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Augusta County: Diary of Nancy Emerson (1862-1864)

Memoranda of Events, Thoughts &c 1862

Battle Description, [May] 1862

The last Sab. in May, Jackson was fighting in
Winchester, the first in Jn. was the battle of Seven Pines
near Richmond, which [deleted: on J] commenced on Sat. A sac
ramental meeting was in progress in this place at the
same time. Preaching by Mr. Harris. The second Sab.
in June, Jackson [added: or rather Ewell] was fighting at Port Republic with
[deleted: Shields][added: Fremont]. The firing was heard here all day by many, a
distance of 33 m. The next day firing was heard for some
hours -- an engagement between Jackson & Shields.

June 8, 1862

Jn 8, Sab

In the evening, Br. L.[1] was present at the funeral
of Mr. Berry's son, who was killed the preceding Mon
at Port R. The first time the body was sent for, it
could not be obtained, because the infamous Fre
mont was [2]

[page 2]

is reading the burial service.Sometime in May, Cousin S. & Ellen went with
Mrs. Dickson to the camp to see her husband.

June 23, 1862

Jn. 23

Went with C. -S. to see B. D. a boy who was
wounded at Port R. His brother brought him home
after several days, but his wound was not dressed
until the tenth day. It is thought he may recover.

June 30, 1862

Sab Jn. 30

Firing has been heard in the vicinity
of R. for several days, & intense anxiety has been
felt to learn the result. Tidings was bro't to church
that our armies hav been victorious thus far, that many
prisoners, & cannon had been taken--heavy loss on both
sides. Public thanks were offered for their deliverance.
Our help is in God & in him alone. The battle still
rages [added: & continues to do so for a week.] to pick strawberries. Very heavy firing especially in the
evening. Br. L started to C in the morning on business.

Tuesday, n.d. 1862


Mr. Wright, a neighbor who has four sons in the
army, one of them now a prisoner, passed by. To the
usual inquiry "What news?" he pulled out of his pocket a
copy of the telegrams he had copied in S. reaching to
Mon. [added: mid]night. McClellan has been driven from his in
trenchments, is in so local across White Oak Swamp to
James river. Stuart took 3000 prisoners yesterday. A S. J.
brigade (2300) have laid down their arms. McChas
destroyed vast quantities of stores, & the opinion is that
the whole army will be [deleted: demoralized] "demolished."
This news afforded great relief, as it had been feared that
Halleck would come on with 100,000 men as rumor
said he would by Sab. eve while our men [added: (By command)] could not
get over till Tues. [illeg.]
enemy. Being partially deaf, I have seldom been able to hear it before, but heard it
several times on this occasion. Sister C. counted 25 re
ports in one minute by the watch.

Wednesday, n.d. 1862


A steady rain. A week today since the fight
ing commenced. Battles inevitably bring rain. We
got a Whig[3] [added: of Fri.] yes. & devoured it eagerly, but got little
about the battle as they are not permitted to publish
yet. Heard that some Louisianians advanced to
the charge with the name of Butler as their war
cry, fought desperately. Butler & Hunter & Wool!
Noble triumvirate.[4] Lincoln & Seward & Greely, tri
umvirate No 2. Greely it may be, the most deeply
stained of the whole. Butler is the best man for
our cause within the limits of the S. C. He has
given a union to the Southern heart, and a nerve
to the Southern cause as one that none among ourselves
could possibly have done. They thought theywere united & in earnest, before his reign came,
but there's a difference since. Lincoln [deleted: did] per
formed a similar operation for us at the commence
ment of the struggle by his proclamation for 75,000
men, insulted Va. almost to a man & drove her out
of the Union as by a thunderbolt.

Thursday, n.d. 1862


No prayer meeting yet. Got a Whig this morning, &
devoured it as usual. News encouraging. The Eng Par.
are loud in their denunciation of Butler. A Montreal
paper also speaks in terms of unease and reprobation
says N. O. will yet take frightful vengeance for these
bitter wrongs.

July 4, 1862

Fri. July 4.

What are the people in Yankeedom thinking
of today? Perhaps however they have not got the truth yet
& are still hugging the delusion that Richmond will soon
be theirs. McC will get up a battle of falsehoods as
usual, but truth will out sometime, & how astounding

[page 6]

[deleted: have seldom been able to hear it before, but heard it
five or six times on this occasion. Sister C. counted
25 times in one min by the watch ]

when it comes. Pity, pity, that the Northern
people should have been made the dupes of such
a set of knaves. I seldom think of it without re
membering the lying spirit which was permitted to
take posession of Ahab's prophets, that he might be
persuaded to go to R-- & fall. This judgment from God
has fallen upon the North because of their declension
from him. Its effects, [added: it is true,] have come upon us, & more
heavily thus far [added: than upon them,] but the end is not yet. We too have
cause for deep humiliation, but we shall achieve
our independence, & if guided aright, shall fulfill a
high destiny & be far more prosperous than ever before.
Never for one moment since this struggle com
menced, has my mind wavered as to the final result.Never could I for one moment believe that a righteous
God would suffer us to be trodden down as the mud
of the streets, whatever our cruel and insolent invaders
might threaten. Too many prayers have been ascend
ing to heavens night & day for such an event to come to
pass. Retribution may [deleted: be] possibly be delayed a short time
but it will most assuredly come. The violent dealing of
the wicked will acrue down upon his own head. May
heaven lighten the blow, & turn the hearts of both na
tions to him & to one another.

