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

Post image for Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

January 19, 2013

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

19th.—Colonel Bradley Johnson has been with us for some days. He is nephew to Bishop J., and as bright and agreeable in private as he is bold and dashing in the field. Our little cottage has many pleasant visitors, and I think we are as cheerful a family circle as the Confederacy can boast. We are very much occupied by our Sunday-schools—white in the morning, and coloured in the afternoon. In the week we are often busy, like the “cotter’s” wife, in making “auld claes look amaist as weel as new.” “New claes” are not attainable at present high prices ; we are therefore likely to become very ingenious in fixing up “auld anes.” My friend who lately arrived from Washington looked on very wonderingly when she saw us all ready for church. “Why, how genteel you look!” at last broke from her; “I had no idea of it. We all thought of you as suffering in every respect.” I told her that the Southern women were as ingenious as the men were brave; and while we cared little for dress during such anxious times, yet when our husbands and sons returned from the field we preferred that their homes should be made attractive, and that they should not be pained by the indifferent appearance of their wives, sisters, and mothers. She was still more surprised by the neatly fitting, prettily made dresses of Southern manufacture. “Are they of Virginia cloth?” she asked. No, poor old Virginia has no time or opportunity for improving her manufactures, while almost her whole surface is scarred and furrowed by armies; but Georgia and North Carolina are doing much towards clothing the first ladies in the land. Sister M. has just improved my wardrobe by sending me a black alpaca dress, bought from a Potomac blockade-runner. We, ever and anon, are assisted in that way: sometimes a pound of tea, sometimes a pair of gloves, is snugged away in a friendly pocket, and after many dangers reaches us, and meets a hearty welcome; and what is more important still, medicine is brought in the same way, having escaped the eagle eyes of Federal watchers. A lady in Richmond said laughingly to a friend who was about to make an effort to go to Baltimore, “Bring me a pound of tea and a hoop-skirt;” and after a very short absence he appeared before her, with the tea in one hand and the skirt in the other. It is pleasant to see how cheerfully the girls fall into habits of economy, and occupy themselves in a way of which we never dreamed before.

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