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 28, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

January 28th [1863]. Set off on the car which runs by Mrs. Norton’s door; met Mary Ogden on the car. Two “Feds” seemed much interested in our talk. They heard no favorable ideas of themselves, though nothing rude, of course. One looked as if he might have been a schoolmaster at home. These privates, when they are Americans, have a sad and hopeless look, as if their hearts were aching for home, as I have no doubt they are. The Irish and Germans look very different, I think; they look as if they had never had any home. I hear from all quarters that these men do long for home; they have serious ideas now that this war is not a good one, and not made for the Union either, but merely to carry out party schemes of party men. There is scarcely a day that I do not hear of instances of Federal soldiers giving proof that they are “rebels” at heart. Four cannon were spiked at Annunciation Square not long ago; the ringleaders were stretched out with cannon balls attached both to arms and feet. One poor fellow revealed in a drunken fit that he was a “rebel,” a Davis man; he, too, was stretched out in this cruel way, and was kept in this condition so long without food, and exposed to such weather, that he died. The ladies living near Annunciation Square who could see from their windows what was going on, were so miserable that for four days and nights they could not sleep; they sent prayers and entreaties for the sufferers, but to no purpose. I suppose it is because the mind cannot realize suffering without the help of sight, that our sisters of the North are using every wile to pour down upon us their revengeful hordes, while our women are begging that individuals from those hordes may be spared such cruelty. The Federal army is said to be much demoralized here. This demoralization is what I call a return to reason.

Met Mr. Randolph and Judge Scott as we got off the car. Mr. R—— looked so glad to see us, but the Judge, who is a misanthrope and woman-hater, looked sour enough at us. He is an uncle of the Ogden girls and has been staying at Judge O——’s house since his sons went to the war. Very cold; Greenville’s quiet beauty quite destroyed, being cut up by Yankee wagons and having thousands of Yankee soldiers encamped about her green lawns. I cannot describe my feelings when looking upon these tents, hearing the drums and bands of music, and catching the sound of voices of men whose avowed purpose is to conquer and desolate our country. They are “rebels” in heart, thousands of them; we have daily proofs of this, yet they are organized and drilled and will fight us, too, when ordered. We are in daily expectation of the attack at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. We found the girls all well and got a real hearty, delightful welcome from them, and a warm and kindly one from the Judge. We found beautiful wood fires all over the house. Coal is high and scarce, and the Judge is clearing a piece of land that he may plant it in oranges when the Yankees leave. The beautiful oaks and pecans! I feel sorry to see them going. We see the railroad from the windows and balcony, constantly spotted with Yankee soldiers and runaway contrabands in Yankee service. Went in the afternoon to see the Randolphs, who live just across the street in our house. It seems so strange to be visiting Greenville, and looking across the way to the garden and house, once a daily and familiar sight. We stayed to tea with Mrs. Randolph; found there her sister-in-law. We had a hearty welcome here, too, and as Lizzie and Mary were with us we had quite a circle of friends. During the evening I was struck with the force of the old saying that “appearances are often deceptive”: We had been seated but half an hour when a neighbor of Mr. Randolph’s came in. He looked so plain and ordinary that I gave a sort of inward groan at the probability of his taking his seat near me and prolonging his visit. He had scarcely seated himself before he said something witty, and in a few moments he had the whole talk to himself and we were either convulsed with laughter or moved with strange sympathies for the rest of the evening. He spouted plays, acted them, sang operas and sweet old ballads in endless succession and managed to take his tea and cake standing on the hearth while carrying on a dialogue, his own tongue doing service for two. I have not laughed so much since the war began. Mr. Haines is the gentleman’s name—middle-aged and with a wife and grown-up children. His face in repose is both heavy and sad-looking. Mr. Randolph told us that he was in the car one day when this Mr. Haines had been indulging in some rather piquant secession talk, not knowing that a Federal was in company—they make a business of traveling in citizens’ clothes, acting as spies— at least they did while Butler was here. Mr. Haines was suddenly arrested in his talk by a cry of “I forbid you to speak in that way; stop instantly.” It was considered as much as his life, or rather liberty, was worth to make answer to this prohibition, and Mr. Haines’s friends felt rather anxious upon his turning to the Federal and calmly demanding of him, “What do you mean?” “I mean,” said the Federal, “to prevent your talking against the government of the United States; I arrest you, sir.” Mr. H—— rose deliberately, and doubling up his right hand, said coolly, “Touch me at your peril; lay but a hand upon me and I’ll throttle you until you can’t speak.” Having delivered himself in this style, he sat down and the Federal wisely did the same thing, offering not another word. Such stuff are these Butler minions made of.

