Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne.

Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne.

February 19, 2015

Letters and diary of Laura M. Towne

Sunday, February 19, 1865.

Two boxes of clothing have reached this house and four more are at the ferry, so next week distributing will begin again. I am going to give up my class for a week, and do it up systematically. It can be done now much better than at first, for then it was hard to tell who were needy and who were not, but now we know that all are alike in poverty, or nearly alike. Some have already begun to work, but with all such the rations are to be stopped next week, and while they have themselves to feed at the present low rate of wages and high prices of provisions, they will find it impossible to get clothes. The terrible sickness and mortality among those in this village is much less now that the severe cold weather is over. Government gave each family a blanket or two, but that was bed covering and all in one, so I really think many actually died from cold and others have severe coughs that I do not think they will ever recover from. Nearly all who are ill take the dropsy as they get better, and so go walking about as usual, till their lungs fill, and then they take to the floor and die in a day or so. Nearly all the children are dead, or a very large proportion of them. Our Mary Ann would persist in taking all sorts of things and eating while she had severe diarrhœa, such wholesome cribbings as raw peanuts, cracklings from salt pork, half-raw sweet potatoes, etc., etc. So we asked her cousin — her sole remaining relative — if she did not want the child back. We could not watch her closely enough. The cousin said yes, so we gave Mary Ann two suits of clothing and took her to a comfortable house where her cousin was living, she having lost her child, — a little boy two years old, — and left the hospital. Mary Ann was much better when she left — able to “pick chips,” and to walk about as she liked.

Some changes are taking place here among our friends. Mr. Hunn is going to Edisto, and a Tax Commissioners’ teacher is to be put on Frogmore in Miss Hunn’s school. So the Murrays are going to move to “The Oaks.” Mr. Ruggles has leased that place for four years and has given them the use of his half of the house. The other half goes for school-farm teachers. Fanny declares she will not go to that unhealthy place and is coming to stay with us awhile.

We have grand rumors to-night — that Charleston is evacuated,[1] but we can’t believe it yet. I am astonished at the gammon still prevailing at the North about our Southern brethren, and their softened feelings and longings to come back, etc., etc. They are hungry, and long for loaves and fishes, but a gentleman who has just come from Savannah says they are bitter and spiteful and “cantankerous” as ever, and show extreme contempt for the Northerners while they are accepting their benefactions. This gentleman was the secretary or president of the old pro-slavery Home Mission Society of Presbyterians, and he has always stood up for our erring but darling Southern brothers. If he speaks against them he speaks against himself, for the past twenty years, and yet he does say that Northern sympathy is wasted on them.

Old Pittsburg is doing well, is n’t she? I do not know how many boxes have come to me from there or from their funds. They seem, by their letters, to recognize that I am John Towne’s daughter.

[1] General Sherman entered Charleston without resistance on February 18, 1865.

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