I Am Becoming A Sad-Souled Woman~Sptember 1864~24th and 25th

I Am Becoming a Sad-Souled Woman ~Lucy Virginia French.

Lucy French mourns the current state of affairs and wonders what, if anything, men are good for doing. Mary Chesnut laments that Sheridan’s victories are blows on a corpse. The escaped Southern spy Belle Boyd marries her captor in England. Across the South plenty of skirmishing takes place. Officers of a Federal unit of black soldiers are ambushed. The commandant at Andersonville denies any wrong doing.

widows in cemetary images

September 24– Saturday– Columbia, South Carolina– “These stories of our defeats in the valley fall like blows upon a dead body. Since Atlanta fell I have felt as if all were dead within me forever. Captain Ogden, of General Chesnut s staff, dined here to-day. Had ever brigadier, with little or no brigade, so magnificent a staff? The reserves, as somebody said, have been secured only by robbing the cradle and the grave, the men too old, the boys too young.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

September 24– Saturday– Memphis, Tennessee– “Wood is being brought into the city from outside the picket lines under the direction of army officers, and on last Thursday, Dr. J. M. Osburn, Quartermaster James Helm and Second Lieutenant E. Bently, all of the 3rd Regiment United States Colored Heavy Artillery, went out to oversee the work. For some reason or other, they determined to ride a short distance further. They apprehended no danger and were riding along gaily, when suddenly seven bushwhackers who were lying in ambush fired on them. Dr. Osborn fell immediately from his horse, Lieutenant Bently rode a short distance and also fell from his horse. Quartermaster Helm, who was unhurt, spurred his horse to get away, but had gone but a short distance when the horse ran against the limbs of a tree and the quartermaster was knocked off, but managed to get away and reach the city on foot. A company of twenty cavalry men were at once went out and recovered the body Lieutenant Bently, which they brought to the city. The body of Dr. Osborn was not found until yesterday morning, when a person near the place found it and brought it to the city. The murdered officers were probably killed by the first fire, but the bushwhacker amused themselves by firing their revolvers at the corpses. Over twelve balls were thus fired into the dead body of Lieutenant Bently. When the party of cavalry went out for the bodies, they found no guerrillas. Quartermaster Helm is of [the] opinion that the murderers were regular Confederate soldiers. Retaliatory measures will probably be adopted. The other officers of the 3rd Regiment met last night and passed resolutions of respect for the memory of their deceased brother officers.” ~ Memphis Bulletin.

September 24– Saturday– Andersonville, Georgia– Confederate Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the prison camp, denies the validity of a derogatory report of prison conditions made to the Confederate government by an inspector, which charged that prison rations were not cooked and firewood was not provided for inmates.

Henry Wirz

Henry Wirz

September 24– Saturday– Athens, Alabama; Fayette, Missouri; Jackson, Missouri; Farmington, Missouri; Magnolia, Florida; Mount Jackson, Virginia; Milford Haven, Virginia; New Market, Virginia; Luray, Virginia; Forest Hill, Virginia– Raids, encounters in force, skirmishes and firefights.

September 25– Sunday– New York City– “The Liverpool Mercury says that Mr. and Mrs. Hardinge, (Miss Belle Boyd) who were married in London on Thursday, have arrived in Liverpool, and are staying at the Washington Hotel, preparing for a speedy departure to the Confederate States, where, in spite of the blockade, Mr. Hardinge intends to convey a portion of the wedding-cake for distribution among his friends. Relative to the withdrawal of Mr. Hardinge from the service of the North, the Morning Post says Mr. H. needs no excuse for the step he has taken in renouncing his allegiance to the Federal cause, and espousing the fair ‘rebel,’ whom he has now sworn to love, honor and cherish. Though in obedience to the wishes of his father he served for some time in the Federal Navy, in which service he rose to be Lieutenant, his Southern sympathies were notorious in the North, where it was well known that he had long tendered his resignation, which Mr. Secretary Welles refused to accept, and thus he was forced to continue in a service which he would gladly have renounced long since. Though more than suspected of Southern sympathies, he kept his word when he promised the executive of the Federal navy that the name he bore – a name which had descended to him from a long line of ancestors in Great Britain and America – should not be disgraced, an proved his readiness to perform his duty on many occasions, especially by heading a body of 120 men sent ashore to storm a breach at Wilmington, and capturing the fort, though when the muster-roll was called afterwards only 25 survivors could respond. He did not escape, as he received a severe wound in the chest, and will carry his honorable scar to the grave. Having now finally quitted the service of President Lincoln’s Government, he intends to signalize his devotion to Secessia by entering the ranks of her army, and thus winning his way to confidence and that command which his birth and education gave him a right to expect.” ~ New York Times. [The news is a bit old. Hardinge and Boyd were married on August 25th. Shortly, Hardinge will return, alone, not to the Confederacy but to the North and will be promptly arrested. He will be held until February, 1865. When released he will return to Boyd in England, in poor health and die within a year, leaving Boyd a widow with an infant daughter. She will return to the United States at the end of 1867, be married two more times, bear four children, have a career on stage and die June 11, 1900, at age of 56, of a heart attack. See, Belle Boyd: Confederate Spy by Louis A Sigaud, (1944); Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott, (2014).]