Mr. Haines’s garden fence was all carried off by the Massachusetts regiment during his absence from home; his wife talked to the soldiers in vain, imploring that her fruits and flowers should not thus be turned out on the common at a moment’s notice. Mr. H——, upon hearing this, proceeded at once to camp, inquiring for each officer, in succession, of the Massachusetts regiment. He borrowed a sword of an orderly, or some such personage, so that the fence could be made a personal matter with the officer who, had ordered its destruction. The officers were all absent, or so reported, and strange to say, are always absent when Mr. Haines calls. “It remained for the Massachusetts regiment to perform such a petty piece of villainy,” said Mr. H—— to the soldier on guard. “Military necessity,” answered the guard. “You might have had the military politeness to have told me you wanted it; I would have bought you wood rather than had my fence destroyed. I intend to follow this matter up. I will find the officer guilty of the order and get satisfaction from him, or carry the matter to Banks. He has promised to protect us who are quiet, non-fighting men, and he shall protect me or give me a passport into a government that will.” A guard was sent forthwith to protect Mr. Haines’s garden. Night and day, in sun and rain, the poor Federal privates stand to keep watch, thus doing picket service in real earnest. We came home from Mr. Randolph’s and found the two Judges in the parlor, reviewed our evening for their benefit, and parted for the night. We had our tea after we had undressed, around a bright wood fire; the girls sat with us and took their tea in our room. I told them how glad I was to see the dear blaze; it was a touch of the country and a gleam from the dear old times. Didn’t sleep one wink all night. The Judge said “tea at bed-time,” but I knew better; I knew of the thousand thoughts that flitted through my brain. The girls met us with kisses of welcome in the morning. Ginnie was not allowed to get up, though breakfast was late. The Judge sent us word that this was liberty hall and that we could sleep when we liked and breakfast when we liked; that he had little to offer us these war times but a welcome and a carte blanche to do as we pleased. Got up near dinner time; still no sleep. Mary, who is housekeeper this week, had a nice warm breakfast for us, and I felt ashamed of the trouble we had given. There were fourteen servants about the house, almost idle, of course, there being nothing for them to do since the Federals came. They stay with their master, the kindest and most indulgent in the world, merely to be supported— giving out speeches from time to time, which prove to my mind, at least, that they will leave him when it suits them. Marcia and Charlotte, though, I believe, are really attached to their master and his children. The Judge got a letter from his son Billy from Fredericksburg, the first since last summer. He is in Claude’s old regiment, the 7th Louisiana Crescent. This family seem to love each other very dearly; the devotion of the girls to their father and brother is very touching, I think, and it does my heart good to see it. To their uncle Walter, the misanthropic Judge, they are kind and tender; he seems at least attached to this much of womankind, his nieces.

We took a walk with the Randolphs and Harrisons to the river; got our feet wet, being silly enough to go in thin shoes. I took cold and Ginnie was made quite sick. Had invitation to dine with the Harrisons; much debating among the girls whether or not they should go with us, a coolness having grown up between these two pleasant households, owing entirely to the present war. The Harrisons are lately from Kentucky, and as they can not look upon Louisiana as their home just yet, and as Kentucky’s action has been much censured during this war, a great deal has been taken unkindly on both sides, which has never been meant by either. These girls were intimate before the war, and would be again, if these sympathetic strings were not constantly jarred upon by the exciting topics of the day. It is hard to keep the equilibrium either of mind or nerve nowadays, such opposite and warm opinions are held and discussed. We, as usual, have tried to play peace-makers; people of this sort are hardly ever done justice to—both sides find fault, but in this case I think both families appreciate our intentions. Jule could not be induced to go with us; Ella had insulted her, she says. Jule is young and so is Ella, and so matters must rest until both grow older. Mary, too, declined to go—she is literal and therefore not apt to fancy herself deceived in a matter of this sort. She is too kind-hearted ever to have wished to wound, and therefore feels sure that she has never done so, but then she feels so sincerely that she can not simulate old feelings when they have been injured or passed away. I saw she would not like to go, and so did not ask—at the same time I felt that a refusal in toto would look very pointed and probably make an everlasting breach.

I didn’t think it wrong to advise Lizzie, who is gentler, less positive in her feelings than either her elder or younger sister, to go with us. The girls all love Mrs. H——. She is indeed the sweetest, gentlest and saddest of women. Mr. Harrison and the Judge brought news that six more States are reported out of the Union. Matters have not proceeded so far, I think, but it is evident from the speeches made in the North at opposition meetings that some terrible judgment is in store for the wicked abolition Government. The North has broken her bonds at last. No more shall men be dragged to bondage without accusation or trial, as in the two years past. I have waited with anxious longing for this reaction; I have always felt that the war was not carried on by the people at large. The abolitionists are the Jacobins of America. They have not shown any kindness to the poor negroes, either; they die by hundreds from disease engendered by unaccustomed hardships and exposure, also starvation. The suburbs and odd places in and about this city are crowded with a class never seen until the Federals came here—a class whose only support is theft and whose only occupation is strolling the streets, insulting white people, and living in the sun. This is really the negro idea of liberty. I speculate over the evils which I see and those which I fear, and often wish that I was some merry-hearted, careless girl who sees nothing.

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