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 22, 2015

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

Saturday, 22d April.

To see a whole city draped in mourning is certainly an imposing spectacle, and becomes almost grand when it is considered as an expression of universal affliction. So it is, in one sense. For the more violently “Secesh” the inmates, the more thankful they are for Lincoln’s death, the more profusely the houses are decked with the emblems of woe. They all look to me like “not sorry for him, but dreadfully grieved to be forced to this demonstration.” So all things have indeed assumed a funereal aspect. Men who have hated Lincoln with all their souls, under terror of confiscation and imprisonment which they understand is the alternative, tie black crape from every practicable knob and point to save their homes. Last evening the B——s were all in tears, preparing their mourning. What sensibility! What patriotism! a stranger would have exclaimed. But Bella’s first remark was: “Is it not horrible? This vile, vile old crape! Think of hanging it out when —” Tears of rage finished the sentence. One would have thought pity for the murdered man had very little to do with it.

Coming back in the cars, I had a rencontre that makes me gnash my teeth yet. It was after dark, and I was the only lady in a car crowded with gentlemen. I placed little Miriam on my lap to make room for some of them, when a great, dark man, all in black, entered, and took the seat and my left hand at the same instant, saying, “Good-evening, Miss Sarah.” Frightened beyond measure to recognize Captain Todd[1] of the Yankee army in my interlocutor, I, however, preserved a quiet exterior, and without the slightest demonstration answered, as though replying to an internal question. “Mr. Todd.” “It is a long while since we met,” he ventured. “Four years,” I returned mechanically. “You have been well?” “My health has been bad.” “I have been ill myself”; and determined to break the ice he diverged with “Baton Rouge has changed sadly.” “I hope I shall never see it again. We have suffered too much to recall home with any pleasure.” “I understand you have suffered severely,” he said, glancing at my black dress. “We have yet one left in the army, though,” I could not help saying. He, too, had a brother there, he said.

He pulled the check-string as we reached the house, adding, “This is it,” and absurdly correcting himself with “Where do you live?” — “211. I thank you. Good-evening”; the last with emphasis as he prepared to follow. He returned the salutation, and I hurriedly regained the house. Monsieur stood over the way. A look through the blinds showed him returning to his domicile, several doors below.

I returned to my own painful reflections. The Mr. Todd who was my “sweetheart” when I was twelve and he twenty-four, who was my brother’s friend, and daily at our home, was put away from among our acquaintance at the beginning of the war. This one, I should not know. Cords of candy and mountains of bouquets bestowed in childish days will not make my country’s enemy my friend now that I am a woman.

[1] A cousin of Mrs. Lincoln.

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