July 6, 1862

Sab. July 6

About this time the funeral of Wm. H. Randolph
took place. He lies in the centre of the grave yard by
the side of his young wife. Was killed in the battles of Richmond. Not long after was the funeral of Mrs.
Buchanan. Aug 11th was the funeral of George Baylor
killed at the battle of Cedar Run in his 20th year,
so young, & such a universal favorite.

December 29, 1862

Dec. 29

A long hiatus. Couldn't help it. So many
things to occupy the attention. It would be in vain
[added: to attempt] to enumerate the multitudes of events which have trans
pired since the last date. The 29th & 30th of Aug. the
second battle of Manassas took place. At this battle
Col. Wm. Baylor was killed, leaving a heartbroken
wife & mother & sister to mourn his loss, but they
have hope in his death. James Gabert was also killed
at this battle. His brother John was wounded before
but died after, & was brought home to be buried.
L Kerr another neighbor of ours died the 14th Sept.
of typhoid fever. Before this on the 10th, little Emily
Baylor died of diptheria. On the 20th, David B. died of
the same disease at the age of twelve. Thus two [added: or rather six,] died
out of three families, two from each. Fifteen new graves

have been added to our grave yard during this year.
A Mrs. Wright living with her two of three illeg. went
to S. to see her son who was wounded, took the small

[page 9]

pox, & she & her husband died. The son
of another neighbor came from the army with it,
& nearly all the family took it. One, an infant
died. Another neighbor who visited them, took it, & died.

[page 10]


January 1, 1863

Jan 1, 1863

When has a year departed so crowded
with events, & such events as the last. How many
battles have we fought, & how has God blessed our
armies with victory. Blessed be the Lord who has
not given us as a prey to their teeth. As a nation,
we have in a measure acknowledged God, & he has
appeared for us most wonderfully, on one occasion
giving us two great victories in one day; one at Rich
mond in Kentucky, & the other I think at Leesburg
in Va. Our President, who is a plain, simple, con
sistent Christian, as appears, a member of the Epis
copal church, has appointed days of special
prayer on three occasions, when our cause seemed
dark, our prospect rather, & in every case, the an
swer was manifest. After the two victories in
one day, a day of thanksgiving was appointed
& generally & joyfully observed. It was stated in

[page 11]

the C. Presbyterian, that services were held in the
churches, business generally suspended, & the city had
the air of a quiet Sabbath. Three out of four daily
papers closed their offices.We have cause for gratitude more than
we can express, that we have civil [added: &] military leaders
who acknowledge God. The Pres. and vice Pres. Stephens,
the commander in chief of our armies, Robert E. Lee
who is said to be a Christian of the same stamp as
Davis, Stonewall Jackson, who is an elder in the
Pres. ch in Lexington, his brother in law, Gen D. H.
Hill, & others. Gen. Jackson sent a special re
quest to the churches some time since for their
prayers. He writes in the Whig [added: & other papers] in Nov. called upon
the ladies every where to unite in a torrent of
prayer for peace either singly or socially on the
first of Dec. at 12 o'clock. I know not how far it
was observed, but have no doubt wherever known

[page 12]

January 8, 1863

Jan. 8,

The first of Jan has come & gone, & Lin
coln's proclamation has brought no desolation.
What awful disappointment will be experienced
by our friends the abolitionists. Never was
a more quiet and orderly Christmas & New Years.
Even Sister C. who is so [deleted: illeg.] timid, forgot
to be afraid! I do not forget it, but a little cir
cumstance may show how much I was terrified.
Bro. L. having been to Charlottesville, Cousin S
went [added: to S.] for him, & did not get home till late. I
sat up for them, and having occasion to visit my
chambers, went repeatedly in the dark, & near mid
night. Indeed, never since have I been in this state
have I felt any reluctance to visiting any part of
the house in the dark either here or in Highland.This whole agitation about slavery wh.
has prevailed at the S. these years, is the most

[page 13]

monstrous humbug ever got up since the flood.
I am [added: if possible] a thousand times better satisfied of the pro
riety of slavery than I was before the war.
I believe this violent abolition spirit grows out of attempt
ing to be wise above what is written, & it shows
itself out where it is carried out, by leading those
possessed with it to throw away the bible. It is
my full belief that the infatuation which has pre
cipitated the North into this war, is a judgment
from God upon them for their deep declension from
him manifested [added: among other ways] by their fanaticism and every other
ism. The fear of the Lord had [deleted: so] nearly ford where the
land, [added: as there is season to fear] & therefore this whirlwind had suffered to burst
upon them. It has spent much of its force upon
us thus far, but if this is the end of the matter, I
have miscalculated this eclipse altogether. Both
nations may have to make a long sojurn in

[page 14]

the wilderness before they reach the land of Canaan.

