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.

September 24, 2013

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

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.

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