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.

July 6, 2013

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

Monday Morning.—The hope I expressed in my last line on Saturday night was delusive. About one o’clock I was awakened by E. leaning over me, and saying in a low, tremulous tone, “Mother, get up, the Yankees are come.” We sprang up, and there they were at the telegraph office, immediately opposite. In an instant the door was broken down with a crash, and the battery and other things thrown out. Axes were at work cutting down the telegraph-poles, while busy hands were tearing up the railroad. A sentinel sat on his horse at our gate as motionless as if both man and horse had been cut from a block of Yankee granite. We expected every moment that they would come to the house, or at least go into the hotel opposite to us; but they went off to the depot. There was a dead silence, except an occasional order, “Be quick,” “Keep a sharp look-out,” etc., etc. The night was moonlight, but we dressed ourselves and sat in the dark; we were afraid to open the window-shutters or to light a lamp, lest they might be attracted to the house. We remained in this way perhaps two hours, when the flames suddenly burst from the depot. All parts of the building seemed to be burning at once; also immense piles of wood and of plank. The conflagration was brilliant. As soon as the whole was fairly blazing the pickets were called in, and the whole party dashed off, with demoniac yells. Soon after, as the dawn began to break upon us, doors were thrown open, and the villagers began to sally forth to the fire. In a short time all of us were there, from every house—even the babies; and as it became daylight, an amusing group was revealed. Every one had dressed in the dark, and all manner of costumes were to be seen—dressing-gowns, cravatless old gentlemen, young ladies in curl-papers, collars pinned awry, etc. Some ladies presented themselves in full costume—handsome dresses, lace collars, ear-rings and breastpins, watches, etc.—giving as a reason, that, if they were burnt out, they would at least save their best clothes—forgetting, the while, that a Yankee soldier has an irresistible penchant for watches and other jewelry. Some of us were more cautious, and had put all our valuables in unapproachable pockets—the pockets to a lady’s dress not having proved on all occasions a place of safety. The loss to the railroad company will be considerable; to the public very small, for they are already replacing the broken rails, and the telegraph was put in operation yesterday.

The morning papers give the Northern account of a battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It gives the victory to the Federals, though it admits a very heavy loss on their side; announces the loss of Major-General Reynolds and Brigadier-General Paul by death. We pause for the truth.

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