March 6, 1863

Mh. 6,

Have written but little for a long time on ac
count of indisposition. Am staying in bed from
influenza, but must try to write a little about Bp.
Meade. He died within a few months, had been
bishop of the diocese of Va. more than 30 yrs. Sister
C. had known him for her childhood, & says he
was one of the most excellent & devoted of the epis
copal clergy which is saying not a little in her opin
ion. Bishop M. used often to come to her aunt's where
she spent much of her time when a child, & she des-
cribes him as one of the meekest & most Godly of men.
Not many years since, he attended a confirmation
in Staunton, Sister C. happened to be present and told me
on her return how solemn & searching his
address was. He lived near Winchester had em
belished his place with the finest fruits & flow

[page 15]

& there was his wife's grave. Just before his
death, he was called to Richmond to consecrate
bishop Wilmer. This finished he was attacked with
disease which speedily removed him to his home
above. On his deathbed he called for Bp Johns who
was as a son to him, & gave him his opinion of the
war. He told him the cause in which we are en
gaged is a holy cause-- but I will leave the space.
I can get the printed account. (Cannot obtain it.)One bitter pang his Heavenly Father
kindly spared him, the knowledge that his beautiful
home had been desecrated & desolated by the ruthless
I say Yankees because that is the universal
appellation given here to the whole nation.Owing to the inflation of our economy, produced in
part by the abundant issue of treasury notes, our
business affairs are involved in much perplexity. Every
article is from two or three time its usual
value. Corn is 3,25 a bushel, flour 20 or 25 dollars
a barrel, pork 30, a hundred, butter from one to two
dollars a pd in R. Those who have much to sell
make great profits, but those who have all to buy
and little to sell like ourselves, are in danger of faring
hardly. Providence has kindly provided for us how
ever. We had some stores on hand of sugar, molas
ses, coffee, clothing, shoes &c. Some lady not far off
lately bought two calico dresses for 50 dollars apiece, but
we have had to buy nothing, & as to bread stuff,
some of my brother's people, have sold to him
at the old prices. It is a hard case that my money is beyond my
reach in this time of need. I have no claim upon
this family, do not even teach the children since Cous
in S. commenced his school, & Sister C. often tells me
she wishes me to do nothing but what I find neces
sary for exercise. Still I have ever been treated with
the utmost kindness, & assured of a home as long as
they have one.We have much to be grateful for. For months
we were under frequent apprehensions that the Yankees
would come in & get posession of the Valley, but the
Lord mercifully preserved us from the danger, & has
delivered us from the fear. In our circumstances it
would probably have been death to some of us. How
many pleasant homes have these barbarians des
olated, strewing the gardens with fragments of
glass & china, filling the air with feathers from

[page 18]

the beds, hewing up for wood, or boxing them up
to send home
How many churches have they polluted,
how many graves desecrated. How have they soaked
our soil with the blood of our noblest & best & then
to cap the climax of injury & insult, talk of recon
structing the union
May the righteous Lord
plead our cause against an ungodly nation, as
he has done already, glory to his name. Render
not to them their deserts O Lord. The Lord be gracious
to all there as well as here who have shown me kind
ness or wished me well, & reward them a thousand
fold, & if any of them are polluted with their guilt,
cleanse them & deliver them from the doom that
hangs over that land. A just God will visit sooner
or later, & there will be no escape but by deep repentance.
I cherish the cheering conviction however, that most if not
all of [deleted: them] [added: my friends] are clear from this guilt.We hear a good deal of late about the S. W.

[page 19]

backing out from the war. Wish they would make haste & do it,
& send us some of their corn & bacon. We are bound to have
Missouri, Kentucky & Maryland with us. The S. W. will
make a treaty of peace & commerce with us, & the rest
may go to grass (speaking after the manner of men,) or
wherever else they can find pasture. The government at W.
seems to have become awfully corrupt, & will probably be
removed in some way which time will reveal. There is a
piece in the Whig from the London Times about Lincoln
the Last
in which he is set forth about right.

