Thursday, February 23, 1865
Emma Florence LeConte (1847-1932) lived in Columbia, SC and witnessed Sherman’s burning of the city.
“Yankees – that word in my mind is a synonym for all that is mean, despicable and abhorrent.”
The Yankees talk very strongly of conquering the South immediately – if so our day of rest is far off. Somehow I am still as confident as I ever was. If only our people will be steadfast. The more we suffer the more we should be willing to undergo rather than submit.
Somehow I cannot feel we can be conquered. We have lost everything, but if everything – negroes, property – all could be given back a hundredfold I would not be willing to go back to them. I would rather endure any poverty than live under Yankee rule. I would rather far have France or any other country for a mistress – anything but live as one nation with Yankees – that word in my mind is a synonym for all that is mean, despicable and abhorrent.
I hope relief will come before famine actually threatens. We have to cut our rations as short as possible to try to make the food hold out till succor comes. Father left us with some mouldy spoiled flour that was turned over to him by the Bureau. We can only possible eat it made into battercakes and then it is horrid. We draw rations from the town every day – a tiny bit of rancid salt pork and a pint of meal. We have the battercakes for breakfast, the bit of meat and cornbread for dinner – no supper. We fare better than some because we have the cows. Mother had peas to feed them, and sometimes we take a few of those from them to vary our diet. Today as a great treat mother gave us boiled rice for dinner – some the negroes had brought us in the pillage of the stores. We enjoyed it immensely – the first I have tasted in many days.
Friday, February 24, 1865
J. B. Jones
John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866) was a writer who worked in the Confederate War Department in Richmond during the war. His diary was published in 1866 as “A Rebel War Clerk’s Diary at the Confederate States Capital.”
“Yesterday the Senate voted down the bill to put 200,000 negroes in the army.”
Yesterday the Senate voted down the bill to put 200,000 negroes in the army. The papers to-day contain a letter from Gen. Lee, advocating the measure as a necessity. Mr. Hunter’s vote defeated it. He has many negroes, and will probably lose them; but the loss of popularity, and fear of forfeiting all chance of the succession, may have operated on him as a politician. What madness!
The Bureau of Conscription being abolished, the business is to be turned over to the generals of reserves, who will employ the reserves mainly in returning deserters and absentees to the army. The deserters and absentees will be too many for them perhaps, at this late day. The mischief already effected may prove irremediable.
A dispatch from Gen. Lee, this morning, states that Lieut. McNeill, with 30 men, entered Cumberland, Maryland, on the 21st inst., and brought off Gens. Crook and Kelly, etc. This is a little affair, but will make a great noise. We want 300,000 men in the field instead of 30.
The markets are now almost abandoned, both by sellers and purchasers. Beef and pork are sold at $7 to $9 per pound, and everything else in proportion. Butter, from $15 to $20.
Saturday, February 25, 1865
J. B. Jones
“The garrisons of Charleston and Wilmington may add 20,000 men to our force opposing Sherman, and may beat him yet.”
There are more rumors of the evacuation of Wilmington and even Petersburg. No doubt that stores, etc. are leaving Petersburg; but I doubt whether it will be evacuated, or Richmond, either. Grant may, and probably will, get the Danville Railroad, but I think Lee will disappoint him in the item of evacuation, nevertheless; for we have some millions in gold-equal to 300,000,000 paper–to purchase subsistence; and it is believed Virginia alone, for specie, can feed the army. Then another army may arise in Grant’s rear.
Mr. Hunter’s eyes seem blood-shotten since he voted against Lee’s plan of organizing negro troops.
The papers are requested to say nothing relative to military operations in South and North Carolina, for they are read by Gen. Grant every morning of their publication. The garrisons of Charleston and Wilmington may add 20,000 men to our force opposing Sherman, and may beat him yet.
Photo credit: Desiree Williams via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)