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 27, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

Friday, 27th [March], Did not feel well enough to go to the Cathedral. The celebration of the Confederate Fast is contraband, and if held in any other church but the Catholic would be broken in upon. Mr. Harrison, Mr. Roselius, Detty Harrison and Mary and Mrs. Jeaurenand took up our whole morning. I was doing up collars, too, and they quite interfered with my time. Kitty brought Ginnie a letter from her young mistress in Europe, to read for her. It came in a letter to Mrs. Roselius. The child wrote very affectionately, and begged Kitty to think of her as often as she thought of Kitty. She has something very pretty for her, bought with her own money, and her mother has such a present for Kitty as will astonish her when she sees it. She wants to surprise her, and won’t tell. This note had a great effect on the girl and made her dazed, blear eyes sparkle. She had told Mrs. Norton in the morning that she intended to run away, but after we talked to her and begged her not to listen to anything which bad people said to her, she seemed greatly moved. She will not go if Mrs. Norton does not frighten her to death by her manner, and if others do not take her off. We would not let her touch our bed-room yesterday or to-day, but she seems really anxious to do little things for us. I believe I could manage Kitty by myself. I hardly think we would have lost Julie if we had been at home, though she acted badly, I admit. Mrs. Roselius here again this afternoon; Mrs. White, Mrs. Dameron and all sat on the gallery. I did not go out. Mary Jane makes a very poor business of cooking. Mrs. Norton’s boast that she could do better without Mary than with her has not held good. Mrs. Norton has a warrant out for Mary on the plea that she carried off Jake; the police are after her. Mary Jane has seen her. Mary told her that she had been to Mayor Miller’s office and had obtained from him a free pass. It is easy to be generous with the property of other people. He and his master, General Shepley, should be content to live free in Mrs. Brown’s house without further injuring her aged mother. When these people took possession of Mrs. Brown’s elegant establishment they drove Mrs. Dameron out. She had moved to her sister’s during the absence of her husband for the sake of her companionship; but Mr. Brown falling under the Federal ban, Mrs. Brown grew alarmed for his safety; his health was feeble and he could not have lived through a short imprisonment even. He is kept alive by the easiest and most comfortable life.

They accordingly fled in secret, old Phelps, who is really the best of the Federals, having good-naturedly given them passes. This was in Butler’s day; if they had been caught, heaven alone knows what might have happened. Mrs. Dameron was not allowed to take anything out of the house. She waited days before she could even get her baby’s crib or her children’s clothing. Nothing of her sister’s was she allowed to touch. Mrs. Brown had already shipped off silver and other valuables; they, I believe, safely reached the Confederacy. She did not tell any of her family where they were lest old Butler would imprison them, as he did others, and make them tell where they were. Her carpets and curtains she shipped to New York; after Shepley came to the house a regular search was made for everything. Mrs. Brown’s servants were all retained—her elegant carriage made a hack of, and her common one also. Her servants were questioned and cross-questioned about linens and other things, and the clerk who sent off the carpets and the very draymen who carried them to the boat were threatened with ball and chain unless they betrayed where everything had been taken. They recovered everything except the silver, and are living finely in the fine house. Mrs. Norton had been told by Mrs. Brown that she could take over unto herself the quantities of provisions of all kinds left in the storeroom; also a great deal of coal. Mrs. Dameron was surprised by two officers jumping over the railing one day whilst she was at dinner. Frightened, she ran upstairs, but the officers questioning her name of the servants, very wittily remarked that she better damn downstairs pretty quick. From that time the guard never left the house. They were insolent and searched everything, even the basket of soiled clothes.

Mrs. Dameron’s friends soon filled the house and Mrs. Richardson, who has interest with the Federals, had the guard removed and a more courteous couple sent in their place. “But she is not to remove even a teaspoon,” said Colonel French. The last guard behaved decently, refusing even to leave the gallery at night; so Mrs. Dameron did them the honor to pour out their coffee herself the next morning. She left the house and its belongings to the Federals that day. Mrs. Norton asked General Shepley for the provisions; he said he had no objections; she sent for them, and had her dray returned with a note from one of Shepley’s staff (Captain Miller). He could “not think,” he said, “of depriving the poor servants of the provisions, as they had been deserted by their owners without a support for the coming winter.” This was cool, certainly, after having driven Mrs. Dameron from her sister’s house and preventing the servants from going to her. Captain Miller, with his own hands, opened Mrs. Brown’s trunks; he told Mrs. Norton himself that he was on the search for linen. The carpets were brought back from New York, and one day when Mrs. Norton called, she found the General, or Governor, as he calls himself, overseeing the packing-box; he looked a little abashed, having that much grace left, and remarked that if he “had not gotten hold of the carpets and curtains, they would have been eaten with moth.” Heaven preserve Lee and Stonewall from such saving propensities! Well, this same Captain Miller has given Mary a pass independent of her mistress. General Banks has nestled himself in Mrs. Harrison’s house. She also is a daughter of Mrs. Norton. The editor of the Yankee Delta, now the Era, has carried off the books and splendid Magdalen of Mr. Harrison’s. Mrs. Dameron and myself went over the house the day the transition was going on, to-wit, the removal of French’s staff of officers and the editor of the Delta, and the coming in of General Banks and his staff.


Letter to General Banks.

New Orleans, Jan. 14th, 1863.

To Major Gen’l Banks:

Sir:—I have understood that articles of value have been taken from the residence of my son-in-law, Mr. J. P. Harrison, since the military seizure of it.

Some days before you entered into possession of it, I took the liberty of addressing you a note requesting permission to go through the house to ascertain from a personal examination whether, and to what extent, the rumors on the subject were true. Having received no reply to this note, I concluded to call on you in person, and did so at the residence of my son-in-law, but you seemed to be too much occupied to hear what I had to say and left me before I had time to renew my request.

Believing it to be my duty, in the absence of my son-in-law, to bring the matter to your attention, I now take the liberty of saying, that I have reason to believe that articles of value have been taken from the house since the seizure, and before your occupancy of it, to-wit:

1st.—A handsome painting purchased in Europe, and known in the family as “The Mag dalten.”

2nd.—Lace curtains to parlor windows.

3rd.—Some large marble vases.

4th.—Books of value.

5th.—The wines and liquors—principally in bottles; there was, however, a quarter-cask of Madeira, purchased at $12.00 a gallon, and from which little had been drawn up to the time of seizure. I also have reason to believe that one or two or more bedsteads and bedding have been taken away.

If these or any other articles be missing, you are the only person having power to order their return. All I can do is to bring the matter to your attention, and desire to do so, and hope I have done so respectfully.

Yours respectfully,

A. P. Norton.

P. S.—My residence fronts on the Carrollton Railroad—5th—No. 655, and near the crossing of Washington Street. Written for Mrs. Norton, Jan. 14th, 1863.—J. E. LeGrand.


Mr. Harrison’s brother has had some interviews with General Banks, having been introduced by a mutual friend (civil war makes strange connections). He found Banks a cold, selfish, disagreeable fellow, he says. Expected police to bring news of Mary and the children to-night. Left the lamp burning. This is an awful life. We try to persuade Mrs. Norton to be quiet, but she is restless and cannot.

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