March 11, 1863

Mh. 11,

A young man from the neighborhood, not half
a mile distant indeed, was taken by the Yankees a few
months since, & has not returned. They look for him
daily as prisoners have been exchanged, but he comes not.
Hope it will not be with him as with Willie Hite, another
young man [deleted: from] living a few miles from us, who had
been taken, & reached home only to die from the hard
ships he had experienced. James Holladay, Sister C's nephew, was a similar
instance. He was in Williamsburg sick when that place
was taken, attempted to escape, but fell from exhaustion
& was taken by them. He was taken to Washington first,
says he had no special reason to complain of his treat
ment there. Many things were sent in by the secession
ladies. He was soon removed however to Ft. Delaware,
where he was treated in the most inhuman manner,
had nothing but a [added: narrow] board, [added: or rather two, one overlapping the other,] a sort of shelf to lie on, a little
piece of fat meat & bread twice a day, & was cursed
& kicked about by the officers, some of them Dutch,
with their thick boots, especially those who were sick & could not
work. He was there four or five months, his mother
the meantime not knowing whether he was dead or alive.
An exchange of prisoners was finally effected, & he was
brought home to die, lived two or three weeks after his
return. He was a most amiable, unselfish youth,
wholly devoted to his mother.

[page 21]

June 26, 1863

June 26

We have glorious news from Milroy's
army. [deleted: The] We have taken [added: Winchester &] several thousand prisoners
& stores without number. The old brute himself nar
rowly escaped. There is such a good story in the
Whig I must copy it. It is told in a letter from a lady
in Winchester. She says God only knows what we have
had to bear from the Federals, & then proceeds to speak
among other things of an old negro who was kept
on nothing but water for three days because he re
fused to work & said he was "secesh." The fourth
day an officer went to him with the inquiry "Are
you secesh yet?" His reply was " Bless de Lord,
Massa, I is secesh yet.
" He was then set to
splitting wood with iron balls attached to his
hands & feet. This Lady's brother was at the
guard house & saw him. The officer was cursing
him & saying he ought to have iron balls on his

[page 22]

neck & arms. The old fellow went on splitting
saying "Bless de Lord, massa, any where you can
put 'em. You can kill de body but you can't
kill de soul, & when dat gets to heaven, it will
be secesh yet.
" Noble fellow. It does one good to
hear such instances. I do not know how I would
stand the starving process [added: myself], but think I would
have to be right hungry before I would give in.
She adds that her brother called to the officer
saying, "Hallo Grant, is that what you call [deleted: fre] [added: freedom]."


July 8, 1864

July 8, 1864

Long time has elapsed since the fore
going was written, & innumerable have been the events
which have transpired in the interval. The most im
portant of these to me are two severe illnesses which
have occured since last Oct. A few particulars of these
I will note down, as I write for the information of my
northern friends, should any of them have the curios
ity to read this journal, & leave herewith the request
that it may be forwarded to them at some future time
if it should not be in my power to do it myself.The attacks spoken of bore symptoms of typhoid
pneumonia at first, & the fever in each attack continued
many days, especially the quickness of the pulse,
ranging from 120 to 125. This was attended & suc
eeded by extreme prostration so that many of my
friends apprehended that I would never be able to arise.
By the blessing of God, however, upon the close attention

[page 24]

of my physicians & the most careful nursing, I was at
length restored, though confined to my my bed the second
time nearly three months. I cannot at all do justice
to my feelings here without speaking particularly of
Sister C.'s kindness in watching over me with
the tenderest care by day & by night through both these
illnesses. [added: Much more might be added did not my limits forbid. ] I must be indulged in describing my little
bed, set under the windows by the side of hers, & at
right angles with it, in here for the last eight or nine
months, I have slept by night & lain often a great
part of the day.Some of the neighbors sat up with me a few
nights, but for the most part, Eva attended upon
me, sleeping in the same room & bringing me nour
ishment at bedtime & at midnight & soon in the
morning. If she got worn out, Sister C. in spite
of all my persuasions, would do it herself.For weeks during the second illness, I took no

[page 25]

solid food & very little of anything. The doctor however
said I must eat often, & after I began to get an appetite
I did not fail to profit by his suggestion, for my stom
ach felt like a shrivelled scroll if I did not eat very
frequently. No one would [added: have] supposed I could lose
much flesh, but I did, & when able to a rise from
my bed, looked like a walking skeleton. By a kind
Providence, we had a small quantity of cocoa
on hand. This suited me pretty well, which was
fortunate as I could not take tea & coffee. I was
kept constantly supplied with chicken soup, which
with porridge & a little bread & butter formed a suf
ficient variety. But enough on this head.

July 9, 1864

July 9

One thing I omitted to mention, a severe cough
a thing very unusual for me. It hung on for many
weeks, & indeed is not entirely cured yet. This cough
seemed a sort of epidemic. Within the last year, it has
prevailed extensively, has been so violent & long continued,

[page 26]

that many have insisted it was the whooping
cough, even those who have [added: had] that already.I was taken the second time, the last of Feb.
Have recovered so as to be able to go about the house
but not so as to go to church or to visit abroad, & feel
still very weak so that it often requires a painful
effort to get about. During this time, Sister C. has
been sick two or three times. Once she had inflam
ation of the stomach & was threatened with apoplexy
but was mercifully spared to us. Eva was sick &
laid up for some time, & she got over done. One of
the neighbors lent us a little chap to wait on me.
Josie was sick a long time too, though not at the
same time with his mother.Our friends at the North have probably
been thinking [added: some] about us of late, hearing that the Yan
kees have taken Staunton, though what they have
thought is beyond my power to divine, ignorant as we

