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 28, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

February 28th [1863]. Intended to go and help Katy Wilkinson pack to go out with her mother, but it rained too hard. Have written two letters, to Mrs. Chilton and Claude on soft Blockade paper, we call it, which are to go in a spool of cotton. It is a great deprivation not to be able to go beyond these hateful lines with the Wilkinsons. But I need money. Mrs. Dameron offered me some yesterday, but I can not borrow. Mrs. Randolph, whose husband owes us for a few months’ rent, offered to raise it for me, but times are so hard for people who are out of business, and who came here strangers as they did and who are cut off from friends who might aid them, that we told her we would not take it from her, even should she get it for us. I felt grateful to both for their heartfelt interest in us and feel that we have made friends for life. The Campos people who owe us a great deal are also in trouble, and thank us for not troubling them. Mr. Lancaster went off in fright when the Yankees came, without paying us. Mrs. Norton has money owed by Mrs. Chilton in her possession, but we can not bear to ask for it. It is ours really, but she does not offer it. So here we are a fixture, where our hearts are almost breaking. From the little store we had left, an acquaintance borrowed $300 “just until my husband comes in”; that was six weeks ago, and no word of it yet. I would not ask for so small a sum, but I greatly fear we shall need it. I have visited her twice and she has been here and members of her family, and it would be something for an outsider to pity us for if he could note our hope that it might be offered us. I would pity anyone who had been reduced to such straits as we have. All through others, too, and a weakness we have in not being able to ask for our own money. If I could get outside these hateful lines, I could use my Confederate money, and Claude, poor fellow, could perhaps send me some more, even if we could not get to Texas. Ah, well, some people are born for both small and large mishaps.

But enough of this—we must stay here until the Blockade is over, I suppose—we have expended within a few dollars our whole stock in laying in provisions lately. I feel, and so does Ginnie, the honest principle to purchase what we eat. I find myself, since the hard thoughts have taken possession of me, doing without everything at the table which we have not helped to buy. These are homely details indeed, when the Muse of History may wander at will, and dignify my pages with the hopes, fears, sacrifices and misfortunes of nations. Garibaldi, in Italy; Louis Napoleon in Mexico; English operatives perishing with hunger; Exeter Hall jubilant and triumphant over our Southern distress and what they call the “Freed negro race”; battles lost and won; cities captured and recaptured; a virgin soil bathed with the blood of its sons; a nation bathed in its tears; a new Confederacy and a new flag born into the world. Ah, Stars and Bars! How many years will it be before you float in an unjust cause over fields to which you have no right! All these things and more the Tragic Muse and her sisters may gather and record in this awful year of ’63— and here am I penning the common items which belong to a suppressed and narrow life; the pitiful details; the painful platitudes; the wearisome monotony incident to the everyday life of two women. Well, I have some right to make my cry go up with the general voice, more especially that I feel indeed that I “have no language, but a cry.”

Mrs. Dameron stayed all day with us. A sweet, earnest little soul. She is not demonstrative, but we have been made to feel that she is fond of us. I rely upon her wonderfully, but we have few thoughts in common. Mrs. Roselius spent the afternoon with us, and I found myself again unaware a champion of a religion. A friend of Mrs. R——’s has joined the Catholic Church and she has “ceased to respect her.” So runs the everyday stream. We all think differently and hate each other because we can not see alike. With the standing point changed, the view would alter, too. The more I see of life, the more lonely I feel. I shall never, never be tempted into a church—a membership I mean—sectarianism awes and disgusts me, yet I often, often covet that brotherhood feeling which the members of one association seem to enjoy. A common cause; whether it be religion, politics or business binds men, though they may hate all other causes beside. My ideas meet nobody’s, whether they are stirred by patriotism (by which I mean loving all that is good—not claiming all among my country’s people, boasting only of what is good—not claiming all good and a willingness to submit to much— to all trials—for the common good and honor and defence of home), by religion, or by any of the high or low possibilities which range our daily pathway. My ideas meet no one’s, I say again, and I often feel an isolation of heart even when meeting with general kindness. By religion I cannot understand anything but a kindly interpretation of human action; a gentle forbearance with all efforts of the human heart toward God— whether those efforts be Catholic or Protestant. It is with a feeling of profound wonder and awe even, with which I behold the common idea of hugging salvation for one’s own people and communities—and committing all others to—to say the least of it, to some undefined horrors. The general satisfaction under such a state of things, I say, awes me.

I wish I could have known a certain poet who lived here before the war—Capt. Harry Flash. I wish I knew Tennyson, Hawthorne, George Eliot (Miss Evans) and I wish I could journey back far enough on the pathway of time to meet the large, untrammeled gaze of Edmund Burke. I have admired the sermons, rather the philosophizings, of Ellery Channing; and those of the Right Reverend Doctor Clapp of this city; to me they seem imbued with Christ’s spirit, though they differ in letter from the churches. The “Great Harmonia” of Jackson, the Spiritualist, is a work which has met and convinced my reason, soothed my anxieties, unraveled my perplexities, pleased my imagination, lifted my aspirations, reconciled much of paradox to my mind and tinged with far-off hope my longings. These books my friends condemn. All authors that I love, fall under the ban with my acquaintances. I allow latitude—and take it—and yet it is a lonely life that I lead now. I have known the bliss of meeting of thought’ but it is gone, and never on this side of eternity can it be mine again. Our opinions make us—I cannot yield mine.

I had had a sort of enthusiastic regard for Beauregard, but to-day I heard that his wife has much need to complain of him—I was told by one who is familiar with his social relations—in an instant the feeling in my heart for this hero vanished, and a pained one of disappointment took its place—so we go on in life until we have nothing left. In my walk this afternoon I met little Charley Mushaway(?), a little dark-eyed, fair-haired beauty, who cheers for Beauregard and Stonewall Jackson constantly. I did not wish him to cheer for Beauregard to-day. A man is as nothing to me who sins against the purity and divinity which sits by his hearthstone—Love. Saw Mrs. Wilkinson and the girls—told us much of matters going on outside of the lines. She is very much changed—grown completely gray in one month. She went out some months ago. The death of her husband at Manassas having reached her as a rumor, she went out to ascertain its truth. She had much difficulty in getting a passport out and has now been arrested for not taking the oath upon returning to see her children. Some faces relax, even under great grief, but she seems even to have forgotten how to smile. She is going out with her children, whenever the upstarts will let her. Our soldiers outside are far from starvation. They have food and clothes, even coffee in plenty. Many of our young privates, who are from the best families in the land, miss thousands of home comforts, but there is no desponding; no lack of spirit and determination to stand until the last man, rather than to give up to the Yankees.

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