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

June 18, 2012

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

June 18th.

How long, O how long, is it since I have lain down in peace, thinking, “This night I will rest in safety”? Certainly not since the fall of Fort Jackson. If left to myself, I would not anticipate evil, but would quietly await the issue of all these dreadful events; but when I hear men, who certainly should know better than I, express their belief that in twenty-four hours the town will be laid in ashes, I begin to grow uneasy, and think it must be so, since they say it. These last few days, since the news arrived of the intervention of the English and French, I have alternately risen and fallen from the depth of despair to the height of delight and expectation, as the probability of another exodus diminishes, and peace appears more probable. If these men would not prophesy the burning of the city, I would be perfectly satisfied. . . .

Well! I packed up a few articles to satisfy my conscience, since these men insist that another run is inevitable, though against my own conviction. I am afraid I was partly influenced by my dream last night of being shelled out unexpectedly and flying without saving an article. It was the same dream I had a night or two before we fled so ingloriously from Baton Rouge, when I dreamed of meeting Will Pinckney suddenly, who greeted me in the most extraordinarily affectionate manner, and told me that Vicksburg had fallen. He said he had been chiefly to blame, and the Southerners were so incensed at his losing, the Northerners at his defending, that both were determined to hang him; he was running for his life. He took me to a hill from which I could see the Garrison, and the American flag flying over it. I looked, and saw we were standing in blood up to our knees, while here and there ghastly white bones shone above the red surface. Just then, below me I saw crowds of people running. “What is it?” I asked. “It means that in another instant they will commence to shell the town. Save yourself.” “But Will — I must save some clothes, too! How can I go among strangers with a single dress? I will get some!” I cried. He smiled and said, “You will run with only what articles you happen to have on.” Bang! went the first shell, the people rushed by with screams, and I awakened to tell Miriam what an absurd dream I had had. It happened as Will had said, either that same day or the day after; for the change of clothes we saved apiece were given to Tiche, who lost sight of us and quietly came home when all was over, and the two dirty skirts and old cloak mother saved, after carrying them a mile and a half, I put in the buggy that took her up; so I saved nothing except the bag that was tied under my hoops. Will was right. I saved not even my powder-bag. (Tiche had it in the bundle.) My handkerchief I gave mother before we had walked three squares, and throughout that long fearfully warm day, riding and walking through the fiery sunshine and stifling dust, I had neither to cool or comfort me.

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