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 3, 2012

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

Thursday night, July 3d.

Another day of sickening suspense. This evening, about three, came the rumor that there was to be an attack on the town to-night, or early in the morning, and we had best be prepared for anything. I can’t say I believe it, but in spite of my distrust, I made my preparations. First of all I made a charming improvement in my knapsack, alias pillow-case, by sewing a strong black band down each side of the centre from the bottom to the top, when it is carried back and fastened below again, allowing me to pass my arms through, and thus present the appearance of an old peddler. Miriam’s I secured also, and tied all our laces in a handkerchief ready to lay it in the last thing.

But the interior of my bag! — what a medley it is! First, I believe, I have secured four underskirts, three chemises, as many pairs of stockings, two under-bodies, the prayer book father gave me, “Tennyson” that Harry gave me when I was fourteen, two unmade muslins, a white mull, English grenadine trimmed with lilac, and a purple linen, and nightgown. Then, I must have Lavinia’s daguerreotype, and how could I leave Will’s, when perhaps he was dead? Besides, Howell’s and Will Carter’s were with him, and one single case did not matter. But there was Tom Barker’s I would like to keep, and oh! let’s take Mr. Stone’s! and I can’t slight Mr. Dunnington, for these two have been too kind to Jimmy for me to forget; and poor Captain Huger is dead, and I will keep his, so they all went together. A box of pens, too, was indispensable, and a case of French notepaper, and a bundle of Harry’s letters were added. Miriam insisted on the old diary that preceded this, and found place for it, though I am afraid if she knew what trash she was to carry, she would retract before going farther.

It makes me heartsick to see the utter ruin we will be plunged in if forced to run to-night. Not a hundredth part of what I most value can be saved — if I counted my letters and papers, not a thousandth. But I cannot believe we will run to-night. The soldiers tell whoever questions them that there will be a fight before morning, but I believe it must be to alarm them. Though what looks suspicious is, that the officers said — to whom is not stated — that the ladies must not be uneasy if they heard cannon tonight, as they would probably commence to celebrate the Fourth of July about twelve o’clock. What does it mean? I repeat, I don’t believe a word of it; yet I have not yet met the woman or child who is not prepared to fly. Rose knocked at the door just now to show her preparations. Her only thought seems to be mother’s silver, so she has quietly taken possession of our shoe-bag, which is a long sack for odds and ends with cases for shoes outside, and has filled it with all the contents of the silver-box; this hung over her arm, and carrying Louis and Sarah, this young Samson says she will be ready to fly.

I don’t believe it, yet here I sit, my knapsack serving me for a desk, my seat the chair on which I have carefully spread my clothes in order. At my elbow lies my running- or treasure-bag, surrounded by my combs filled with hair-pins, starch, and a band I was embroidering, etc.; near it lie our combs, etc., and the whole is crowned by my dagger; — by the way, I must add Miriam’s pistol which she has forgotten, though over there lies her knapsack ready, too, with our bonnets and veils.

It is long past eleven, and no sound of the cannon. Bah! I do not expect it. “I’ll lay me down and sleep in peace, for Thou only, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety.” Good-night! I wake up to-morrow the same as usual, and be disappointed that my trouble was unnecessary.

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