Belle Boyd

Belle Boyd

September 25– Sunday– Shenandoah Valley, Virginia– General Sheridan’s Federal troops move toward Staunton, Virginia, destroying railroads and buildings, seizing animals and food stuffs.

September 25– Sunday– McMinnville, Tennessee– “With Sherman’s success in Georgia– Farragut’s at Mobile– Sheridan’s in the Shenandoah Valley—the death of General Morgan and other minor successes of the Federals—it is no wonder we feel gloomy. . . . The rumor that a Negro garrison is to be sent here, and that Andy Johnson will soon conscript every man, both black and white, bond and free between the ages of 15 and 50 into the Yankee army—(his proclamation to that effect being just issued) has not tended to cheer our spirits, in the least. I begin now to look forward to the worst—to hope for nothing—to expect only disaster—and endeavor to meet it when it comes, not so much with fortitude and courage, but a with a sullen and stolid indifference. I have wished a thousand times that I had never married—that I had no family pressing upon me—no little children over whose present and future welfare to vex and worry—if I had no one but myself—it would be a small matter—I should not then care for all this trouble I should get out of it. There are some who always seem to ride upon a top wave—even in times like these I see people who seem always to have plenty—to be in need of nothing—even to be making profits out of the times. Such is not our case. We make nothing save by the hardest of ‘hard licks.’ We are preyed upon on all sides—we get forward with no work—we gain nothing,—in short as Mrs. Myers says of her family– ‘When it rains soup our plate is always bottom upwards.’ I have tried to ‘turn an honest penny’ by selling off the surplus of housekeeping articles which I brought from Bersheba– but although such things are scarce and high, I cannot sell anything. No one seems to want them when they have to pay out money, or provisions for them. Well, it grows harder and harder with us, oh! I dread this coming winter. The house, which a very little energy and labor might make comfortable before the cold weather sets in remains just as it was when we returned to it– tho’ we have been here now 2 ½ months. On Friday night we had a rain storm—the roof leaked like a sieve and tho’ a few hours time and a few nails and shingles would make it all secure—it remains thus—and will so remain until the plastering all falls, and the ceiling is ruined. Malone and the Colonel [her husband] ‘Knock round’ – their principal employment seems ‘going to town.’ I often wonder what men were made for! To keep up the species I suppose– which is the only thing they are ‘always ready’ [for] and never slow about doing! For my part I am quite wearied and worn out with their general no accountability– and wish they were all put into the army, where they could kill each other off– the less of them the better! Well, I suppose it will be right a ‘hundred years hence.’ I suppose I am beginning to become embittered by years of hardship, privation and sorrow. Verily, this world is a hard one, would to God I had never come into it! Having come into [it] however, let me endeavor to bear the ‘siege of troubles,’ the ‘stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,’ as best I may– trying meanwhile to comfort myself with the old Spanish proverb– ‘Patience– there is an end of all things.’ . . . Great Heaven! when shall we have rest and peace? Will it ever come in our day? I am becoming a sad-souled woman– full of secret sorrows– full of heart-burnings, full of longing for the great and good– full of impatience and repining at the chains, the iron chains of everyday circumstance which bind me back from all that my better nature aspires to! How sad a thing it is to feel how powerless, how insignificant, how incapable we are! When the heart is fired for great deeds, when the eye is fixed on some high standard—when the whole nature is straining and struggling forward to have the petty chains of everyday wound about you, a perpetual hindrance and stumbling-block—oh! it is hard-hard! And no one to appreciate your sacrifices– sacrifices of your best and highest pleasures at the shrine of everyday duty– sacrifices which were it not for them– you would not be forced to undergo!” ~ Journal of Lucy Virginia French.

Lucy Virginia French

Lucy Virginia French

September 25– Sunday– Sulphur Branch Trestle, Alabama; Farmington, Missouri; Huntsville, Missouri; Henderson, Kentucky; Johnsonville, Tennessee; Walnut Creek, Kansas– Raids, skirmishes and pitched battles.

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