[page 27]

are of each others feelings. Sister C. & I very often
talk of them, wonder how they fare [added: & what they think of us,] whether they set us down
for incorrigible rebels against "the best government in
the world," always winding up however by arguing
that we do not & cannot believe they favor this un
just & abominable war, though such strange things
happen these days that nothing ought to astonish us.But I commenced with the intention of tell
ing a story about some Yankee raiders. We have
often had alarms about their coming but have
been preserved by a kind Providence until this season.
Not long since, they favored us with two visits [added: (on June 9 & 10th)] which
will not soon be forgotten in these parts. The first day,
they came in from the West, across the mountain. A
party of 40 or 50 perhaps, came riding up, dismounted
& rushed in. "Have you got any whiskey" said they,
"got any flour? got any bacon?" [added: with plenty of oaths] "Come on boys," says
one, "we'll find it all" With that, they pushed rudely

[page 28]

by Sister C. who was terribly alarmed, & had been
from the first news of their coming, & spread them
selves nearly all over the house. Finding their way
to a fine barrel of flour which a neighbor had given
us, they proceeded to fill their sacks & pillow cases,
scattering a large percent on the floor, till it was
nearly exhausted. The last one told us, on our remon
strating, to hide the rest.Some went upstairs, opened every trunk &
drawer & tossed things upside down or on the floor,
even my nice bonnets, pretending to be looking for
arms. They stole Cousin Samuel's gold sleeve buttons
& pin (a present to him) his best shirt, a good coat,
& pair of shoes. The shoes, it being nearly impossible
to get shoes these days, he afterwards persuaded the
fellow to sell him back for an Ohio ten dollar note,
as good as gold to him. He could with a much
better appetite doubtless have knocked him down,

[page 29]

but there was no choice in the matter.We did not say anything to provoke them, but
did not disguise our sentiments. They went peeping
under the beds, looking for rebels as they said.
Baxter told them there were no rebels here (meaning
rebel soldiers) Cate spoke & said We are all rebels.
Ellen spoke & said "Yes Baxter, I am a rebel." The Yan
kee looked [added: up] from her drawer, which he [added: was] searching just
then, & said "That's right." Cate then said, "I am a rebel
too & I glory in it." When Sister C. remonstrated with
them about taking the shoes, asking them why they
injured innocent persons who had taken no part
in the war, one of them replied, "You need not tell me
that, I know all the people along here have sons in
the army." She then pointed to B & said "That is my
only son." Ellen then said, "I have no brothers in the
army, I wish from my heart I had." He then said,
"Now Sis, I don't wish you had brothers in the

[page 30]

in the army. I wouldn't like to kill one of your
brothers. I got some corn here," (pointing to his
plunder) An officer rode up after the rest had gone
having the appearance of a gentleman, & asked civilly
if he could get some flour. Sister C. telling [added: him] how they
had stripped us of nearly every thing they could find,
said he could go & see what they had left, & help
himself. He said no, he never had searched a
house & never would, & it was a shame they should [added: do so.]That night they camped [deleted: away] a mile or two
from us, extending along the road two or three
miles, & got a fine supper from the farms around them.
Sister C. was afraid to undress, but lay down quite
exhausted two or three hours in the night. Ellen
kept watch the first part of the night, & Cousin S.
the last. E soon called to him, "I hear footsteps."
He went out & saw some coming up the road
with a torch. Thinking they might be coming

[page 31]

to burn the house, he came to our door, saying we
had better have something ready to throw around
us if we should be called out for any reason [added: taking care not to alarm us]. But
our fears were groundless. They started off in the
night for Staunton where there were several thou
sand of them. Our visitors belonged to Averill's [added: command].

July 13, 1864

July 13,

They told us that Crook's men were a great
deal worse than they, & that was true, but they were
bad enough & worse at some other places than with
us. At one of our neighbors, [added: Mr. H.] they took every thing
they had to eat, all the pillow cases & sheets but
what were on the beds, & the towels & some of the ladies
stockings. One of them made up a bundle of ladies
clothing to take, but his comrade shamed him out of it.
They then poured out their molasses, scattered their
preserves & sugar & other things about the floor, &
mixed them all together & destroyed things generally

[page 32]

The ladies there are very amiable & genteel in their [added: appearance]
which makes it the more strange. Their visitors as well
as ours however had taken a drop too much. This gen
tleman had kept some things for sale of late, had
a quantity of tobacco & some other things on hand, all
which they took to the amount of several thousand dollars.At another neighbors, they took all of their
meat (some 30 pieces of bacon) & nearly everything
else they had to eat, all their horses (4) & persuad
ed off their two negro men. One of these was af-
terwards seen by one of our men crying to come
back, but was watched so closely that he could not
escape. No wonder he cried. He has been twice
on the brink of the grave with pneumonia, & was
nursed by his mistress as tenderly as if he had
been a brother, & she was always kind to him, his mas
ter also. He will not find such treatment anywhere [added: else ]

