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

Post image for Journal of Julia LeGrand.

Journal of Julia LeGrand.

January 21, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

January 21st [1863]. The registered enemies went out to-day by Government permission. No man whose age subjects him to the conscription law in the Confederacy was allowed to go. Women went without their husbands, hoping that afterwards they might be able to run the blockade; they may die in this attempt; dread time of anxiety. About three hundred went out, some sick and feeble had to be carried on board the small steamer. Clarke, more generous than Butler, allowed a few provisions to be taken. Mrs. Ogden has gone to join her husband, a major at Vicksburg. Her mother had to be carried— she may die on the way, for the United States steamer only conducts them to the Confederate lines, and transportation thence may be difficult and fatiguing. The poor lady, however, wants to see her son, who has been in the Confederate army long separated from her. One old lady displayed the Confederate flag in her bosom, saying that she was going out to die under the bars and stars. I hope further opportunity will be granted to the enemies to go out, as Ginnie and myself are anxious to go as soon as we can. There is some fear expressed here by the enemies lest their friends outside may take them for Unionists, because they do not go now. A Mrs. Brown of this city, by much imploring, received permission from Clarke, the provost marshal, for her husband to accompany her. Clarke, it is said, is a really kind person—we are sorry that he is soon to leave his office, for kind Federals are not indeed as plenty as blackberries. The city papers here report the most dreadful depredations of the Federals under Sherman at Prior’s Point on the Mississippi river. Our old friends in Milliken’s Bend have had an opportunity to look at desolation by the side of their own blazing homes. It makes me miserable that men can do such deeds, miserable to think of the suffering they entail—more miserable to know that in thousands of hearts each day a hate is gathering volume and intensity, which will live, actuate and work like a living principle. Hatred and malice, how happy would I be to know you were banished from the world forever! I mourn over evil deeds because I realize so fully the doctrine of cause and effect; each one lives and acts as a new cause to other effects. The evil doer strengthens the bad principle within him; he starts it into life in another; these others act upon the new sense within, and so make new landmarks in their moral natures, which lead on to other evil. Children inherit what has grown into propensities in their progenitors, and so the wave—the blessed wave of civilization is forever borne back. Progress seems the universal law. I have believed so, hoped so, but we have leaped back, as it seems now, thousands of dark and hopeless years.

Our old friends, the Morancies, the Mahews, the Lowrys and Jacksons, of Milliken’s Bend, can scarcely help hating their desolators; the young and vigorous will act upon this hate—it will live and taint the moral mind through generations to come. I have a profound hatred of vice, but I love poor humanity. I feel almost like a citizen of the world, I am so sorry for all who suffer. Cruelty is one principle of the universe which I can never comprehend. That man should inherit principles of the mind, and that personal experience should give them larger growth and greater force, I can comprehend, but whence comes the germ of evil? I speculate, I ponder and feel miserable—longing to help all men—those who are obeying the promptings of bad natures, as well as those who suffer from their afflictions, yet feeling the inability to help myself. Why, I wonder, is suffering the order of creation? All violation of natural law creates confusion and therefore suffering— the fire will burn, the water will drown—we must obey the immutable laws of nature, or suffer. So with the laws of the spirit, I think—we may sin often through ignorance. Through the long generations ignorance has transgressed, and transgression has built up systems, creeds and actions, with their long trains of consequences—desolated and overthrown man’s moral nature. Will there come a blessed time when man will be governed by love of virtue, rather than fear of punishment?

Then only can there reign the beauty of holiness. I long for the time when there will be no suffering to tear one’s heart, no strife to shock one’s sensibilities, and no ignorance of the wants of the spirit, for wants it has which the world cannot satisfy.

