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Frances Fearn, ed.
Diary of a Refugee.

Diary of a Refugee, Cover

Old Creole House

Edited By
Frances Fearn

Illustrated By
Rosalie Urquhart

COPYRIGHT 1910, By Frances Fearn
Published by New York Moffat, Yard & Company
Printed by The Quinn & Boden Co. Press in Rahway, NJ

Diary of a Refugee, Title

Diary of a Refugee, Copyright


May the Clarice of to-day reincarnate the spirit and the flesh of those four noble women of her name, affiliating the child through her forbears with the soul and body of her Great, Great Grandmother Clarice



IT was while I was spending the summer in Virginia, where I had gone in search of quiet and rest, after my extensive tour through the country, that I saw in one of the papers an appeal from a Historical Society, to those who had any real data in regard to the Civil War to publish it, as so many who were connected with the war on both sides were rapidly dying off.

I remembered a diary kept during the war by a member of my family, who was a woman of rare qualities of brain, and heart, with an unusually just mind. I felt sure that anything written by her would be so liberal and fair that it could not fail but prove interesting reading, for the people of both the North and the South. From what she had told me, and remembering as a child many things myself, I am able to fill in the gaps when necessary.

While preparing the Diary for publication, I saw the possibility of making an interesting drama from it, so I have dramatized it, giving the play as title the famous words of General Grant, “Let us have peace.” I have also obtained permission of General Frederick Grant to have his father, General U. S. Grant, impersonated on the stage.

Several years ago I read a book called “Ground Arms,” by an Austrian noblewoman, which made a strong impression upon me, for it was written with great power and ability, and was an eloquent protest against the evils of war.

If either “The Diary of a Refugee” or the play can in any way convey the horrors of war to the public and make them feel as I do in regard to the terrible suffering and misery which it entails upon so many innocent people, then indeed I shall feel that my work has not been in vain. This is the spirit that has prompted me to edit the Diary and to dramatize it. I hope the public, on reading the book and seeing the play, will take my representation of Southern life as a true one, and after following the family through their trials and troubles, will understand with what great sincerity and thankfulness they echo General Grant's famous words, “Let us have peace.”

It is with great pleasure that I give a letter received from Admiral Dewey expressing his approval of the description given in the “Diary of a Refugee” of the battle of Port Hudson, as the Admiral was on the“Mississippi” at the time.


April 14, 1910.

My dear Mrs. Fearn:

I have read the extract from your mother's diary with the greatest interest. I would suggest that you publish it just as she saw it at the time, and it will form a very interesting history of that part of the Civil War.

With sincere regards,
Faithfully yours,
George Dewey.

This was in answer to a letter that I wrote asking him if he could suggest any changes or additions to the account of the battle given in the Diary.

Frances Fearn.


crescent plantation,
bayou lafourche, la.,
april, 1862.

WITH a sad heart and a feeling of great depression I went on my usual round of visits to-day. First to the negroes’ hospital, then to see the young mothers who have recently been confined; afterwards to the children’s ward, where they are kept during the day under the care of an old mammy, while their mothers are at work in the fields. These and many other daily duties incumbent upon the mistress of a plantation, leave one few spare hours.

I found the inmates of the hospital awaiting me with great impatience and eagerness, but I fear they missed my usual cheerfulness in spite of the effort I made to bring all the cheer and comfort I could to the poor suffering ones. It was impossible not to feel the foreshadowing of the evil days that must inevitably come to us with the fall of New Orleans.

One of my greatest pleasures is in distributing the delicacies from our own table to the invalids. As coming from the master’s table they are greatly appreciated.

To-day, as I sat and talked with the different ones, I must have shown in my face or manner the great anxiety that I was feeling, and perhaps I was a little more tender over them than usual, for they looked up into my face, and one said, “Ole missus, what is ailin’ yo’? Yo’ ain’t never looked so sad befo’.” My usual gayety and light-heartedness must indeed have left me; how could it be otherwise, feeling as I do the sense of coming danger? With the fall of New Orleans in the course of a short time we must leave our dear old home, and what will then become of the hospital and its inmates? This is my special work; I organized it and have carried it on under the direction of our excellent family physician, who attends and cares for the slaves as well as for the family. We have had some of the more intelligent negro women trained and taught to be nurses, for they make very good ones. Apart from any illness that the slaves are subject to, we often have accidents of a more or less serious nature, which must inevitably be the case where there is such a great variety of work. The plantation is really like a village, with its carpenter and blacksmith shops, its brick masons, and other trades, in which many of them show great skill and ability.

As it is Saturday, the day on which the women and children come to me for any clothes that they may need, I have had great pleasure in giving out to many of them the things that they ask for; of my many duties the one I enjoy most is the privilege my husband gives me of distributing the clothes to the women and children. The materials are bought in large quantities at wholesale prices. A certain number of seamstresses are detailed to make them up into all kinds of necessary garments for the men and women and children. After they are made, they are put in sets and kept in a large room, used only for that purpose. Each person is allowed a certain number of every necessary article of clothing. I am always pleased when I can reward a young woman, girl, or child for good conduct by giving an extra pretty dress, handkerchief, or perhaps a string of bright beads, as the latter is greatly prized.

