Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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Through Some Eventful Years

December 4, 2013

Through Some Eventful Years by Susan Bradford Eppes

December 4th, 1863.—We had that musicale last night and it was fine. We had an unexpected guest; in the afternoon cousin Mary wrote a note asking if she might bring Miss Maria Eppes. She had come to visit at Greenwood. Of course we were glad to have her and when she came we were delighted; she is beautiful, and has such charming ways. I have a picture of Lieutenant Mecklenburg Polk, which he sent me by Cousin Sam. He must be remarkably handsome if he looks like his picture and I have framed it in pine cones, the kind that grow on the short leaf pines. It makes a very pretty frame and it occupies a prominent place on the mantel. I do not know this fine young soldier boy, but whenever I look at the picture it seems to recall some one whom I have known; just a fleeting impression, which I cannot quite grasp.

Last night Maria Eppes saw it and she called out in a rather excited tone: “Where did my brother’s picture come from?”

I told her who it was but she could hardly believe me, and said, “It is exactly like Nick.”

I knew then why the face looked familiar and I told Maria of the night her brother took supper with us. Then she told me of the part he took in the great battle of Chickamauga; of Finley’s Brigade, of which his regiment is a part, how they charged the enemy with the bayonet three times before they succeeded in breaking General Thomas’ line; how they yelled as they drove the enemy down Snodgrass Hill; how terrible the fighting was; how the ground was covered with dead and dying men and of the awful groans of the wounded horses.

They had a truce for a short time to bury their dead, not really a decent burial, but just a trench, in which they were laid. The battle lasted three days and covered many acres of ground, miles, it seemed to those engaged.

Just think, exactly one month before, Lieut. Eppes was sitting so quietly at our table, he and cousin John, and so soon after this bloody battle came to them.

Maria said her mother had a letter that morning, telling of the battle of Missionary Ridge and the crossing to Lookout Mountain, where another battle was fought. Maria says her brother escaped almost by a miracle at Missionary Ridge, as most of his comrades were either killed or taken prisoners. We have heard that cousin John and cousin Henry, who were in that battle were taken prisoner and thus far we have not heard where they were carried.

Maria is very glad her brother is safe so far, but then you never know what you will hear next. Maria says if I will send Lieutenant Polk’s picture back, she will give me one of her brother and I can have the original as well as the photograph, too, funny, isn’t she? I do not expect ever to see either one of them.

Cousin Julia had a nice time last night; she likes Hattie better than any of the girls. I do not wonder at that for she is delightful company, so witty and so original. When I have girls staying with me Hattie always entertains for them and then when she has company I reciprocate. It makes it pleasanter all around. Captain Lester and my father “spoil their daughters” the neighbors say, but it is a fine thing to do, according to our way of thinking. It gives us a good time even if we are spoiled. I don’t think we are bad girls either, and how we do love our indulgent fathers.

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