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

April 8, 2013

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

Wednesday, Clinton, April 8th, 1863.

Our last adieux are said, and Linwood is left behind, “it may be for years, and it may be forever.” My last hours were spent lying on the sofa on the gallery, with Lydia at my feet, Helen Carter sitting on the floor at my side, while all the rest were gathered around me as I played for the last time “the centre of attraction.” I grew almost lachrymose as I bid a last adieu to the bed where I have spent so many months, as they carried me downstairs. Wonder if it will not miss me? It must have been at least five before the cars returned. Mrs. Carter grew quite pathetic as they approached, while poor little Lydia, with streaming eyes and choking sobs, clung first to Miriam and then to me, as though we parted to meet only in eternity. All except her mother started in a run for the big gate, while I was carried to the buggy through the group of servants gathered to say good-bye, when the General drove me off rapidly.

What a delightful sensation is motion, after five months’ inaction! The last time I was in a vehicle was the night General Beale’s ambulance brought me to Linwood a helpless bundle, last November. It seemed to me yesterday that I could again feel the kind gentleman’s arm supporting me, and his wondering, sympathetic tone as he repeated every half-mile, “Really, Miss Morgan, you are very patient and uncomplaining!” Good, kind President Miller! As though all the trouble was not his, just then! But stopping at the gate roused me from my short reverie, and I opened my eyes to find myself stationary, and in full view of a train of cars loaded with soldiers, literally covered with them; for they covered the roof, as well as filled the interior, while half a dozen open cars held them, seated one above the other in miniature pyramids, and even the engine was graced by their presence. Abashed with finding myself confronted with so many people, my sensation became decidedly alarming as a dozen rude voices cried, “Go on! we won’t stop!” and a chorus of the opposition cried, “Yes, we will!” “No “Yes!” they cried in turn, and as the General stood me on the ground (I would have walked if it had been my last attempt in life), I paused irresolute, not knowing whether to advance or retreat before the storm. I must say they are the only rude soldiers I have yet seen in Confederate uniforms. But as I walked slowly, clinging to the General’s arm, half from fear, and half from weakness, they ceased the unnecessary dispute, and remained so quiet that I was more frightened still, and actually forgot to say goodbye to Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Worley as they stood by the road. How both the General and I escaped being hurt as he raised me on the platform, every one is at a loss to account for. I experienced only what may be called slight pain, in comparison to what I have felt; but really fear that the exertion has disabled him for to-day. It must have been very severe. Some officers led me to my seat, Lilly, Miriam, and Anna got in, the General kissed us heartily, with damp eyes and kind wishes; the cars gave a whistle, and I put my head out of the window to see Mrs. Carter industriously applying white cambric to her face, which occupation she relinquished to call out last good-byes; another whistle and a jerk, and we were off, leaving her and Mrs. Worley, surrounded by children and servants, using their handkerchiefs to wipe tears and wave farewell, while the General waved his hat for good-bye. Then green hedges rapidly changing took their place, and Linwood was out of sight before we had ceased saying and thinking, God bless the kind hearts we had left behind. Can I ever forget the kindness we have met among them?

To see green trees and wild flowers once more, after such an illness, is a pleasure that only those long deprived of such beauties by a similar misfortune can fully appreciate.

It was a relief to discover that what I had thought shocking rudeness in the soldiers had not been reserved for me alone. For every time we stopped, the same cry of “No waiting for slow people” was raised, varied by constant expostulations with the engine for drinking ponds dry, and mild suggestions as to taking the road the other side of the fence, which would no doubt prove smoother than the track. These Arkansas troops have acquired a reputation for roughness and ignorance which they seem to cultivate as assiduously as most people would their virtues. But rudeness does not affect their fighting qualities.

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