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.

March 25, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

Wednesday, 25th [March]. Did not sleep again last night, and only dozed near morning. Dreamed quantities—of being at Shepley’s house and refusing to eat at his table; saw thousands of people, all under unpleasant circumstances; wrote a savage letter to Mayor Miller, and made myself conspicuous generally. Heard Mrs. Norton talking early to Jane; called her in and asked the question which had been lying on my mind, “Has Mary gone?” “No, Miss.” Greatly relieved, I turned over to get a nap, for I felt weak, nervous and sleepy. Presently I heard Jane say, “Aunt Mary has gone and taken Jake.” No more sleep—got up and dressed; I felt desolate and oppressed and it was quite cold. I felt quite as sorry as I did when Julie Ann left us. Mrs. Norton is quite cut up, though she says that she knew that Mary was going. Her first words were, “Now you know whether I know nothing or not, don’t you?” This was a cut at us for having taken Mary’s part. Indeed, I know all—that the woman would not have left but for her having taken too much liquor, and in that state passed the boundary too far for return. She took Jake along. We have both advised Mrs. Norton to move to her daughter’s, Mrs. Dameron’s, and we would go to Mr. Randolph’s. We could board with them. After much entreaty, he would board us instead of receiving us as visitors. She was angry at the mere mentioning of such a thing—said that nothing could make her live in a house full of children, and moreover, she says that if she goes to Mrs. Dameron’s all the servants would leave, as they do not like her. This I am afraid is true, as Mrs. Norton sees defects in the servant world very keenly, and she does not keep silence afterward. Mrs. Dameron’s house-full of servants have been too long indulged to allow of any interference, especially now that they can go to the Yankees with any story they please. This Yankee soldier’s wife at the corner keeps the servants of this neighborhood miserable. Hers are as well clad as she is, and have quite as much time to themselves, but they look sour and anxious. Those who are innocently inclined and are really attached to their mistresses are reproached by others and these low Yankees. I feel very sorry for Mrs. Norton. She did not believe that Mary would leave her, though she said so often. I think that Mary Jane, who is deceitful, I think, had much to do with Mary’s conduct. How long her ladyship may remain, no one knows. This flitting has caused quite a commotion in this household, and, indeed, I must say that I can never get over my sorrowful feeling for a blow of this sort. I had expected better things of Mary. She had always talked of being fond of her mistress’ family, and letters were read to her only a few days ago from every member of it, in which she was spoken of with much attachment. Charley and Mrs. Brown both spoke of what they intended to do to reward her for her faithfulness.

The Yankees have undermined every good feeling which at one time existed between these poor people and their owners. I am almost afraid to see the Confederates, though I long for their coming. So many people have been betrayed by pet servants. Strange that some of the most severe mistresses and masters have kept their servants through all this trying year. Mrs. Roselius came over as soon as she heard of Mary’s flight, and proposed to send over a girl of her sister’s who had been left with her while her sister was in Europe. She is an ugly, half-dazed looking creature—innocent, though, I think. She came in evidently much frightened, having been told alarming tales by Mrs. Roselius’s other servants. She seemed to revive after having been spoken to kindly. Her name is Kitty; I like the poor thing, somehow. I do not expect her to be honest, though, and will try to remember to lock up. I laid $1.50 on the bureau one morning and it disappeared in a very short time. This locking up and watching is perfectly hateful to me. But what can one do? One is obliged to be honest oneself and to pay one’s debts. But negroes have no mercy and will take one’s last cent if you keep it unlocked. I would hate them if I considered them responsible and developed beings. They are not quite men and women yet. I think the Yankees must be of the same mind, for they are catching up the negroes as if they were animals, to put them on the Government plantations. Judge Ogden and Mrs. Waugh passed the morning with us. The Judge was mysterious, and evidently smiles all over him. He is quite brilliant with some secret political information. He would tell nothing, but told us with much emphasis to fear nothing; that all our troubles (political) would be over in a week or two. He was in the depths of gloom not long ago. He does not know that Mary has told us about the spy. I suppose that this spy story, at least, must be true, because the Ogdens have heard from Billy that his captain (Tucker) has been on detached service for some time, and that he (Billy) being first lieutenant, is acting in his place. Judge Ogden saw Captain Tucker in Virginia on service—knows that he has been sent on this mission, so I suppose there can be no deception in this case. He told Judge Ogden that he had been sent here for information as to the position of things generally here. He says that Stonewall Jackson is outside at Camp Moore, and that this city is to be attacked as soon as the Port Hudson affair is over. When will it be over? we constantly ask ourselves. The varied reports one hears are enough to confuse one’s intellect, fraught, as they are, with our dearest interests. All conversation now is a medley of what this spy or that has told, or what some returned prisoner has reported, or that Colonel This or Lieutenant That or Captain So and So has said. We have heard again for the hundredth time that Weitzel has been surrounded and cut to pieces. Brashear is now reported to have been captured by the Confederates. Provisions and artillery sent in that direction for Weitzel have been brought back. Some muddy, soiled and tired cavalry have ridden into town.

We took dinner at Mrs. Dameron’s. Practiced on the piano a good deal—the first time for months. I regret that I have so neglected my music, but have had no heart for anything. Between three and four we heard cannon in the distance—listened with our hearts for some time. We concluded it to be a general clearing out of guns at Camp Parafet. Meant to take a walk, but calling in here for my gloves found so much company that I could not get away. We sat upon the gallery. Mary Waugh came; sent by her father to learn what we knew of a Jackson paper of the 20th, said to be in town, and of which Judge Ogden had told us. These papers are contraband, but they get in sometimes in reality, but oftener by report. We often hear of wonderful victories of ours, said to be detailed by this paper, but the search after it often proves hopeless. You never find anyone who has read it with his own eyes. It is quite a common question, “Did you see it yourself?” Generally some very reliable person has been told by some other reliable person who would not deceive anyone in small matters or great. So many of these stories are proved false by time that the “reliable” man or woman has fallen into bad repute. Three rumors now bring any tale under the ban. This paper of the 20th, the reliable man said, confirmed the capture of Farragut and the Hartford. Great rumors of the cutting to pieces of Rosecrans prevail. The existence and non-existence of the Indianola are as much matters of discussion now as ever the lamented Arkansas gave rise to. We hear “reliable” proofs of both. I am somewhat confused myself by opposite statements, but some people walk with sublime faith through the labyrinth. Mrs. Harrison, whose husband is confined here so long, and whom she is still allowed to visit, sat on the gallery with us and told us many things she had heard the day before from the Confederate prisoners who had been brought in. Colonel Frank Gardiner’s Signal Corps, near Port Hudson, were captured; Captain Youngblood and others. The passing of Farragut, at Port Hudson, and the crippling and the return of the other vessels, and the burning of the Mississippi presented a sublime and awful spectacle. It all took place at night, and the roar of the guns, both from the ships and shore, must have been deafening and terrible to hear. The crew of the Mississippi were all captured or killed. Many a wounded man silently lay upon the decks and was devoured by the flames as she floated. My blood seems to curdle, and I believe my heart does really bleed. It seems strange that we can eat, drink, sleep and array ourselves while such horrors are enacting daily. This evening I sat on the gallery and listened while Mrs. H—— told prison tales and showed Annie Waugh how to make some rose-trimming that she had seen Ginnie wear and especially admired. I do not feel like a trifler, I know.

Previous post:

Next post: