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I was interrupted so frequently yesterday that I know not how I continued to write so much. First, I was sent for, to go to Mrs. Brunot, who had just heard of her son's death, and who was alone with Dena; and some hours after, I was sent for, to see Fanny, now Mrs. Trezevant, who had just come with her husband to bring us news of George. A Mrs. Montgomery, who saw him every day at Norfolk, said Jimmy was with him, and though very sick at first, was now in good health. The first news in all that long time! When the city was evacuated, George went with his regiment seven miles from Richmond, Jimmy to the city itself, as aide to Com. Hollins. This lady brought George's opal ring and diamond pin. Howell andJVlr. Badger, who had just joined the guerrillas as independents, spent the day with me. We were all in such confusion that I felt ashamed : every one as dirty as possible ; I had on the same dress I had escaped in, which, though then perfectly clean, was now rather dirty. But they knew what a time we had had.
To return to my journal.
Lucy met mother some long way ahead of us, whose conscience was already reproaching her for leaving us, and in answer to her "What has become of my poor girls?" ran down the road to find us, for Lucy thinks the world can't keep on moving with out us. When she met us, she walked by the cart, and it was with difficulty we persuaded her to ride a mile; she said she felt "used" to walking now. About five miles from home, we overtook mother. The gentleman had been obliged to go for his wife, so Mary gave her her seat on the cart, and walked with Lucy three miles beyond, where we heard that Lilly and the children had arrived in a cart, early in the day. All the talk by the roadside was of burning homes, houses knocked to pieces by balls, famine, murder, desolation; so I comforted myself singing, " Better days are coming" and " I hope to die shout ing, the Lord will provide"; while Lucy toiled through the sun and dust, and answered with a chorus of "I m a-runnin , a-runnin up to glo-ry!"
It was three o'clock when we reached Mr. David's and found Lilly. How warm and tired we were ! A hasty meal, which tasted like a feast after our fatigue, gave us fresh strength, and Lilly and Miriam got in an old cart with the children to drive out here, leaving me with mother and Dellie to follow next day. About sunset, Charlie came flying down the road, on his way to town. I decided to go, and after an obstinate debate with mother, in which I am afraid I showed more determination than amiability, I wrung a reluctant consent from her, and, promising not to enter if it was being fired or plundered, drove off in triumph. It was a desperate enterprise for a young girl, to enter a town full of soldiers on such an expedition at night ; but I knew Charlie could take care of me, and if he was killed I could take care of myself; so I went.
It was long after nine when we got there, and my first act was to look around the deserted house. What a scene of confusion! armoirs spread open, with clothes tumbled in every direction, inside and out ; ribbons, laces on floors ; chairs overturned ; my desk wide open covered with letters, trinkets, etc. ; bureau drawers half out, the bed filled with odds and ends of everything. I no longer recognized my little room. On the bolster was a little box, at the sight of which I burst out laughing. Five minutes before the alarm, Miriam had been selecting those articles she meant to take to Greenwell, and, holding up her box, said, " If we were forced to run for our lives without a moment's warning, I d risk my life to save this, rather than leave it!" Yet here lay the box, and she was safe at Greenwell ! It took me two hours to pack father's papers, then I packed Miriam's trunk, then some of mother's and mine, listening all the while for a cannon; for men were constantly tramping past the house, and only on condition our guerrillas did not disturb them had they promised not to recommence the shelling. Charlie went out to hear the news, and I packed alone.
It seems the only thing that saved the town was two gentlemen who rowed out to the ships, and in formed the illustrious commander that there were no men there to be hurt, and he was only killing women and children. The answer was, "He was sorry he had hurt them; he thought of course the town had been evacuated before the men were fools enough to fire on them, and had only shelled the principal streets to intimidate the people." These streets were the very ones crowded with flying women and child ren, which they must have seen with their own eyes, for those lying parallel to the river led to the Garrison at one end and the crevasse at the other, which cut off all the lower roads, so that the streets he shelled were the only ones that the women could follow, unless they wished to be drowned. As for the firing, four guerrillas were rash enough to fire on a yawl which was about to land without a flag of truce, killing one, wounding three, one of whom afterwards died.
They were the only ones in town, there was not a cannon in our hands, even if a dozen men could be collected, and this cannonading was kept up in return for half a dozen shots from as many rifles, without even a show of resistance after! So ended the momentous shelling of Baton Rouge, during which the valiant Farragut killed one whole woman, wounded three, struck some twenty houses several times apiece, and indirectly caused the death of two little children who were drowned in their flight, one poor little baby that was born in the woods, and several cases of the same kind, besides those who will yet die from the fatigue, as Mrs. W. D. Phillips who had not left her room since January, who was carried out in her nightgown, and is now supposed to be in a dying condition. The man who took mother told us he had taken a dying woman in the act of expiring in his buggy, from her bed, and had left her a little way off, where she had probably breathed her last a few moments after. There were many similar cases. Hurrah for the illustrious Farragut, the Woman Killer! ! !
It was three o'clock before I left off packing, and took refuge in a tub of cold water, from the dust and heat of the morning. What a luxury the water was ! and when I changed my underclothes I felt like a new being. To be sure I pulled off the skin of my heel entirely, where it had been blistered by the walk, dust, sun, etc., but that was a trifle, though still quite sore now. For three hours I dreamed of rifled shells and battles, and at half -past six I was up and at work again. Mother came soon after, and after hard work we got safely off at three, saving nothing but our clothes and silver. All else is gone. It cost me a pang to leave my guitar, and Miriam's piano, but it seems there was no help for it, so I had to submit.
It was dark night when we reached here. A bright fire was blazing in front, but the house looked so desolate that I wanted to cry. Miriam cried when I told her her piano was left behind. Supper was a new sensation, after having been without anything except a glass of clabber (no saucers) and a piece of bread since half-past six. I laid down on the hard floor to rest my weary bones, thankful that I was so fortunate as to be able to lie down at all. In my dozing state, I heard the wagon come, and Miriam ordering a mattress to be put in the room for me. I could make out, "Very well! you may take that one to Miss Eliza, 1 but the next one shall be brought to Miss Sarah!" Poor Miriam! She is always fighting my battles. She and the servants are always taking my part against the rest of the world. . . . She and Lucy made a bed and rolled me in it with no more questions, and left me with damp eyes at the thought of how good and tender every one is to me. Poor Lucy picked me a dish of blackberries to await my arrival, and I was just as grateful for it, though they were eaten by some one else before I came.
Early yesterday morning, Miriam, Nettie, and Sophie, who did not then know of their brother's death, went to town in a cart, determined to save some things, Miriam to save her piano. As soon as they were halfway, news reached us that any one was allowed to enter, but none allowed to leave the town, and all vehicles confiscated as soon as they reached there. Alarmed for their safety, mother started off to find them, and we have heard of none of them since. What will happen next? I am not uneasy. They dare not harm them. It is glorious to shell a town full of women, but to kill four lone ones is not exciting enough.
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913