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We dined at Mrs. Brunot's yesterday, and sitting on the gallery later, had the full benefit of a Yankee drill. They stopped in front of the house and went through some very curious manoeuvres, and then marched out to their drill-ground beyond. In returning, the whole regiment drew up directly before us, and we were dreadfully quiet for five minutes, the most uncomfortable I have experienced for some time. For it was absurd to look at the sky, and I looked in vain for one man with downcast eyes whereon I might rest mine; but from the officers down to the last private, they were all looking at us. I believe I would have cried with embarrassment if the command had not been given at that moment. They drilled splendidly, and knew it, too, so went through it as though they had not been at it for an hour before. One conceited, red-headed lieutenant smiled at us in the most fascinating way ; perhaps he smiled to think how fine he was, and what an impression he was making.
We got back to our solitary house before twilight, and were sitting on the balcony, when Mr. Biddle entered. He came to ask if the guard had been placed here last night. It seems to me it would have saved him such a long walk if he had asked Colonel McMillan. He sat down, though, and got talking in the moonlight, and people passing, some citizens, some officers, looked wonderingly at this unheard-of occurrence. I won't be rude to any one in my own house, Yankee or Southern, say what they will. He talked a great deal, and was very entertaining; what tempted him, I cannot imagine. It was two hours before he thought of leaving. He was certainly very kind. He spoke of the scarcity of flour in town ; said they had quantities at the Garrison, and asked permis sion to send us a barrel, which of course we refused. It showed a very good heart, though. He offered to take charge of any letters I would write ; said he had heard General Williams speak of Harry ; and when he at last left, I was still more pleased with him for this kindness to us. He says Captain Huger is dead. I am very, very much distressed. They are related, he says. He talked so reasonably of the war, that it was quite a novelty after reading the abusive news papers of both sides. I like him, and was sorry I could not ask him to repeat his visit. We are unaccustomed to treat gentlemen that way ; but it won't do in the present state to act as we please. Mob governs. Mother kept me awake all night to listen to the mice in the garret. Every time I would doze she would ask, "What's that?" and insist that the mice were men. I had to get up and look for an imaginary host, so I am tired enough this morning.
Miriam has just got in with all the servants, our baggage is on the way, so we will be obliged to stay whether we will or no. I don't care ; it is all the same, starve or burn. Oh ! I forgot. Mr. Riddle did not write that pass! It was his clerk. He speaks very grammatically, so far as I can judge! !
- Sarah Dawson
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913