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 31, 2012

A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

July 31st.

I believe I forgot to mention one little circumstance in my account of that first night at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, which at the time struck me with extreme disgust. That was seeing more than one man who had no females or babies to look after, who sought there a refuge from the coming attack. At daylight, one dapper young man, in fashionable array, came stepping lightly on the gallery, carrying a neat carpet-bag in his hand. I hardly think he expected to meet two young ladies at that hour; I shall always believe he meant to creep away before any one was up; for he certainly looked embarrassed when we looked up, though he assumed an air of indifference, and passed by bravely swinging his sack — but I think he wanted us to believe he was not ashamed. I dare say it was some little clerk in his holiday attire; but I can’t say what contempt I felt for the creature.

Honestly, I believe the women of the South are as brave as the men who are fighting, and certainly braver than the “Home Guard.” I have not yet been able to coax myself into being as alarmed as many I could name are. They say it is because I do not know the danger. Soit. I prefer being brave through ignorance, to being afraid in consequence of my knowledge of coming events. Thank Heaven, my brothers are the bravest of the brave! I would despise them if they shrunk back, though Lucifer should dispute the path with them. Well! All men are not Morgan boys! They tell me cowards actually exist, though I hope I never met one. The poor men that went to the Asylum for safety might not have what Lavinia calls “a moral backbone.” No wonder, then, they tumbled in there! Besides, I am told half the town spent the night on the banks of the river, on that occasion; and perhaps these unfortunates were subject to colds, and preferred the shelter of a good roof. Poor little fellows! How I longed to give them my hoops, corsets, and pretty blue organdie in exchange for their boots and breeches! Only I thought it was dangerous; for suppose the boots had been so used to running that they should prance off with me, too? Why, it would ruin my reputation! Miss Morgan in petticoats is thought to be “as brave as any other man”; but these borrowed articles might make her fly as fast “as any other man,” too, if panic is contagious, as the Yankees here have proved. One consolation is, that all who could go with any propriety, and all who were worthy of fighting, among those who believed in the South, are off at the seat of war; it is only trash, and those who are obliged to remain for private reasons, who still remain. Let us count those young individuals as trash, and step over them. Only ask Heaven why you were made with a man’s heart, and a female form, and those creatures with beards were made as bewitchingly nervous?

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