[page 33]

The Yankees (I give them this appellation be
cause every body else does) took off all the negro men
& boys they could, as well as all the horses, told the
women they would take them next time they came.
Many sent their horses to the woods. Some of these
were found & captured. People here do their farming
with horses instead of oxen, & it is an immense loss
to have them & the servants swept off to such an extent,
just as harvest is about to begin too. Many sent
off their servants in one direction & another, some of whom
were overtaken & captured & others escaped.The lady before mentioned has told me since
that no tongue can tell her feelings the day the Yankees
were there. In the first place, they fired on her little
son & another boy several times, as they sat on the
fence watching their approach, & afterwards pretended
that they took them for confederate soldiers from their
being dressed in gray. Then her husband & oldest son

[page 34]

were hid in the bushes in the garden, & she was in
momentary fear of their being discovered & fired upon.
The men & boys always kept out of the way, as they
were sometimes taken off, & did not know what treat
ment they might receive, & thus the women were left
to shift for themselves as best they could. Another
of our neighbors was fired upon several times until
he either dropped or lay down, it was not known
which. They said it was because he ran, but he
was passing between their pickets & ours, who were
firing at each other, & was obliged to run. We heard
of the circumstance, & were very uneasy, but he prov
identially escaped injury. They always fire upon
those who run from them.

July 15, 1864

July 15,

Those who left their houses fared worse than
others, at least their houses did. The wife of a worthy
miller living near us, became so much alarmed that

[page 35]

went with her little children to a neighbors'. They
stripped her house completely, destroying every
thing, left nothing but a straw bed & one sheet. It
was a hard case, for it was with difficulty that Mr. H.
with his large family, could get along before. Another
lady who was alone, was so much frightened by a
drunken soldier who came in, that she left the house.
The Yankees destroyed every thing there too.We were better off than most in having Cousin
S with us. We feared they would take him, but they
only inquired if he was a soldier, & when told that
he was a teacher, did not molest him. He had a
large school (upwards of 40) & had refused many more
applications. It was nearly out at that time, & was
closed abruptly because parents liked to stay at home
& keep their children with them. He was the
chief man in hiding our things. I know not wha[added: t]

[page 36]

we should have done without him. Some hid their
things & had them discovered but we were more for
tunate. (Some were betrayed by their servants) Some
hid nothing, thinking they would not be disturbed but
found themselves woefully mistaken. Others thought
they might be worse dealt [added: with] if they hid anything.A lady near Staunton a little time since
had two Yankee officers come to take tea with her.
She was strong "secesh," but she got them a good sup
per. It was served up in very plain dishes. They per
ceived that she was wealthy, & inquired if she had not
hid her plate &c. She told them she had. They
asked where. She told them in the ash heap. They
said "That is not a good place. It is the first place
searched." They then very kindly & politely showed
her a good place (in their opinion) She followed their
advice & saved her things. In another instance, some
Yankee officers politely showed a lady where to hide her

[page 37]

her [deleted: illeg.] silver &c. The soldiers came & searched in vain.
Just as they were going away, a little black chap
who had followed them around says to them in a
tone of triumph, "Ah you did not find Missis things
hid inside the ____" They went & found & took them.Very early on the morning of June 7th,
knowing that the Yankees were coming (the night
had been mostly spent in preparing for them) Br.
L had taken Eva & John, the horse & rockaway, &
started out he knew not whither exactly, perhaps
to Eastern Va. He wanted to be guided by circumstances.
We had been in a great quandry as to what
course was best for him to pursue. If he went
abroad, he might fall into the hands of the Yankees.
If he staid at home, they would probably take him,
having such a spite against preachers & especially
as he has written & spoken so freely, that his sen
timents are generally known. They might insist upon [5]

July 16, 1864

July 16,

It was finally concluded to ship the whole
cargo, & let them go & seek their fortune. Eva had been
right sick, threatened with pneumonia, but when the
time came, she was very anxious to go & thought
she was able. So she wrapped up well, took a strong
dose of coffee, & set off. We heard nothing from them
for [deleted: illeg.] [added: a] week. Then word came that they had been
seen riding behind a train of wagons which they
could not pass, & that those wagons were afterwards
captured. So that there was little doubt they were
taken too. Sister C. was in such a state from anxiety,
loss of sleep & fatigue, for she & the children had had
all Eva's work to do, that this news brought on [deleted: spa]
spasms such as she used to have. A note was now
brought in from a friend, saying that Mr. E. was seen
at such a time in E. Va. beyond the reach of the
Yankees, & was therefore safe. There might be some
mistake about this, but we tried to believe it & rest upon it.

