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

July 10, 2013

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

July 10th.

Shall I cry, faint, scream, or go off in hysterics? Tell me which, quickly; for to doubt this news is fine and imprisonment, and if I really believe it I would certainly give way to my feelings and commit some vagaries of the kind. My resolution is formed! I will do neither; I won’t gratify the Yankees so much. I have been banging at the piano until my fingers are weary, and singing “The Secret through Life to be Happy” until my voice is cracked; I’ll stand on my head if necessary, to prove my indifference; but I’ll never believe this is true until it is confirmed by stronger authority.

Day before yesterday came tidings that Vicksburg had fallen on the 4th inst. The “Era” poured out extras, and sundry little popguns fizzled out salutes. All who doubted the truth of the report and were brave enough to say so were fined or imprisoned; it has become a penal offense to doubt what the “Era” says; so quite a number of arrests were made. This morning it was followed up by the announcement of the capture of Port Hudson. The guns are pealing for true, and the Yankees at headquarters may be seen skipping like lambs, for very joy. And I still disbelieve! Skeptic! The first thing I know that “Era” man will be coming here to convert me! But I don’t, can’t, won’t believe it! If it is true, — but I find consolation in this faith: it is either true, or not true, — if it is true, it is all for the best, and if it is not true, it is better still. Whichever it is, is for some wise purpose; so it does not matter, so we wait, pray, and believe.

5 o’clock, P.M.

I don’t believe it? What am I crying about then? It seems so hard! How the mighty are fallen! Port Hudson gone! Brother believes it. That is enough for me. God bless him! I cry hourly. He is so good and considerate. He told me, “Name your friends, and what can be done for them shall be attended to. The prisoners will be sent here. Maybe I cannot do much; but food and clothing you shall have in abundance for them when they arrive.” God bless him for his kindness!

O dear, noble men! I am afraid to meet them; I should do something foolish; best take my cry out in private now. May the Lord look down in pity on us! Port Hudson does not matter so much; but these brave, noble creatures! The “Era” says they had devoured their last mule before they surrendered.

Saturday, July 10th, 10 o’clock P.M.

I preach patience; but how about practice? I am exasperated! there is the simple fact. And is it not enough? What a scene I have just witnessed! A motley crew of thousands of low people of all colors parading the streets with flags, torches, music, and all other accompaniments, shouting, screaming, exulting over the fall of Port Hudson and Vicksburg. The “Era” will call it an enthusiastic demonstration of the loyal citizens of the city; we who saw it from upper balconies know of what rank these “citizens” were. We saw crowds of soldiers mixed up with the lowest rabble in the town, workingmen in dirty clothes, newsboys, ragged children, negroes, and even women walking in the procession, while swarms of negroes and low white women elbowed each other in a dense mass on the pavement. To see such creatures exulting over our misfortune was enough to make one scream with rage. One of their dozen transparencies was inscribed with “A dead Confederacy.” Fools! The flames are smouldering! They will burst out presently and consume you! More than half, much more, were negroes. As they passed here they raised a yell of “Down with the rebels!” that made us gnash our teeth in silence. The Devil possessed me. “O Miriam, help me pray the dear Lord that their flag may burn!” I whispered as the torches danced around it. And we did pray earnestly— so earnestly that Miriam’s eyes were tightly screwed up; but it must have been a wicked prayer, for it was not answered.

Dr. S—— has out a magnificent display of black cotton grammatically inscribed with “Port Hudson and Vicksburg is ours,” garnished with a luminous row of tapers, and, drunk on two bits’ worth of lager beer, he has been shrieking out all Union songs he can think of with his horrid children until my tympanum is perfectly cracked. Miriam wants to offer him an extra bottle of lager for the two places of which he claims the monopoly. He would sell his creed for less. Miriam is dying to ask him what he has done with the Confederate uniform he sported before the Yankees came. His son says they are all Union men over there, and will “lemonate” (illuminate) to-night. A starving seamstress opposite has stuck six tallow candles in her window; better put them in her stomach!

And I won’t believe Vicksburg has surrendered! Port Hudson I am sure has fallen. Alas, for all hopes of serving the brave creatures! the rumor is that they have been released on parole. Happily for them; but if it must go, what a blessed privilege it would have been to aid or comfort them!

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