When the crops have been good, my husband distributes a sum of money to the negroes in proportion to the extra amount of work that they have done during the grinding season. It is the occasion for great rejoicing and gayety. Everyone puts on their best clothes and a general feeling of good humor prevails. The gallery is gayly decorated where my husband sits at the table on which is placed the gold coin, and as each negro comes up in line, their name is called by the overseer and they receive the amount due to them according to the work that they have done and their good conduct during the year. The women and children are included. The young mothers receive a present for their babies and it is not an unusual occurrence for a mother to borrow an extra baby to present, so as to receive an additional present! When found out, this creates no end of joking and amusement. We all know it is sometimes difficult for white mothers to recognize their own offspring, but how much more difficult must it be for a man to know the difference between two black babies. Poor James is often fooled! It makes a picturesque scene, with the decorations of the gallery, the mixture of gay colors, the costumes of the negroes, and the vivid greens and bright tropical coloring of plants and flowers in the garden that surrounds the house.

The distribution of this money takes place immediately after the sugar is made. When the grinding season is over a week’s holiday follows, during which the negroes, with great joy, prepare for the ball that is given at the end of the week. The negro women are allowed to go in the wagons used for hauling the cane to Donaldsville, the nearest village, where they are given the great pleasure of spending their money on the necessary adornment for the ball. Their great ambition is to be able to disappear from the ballroom several times during the evening, and to reappear with some startling addition to their toilets, thereby exciting the envy of the others.

We all take the greatest pride and pleasure in decorating the ballroom with wreaths of evergreen, flags, etc., and my husband gives them carte blanche for their supper as regards the killing of chickens and making of cakes, ice creams, and sweets of all kinds, for which they have a great weakness. The ball is opened by members of the family dancing the first set of Lancers. After that the floor is given up to the negroes, who enter into the enjoyment most heartily. Any stranger looking in upon this scene would not believe that they were slaves. But why should they not be light-hearted? They have no responsibilities, they are well cared for, and clothed and fed? If the war ends unsuccessfully for us, will they, with their freedom, remain thus?

The night of the ball was clear and beautiful, the full moon bringing out all objects with a distinctness more vivid even than by day. The house and surrounding grounds were deserted, all having gone to the ball. My husband had been detained, so we were the last to leave the house. The road to the low building where the ball was going on was through a long avenue of overarching trees. Not a sound was to be heard or a moving object in sight, when suddenly there appeared in the path before us, as though coming up from the ground, a big negro, who held in his hand one of the large formidable knives used for cutting the cane. It glistened in the moonlight as he advanced threateningly towards my husband. He is the one vicious and really bad negro on the plantation. Being very lazy he had run off three months before, so as to avoid the hard work necessary for all hands during the grinding season.

My husband’s influence over the slaves is very great, while they never question his authority, and are ever ready to obey him implicitly, they love him! It was only necessary for him to command this negro to put down his knife, for the darkey to fall at my husband’s feet and beg for forgiveness. The negro’s reason for returning at this time was in order to go to the ball. He said, “Ole massa, do what yo’ will with me, only le’ me go to the ball to-night!” My husband gave his permission, but said, “I’ll not punish you, as you will receive your punishment at the hands of those whom you left to do your share of the work.”

It was a terrible scene when he entered the ballroom. His fellow-slaves fell upon him, and it was with great difficulty that he was finally rescued after a severe beating at their hands and being put out of the ballroom. It is a curious fact that the good workers have no sympathy for those who run off and shirk their duty.

Sunday night.

The service that we had to-day in our little church on the plantation seemed to me unusually touching and pathetic. As I watched the faces of the slaves who were so unconscious of any impending evil in their lives, I felt instinctively that it was the last service that we should have together.

This church was built by my husband for the benefit of the slaves. Our dear pastor is from the North, he is very talented and a most excellent man. Curiously enough, he came South full of bitterness against all slave-owners. To his great astonishment, my husband, on first meeting him, employed him at a salary of five thousand dollars a year to take care of the religious education and training of the negroes. He accepted, feeling he had found a field for great missionary work; but not so much in regard to the negroes as to what he hoped to be able to accomplish with the wicked, benighted Southern slave-owners! He came fully prepared to preach a crusade against us, but he has succeeded in making us all love him, and I have every reason to believe that he has changed his opinions in many respects regarding us.

Our plantation life has been a revelation to him, so different is it from what he expected. His influence over the slaves has been wonderfully good. He has educated one of the more intelligent men to become a preacher, and we go often to hear him when he preaches at the evening services. It is extraordinary what remarkable musical talent many of the negroes have, and also very sweet voices so that the singing in church is really unusually good.


Another anxious day! The steamboats “Mary Tee” and “The Lafourche,” chartered by my husband, are being loaded with sugar. The fires are kept up day and night ready to start as soon as the dreaded news reaches us that the Federal gunboats have passed the forts. The conduct of the negroes, and their evident desire to show their sympathy and readiness to aid us in every way in these trying times, is very touching. The more so as they know that the arrival of the Federals will mean their freedom.


We were aroused in the middle of the night by the arrival of Richard. He had ridden for twenty-four hours, only stopping to change horses; as he brought us the fatal and dread tidings that New Orleans was in the possession of the enemy. We were a sad little group that gathered around the breakfast table, each one trying to cheer the other with the hope that our fate may not in reality be as dreadful as we anticipated.

This beautiful spring morning, the season of the year when the dear old place is at its best with a great abundance of roses of many varieties, none more lovely in the richness of its color than the “Cloth of Gold”; these with the greatest profusion of climbing roses that cover the pillars of the galleries, the fences, and run riot everywhere with a dark background of all the rich greens of the tropical plants, make a lovely scene, such as one is loath to leave. Never did the old typical Southern home, in its simplicity and comfort, seem so attractive, with the large rooms, high ceilings, and all that tends to make a home beautiful and comfortable, filled with interesting souvenirs of the many places that we have visited in our extensive travels. The most insignificant article seems to have a special value, and as I look upon it all, I feel instinctively that I shall never see it again.

Although I am a Virginian by birth and have lived all my life in the South and West, I have never approved of slavery. It has been one of the greatest sorrows and trials of my life that my husband should own so many slaves, both in Louisiana and Kentucky. This has made me feel the great responsibility resting upon us in the care of them, and I am thankful to say my husband has shared it with me, and always been willing and anxious to mitigate their condition as much as possible, by being kind, considerate, and just in his treatment of them. Their appreciation of what he has done for them has been clearly shown in their love and devotion to him and to each member of the family.

Last year, on an occasion when my husband had to leave us for many days, and there was no white person living within several miles of the house, before going he called the negroes around him and told them that he was going off to be absent some time, and to their care and protection he entrusted their mistress and his child. He felt that they would allow nothing to harm his loved ones during his absence. The night after he left was a beautiful, clear moonlight night. The house is entirely surrounded by a wide balcony on which all the front rooms open with French windows. In the middle of the night I heard an unusual sound and got up to ascertain the cause of it. As I opened my door I saw innumerable figures rise up in the moonlight, and a chorus of voices called out, “Don’t be afraid, ole missus, we are just here guarding you and the child for ole massa.” I went back to bed feeling that we were safe in their keeping, but I lay awake many hours wondering what freedom would do for these child-like people. Would they be improved by it, or would they lapse back into a savage condition when the firm and guiding hand of the master was taken from them?

My son’s news of the fall of New Orleans was confirmed while we were at breakfast by a man on horseback, riding rapidly down the Bayou road, calling out as he went by, “The Yankees are coming!” It was the signal for us to gather up the things we most valued of our belongings and to go on board “The Lafourche,” which was waiting with steam up in the Bayou, fronting the house, to carry us off.

It was a sad little group that left the dear old home. We were so overcome with sorrow and terror as to our future fate that we gave no thought of what we were taking with us. The negroes were far more thoughtful for us; one picked up my husband’s favorite sofa, another his chair, one even went so far as to sweep the silver on the breakfast table into a handy clothes-basket and carry it on board.

The Old Plantation House

Indeed, we had great cause afterwards to be very thankful to them for their forethought in the provision that they made for our comfort and for the supplies that they put on board, the latter were sadly needed before our journey was over.

My heart was torn at the separation from my son Richard, who had returned to join his company. We Southern women need all our strength and courage to give up our sons and loved ones, our homes are taken from us, and we must become refugees!

My husband has been able to put on board the steamboat about one-half of this year’s crop of sugar. The plantation is only three miles from Donaldsville, at the mouth of the Bayou Lafourche. When we entered the Mississippi River, it had become a seething mass of craft of all kinds and description that could be made into possible conveyances to carry away the terror-stricken people who were flying from their homes with their loved ones and treasures, all making a mad rush for the mouth of Red River.

We who had lived on the plantation, with the greatest abundance of food and supplies of all kinds, have not felt the effects of the war, but now that we are refugees and in a part of the country that has been drained of much that it produced, and the white laboring man has joined the army, leaving the fields but scantily cultivated, we begin to feel the want of food. Our party consists of seven in the family and eighteen servants, and the officers and crew of the steamboat, making many mouths to feed; frequently we are not allowed to land if there are few provisions in the place, and are met at the wharf by men with shotguns, who not politely, but very forcibly, request us to move on, and it is not an unusual thing for us to have nothing but sweet potatoes and corn bread to eat for days at a time.

After months on board the steamboat, with bad water as well as a lack of proper food, we are all beginning to feel the effects, so that my husband has decided to go to Alexandria for the winter.



We arrived here none too soon as two of the family have typhoid fever, my daughter and niece. It would be impossible to tell of all the kindness and hospitality that we have received at the hands of these dear kind people. Dr. Davidson, not only a very skilled and remarkable physician, but loved by all who know him, is a most generous man, giving us much that cannot be bought for any amount of money. These are times when the possession of money means nothing, for there is nothing to buy with it. All the more one appreciates the kind generous hearts who are willing to share with others less fortunate than themselves whatever they may possess in the way of provisions.

A month later.

Now that my invalids are convalescent, my husband has rented a hotel which was once a favorite summer resort, twenty-five miles from Alexandria, in a pine forest, where there is also a very good spring of mineral water, which is supposed to be a good tonic suitable for strengthening our poor invalids.

Pine Forest.

What a remarkable place! The hotel which could accommodate two or three hundred people, has been abandoned and left to go to ruin. The furniture has been taken away, only a few beds remain with corn-shuck mattresses, and chairs, the seats of which are made of cowhide. It presented a forlorn appearance as we drove up. I must say that my heart sank at the prospect of making a home here. It seemed so hopeless.


Yesterday I drove for twenty miles with Jack in the wagon drawn by four horses, carrying with me several hundred dollars with which to buy provisions. Imagine my despair and disappointment when I returned at night with one pint bottle of milk, a dozen eggs, a small sack of corn meal, and one chicken to feed twenty hungry mouths! What really saves us from starvation is a beautiful clear stream that runs through this forest. In it are the most delicious freshwater trout, at least they seem so to us. My husband delights in awaking the children in the morning at an early hour with the call, “Get up, girls, fish, or no breakfast.” So he would have us all out fishing most seriously for the food of the day. We cook them out of doors (we have no stove) in our only cooking utensil, — a frying-pan. There is also a coffee-pot, which we look at with longing eyes in anticipation of the day when we shall have some coffee made in it, but as yet we have not been able to find any coffee that we could buy.

Ten days later.

Great excitement yesterday. We saw an Indian coming from the forest with a deer on his back. The shout that we sent up must have reminded him forcibly of his tribe when on the war path. He started to run, but there was no escape for him, he was too quickly surrounded by a hungry crowd. The gold pieces that we held out to him very soon changed his fears to amusement and wonder, for he had never seen so much money before. The deer was quickly dropped at our feet, and the money grasped with great eagerness, for he was all anxiety to get away, thinking perhaps that we might regret our bargain. He little knew how hungry we were, and what a feast that deer represented to us. Never did anything taste so good.

We had another piece of good luck. One of the children found a tomato bush in an old, abandoned vegetable garden. These, added to the venison, made indeed a feast fit for the gods in our eyes.

In spite of the lack of food and comforts we are all improved in health, for the pure air of this pine forest and the water have proved such good tonics that our invalids have entirely recovered.

With the approach of winter and the condition of the house being such that it affords no protection against the cold (no glass in the windows and the roof open in many places), my husband has decided to go back to Alexandria for that season. The question of clothes has become a very serious one; it is not that we are concerned as to the latest fashions. Oh, no. It is too serious for that small consideration. I really do not know how we could have got through the winter if we had not had a great piece of good luck. While living on the steamboat, my husband received a letter from the owner of a country store on Bayou Plaquemine, offering to sell him the contents of the store, for what seemed a very large sum of money, if my husband would pay him half of it in sugar and the rest in gold. The Bayou was too narrow for us to go in the steamboat, so we rowed up in small boats, starting at dawn.

It was a day never to be forgotten. The beauty and picturesqueness of the Bayou have been made famous in Longfellow’s “Evangeline.” In our imagination we passed the very spot where Evangeline was asleep, and Gabriel, her lover, went by not seeing her.

From the realms of poetic imagination we were suddenly brought face to face with the stern realities of life, for we were badly in need of clothes. My husband had no list of the contents of the store, so we were unable to form any idea of what we might find. When we reached it, on opening the door he said, “Now, girls, it is all yours,” which was as welcome a sound to us as if he was offering us a gold mine. Just imagine a lot of women without sewing materials of any kind! — no thread, needles, buttons, etc., to say nothing of dress materials — turned loose even in a country store. No words can describe the excitement and exultant exclamations on opening a box to find the very things that we needed most, as we had become very simple in our wants and tastes. There was no question of scorning anything. Oh, no! We were overjoyed when we found about sixty yards of old-fashioned plaid barege, and such a plaid! The size of the squares and odd mixture of colors were very startling, but that made no difference. We rose above such small matters, it meant a dress.

Evangeline Oak

We filled the boat with our newly acquired possessions and returned to the steamer feeling happier and much relieved in our minds, in regard to the replenishing of our wardrobes for the winter. One must see the contents of an American country store to appreciate the great variety and possibilities it affords, as it contains a little of everything.


We are now settled for the winter in rather a well-furnished house, and are quite comfortable. I have started the children to school, my daughter and nephew. My husband’s sugar is a blessing, not only to us, but throughout this part of the country, as with it he is able to get in exchange much that cannot be bought with money. His great desire is to get together by means of his sugar a supply of provisions for some of our Army posts that are beginning to feel the want of food, owing to the blockade. How the Southern women suffer, thinking of our dear brave young sons, who have been brought up in the greatest luxury and ease, many fighting in the ranks of our Army, enduring the greatest hardships and privations. We know that they are doing it without a murmur and we are proud of their brave and unselfish lives.

APRIL, 1863.

Shall I ever be able to recall all that I have gone through since I last made an entry in my diary? It seems an eternity, so much have I suffered and such terrible scenes have I witnessed.

When my husband had succeeded in collecting a sufficient quantity of provisions he offered them to the Government for the relief of the garrison at Port Hudson, where my son Richard was stationed. The Government gave him the use of a steamer and the permission to take us with him. He went with the hope of being able to see Richard. The trip down the river was made safely, without any accident worth recording. But on the afternoon of March 14th we felt the signs of excitement, for when we got in sight of Port Hudson it was evident that the Federal gunboats were getting into line for the approaching battle. The Captain felt a hesitation about landing, but we were too anxious to see Richard, so after a consultation we decided to risk it, and most thankful were we for having done so.

Strangely enough the general in command selected Richard (without knowing that we were on the steamer), to bring the order to the Captain telling him not to remain at the landing, but to go around the bend of the river in front of Port Hudson, to await the result of the battle. In case the enemy passed we were to go up the river to Port de Russy. The Captain disobeyed the order to the extent of remaining fifteen minutes, enabling us to have these precious moments with our dear boy. By this time it was dark. The order was for all lights to be put out on the boat. Even blankets were held up in front of the engine fires as we crept around the bend. We had not gone far, however, before the Federal gunboats opened fire upon us, the shells falling fast and thick. Had one of them struck our frail wooden steamer it would have been instantaneous death to all and complete destruction of the steamer.

Our escape from destruction or capture was owing to the fact that the gunboat “Mississippi” which was detailed to capture us was struck by a shell from our forts, and her machinery being disabled she ran aground and caught fire. We were near enough to hear the commands given on the “Mississippi” and to witness the terrible scenes that followed when she caught fire. I shall never forget the terrors of it, and not until we were safely around the bend of the river in front of Port Hudson did we realize the extent of our own danger, and how narrow an escape we had made. We completely lost all thought or consciousness of any personal danger to ourselves. We could think of nothing but Richard and the gallant defenders of our forts. The fleet against them looked so grim and formidable that our hearts were filled with terror at the thought of what their fate might be.

After we reached our point of refuge we waited, according to our instructions, until midnight, when we saw the Federal gunboat “Hartford” pass the forts. This was to be the signal for us to go on to Fort de Russy, seventy miles up the river, the garrison there being in great need of food. We were able to give them some of the supplies, but it was not long before the fort was taken and we were compelled to return to Alexandria. I fear it will be a long, anxious waiting before we can learn Richard’s fate.

Several months later.

My husband has at last joined us after many months of anxiety and uncertainty as to his fate, being unable to communicate with him or in any way get news of him. He returned to the plantation, as he felt anxious about the slaves and wanted to see what he could do for them.

The plantation facing on the Bayou is three miles in length, but extends many miles back to the swamps. My husband returned to it from the rear, and none too soon, for as he entered from the swamps the Federals were approaching from Donaldsville, coming by the Bayou road in front of the plantation. He called the negroes around him and told them that when the Federals took possession of the place they would be given their freedom, but if they wanted to go with him, he would take them to Texas where he would give them work and treat them as he had always done, but they would still be slaves. In answer a chorus of voices exclaimed, “Ole Massa, we’ll go with yo’.” Out of several hundred slaves only fifteen young half-grown boys remained on the place. My husband then ordered all the wagons to be made ready, the very large ones which are used for hauling sugar-cane from the fields to the mill, each requiring four mules. In these he put the old women, young children, and the sick; the women and those who were able followed on foot. The negroes were allowed to take some of their belongings with them, as they placed great value upon their personal possessions, and would have been very unhappy at leaving them. Of this fact my husband realized the importance, as he did not wish them to become dissatisfied so as to regret their decision to go with him. It was not many hours after they went off that the Federals entered the plantation from the front and took possession of the place. The Federal officers of the regiment occupied the dear old house for several months before they destroyed it. One of the officers fell in love with a Creole girl living near the place. He told her that they were going to destroy the house and what they could not carry off they would break up or burn. If there was anything she would like to have he would gladly give it to her. She asked for my beautiful silver tea-kettle that she knew I valued greatly, also the piano which was much prized. He sent them to her. In a letter which I have just received from her she writes me that she is keeping them for me, and regrets that she did not ask for more, as everything has been taken away, silver, pictures, and many things that I have been collecting for years, and with which I have very dear associations. Oh! this awful war. When will it end? How many innocent ones must suffer for the ambition of the terrible politicians. If only those who caused the war had to suffer, it would be more just.

My husband’s account of his experience during the hundreds of miles he traveled with his slaves is really most extraordinary. They were often very short of food and had many hardships to endure, but not once did the slaves falter or cease in their vigilant care and consideration of him.

After a long and fatiguing day their only sleeping-place would be on the ground, and those who could would sleep in the wagons, but the negroes never failed to make a comfortable place for him. It is a strange sight to see these trains of wagons and negroes going through the country often with only one member of their master’s family, and not infrequently there would be only a woman who most confidingly intrusted herself to the protection and care of her slaves when escaping from home and seeking safety wherever one could find it. In most cases it was in Texas.

A touching instance of this was a beautiful young girl of eighteen years of age, who was an orphan with only two brothers. When they went off to join the Army she was left in charge of the plantation. One of her brothers was killed, the younger one returned home badly wounded, just as the Federals were approaching their plantation, and they were making their escape from the rear, as my husband had done, with her brother in a wagon made into an impromptu ambulance by the negroes, all of whom faithfully followed her. To their care she intrusted herself and the wounded boy, for he was not more than twenty; for weeks they traveled through a country not seeing a white person for days. She gave touching accounts of how the negroes would take turns in helping her nurse the wounded boy, carrying him often in their arms when the road would be so rough that they feared the jolting of the wagon might increase his sufferings, showing always the greatest love and loyalty to the two young creatures who felt no fear in their care. After reaching Texas they became our neighbors, and I learned to know how much they owed to the care and devotion of these blacks during this long journey. But this brave dear young girl was called upon to face the additional sorrow of seeing her brother gradually pass away.

The Dark Forest



Alas! there seems no rest for us, as again we must start on our wanderings. This time Texas is our destination. It is urgent that we should get there as soon as possible; owing to the fact that James has bought a ranch on which he wishes to settle the negroes, it is important that he should be there to organize the work in establishing them.

We reached here yesterday, coming by boat from Alexandria. It was a sad trip for us all, but oh! most touchingly sad for dear Mrs. General Taylor, who was put under my husband’s care with her four children, two of them bright, promising boys, both handsome and fine specimens of health. The elder was named for his grandfather, President Zachary Taylor, and the other for his father, General Richard Taylor, familiarly known to his friends as “Dick” Taylor a gallant soldier and a most charming man.

The second day out.

One of the boys showed symptoms of scarlet fever, but before it was really known what was the matter with him he died very suddenly.

Two days later.

I have been all day with Mrs. Taylor. It is marvelous, her courage and sweet resignation to the will of God, as both of her darling boys are dead. The younger died this morning. In the midst of her own overwhelming sorrow she is unselfishly thinking what a terrible grief it would be to her husband who is with the army, fighting gallantly in defense of our country. The two little girls are a great comfort to their mother, as they are very sweet and attractive children.

A week later.

It is a great temptation to linger on here as everyone has been most kind and hospitable, sharing generously with us whatever they have. It is an attractive little city with its many pretty and comfortable houses, and as the weather is very hot they seem delightfully cool and most suitable for this part of the State.

The friends who have taken us in have large and beautiful grounds surrounding their houses, the gardens of which are full of the greatest profusion and variety of flowers, with some fine old trees. It all seems so peaceful and quiet that it is hard to realize the dreadful war raging not far from us, the beautiful and happy homes that have been destroyed, the brokenhearted men and women who are wandering from place to place in search of safety and peace. Oh! the horrors of war and most dreadful of all, of civil war; brother fighting against brother and families divided. God grant that it may not last long is the prayer that is in the hearts of the suffering women in the North as well as in the South.

James just told me that all the arrangements for our trip are completed and that we start to-morrow, going in our own carriages, taking an extra wagon to carry our few possessions in the way of clothes and provisions; also the servants. It is with really great regret that I leave our dear, good, kind friends and this attractive place where I had rest and peace.

kaufman ranch, texas.
A month later.

We reached here yesterday, glad to get to even this wooden shanty, which is to be our home for the next few months, but one could not call it luxurious in its appointments, for last night we were awakened by the rain falling in on us, so much so that we spent the greater part of the night sitting up under umbrellas.

I meant to keep an account of our trip, but I was generally so tired when we stopped for the night that I really could not write. The trip was monotonous, nothing very exciting happened. We usually made an early start in the morning, sometimes before sunrise, and we were well repaid for doing so, as it was often very beautiful, the sun rising over the plains and the air deliciously cool at that hour in the morning. Then at midday, we were generally fortunate enough to camp by the side of a clear running stream, giving us the chance of a bath, which we found most refreshing, as it was always very hot in the middle of the day.

The country was not particularly interesting, some parts were made pretty and attractive by the beautiful wild flowers, and the growth of trees following the stream, but as a rule it was monotonous, sometimes we could not even see the sign of a house during the whole way. When we reached one at night we were always offered the hospitality of the place, and not infrequently the house would be too small to take us all in, so the men would sleep on the balcony and the women were given the beds; but I preferred the balcony and fresh air. They offered most generously to share with us whatever food they had prepared for themselves, but unfortunately the frying-pan was the one cooking utensil in which all their food was cooked, so I took milk and boiled eggs. These country people are very simple and kind-hearted. Many of them have had very tragic lives coming to this State from all parts of the country, often for tragic reasons. They welcome strangers, as in them they feel a connecting link with the world which they have left behind.

A month later.

Nothing has happened during these weary weeks of anxiety that is worthy to be recorded here. I fear I am allowing myself to get into a most despondent state of mind, which is not usual with me, but how can it be otherwise when I am so anxious about Richard, who is a prisoner on Johnson’s Island. He was captured at the fall of Port Hudson. I am indeed most grateful to have seen him, and how merciful it was that I was permitted to have those few moments with him before the battle began and we were ordered off!

Now we have just heard that my son James has been given command of the Second Kentucky Regiment, having recovered from the wound he received at Fort Donaldson. Louis, too, is a captain in one of the Louisiana regiments. My three boys! It is so sad!


I have just written to General Grant, asking him to do what he can for Richard for the sake of old associations, for as boy and girl we were much together, and I have always loved him. The great soldier will never be to me anything but the shy boy with a big, loving, generous heart, and a simple nature. I feel sure he will use his influence for Richard, his cousin. What makes it so dreadful is that we have no mail service. The post office is fifteen miles away, and the letters are brought there by any chance rider who may be going through the country, passing that way, and who will kindly take the letters from one post office to another, leaving them at his convenience. We have an occasional excitement in an encounter with the much dreaded tarantulas, but we get out of their way as quickly as possible, for they are difficult to kill, and the bite is generally fatal.

In spite of our efforts to make our wooden shanty even habitable, we find it impossible. It is not a question of money, for we have plenty, but the necessary materials are not to be had at any price. We are grateful for any distraction, even the smallest incident is made much of. So we enjoy the excitement of sending men on horseback in every direction to the country stores within twenty or thirty miles to hunt for shoes, as we are all sadly in need of them. One of the searchers came back very triumphant, as he had found one pair in a country store twenty miles away, but as they asked him seventy-five dollars for them, he hesitated about bringing the shoes; he was promptly sent back to fetch them.

General Ulysses S. Grant

Great was the excitement when he returned with the shoes. As they were of a small size we all wished that our feet might not prove too large! It was an anxious moment when our turn came to try them on, but I am glad that they fit one of the girls, whose pretty little feet made her the Cinderella of the occasion.

Our only neighbor is the young girl that I spoke of before, who came here alone with her wounded brother.

A month later.

I opened you, my dear little book, to pour out the despairing cry of a broken-hearted mother. Since I last wrote, I have suffered too much to be able to record it. Now I feel that I must, that perhaps it will help me, and I want to write an account of what my brave little daughter has done.

James was away. He had come here on business, when someone riding through the country brought a letter to the ranch, as he had been well paid to deliver it. The letter was from an officer of James’ regiment. He wrote describing my brave boy’s death on September the 19th, at the battle of Chickamauga; how he was killed at the head of his regiment charging a battery. When I realized what it meant, I became unconscious, and passed from one fainting spell into another, and then into a state of torpor. The only person with me was my little daughter. She realized that I must have the comfort and help of being with my husband, also that I was in a very desperate mental condition. Her first thought was to get me here. The ranch is twenty miles away. My husband had the carriage, so there was nothing to bring me in but the buggy, and she was unwilling to send me with one of the negroes, owing to my terrible mental condition. But even children in such times imbibe the spirit of fearlessness. So she, losing all sense of danger, started with me lying by her side in a helpless condition. She drove through the dark night, going through forests, crossing streams that were swollen by the recent rains, sometimes over the prairie, where the howls of the prairie dogs seemed to bring them close upon us. On, on, on she drove; the little white face peering eagerly through the darkness for the first glimpse of the dawn, and shortly after it appeared, she brought me safely to the house where my husband was staying. Poor little one! They told me she was so exhausted by the fatigue and excitement of the night that she fell asleep at once upon entering the house. There were many days that they despaired of my life, but being able to have the best medical attention, and with the tender nursing and care of my husband, I am now able to be about, but, oh, so anxious about Louis and Richard. I am most thankful that my youngest son Charles, who, owing to his delicate health, was compelled to remain North, has thus been removed from danger.

Later on.

Poor James is in a most terrible state of mind, as he has heard that one of his partners in New York, fearing that our home there may be confiscated, has sold the house with the furniture and all it contains at auction. Intending this to be the home of our old age, we had spared no expense in making it luxurious in all its appointments. It is very hard to think that all the beautiful works of art which we had been years collecting, old pictures, and rare manuscripts have all been sold. My husband does not believe that it was necessary. He thinks Mr. Adams became panic-stricken, and did it without consulting his older and wiser friends in New York.

This has made him very anxious about other valuable property and large interests which he has in the North, and has made him decide to start for England at once, where he could get into communication with his friends. It will be several days before we can get sufficient provisions together and make other necessary preparations. We must travel in the same way as we came here, at least as far as San Antonio.



Nothing could equal our joy at reaching this haven of rest. Never did a place seem more enchanting and offer to the weary travelers so much that was enticing and refreshing. After our long and fatiguing journey of weeks, when during the latter part of it we slept nearly always on the ground with nothing but a blanket under us, we truly appreciated the luxury of a bed.