[page 40]

[deleted: illeg.] In a few days, we got a letter from brother L. saying
that he hoped to get home soon, & so he did.It seems he wandered around for several
days, & then went over to E. Va, to Amherst County
where he taught school on first coming to Va. but
here he was not safe. In a day or two, news came
that the Yankees were coming, & were just upon them,
He mounted his horse & made for the woods, his
host also, taking their servants with them. They
barely escaped, for in five minutes from the first alarm,
the Yankees were in the house. The fugitives
[deleted: illeg.] slept in the woods three nights, which was
no benefit to Eva in her weak state. She has not been
well since her return, but has lingered along some
times better & then worse, & is now under the doctor's [added: care].
The Yankees took from this plantation several hun
dred weight of bacon (nearly all there was) a hun
dred bushels of corn, a quantity of flour, oats &c. & [added: all the horses.]

[page 41]

July 19, 1864

July 19

I have been anticipating. On the 10th of
June we received another visit from our invaders, at
least, several thousand of them passed our house
on their way from Staunton to Lexington. Sister C.
requested one of them who was gentlemanly in his ap
pearance, to guard us, & he did so. They were four
hours in passing. None of them came in but the
guard. Some went in the spring house however, &
helped themselves to milk, & one went off with a large
panfull in each hand. Ellen called after him to
"Bring back those pans," but he only laughed & went on.
Another who had been taking a cool draught from
a pan, came out with his chin covered & some on the
end of his nose, like a cat from the cream pot. E.
accosted him with "Ar'nt you ashamed?" putting on
as much emphasis as she well could, & adding,
"Who do you think is going to drink that milk,
after you have put your nose in it!" The fellow made no reply
but walked off.I did not see much of them, Sister C. prefering
to have me stay home in our room. I was just getting
able to walk about. They did not find the way down
there at all. The room was built over after we came
here, & they might have thought that the door lead
ing into it, led out of doors. I did not feel afraid of
them in the least, but did not have opportunity to
say much to them.Volumes might be written, & doubtless
will be, according them heroic achievements, but
I must cut my story short. They burnt a bridge
a very large distillary & some other buildings in
S. Gov. Letcher's house, the military institute in
Lexington, & some of the mills about the country.
My brother had a barrel of flour, four bushel of
wheat & eight of corn at a mill a few miles dis
tant from us, all which they took, a great loss
in these times for a poor preacher. It was the

[page 43]

whole of wheat he received this year from the people
at Walker's Creek, where he supplies one fourth of his [added: time].
I forgot to say that they took from us, a very large
ham of bacon, two large rolls of butter & whatever
else they could lay their hands on, at the first visit.

July 20, 1864

July 20,

One thing which happened at a neighbor's
is too good to omit. A fellow went into their spring
house, helped himself to what he liked, & finally
lighted upon a jar of tar. He asked what it was.
A daughter of the family, the only person at home,
told him it was blackberry jelly. He took it, &
made off. She called after him to know if he would
have some cream with it. With that he put his
fingers in it, & began to suck them, then threw
down the jar & went off cursing with all his might.
His captain coming up just then, asked the girl
what that fellow was cursing so for. When told,
he said he thought the Yankees were sharper than that.

[page 44]

July 21, 1864

July 21,

It is doubtful whether this irruption
should be called a raid, when so many were con
cumed in it. The number in S. was estimated at
15,000 or more. Some passed here, & some took
other routes. It is natural to inquire what be
came of this cloud of locusts from the bottomless
pit. They told us, we need not trouble ourselves
about our wheat harvest, for they were coming
back to reap it for us, but the good Lord dis-
appointed their expectation. It was reported,
that many of them suffered greatly, & some even
perished with hunger afterwards, in passing
through some districts which they had ravaged.
Their violent dealing [added: if so] came down upon their own
pate. They brought on quite a number of reapers,
which we captured. As we had the work to do, it
was but fair that we should have the wherewith to
do it, especially as they broke up so many of our [added: tools]. But to return to our inquiry. From Lexington
they went to take Lynchburg. Our men followed them,
but we had not enough to handle them, till we got
reinforcements [deleted: at] near L. Then they retreated before
us, & went on to Parkersburg & Wheeling.There is a report very current now, that Gen.
Grant is killed, but there are so many rumors, that
I never believe anything till confirmed beyond a
doubt. It is too good news to be true. Perhaps, how
ever, his cause was the best for us that could have
been pursued. He fought our men in their fortifi
cations, sacrificed them & saved ours. Will he not
have a heavy account to render, crimsoned with the
guilt of so many murders.

