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 29, 2013

The Journal of Julia LeGrand

29th [March]. A vote of thanks has been passed in our Confederate Congress to all those who were true and brave enough to refuse allegiance to the United States. This is well; I feel glad and proud and a thrill passes through me, knowing that I never, for one instant, faltered; neither did Ginnie. We were both begged, too, and considered obstinate and romantic. No outsider can ever realize the state of mind to which the people of this city were reduced in those days. Our ideas of Butler’s character enabled us easily to realize in full force any evil which report proclaimed him about to do. Prison, hard labor; exile we feared; evils of all sorts. A cotton press was fixed up by the authorities for some purpose. Report instantly proclaimed that it was for “Rebel women”—intended to put them to work at it. So also with a large stable which underwent some repairs; the women were to be confined there and made to wash and cook for Yankee soldiers. We tied up the few relics which we thought to conceal; burned many a dear old letter and made a general consignment to those who had taken the oath, then sat down patiently to wait our fate.

We knew that Butler had vowed to humiliate the women of New Orleans. We knew that the police were bribed as well as the servants to inform on every member of every household who had defied him, and the sufferings of Mrs. Phillips and Mrs. Coan in solitary confinement on Ship Island enabled us to realize any fate which the tyrant might choose for us. Until the coming of General Banks we never knew what would be done with us or to us. How can an outsider ever know what a temptation it was to us to take that oath. Many women, and men, too, took it in tears. Some went with the intention of taking it, and found they could not. Some fainted and some went crazy. Upon the whole, my opinion of the earnestness of our people was greatly strengthened by the hateful tests which Butler applied to their character. Mrs. Norton would go to town every day while the oathing was going on, and return each day with new reports. “We will be alone, girls, I do believe,” she would say; “everybody is taking the oath.” So we knew there would be no escape for us. I had really forgotten that Mrs. Roselius had taken it, although she had used so many arguments to make us do so, and to-day sent her Doctor Palmer’s letter on the oath-taking. I was sorry for it afterward. She came over after dinner and cried as bitterly as she did the day she took it. She does not spare herself. “I should not have yielded to Mr. Roselius,” she does not scruple to say. She is the warmest of Confederates and continues to talk like one, and hates the Yankees a thousand times worse than before. Mr. Roselius, though he made her take the oath, continually throws up the recollection to her. I despise French husbands! He is a Federal, too!

Mrs. Norton has been watching constantly for the policeman to whom she entrusted the warrant for Mary. He has discovered that Mary is with Jake, Emma and Reuben, her husband. Just three weeks ago she ran in to her mistress for protection against Reuben, who had threatened to kill her. Mrs. Norton went to Mary’s to get Jake, and Reuben slammed the door in her face—her hand barely escaping. Her hand was resting on the side of the jamb. He gave her much impudence, too, she says; so did Mary. The policeman came to-night late, saying that he had just got the three in jail; she has to appear early tomorrow in court and swear that Mary stole Jake; she has asked me to go with her. It makes me nervous to think of it. We have all advised and begged her not to meddle with her negroes now, knowing that the Federals will protect them, no matter what Mrs. Norton can say or do. Ginnie saw Reuben in this part of town to-day, pointing out this house to negro soldiers, and Jane saw white ones stoop and look at the name on the gate.

Previous post:

Next post: