A Confederate Girl’s Diary

August 17th.

Another Sunday. Strange that the time, which should seem so endless, flies so rapidly! Miriam complains that Sunday comes every day; but though that seems a little too much, I insist that it comes twice a week. Let time fly, though; for each day brings us so much nearer our destiny, which I long to know.

Thursday, we heard from a lady just from town that our house was standing the day before, which somewhat consoled us for the loss of our silver and clothing; but yesterday came the tidings of new afflictions. I declare we have acted out the first chapter of Job, all except that verse about the death of his sons and daughters. God shield us from that! I do not mind the rest. “While he was yet speaking, another came in and said, ‘Thy brethren and kinsmen gathered together to wrest thine abode from the hand of the Philistines which pressed sore upon thee; when lo! the Philistines sallied forth with fire and sword, and laid thine habitation waste and desolate, and I only am escaped to tell thee.’” Yes! the Yankees, fearing the Confederates might slip in unseen, resolved to have full view of their movements, so put the torch to all eastward, from Colonel Matta’s to the Advocate. That would lay open a fine tract of country, alone; but unfortunately, it is said that once started, it was not so easy to control the flames, which spread considerably beyond their appointed limits. Some say it went as far as Florida Street; if so, we are lost, as that is a half-square below us. For several days the fire has been burning, but very little can be learned of the particulars. I am sorry for Colonel Matta. Such a fine brown stone front, the finest in town. Poor Minna! poverty will hardly agree with her. As for our home, I hope against hope. I will not believe it is burnt, until somebody declares having been present on that occasion. Yet so many frame houses on that square must have readily caught fire from the sparks.

Wicked as it may seem, I would rather have all I own burned, than in the possession of the negroes. Fancy my magenta organdie on a dark beauty! Bah! I think the sight would enrage me! Miss Jones’s trials are enough to drive her crazy. She had the pleasure of having four officers in her house, men who sported epaulets and red sashes, accompanied by a negro woman, at whose disposal all articles were placed. The worthy companion of these “gentlemen” walked around selecting things with the most natural airs and graces. “This,” she would say, “we must have. And some of these books, you know; and all the preserves, and these chairs and tables, and all the clothes, of course; and yes! the rest of these things.” So she would go on, the “gentlemen” assuring her she had only to choose what she wanted, and that they would have them removed immediately. Madame thought they really must have the wine, and those handsome cut-glass goblets. I hardly think I could have endured such a scene; to see all I owned given to negroes, without even an accusation being brought against me of disloyalty.[1] One officer departed with a fine velvet cloak on his arm; another took such a bundle of Miss Jones’s clothes, that he had to have it lifted by some one else on his horse, and rode off holding it with difficulty. This I heard from herself, yesterday, as I spent the day with Lilly and mother at Mr. Elder’s, where she is now staying. Can anything more disgraceful be imagined? They all console me by saying there is no one in Baton Rouge who could possibly wear my dresses without adding a considerable piece to the belt. But that is nonsense. Another pull at the corset strings would bring them easily to the size I have been reduced by nature and bones. Besides, O horror! Suppose, instead, they should let in a piece of another color? That would annihilate me! Pshaw! I do not care for the dresses, if they had only left me those little articles of father’s and Harry’s. But that is hard to forgive.

[1] The Act of July 16th, 1862, authorized the confiscation of property only in the cases of rebels whose disloyalty was established. — W. D.

A Confederate Girl’s Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson

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