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

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A Confederate Girl’s Diary

October 16, 2012

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson


Thursday, October 16th.

It seems an age since I have opened this book. How the time has passed since, I have but a vague idea, beyond that it has passed very pleasantly. . . . Once since, I have been with Mrs. Badger to a Mr. Powell, who has started quite an extensive shoemaking establishment, in the vain attempt to get something to cover my naked feet. I am so much in need that I have been obliged to borrow Lydia’s shoes every time I have been out since she returned. This was my second visit there, and I have no greater satisfaction than I had at first. He got my measure, I got his promise, and that is the end of it, thus far. His son, a young man of about twenty-four, had the cap of his knee shot off at Baton Rouge. Ever since he has been lying on his couch, unable to stand; and the probability is that he will never stand again. Instead of going out to the manufactory, Mrs. Badger has each time stopped at the house to see his mother (who, by the way, kissed me and called me “Sissie,” to my great amusement) and there I have seen this poor young man. He seems so patient and resigned that it is really edifying to be with him. He is very communicative, too, and seems to enjoy company, no matter if he does say “her ‘n” and his ‘n.” Wonder why he does n’t say “shisen” too? The girls are highly amused at the description I give of my new acquaintance, but still more so at Mrs. Badger’s account of the friendship of this poor young cripple, and his enjoyment of my visits. Of course it is only her own version, as she is very fond of jokes of all kinds.

Night before last Lydia got playing the piano for me in the darkened parlor, and the old tunes from her dear little fingers sent me off in a sea of dreams! She too caught the vision, and launched off in well-remembered quadrille. The same scene flashed on us, and at each note, almost, we would recall a little circumstance, charming to us, but unintelligible to Anna, who occupied the other side. Together we talked over the dramatis persona. Mrs. Morgan, Jr., in dark blue silk with black flounces, a crimson chenille net on her black hair, sits at the piano in her own parlor. On the Brussels carpet stands, among others, Her Majesty, Queen Miriam, in a lilac silk, with bare neck and arms save for the protection afforded by a bertha of appliqué lace trimmed with pink ribbon, with hair à la madonna, and fastened low on her neck. Is she not handsome as she stands fronting the folding doors, her hand in tall Mr. Trezevant’s, just as she commences to dance, with, the tip of her black bottine just showing? Vis-à-vis stands pretty Sophie, with her large, graceful mouth smiling and showing her pretty teeth to the best advantage. A low neck and shortsleeved green and white poplin is her dress, while her black hair, combed off from her forehead carelessly, is caught by a comb at the back and falls in curls on her shoulders. A prettier picture could not be wished for, as she looks around with sparkling eyes, eager for the dance to begin. There stands calm Dena in snuff-colored silk, looking so immeasurably the superior of her partner, who, I fancy, rather feels that she is the better man of the two, from his nervous way of shifting from one foot to the other, without saying a word to her. Nettie, in lilac and white, stands by the mantel laughing undisguisedly at her partner, rather than with him, yet so good-humoredly that he cannot take offense, but rather laughs with her. Lackadaisical Gertrude, whose face is so perfect in the daytime, looks pale and insipid by gaslight, and timidly walks through the dance. Stout, good-natured Minna smiles and laughs, never quite completing a sentence, partly from embarrassment, partly because she hardly knows how; but still so sweet and amiable that one cannot find fault with her for so trifling a misfortune. At this point, Lydia suggests, “And Sarah, do you forget her?” I laugh; how could I forget? There she stands in a light blue silk checked in tiny squares, with little flounces up to her knee. Her dress fits well, and she wears very pretty sleeves and collar of appliqué. Lydia asks if that is all, and how she looks. The same old song, I answer. She is looking at Miriam just now; you would hardly notice her, but certainly her hair is well combed. That is all you can say for her. Who is she dancing with? A youth fond of “dreams”; futile ones, at that, I laughingly reply. He must be relating one just now, for there is a very perceptible curl on her upper lip, and she is looking at him as though she thought she was the tallest. Lydia dashes off into a lively jig. “Ladies to the right!” I cried. She laughed too, well knowing that that part of the dance was invariably repeated a dozen times at least. She looked slyly up: “I am thinking of how many hands I saw squeezed,” she said. I am afraid it did happen, once or twice.

Eighteen months ago! What a change! One who was prominent on such occasions — Mr. Sparks —they tell me is dead. May God have mercy on his soul, in the name of Jesus Christ! I did not ask even this revenge.

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