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Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, August 13, 1862


Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, August 13, 1862


Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston recorded in her diary her various emotional, social, and personal experiences, throughout the Civil War, that ultimately exposed the dominant attitude and perspective of a southern woman. Her diction, rhetoric, and elocution, throughout her diary, implies the fundamental values and expectations of the ideal Southern woman during the course of the Civil War. She maintained praise for the Southern cause and expressed her manner of opinion about such topics as the election of Abraham Lincoln, the secession of South Carolina, the battle at Fort Sumter and those “Yankees” up North. Catherine maintains her dairy well after the Civil War had ended, which provides an insight to the reconstruction efforts and the bitter frustrations that plagued the South.


Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston


Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, 1860-1866 (Raleigh NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979), 234-235






Halifax County, North Carolina

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Yesterday to my great surprise as I was standing in the Store Room a finely dressed Military looking old gentleman, tho in citizen's clothes, with beard & moustache as white as snow, came walking across the back yard having driven in to the back gate in a most familiar style, who on coming near enough for my blind eyes to recognize proved to be Charles! Great was my surprise at first to see him and next at his altered appearance. His hair & beard have become grey since we last saw him & it gives him really a venerable aspect. He is in the Medical Purveyor's office in Savannah, & being in Richmond on business stopped for a day to see us. He is in fine health, has his family in Laurens safe from the Yankees. He is getting a good salary. Passing through Petersburg last night he heard the roll of musketry & the roar of canon distinctly & was told by the Conductor that it was on the River five or six miles below, but whether we attacked or the enemy is making an advance no one could learn.

Jackson has attacked & beaten the advance of Pope's army, driving them back with heavy loss & capturing 300 prisoners, amongst whom is one Brigadier, Gen Prince & twenty seven commissioned officer. Much to their apparent surprise they learned that they were not to be treated as prisoners of War, in accordance with Mr Davis' expressed determination to retaliate upon them the outrages and oppressions to which Pope's command have subjected the people of the Valley of Va, a determination which he expressed to their President some ten days since. I hardly think he would be so cruel as to leave

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them ignorant of it, but they profess to be so & demand to be treated as the other officers taken by us have heretofore been; but for answer they have been placed in solitary confinement & notified that they are to be answerable for the future oppressions of Pope & Steinweyhr.

Our returned prisoners give a terrible account of the sufferings they have undergone. One of them brought home a ration as it was issued to them. The meat weighed one ounce, the bread 3 ½ ounces, & this was all they were allowed per diem. Some of them were manacled before their wounds were healed. Gen Pettigrew was taken from his relatives house in Baltimore where he was on parole under the care of Dr Buckler & confined in solitary confinement without even a servant to attend on him, at a time when he could not walk from a wound in the thigh from a Minie ball nor use his arms well from one in the shoulder and chest from a peice of shell, & fed on soldier's diet, salt pork & bread, altho his physician protested against it -- & all because the ladies of Baltimore sympathized with & showed him every care and attention in their power. It is infamous!

To my great dismay I find that my hams & bacon are spoiling, owing I suppose to the barrels of Pork which Burnside forced us to store in the Smoke House. I have been overhauling both the shoulders & the sides & to my horror find skippers in them! I had Dolly & Vinyard scalding & picking them yesterday, Harry in the Store Room heading up this years supply of flour, & Angeline boiling down the old Pickle to save the salt & finding it tiresome waiting on them, & my bodily presence being needed when so many valuables as I have there were exposed, I sat down in the store room and sent for my book, "Literature du Midi," 188 & when Charles came upon me I had a hearty laugh at myself and the situation in which he caught me: Harry pounding the flour into the Barrels with a heavy pestle, Dolly & Vinyard with a pot of boiling water & all the sides spread out on the grass, peeping into, scalding & examining them, whilst further on Angeline with a cauldron like the witches in Macbeth, which with "double double, toil & trouble" she was making "boil & bubble," whilst Mistress sat composedly on the step, deep in the Chansons & Tensons of Troubadours & Trouvareres, occasionally lending an eye or an admonition to each. Such is life, such is Southern Life. What would an English lady have thought of my situation & occupation? Would the ridiculous or the sympathetic have predominated as she looked at me? And yet I was in happy unconsciousness of exciting either. The occupation was not distasteful to me, for it was a necessary & ordinary duty, & I enjoyed my book none the less for my surroundings.


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Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, August 13, 1862, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 21, 2024,