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Yesterday I was interrupted to undertake a very important task. The evening before, mother and Lilly happened to be in a store where two officers were buying materials for making shirts, and volunteered to make them for them, which offer they gladly accepted, though neither party knew the other. They saw that they were friends of Charlie, so had no scruples about offering their services ; the gentlemen saw that they were ladies, and very kind ones, besides, so made no difficulty about accepting. Lilly undertook one of purple merino, and I took a dark blue one. Miriam nominally helped her; but her very sore finger did not allow her to do much. Mother slightly assisted me; but I think Lilly and I had the best of the task. All day we worked, and when evening came, continued sewing by the light of these miserable home-made candles. Even then we could not finish, but had to get up early this morning, as the gentlemen were to leave for Port Hudson at nine o clock. We finished in good time, and their appearance recompensed us for our trouble. Lilly's was trimmed with folds of blue from mine, around collar, cuffs, pockets, and down the front band; while mine was pronounced a chef d'√¶uvre, trimmed with bias folds of tiny red and black plaid. With their fresh colors and shining pearl buttons, they were really very pretty. We sent word that we would be happy to make as many as they chose for themselves or their friends, and the eldest, with many fears that it was an "imposition" and we were "too good," and much more of the same kind, left another one with Charlie for us. We cannot do too much, or even enough, for our soldiers. I believe that is the universal sentiment of the women of the South.
Well, but how did we get back here? I hardly know. It seems to me we are being swayed by some kind of destiny which impels us here or there, with neither rhyme nor reason, and whether we will or no. Such homeless, aimless, purposeless, wandering individuals are rarely seen. From one hour to an other, we do not know what is to become of us. We talk vaguely of going home "when the Yankees go away." When will that be? One day there is not a boat in sight; the next, two or three stand off from shore to see what is being done, ready, at the first sight of warlike preparation, to burn the town down. It is particularly unsafe since the news from Virginia, when the gunboats started from Bayou Goula, shelling the coast at random, and destroying every thing that was within reach, report says. Of course, we cannot return to our homes when commissioned officers are playing the part of pirates, burning, plundering, and destroying at will, with neither law nor reason. Donaldsonville they burned before I left Baton Rouge, because some fool fired a shotgun at a gunboat some miles above; Bayou Sara they burned while we were at General Carter's, for some equally reasonable excuse. The fate of Baton Rouge hangs on a still more slender thread. I would give worlds if it were all over.
At Mrs. Haynes's we remained all night, as she sent the carriage back without consulting us. Monday we came to town and spent the day with Lilly. How it was, I can't say; but we came to the conclusion that it was best to quit our then residence, and either go back to Linwood or to a Mrs. Somebody who offered to take us as boarders. We went back to Mrs. McCay's, to tell her of our determination, and in the morning took leave of her and came back home.
We hear so much news, piece by piece, that one would imagine some definite result would follow, and bring us Peace before long. The Virginia news, after being so great and cheering, has suddenly ceased to come. No one knows the final result. The last report was that we held Arlington Heights. Why not Washington, consequently? Cincinnati (at last accounts) lay at our mercy. From Covington, Kirby Smith had sent over a demand for its surrender in two hours. Would it not be glorious to avenge New Orleans by such a blow? But since last night the telegraph is silent.
News has just come of some nice little affair between our militia in Opelousas and the Yankees from New Orleans, in which we gave them a good thrashing, besides capturing arms, prisoners, and ammunition. "It never rains but it pours" is George's favorite proverb. With it comes the "rumor" that the Yankees are preparing to evacuate the city. If it could be! Oh, if God would only send them back to their own country, and leave ours in peace! I wish them no greater punishment than that they may be returned to their own homes, with the disgrace of their outrages here ever before their eyes. That would kill an honest man, I am sure.
- Sarah Dawson
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913