Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 1, 1864

January 1, 1864

New Year Day

---In Richmond, War Department clerk John Beauchamp Jones writes in his diary of the meager opening of the new year, and of his worries about food, showing how clearly the Southern populace expects a renewed Union advance into Virginia, and a siege of Richmond:

Flour is now held at $150 per barrel. Capt. Warner has just sold me two bushels of meal at $5 per bushel; the price in market is $16 per bushel.

I did not go to any of the receptions to-day; but remained at home, transplanting lettuce-plants, which have so far withstood the frost, and a couple of fig-bushes I bought yesterday. I am also breaking up some warm beds, for early vegetables, and spreading manure over my little garden: preparing for the siege and famine looked for in May and June, when the enemy encompasses the city. I bought some tripe and liver in the market at the low price of $1 per pound. Engaged to pay $250 hire for our servant this year.

---Judith White McGuire, of Richmond, writes in her diary of the passing of a close relative, Col. Raleigh Colston, of the 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment (and a confidant of the late Stonewall Jackson) who had been wounded at the Battle of Mine Run and died of pneumonia resulting from the amputation of his leg.  She expresses the agony of nearly all women in the South:

. . . After ten days of watching and nursing, amid alternate hopes and fears, we saw our friend Dr. Maupin close our darling's eyes, on the morning of the 23d; and on Christmas-day a military escort laid him among many brother soldiers in the Cemetery of the University of Virginia. He died in the faith of Christ, and with the glorious hope of immortality. His poor mother is heart-stricken, but she, together with his sisters, and one dearer still, had the blessed, and what is now the rare privilege, of soothing and nursing him in his last hours. To them, and to us all, his life seemed as a part of our own. His superior judgment and affectionate temper made him the guide of his whole family. To them his loss can never be supplied. His country has lost one of its earliest and best soldiers. . . . His fatal wound was received in his nineteenth general engagement, in none of which had he his superior in bravery and devotion to the cause. He was proud of belonging to the glorious Stonewall Brigade, and I have been told by those who knew the circumstances, that he was confided in and trusted by General Jackson to a remarkable degree.

Thus we bury, one by one, the dearest, the brightest, the best of our domestic circles. Now, in our excitement, while we are scattered, and many of us homeless, these separations are poignant, nay, overwhelming; but how can we estimate the sadness of heart which will pervade the South when the war is over, and we are again gathered together around our family hearths and altars, and find the circles broken? One and another gone. Sometimes the father and husband, the beloved head of the household, in whom was centred all that made life dear. Again the eldest son and brother of the widowed home, to whom all looked for guidance and direction; or, perhaps, that bright youth, on whom we had not ceased to look as still a child, whose fair, beardless cheek we had but now been in the habit of smoothing with our hands in fondness-one to whom mother and sisters would always give the good-night kiss, as his peculiar due, and repress the sigh that would arise at the thought that college or business days had almost come to take him from us. And then we will remember the mixed feeling of hope and pride when we first saw this household pet don his jacket of gray and shoulder his musket for the field; how we would be bright and cheerful before him, and turn to our chambers to weep oceans of tears when he is fairly gone. And does he, too, sleep his last sleep? Does our precious one fill a hero's grave? O God! help us, for the wail is in the whole land! “Rachel weeping for her children, and will not be comforted, because they are not.” In all the broad South there will be scarcely a fold without its missing lamb, a fireside without its vacant chair. And yet we must go on. It is our duty to rid our land of invaders; we must destroy the snake which is endeavouring to entwine us in its coils, though it drain our heart's blood. We know that we are right in the sight of God. . . .

---Horatio Nelson Taft of Washington, D.C., who works at the Patent Office, comments in his journal on the tone of New Year receptions in the capital:

Washington January 1st 1864

This has been a pleasant day and people have I think enjoyed themselves much better in making their “calls” than they did last year and especialy the year before. Every one seems to feel in good spirits and very hopeful in regard to the future. Mr Lincoln looks brighter and less “woebegone” than usual. Mr Seward is a[s] gracious and confident of the early termination of the War as ever. He receives his guests with more formality than any one else. His gentleman Usher anouncing the name of the visitor in a loud voice at the door of the receiving room. At the Presidents, the Gentleman who introduces stands directly opposite the President with only room for a couple to pass betwen them. Mrs Lincolns Gentleman stands beside her and does the introducing. I made fifteen or twenty “calls” and got to my lodgings early in the evening. The whole City seemed to be alive and the ladies all “at Home.”

---Luman Harris Tenney, a young officer in the Union Army, writes in his journal of the sufferings of the troops in the field:

1st. Happy New Year! Gay and festive. Frozen and just starving. Re-enlistment question presented to the boys. Three from the 2nd Ohio. Took dinner at hdqrs., at white house. Cabbage and beef and mutton. Had a chat with the people. All have suffered badly. Even underclothes taken during the late fights by rebs, also wheat and corn. First-rate visit with Col. Garrard and Allen. Review of campaign. Hard bread, flour and pork for the boys. Makes me happy. Don’t ask more satisfaction than to get plenty of rations. Have been half crazy with anxiety for days.

First command in line east of Mossy Creek. Rained last night. Turned cold about 12 P. M. and blew a hurricane. Awful tedious day. Boys must suffer very much. Col. and staff up and around fires early.

No comments:

Post a Comment