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.

February 25, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

February 25th. Invited to lunch at Mrs. Roselius’s—had headache—so had Ginnie; concluded late to go. Found everything delightful, and pleasant company. Can’t say, though, that I have any fancy for any sort of company just now. After lunch, ran over to Mrs. Waugh’s in my light silk, to which she has taken such a fancy, and felt in another atmosphere with her. No memories of the jarring world when with her, or at least an inspiring confidence that we can live above them. How purely intellectual she is! How free from vanity, egotism and pedantry which men have pleased to associate with a learned woman. Her conversations are sometimes beautiful lectures that fall from her lips without effort and with simple elegance. Indeed her heart speaks in everything, and there is a sincerity and earnestness, a childlike sweetness, that spiritualizes her most didactic discourses. I like Mrs. Roselius better than any woman of the world I have ever known. She has seen much of society—she has elegance of manner, tact and good taste—she has not lost her natural warmth of heart, or her enthusiasms; she has much charity without show and is both ingenuous and truthful. She is smart, even talented; but neither thought or conversation are purified by sentiment. It amuses me to hear her talk, for she seems to know all that happens, but I never feel any better or wiser after having listened to her for hours. On the contrary, some of her most amusing sketches of life, people or character depress me wonderfully, though I laugh over them. She lives next door and is very sociable. I’m ashamed to say that we are not. Her husband is such a Federal and talks so abusively of Southerners that she excuses our want of sociability on that account—but I consider him such a silly person that his petulent talk does not affect me in the least. I never get angry with a silly person; I do not consider them responsible. When the New Orleans Guard was deserted outside of the lines, and its members stole ingloriously back to enjoy the luxuries of the city—Mr. R—— excused them. He said that he, too, “was brave, that he would stand to be shot at as well as any man, but that gentlemen could not endure camp life. He could not eat pork and beans. Those Virginians and Mississippians (mentioning people from other States) were not gentlemen, he said; they ought to fight.” It was useless to talk to a man who could not feel the meaning of hating, yet stealing in to lead a life of inglorious ease, leaving the burden of defence to be borne by others. Nobly has that burden been borne by others—Louisianians, American sons have won honors on every field.

Much dissatisfaction was felt here for a time over President Davis’ speech at Jackson. It was partial and addressed wholly to Mississippians, though the army by which he was surrounded was composed of men from all States. The battle of Chickasaw Bayou was fought by Louisianans and Georgians. These men were entitled, even as exiles from home, to kindly mention—but no word of praise, except to Mississippians. The women of Vicksburg were approved because they expressed wishes that the town should be shelled rather than surrendered. The women of New Orleans rushed in numbers to sign a paper imploring that this city should never be given up. They were fearless, they said; we signed it and would have been glad enough to have resistance made. I have always felt that Davis was a partisan, rather than a father of his country; a politician rather than a statesman. I heard him speak once and was not satisfied. I can never learn to love him as I do Washington or Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson, or the two Ashbys even, who were willing to serve their country in any capacity. It does me good to feel that thousands of men are privates in this war, undergoing, voluntarily, all sorts of deprivation and hardships, who, before the war, were wealthy and lived in luxury. Thousands of our countrymen are yielding to the authority of officers who are far beneath them in wealth and social standing. This state of things gratifies the hero-worship that has always stirred my heart. I hate man-worship or place-worship—it corrupts—but in hero-worship I feel that I serve but my ideal.

The ram, Queen of the West, has been captured by our Confederates up Red River. Some of the men escaped, but many were taken prisoners. We captured guns and useful supplies. One of our men, John Burke, had been seized to pilot the boat up Red River that our batteries could be captured or destroyed—he was forced under a Federal guard and therefore felt privileged to deceive them. When quite near he assured the Federals that they were still fifteen miles distant; they were, therefore, more unprepared than they would have been. A warehouse on shore was fired by one of our officers, which lighted up the river. We made a complete triumph of it. I am glad that this capture was made in Louisiana, for, owing to the fall of New Orleans, she has been somewhat depreciated in the Confederacy, though I think the Government at Richmond was more to be blamed in that disaster than the people who had trusted all defences to their military superiors. Large contributions were made here to the defence of the city and to the general war. And had not the citizens been trammeled by the general Government, the city would not have fallen. Its fall had been anticipated by those who knew anything of military matters, but to the people at large it was a great surprise. They were therefore totally surprised and unprepared and showed panic—that undignified state of things. It was reported at one time that Butler had gotten hold of the ladies’ list and was to bring to justice all offending therein. Butler was so senseless in much of his tyranny, that any report of him could receive credence. I firmly expected to go to prison when the others were taken, when the oath-taking was going on. Judge Ogden told us of a young lawyer friend of his who took the oath, not for his own interests, but to protect those of others. He had in charge a large property belonging to minors, and as he could have no control over it, or practice in any of the courts unless he took the oath, he took it. He has since gone completely mad in consequence—he suffered so and his thoughts were completely filled with it. This is a terrible case and I know of another just like it. That wretch Butler has much to answer for. They continually threaten to send him back here, but we do not fear that he will come. The Consuls had him removed, and beside we do not think that he would trust himself to the watery pathway in which the 290, or the Oreta, may find him.

The Yankee paper reports that the Alabama(the 290) is captured and that we are about to evacuate Port Hudson and Vicksburg on account of starvation. We do not heed these stories.

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