August 9, 1864

Aug. 9,

The Central Presbyterian contains an ad
vertisement copied from the Boston Recorder of
10,000 testaments taken on the schooner Minna,
which was attempting to run the blockade. Fine

[page 46]

paper, beautiful print, flexible leather covers, & only
weighing two ounces--just the thing, says the editor,
for our soldiers. And what good does any one
suppose these testaments will do their soldiers?
Will the blessing of God attend stolen goods?
A large lot of bibles too he says, of the same kind.
Nothing has aroused my indignation so much for
a long time. I could hardly go to sleep the next
night for thinking of it. How outrageous for people
calling themselves Christians to be chuckling over the
infamous robberies of their countrymen, taking the
bread of life out the mouths of our famished soldiers,
& giving it to profane creatures who will not prob
ably care the snap of their fingers for it. If you ask
me how I know that their soldiers are more profane
than ours, I answer [added: in] the same way that I know most
other things, by testimony, abundant testimony thats [added: our testimony]

November 19, 1864

Nov 19,

A long hiatus again, so many things of ab
sorbing interest. An item by the way from the Central Pres
byterian. It is estimated that 142,000 Confederate soldiers

[page 47]

have been converted as convicts since the war began.
If human testimony can establish any thing it estab
lishes this, that there has been a most wonderful work
of grace in our army. How could a broader seal have
been set upon the righteousness of our cause? The [added: Lord]
has looked upon our affliction & our pain, & forgiven
our sins, to a certain extent at least. I have gradu
ally arrived at the firm persuasion that multitudes
of our dying soldiers have been met by redeeming [added: grace].Mrs. Gilbert one of our neighbors died a few
months since, & when dying, she exclaimed [added: with delight] "O there's
Jimmy & Johnny." They had come for their departing
mother. They were two of [deleted: their] our young sol
diers who had died not very long before from
wounds received in battle. No one knew the state
of their minds, but does not this circumstance sup
port the hope that their pious mother's prayers had
been answered for them? A [added: similar instance,] Jimmy Holladay when
dying exclaimed "O there's father." These boys (the

[page 48]

oldest was but just out of his teens) were
excellent soldiers, went to the army at the first sound of the
trumpet, & had never taken a furlough. Their bodies
were brought home & buried in one grave. We all
thought they deserved a monument & accordingly
Ellen went around & soon collected about $500 for the
purpose. It cannot be obtained however till after [added: the] war.
Men are drawn off so closely that it is difficult to
get a horse shod or a [added: pair of] shoes made or a stick of wood
hauled. Then the most common articles are many
of them exceedingly rare. But then if we do have
to sit in the dark [added: for nights] except for an hour or so that the
children are learning their lessons, & submit to
multitudes of privations far greater than that, we
do it cheerfully as the price in part of our liberty.

November 25, 1864

Nov. 25,

The New York Observer, it seems, is in the
plague against us. The [deleted: paragraph] [added: articles] not many months
since appeared discounting upon the causes of the fail

[page 49]

to put down the rebellion--they had under
rated our strength & overrated their own, the nation
must go to work with new zeal &c. Had they suc
ceeded in grinding us to powder, it had pleased them
well, but they forgot the Power above who had "strength
ened us, helped us, & caused us to stand [added: & will do so"] unworthy as
we are, & who will in his own good time, bring us
off conquerors & more than conquerors. "Blessed be the
Lord who has not given us as a prey to their teeth."
And then to think of their high religious profession.
Sister C. often says to me, "I have no faith in the
Fulton St. prayer meeting." We used to attend it
with great interest when in N.Y. How differently
we should have felt had we known what was in
the future, had we known that some of those same
men (perhaps, & perhaps not) [added: the same individuals,] would be engaged in
one short year in hounding over their blood thirsty
soldiers [added: to rape & arson] to robbery & murder. I used to read the

[page 50]

accounts of"The Great Revival" at the North with
the deepest interest, but now it is a great mystery to me.

[page 51]

Final Entry

have been [deleted: counted a ] [6]

Editorial Notes

[1] Nancy Emerson lived with her brother Luther Emerson and his family in Augusta County, Virginia. According to the 1860 census of Augusta County (available at the Valley of the Shadow site,, both Luther and Nancy were born in Massachusetts, Nancy in 1807, Luther in 1811. Sometime after 1832, Luther served as the minister for Shemeriah Presbyterian Church in Augusta County, Virginia (J. Lewis Peyton, History of Augusta County, Virginia, 83). Luther Emerson's family was fairly prosperous, claiming $800 in real estate and $12,265 in personal estate. Luther Emerson and his wife Catharine, who was a native Virginian, had three children: Ellen, Catharine, and Joseph, all of whom were born in Virginia.

[2] With pages one through four, dark splotches obscure the words on the bottom part of each page, so the transcriptions are incomplete. See the images for clarification.

[3]Emerson is probably referring to the Daily Richmond Whig, an area newspaper.

[4]As the military governor of New Orleans, Benjamin Butler was notorious for his use of contraband slaves and disrespect toward ladies of New Orleans. David Hunter was an abolitionist general.

[5]Page 38 is missing, so there will be a gap in the text.

[6] Page 51 is blank except for a few smudged words at the top, while page 52 contains handwriting exercise in which Emerson has written words beginning with D that may have had special relevance for her: Diligence, Deliverance, Druggist. Page 52 has not been transcribed.

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