Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
5 o clock, P.M.
They are coming! The Yankees are coming at last! For four or five hours the sound of their cannon has assailed our ears. There! that one shook my bed! Oh, they are coming! God grant us the victory! They are now within four miles of us, on the big road to Baton Rouge. On the road from town to Clinton, we have been fighting since daylight at Readbridge, and have been repulsed. Fifteen gun boats have passed Vicksburg, they say. It will be an awful fight. No matter! With God's help we ll conquer yet! Again! the report comes nearer. Oh, they are coming! Coming to defeat, I pray God.
Only we seven women remain in the house. The General left this morning, to our unspeakable relief. They would hang him, we fear, if they should find him here. Mass Gene has gone to his company; we are left alone here to meet them. If they will burn the house, they will have to burn me in it. For I cannot walk, and I know they shall not carry me. I m resigned. If I should burn, I have friends and brothers enough to avenge me. Create such a consternation! Better than being thrown from a buggy only I'd not survive to hear of it!
Letter from Lilly to-day has distressed me beyond measure. Starvation which threatened them seems actually at their door. With more money than they could use in ordinary times, they can find nothing to purchase. Not a scrap of meat in the house for a week. No pork, no potatoes, fresh meat obtained once as a favor, and poultry and flour articles unheard of. Besides that, Tiche crippled, and Margret very ill, while Liddy has run off to the Yankees. Heaven only knows what will become of them. The other day we were getting ready to go to them (Thursday) when the General disapproved of my running such a risk, saying he d call it a d - piece of nonsense, if I asked what he thought; so we remained. They will certainly starve soon enough without our help ; and yet I feel we should all be together still. That last superfluous word is the refrain of Gibbes's song that is ringing in my ears, and that I am chanting in a kind of ecstasy of excitement :
"Then let the cannon boom as it will, We'll be gay and happy still! "
And we will be happy in spite of Yankee guns! Only my dear This, That, and the Other, at Port Hudson, how I pray for your safety! God spare our brave soldiers, and lead them to victory! I write, touch my guitar, talk, pick lint, and pray so rapidly that it is hard to say which is my occupation. I sent Frank some lint the other day, and a bundle of it for Mr. Halsey is by me. Hope neither will need it! But to my work again! Half-past One o clock, A.M.
It has come at last! What an awful sound! I thought I had heard a bombardment before; but Baton Rouge was child's play compared to this. At half-past eleven came the first gun at least the first I heard, and I hardly think it could have commenced many moments before. Instantly I had my hand on Miriam, and at my first exclamation, Mrs. Badger and Anna answered. All three sprang to their feet to dress, while all four of us prayed aloud. Such an incessant roar! And at every report the house shaking so, and we thinking of our dear soldiers, the dead and dying, and crying aloud for God's blessing on them, and defeat and overthrow to their enemies. That dreadful roar! I can't think fast enough. They are too quick to be counted. We have all been in Mrs. Carter's room, from the last window of which we can see the incessant flash of the guns and the great shooting stars of flame, which must be the hot shot of the enemy. There is a burning house in the distance, the second one we have seen to-night. For Yankees can't prosper unless they are pillaging honest people. Already they have stripped all on their road of cattle, mules, and negroes.
Gathered in a knot within and without the win dow, we six women up here watched in the faint starlight the flashes from the guns, and silently wondered which of our friends were lying stiff and dead, and then, shuddering at the thought, betook our selves to silent prayer. I think we know what it is to
"wrestle with God in prayer"; we had but one thought. Yet for women, we took it almost too coolly. No tears, no cries, no fear, though for the first five minutes everybody's teeth chattered violently. Mrs. Carter had her husband in Fenner's battery, the hottest place if they are attacked by the land force, and yet to my unspeakable relief she betrayed no more emotion than we who had only friends there. We know absolutely nothing; when does one ever know anything in the country? But we presume that this is an engagement between our batteries and the gunboats attempting to run the blockade.
Firing has slackened considerably. All are to lie down already dressed; but being in my nightgown from necessity, I shall go to sleep, though we may expect at any instant to hear the tramp of Yankee cavalry in the yard.
- Sarah Dawson
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913