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

Post image for “How can I record the death of our young friends, the Conrads of Martinsburg, the only sons of their father, and such sons!”—Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

“How can I record the death of our young friends, the Conrads of Martinsburg, the only sons of their father, and such sons!”—Diary of a Southern Refugee, Judith White McGuire.

July 23, 2011

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

Tuesday.—The victory is ours! The enemy was routed! The Lord be praised for this great mercy.

Evening.—Mr. _____ and myself have just returned from a neighbouring house where we heard the dread particulars of the battle. We saw a gentleman just from the battlefield, who brought off his wounded son. It is said to have been one of the most remarkable victories on record, when we consider the disparity in numbers, equipments, etc. Our loss, when compared with that of the enemy, was small, very small; but such men as have fallen! How can I record the death of our young friends, the Conrads of Martinsburg, the only sons of their father, and such sons! Never can we cease to regret Tucker Conrad, the bright, joyous youth of the “High School,” and the devoted divinity student of our Theological Seminary! Noble in mind and spirit, with the most genial temper and kindest manners I have ever known. Mr. _____ saw him on Thursday evening on his way to the battle-field, and remarked afterwards on his enthusiasm and zeal in the cause. Holmes, his brother, was not one of us, as Tucker was, but he was in no respect inferior to him—loved and admired by all. They were near the same age, and there was not fifteen minutes between their deaths. Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in their deaths they were not divided. But my thoughts constantly revert to that desolated home—to the parents and sisters who perhaps are now listening and waiting for letters from the battle-field. Before this night is over, loving friends will bear their dead sons home. An express has gone from Winchester to tell them all. They might with truth exclaim, with one of old, whose son was thus slain, “I would not give my dead son for any living son in Christendom.” But that devoted father, and fond mother, have better and higher sources of comfort than any which earthly praise can give! Their sons were Christians, and their ransomed spirits were wafted from the clash and storm of the battlefield to those peaceful joys, “of which it has not entered into the heart of man to conceive.” I have not heard which was there to welcome his brother to his home in the skies; but both were there to receive the spirit of another, who was to them as a brother. I allude to Mr. Peyton Harrison, a gifted young lawyer of the same village. He was lieutenant of their company, and their mother’s nephew, and fell a few moments after the last brother. He left a young wife and little children to grieve, to faint, and almost to die, for the loss of a husband and father, so devoted, so accomplished, so brave. Like his young cousins, he was a Christian; and is now with them rejoicing in his rest. Martinsburg has lost one other of her brave sons; and yet another is fearfully wounded. I thank God, those of my own household and family, as far as I can hear, have escaped, except that one has a slight wound.

 

We certainly routed the enemy, and already wonderful stories are told of the pursuit. We shall hear all from time to time. It is enough for us now to know that their great expectations are disappointed, and that we have gloriously gained our point. Oh, that they would now consent to leave our soil, and return to their own homes! If I know my own heart, I do not desire vengeance upon them, but only that they would leave us in peace, to be forever and forever a separate people. It is true that we have slaughtered them, and whipped them, and driven them from our land, but they are people of such indomitable perseverance, that I am afraid that they will come again, perhaps in greater force. The final result I do not fear; but I do dread the butchery of our young men.

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