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 19, 2013

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

19th.—When shall we recover from this fatal trip into Pennsylvania? General Pettigrew, of North Carolina, fell on the retreat, at a little skirmish near the Falling Waters. Thus our best men seem to be falling on the right hand and on the left. When speaking of General P’s death, a friend related a circumstance which interested me. General P. was severely wounded at the battle of “Seven Pines.” He was lying in a helpless condition, when a young soldier of another command saw him, and, immediately stooping to the ground, assisted him in getting on his back, and was bearing him to a place of safety, when he (the soldier) was struck by a ball and instantly killed. The General fell to the ground, and remained there, unable to move, until he was captured by the enemy. He was subsequently incarcerated in Fort Delaware. Having learned from the soldier, while on his back, that his name was White, from Westmoreland County, Virginia, as soon as the General was exchanged he inquired for the family, and found that the mother was a respectable widow who had had five sons on the field, but one of whom survived. He immediately wrote to her, expressing his deep sense of obligation to her son for his gracious effort to save his life, delicately inquired into her circumstances, and offered, if necessary, to make a liberal provision for her. I did not learn the widow’s reply.

We have had this week a visit of two days from Mrs. General Lee. She was on her way to the Hot Springs in pursuit of health, of which she stands greatly in need. She is a great sufferer from rheumatism, but is cheerful, notwithstanding her sufferings, bodily and mentally. She is, of course, unhappy about her imprisoned son, and, I should suppose, about the overpowering responsibilities of her noble husband; but of that you never hear a word from her. She left us this morning, in a box car, fitted up to suit an invalid, with a bed, chairs, etc. She was accompanied by the lovely wife of her captive son, also travelling in pursuit of health. Greater beauty and sweetness rarely fall to the lot of woman; and as I looked at the sad, delicate lineaments of her young face, I could but inwardly pray that the terrible threats denounced against her husband by Yankee authority might never reach her ear; for, though we do not believe that they will dare to offer him violence, yet the mere suggestion would be enough to make her very miserable. Yesterday morning we had quite a pleasant diversion, in attending a marriage in the village. Mr. —— performed the ceremony, and we afterwards breakfasted with the bridal party. We then proceeded to Richmond—they to spend their honeymoon in and around the city, and we to our duties there.

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