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.

March 12, 2015

Letters and diary of Laura M. Towne

Village, St. Helena, March 12, 1865.

I am sorry to tell you that our island is going to lose that good and useful man Mr. Tomlinson. He is to live in Beaufort,[1] and many a want of ours will be unsupplied after this. He offered to turn over to me “Big Charley” the horse, instead of our little Charley, but I would n’t listen to it, for “Big Charley” is a large, fine-spirited Northern horse, who has run away several times and smashed several buggies. Mr. T. is indignant at our little balking beast, who acted like a veritable ass the other day when Fanny was riding him, and ended by shaking her off his back. If she had known anything of him, or of any horse, it would not have happened. She was not hurt at all, and was well laughed at. Saxby and the calf grow splendidly, and all our animals are in fine condition, as we have been buying moss, marsh grass, and hay, at frightful prices — the former to help the people from Georgia, and the latter to save our beasts’ lives. It would make you groan to see what I call “fine condition.” You can count every rib in every animal we have got, but they can keep on their feet and go.

It has been the longest storm I ever knew down here — nothing but rain, rain, till the island is almost submerged. The Georgia people are smart, busy, and clean, but they have been used to much better living than our islanders, and being nearly reduced to starvation, for the want of rations, which were stopped by want of the means of transportation (coal for the steamers), they have not resisted the temptation of stealing whatever was eatable. Rina’s chickens have suffered. She says, “When der’s no men-folks in de family, it’s pure destruction.” And I believe we should find it so in our housekeeping, if it were not for Mr. Ruggles, Mr. Tomlinson, and others. The Edisto people having gone from the village and carried all their chickens, pigs, etc., we were for a time reduced to salt food entirely. The consequence was that Rina and Ellen both got the scurvy in a slight degree. It was trying enough for a week, — indeed, for three or four weeks, — but for one week they were almost laid up. We resorted to canned tomatoes and Irish potatoes, which Mr. Ruggles has now for sale, and we are all better.

The delicious blackberry season is almost here — they are in bloom. Peach trees are out, and plum trees. The gardens are gay with jonquils and “daffies,” and the jessamine is nearly in full bloom.

The bell — when will that come? A golden opportunity will be gone if it does not come this week! Our schoolhouse is being shingled now, and if the Government carpenter goes we shall probably have to pay for it, or I shall. It is my affair.

[1] Mr. Tomlinson took the place of Captain Hooper on General Saxton’s staff. He was also made State Superintendent of Education.

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