Mrs. Waugh came in this evening; had a long talk about spiritualism. It is comforting to meet with one who trusts and fears as she does. There is nothing which she touches with her hands more real and palpable to her than the spirits which surround her. She is a woman “well taught in the sciences”; she has a profound sagacity, is thoroughly practical, a good linguist, a good work woman when necessity requires it, a good neighbor, a good wife and mother; she is thoroughly truthful, yet spiritualism is the one comfort of her life. She converses upon the subject with an ease which familiarity alone can give, and I must confess her beautiful abstractions move me. My heart leaps up to catch a ray from the light which she says is coming. I feel sometimes almost persuaded that we are on the eve of some great change which will affect men both physically and spiritually. I have long held a notion of my own about electricity—it is the spirit, the soul of the world. I find myself looking, longing, waiting for man’s profounder acquaintance with it. He knows nothing of it yet, its power or capacity. When my undefined hopes in their future revelations flag, I think of the telegraph. One by one the mysteries of creation are unfolded and man accepts the benefits with which science enriches him, as matters of course—mankind at large, I mean. Familiarity disarms, awes and, it seems, silences thought, but to lonely-hearted people who have little personal hope, but all for the ages, the great revelations of science are but steps on the pathway of progress—links in the chain which binds us to the future as well as to the past. Science will save this world—nor do I mean to be irreverent when I speak. The law of love of Christ is perfection, but man’s physical being must be benefited before Christ’s spirit can dwell with him. Science is God’s own minister. Chemistry, Geometry, Astronomy, how I hope and trust in them for they are but the names we have given to the steps of the comprehension of the thoughts of God. Mrs. Waugh speaks of a new discovery shortly to be made in electricity; I find myself hoping for it, though it is a prediction spiritually uttered.

To-day tried to do up my collars and other fineries—failed and felt anything but spiritual-minded. I got angry with my irons which would smut my muslins, and then got angry with myself for having been angry—finally divided the blame, giving a part to Julie Ann for running away and leaving me to do her work, and by her thefts, with less money wherewithal to procure others to do for me. If Julie’s condition was bettered, if she had been made a higher being by the sort of freedom she has chosen, I could not find it in my conscience to regret her absence; but I hear of her, she is a degraded creature, living a vicious life, and we tried so hard to make her good and honest. I once was as great an abolitionist as any in the North—that was when my unthinking fancy placed black and white upon the same plane. My sympathies blinded me, and race and character were undisturbed mysteries to me. But my experience with negroes has altered my way of thinking and reasoning. As an earnest of sincerity given even to my own mind, it was when we owned them in numbers that I thought they ought to be free, and now that we have none, I think they are not fit for freedom. No one unacquainted with negro character can form an idea of its deficiencies as well as its overpluses, if I may so express myself; it is the only race which labor does not degrade. I do not mean that there is degradation in labor, but we all know that white men and women, whose minds are fettered with one constant round of petty pursuits, are very different from their brothers and sisters who are better served by fortune. White men, left free from degrading cares, generally struggle up to something higher—not so the black man. They have no cares but physical ones and will not have for generations to come, if ever. The free black man is scarcely a higher animal, and not near so innocent as the unbridled horse. He has sensation, but his sensibility is not well awakened; he does not love or respect the social ties. Never yet have I met with one instance to prove the contrary. His wild instincts are yet moving his coarse blood; he is servile if mastered, and brutal if licensed; he can never be taught the wholesome economy which pride of character supports in a white man; he can not, either by force or persuasion, be imbued with a reverence for truth. What place is there in the scale of humanity but one of subjection for such a race? I watch negroes narrowly in country and town experiences, yet never have I met with one instance which encouraged me to think differently.

I doubt not but that in the far generations they will hold, and justly, a better, higher place. When they are fit for it, the white man will not withhold it. The inventions of science will make his labor less needed, and the example and influence of the white race, aided by the wholesome restraints of savage passions, will eventually make him a new being. Slavery indeed can not be considered a good school for the white man, but it should be remembered by the fanatic that we found these people mere animals, and that physically and mentally our slaves are superior to their African progenitors. The white race is distorted by labor; hair, features, complexion and shape—all tell the tale of hardship and labor. Not so with the negro; they live so easily, generally speaking, so comfortably—these creatures whom fanatics are pitying, neglectful of the poor at their doors, and for whose possible benefit it is pretended that Federal soldiers are sent to die. America seems perishing of madness.

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