father again, and if he would not agree to what I said, I would go to America, and make a home for her. She was distressed, and I was in misery. Towards the spring my father said to me every now and then, ‘Johnny, why don’t you break up your ground? I have seeds for ye; it is time to begin.’ But I could not begin; and I could not tell him why, I had such a dread of him. At last he said, ‘Johnny, you are behindhand; why don’t you go to work?’ I knew from his look that I must speak now, and my mother looked so tender-like into my face, that I said, ‘ Father, I can’t live here, unless I can bring my wife here, or build a house for her. I am going to marry Mary Dare, and if you object to it, I will go to America.’ My father looked sternly at me, and said, ‘I will not have you in my house or on my land, if you marry that girl; think about it; if you will give her up, you may live here and be well off; if not, you can go to America at once, and I will bear your expenses. Let me know to-morrow morning.’ My mother looked heart-broken, but she did not speak. She never opposed my father. This was Sunday. Next morning he asked me if I had made up my mind. I said, ‘Yes, sir; to go to America.’ ‘Then, Johnny, on Wednesday morning I will go to Derry and get you ready.’ On Wednesday he called me to get his pony, and to walk to town, and meet him at a tailor’s. He was there before me, and selected cloth to make me two good suits of clothes. We then went to a draper’s and got linen (for we wear linen in Ireland, not cotton) to make me twelve shirts, and other clothes besides. Then we went to the packet office, where we were told that a packet would sail on that day week for Liverpool, to meet an emigrant ship just ready to sail for New York. He paid my passage without saying a word to me, though his manner was kind to me all the time. As we turned to go home he said, ‘I have four pounds to give you for pocket-money, and I shall deposit fifty pounds in New York for you, which yon can draw if you are in want; but I advise you not to draw it unless you are in want, for it is all I shall give you.’ When we got home my mother collected her friends and neighbours to make my clothes. She and my sisters looked sorry enough, but not a word did they say about it. I knew that my father had told them not to do it, and my heart was too full to speak to anybody except to Mary Dare—she knew that as soon as I could come for her that I would come. When I took leave of my mother she almost died, like. I told her, ‘Mother,’ said I, ‘I am coming back when I am independent, and can do as I please. Write to me, mother dear; I will write to you and my sisters when I get to New York, and tell you where I am;’ and I did write to Mary and to my mother. I could not write to my father; I could not forgive him, when I thought how he had grieved Mary and me; and I could not be deceitful. As soon as I got to New York, I engaged with a gentleman at Williamsburg, on Long Island, to work his garden. For two years I worked, and laid up my wages; and not a single letter came for me. I grieved and sorrowed, and thought about Mary—I thought maybe her letters were stopped by somebody. I knew she would not forget me. Sometimes I thought I would go home to Ireland, and see what was the matter. At last, one day, my employer came into the garden with a newspaper in his hand. ‘Mr. Crumley,’ says he, ‘here is something for you;’ and sure enough there was a line to John Crumley, asking me to meet an old friend that had just come from Derry. I could not work another stroke, but went to the city, and there he was. I asked him first about my mother. ‘All well; I have a letter from her to you.’ ‘And haven’t you another letter? Didn’t Mary Dare write to me?’ ‘Mary Dare!’ he said; ‘don’t you know that Mary Dare died soon after you left the old country?” The old man stopped a moment to recover himself. Then, striking the side of his cot with his hard, sunburnt hand, he added, “Yes, she was dead, and I was then left the lone man that you see me now, Mrs. ——. My mother had not written before, because she hated to distress me, but she wrote to beg that I would come home; my father’s health was failing, and he wanted me, his first-born, to come and take the homestead. But Ireland and home were nothing to me now. I wrote to her that my next brother must take the homestead, and take care of my father and her, God bless her! I should never see Ireland again, but I loved her and my sisters all the same. The next letter was long after that. My mother wrote, ‘Your father is dead; come back, Johnny, and take your own home.’ I could not go; and then I went to Georgia, and never heard from home again. I tried to fight for the South, because the Southern people were good to me, and I thought if I got killed there was nobody to care for me.”

His story was done. He looked at me, and said, “You have all been so good to me, particularly Miss T. God bless you all for it! I am now almost at my journey’s end.” When I looked up I found the men subdued and sorrowful. The story, and the weak, sad tones with which it was told, had touched them all, and brought tears from some.

28th.—Our new Commissary-General is giving us brighter hopes for Richmond by his energy. Not a stone is left unturned to collect all the provisions from the country. Ministers of the Gospel and others have gone out to the various county towns and court-houses, to urge the people to send in every extra bushel of corn or pound of meat for the army. The people only want enlightening on the subject; it is no want of patriotism which makes them keep any portion of their provisions. Circulars are sent out to the various civil and military officers in all disenthralled counties in the State,—which, alas! when compared with the whole, are very few,—to ask for their superfluities. All will answer promptly, I know, and generously.

Since I last wrote in my diary, our Essex friends have again most liberally replenished our larder just as they did this time last year—if possible, more generously. The Lord reward them!