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It may be wrong; I feel very contrite; but still I cannot help thinking it is an error on the right side. It began by Miriam sending Mr. Conn a box of cigars when she was on Canal the other day, with a note saying we would be delighted to assist him in anyway. Poor creature! He wrote an answer which breathed desolation and humility, under his present situation, in every line. The cigars, an unexpected kindness, had touched a tender cord evidently. He said he had no friends, and would be grateful for our assistance.
But before his answer arrived, yesterday morning I took it into my head that Colonel Steadman was also at the Custom-House, though his arrival had not been announced, the Yankees declining to publish any more names to avoid the excitement that follows. So Miriam and I prepared a lunch of chicken, soup, wine, preserves, sardines, and cakes, to send to him. And, fool-like, I sent a note with it. It only contained the same offer of assistance; and I would not object to the town crier's reading it; but it upset Brother's ideas of decorum completely. He said nothing to Miriam's, because that was first offense; but yesterday he met Edmond, who was carrying the basket, and he could not stand the sight of another note. I wish he had read it! But he said he would not assume such a right. So he came home very much annoyed, and spoke to Miriam about it. Fortunately for my peace of mind, I was swimming in the bathtub in blissful unconsciousness, else I should have drowned myself. He said, " I want you both to understand that you shall have everything you want for the prisoners. Subscribe any sum of money, purchase any quantity of clothing, send all the food you please, but, for God's sake, don't write to them! In such a place every man knows the other has received a letter, and none know what it contains. I cannot have my sisters names in every body's mouth. Never do it again! " All as kind and as considerate for us as ever, and a necessary caution; I love him the better for it; but I was dismayed for having rendered the reproof necessary. For three hours I made the most hideous faces at myself and groaned aloud over Brother's displeasure. He is so good that I would rather bite my tongue off than give him a moment's pain. Just now I went to him, unable to keep silence any longer, and told him how distressed I was to have displeased him about that note. "Don't think any more about it, only don't do it again, dear," was his answer. I was so grateful to him for his gentleness that I was almost hurried into a story. I began, " It is the first time " when I caught myself and said boldly, "No, it is not. Colonel Steadman has written to me before, and I have replied. But I promise to you it shall not occur again if I can avoid it." He was satisfied with the acknowledgment, and I was more than gratified with his kindness. Yet the error must have been on the right side!
Colonel Steadman wrote back his thanks by Edmond, with heartfelt gratitude for finding such friends in his adversity, and touching acknowledgments of the acceptable nature of the lunch. His brother and Colonel Lock were wounded, though recovering, and he was anxious to know if I had yet recovered. And that was all, except that he hoped we would come to see him, and his thanks to Brother for his kind message. Brother had sent him word by one of the prisoners that though he was not acquainted with him, yet as his sisters friend he would be happy to assist him if he needed money or clothing. There was no harm in either note, and though I would not do it again, I am almost glad I let him know he still had friends before Brother asked me not to write.
And as yet we can't see them. A man was bayoneted yesterday for waving to them, even. It only makes us the more eager to see them. We did see some. Walking on Rampart Street with the Peirces yesterday, in front of a splendid private house, we saw sentinels stationed. Upon inquiry we learned that General Gardiner and a dozen others were confined there. Ada and Miriam went wild. If it had not been for dignified Marie, and that model of propriety, Sarah, there is no knowing but what they would have carried the house by storm. We got them by without seeing a gray coat, when they vowed to pass back, declaring that the street was not respectable on the block above. We had to follow. So! there they all stood on the balcony above. We thought we recognized General Gardiner, Major Wilson, Major Spratley, and Mr. Dupr6. Miriam was sure she did ; but even when I put on a bold face, and tried to look, something kept me from seeing; so I had all the appearance of staring, without deriving the slightest benefit from it. Wonder what makes me such a fool? Mr. Conn writes that Captain Bradford is wounded, but does not say whether he is here.
- Sarah Dawson
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913