The place itself is fascinating and picturesque, with many of the old Spanish houses still remaining. The river running through parts of the city, with gardens leading down to it in the rear of the dwellinghouses, makes it most attractive. These gardens are well kept and have a great variety of flowers and plants peculiar to this latitude.

We are overwhelmed with the kindness and hospitality of the people. Mr. Hunton and his wife, with whom we are staying, are charming and delightful. They are doing everything to make our stay an enjoyable one for us, but what we are most in need of is rest, for we are all worn out by the trip. We also need to replenish our wardrobe, as we can buy some materials here and it is the first time that we have been able to do so since we emptied the country store on Bayou Plaquemine, more than a year ago!

We hear that the Federal troops are in possession of Brownsville. This will make it necessary for us to change our plan of route, and instead of going South through Texas, we must cross into Mexico at Laredo. This will take us across the plains of Texas, where there is danger of the Indians, for lately they have been making raids on the wagons loaded with bales of cotton passing that way, killing the drivers and carrying off the cotton. Now we must wait here until we can get together a sufficient number of men as a protection in case of an encounter with the Indians.

I regret the necessity of giving up our own carriages and the fact that we must go in public stages, the old-fashioned ones, carrying nine persons; three on the back seat, three in the middle with only a strap at their backs, and three with their backs to the horses. As the weather is hot, we are buying only the simplest thin materials for our dresses and other garments. They tell us that we shall have to leave them en route, for to have them washed would be impossible.

Our supply of provisions is to be limited to smoked beef and corn bread and tea, if we are lucky enough to get, first, the water to boil, and then the wood to make a fire, as alcohol is out of the question. Our friends are trying to persuade me not to go with James, and reproach him for being willing to expose us to such great danger. They little know how impossible it would be for me to stay, that nothing could separate me from my husband under the circumstances. These are heroic times! They call for heroic action on the part of the women as well as the men. We must not know what fear means. I have long since driven all sense of it from my heart. It does not exist for me, and the same is the case with our daughter since we received our baptism of fire at Port Hudson.

The party is gradually being gathered together. To-day James tells me that a Scotchman, two Irishmen, a Swede, three or four Englishmen, also some Texans are going! There are sixteen in all. The necessary number must be eighteen, so we have to wait for two more to be found. They will all be well armed and carry a good supply of ammunition. It all seems very exciting, but they are gradually reducing our allowance of luggage to a most distressingly small amount. All spare space must be given up to carrying fodder and food for the mules. Our allowance is one trunk for three of us, as it must be carried at the back of the stage. We have our handbags, a pillow, and a blanket to sleep on, for the chances are that we shall seldom find a house or shelter of any kind.

With this trip in prospect we have so enjoyed our rest here. The house that we are staying in is most comfortable and luxurious in many respects. I think it seems doubly so to us after the many trying experiences we have had since we left our own dear old home on the plantation. My dear little companion, I am afraid that I shall not be able to write you up en route, as traveling all day in the fresh air makes me very sleepy when night comes on, and then I am often very tired, though fortunately I am strong and well.

In a few minutes we are off; the party is complete in number and the awful stagecoach is at the door, awaiting our party of four and our few possessions. It does not take long to store them away.

Several weeks later.

This is the first time that I have felt like writing since we left San Antonio, more than two weeks ago. Indeed, until the night before last I have had nothing of special interest to record. The days have succeeded each other with the same routine, only varied by more or less of hardship, fatigue, and lack of food and water. The latter is the most terrible, for at times we had to go many hours before reaching a place where we could get water fit to drink.

The weather is hot, the roads are dusty, so we have suffered intensely at times from the most parching thirst. When we were able to find good drinking water we filled every available bucket, bottle, or anything in which we could carry it. The tin buckets and bottles we have covered with flannel, and they are hanging outside of the coach so as to catch any breath of wind that there may be, as this is our only method of cooling the water.

We always make a very early start so as to get the benefit of the freshness of the morning, stopping for several hours in the middle of the day to rest the mules and ourselves. I cannot say that we look forward with any eagerness to our midday meal unless by chance we have passed through a village and been able to buy some eggs and milk. But as we are a large party, whatever we are fortunate enough to get has to be divided among so many that it makes each portion very small, but we were grateful for any change from dried beef and corn bread.

I cannot say that we always get our midday rest under the most favorable conditions, as frequently the only shade we can find is in the shade of the stage-coaches, not a tree or vegetation of any kind being in sight. The first five nights after leaving San Antonio were beautifully clear, so mild that we could sleep most comfortably out of doors. Only one night did we have rain. Then we had to sleep as best we could, literally sitting up all night in the coaches. My daughter gave a very amusing account of how she had spent the night, refusing to allow an Irishman on one side of her and a Scotchman on the other to make a pillow of her soft young shoulders. Her remonstrances at first called forth abject apologies on their part, but as the night wore on, it became a war of defense on her part and perfectly unconscious recklessness on theirs. As they are good friends of hers and exceedingly nice men, they all had a hearty laugh over it next morning.

The life that we are living draws us very closely together, so much so that we have become like one large family. I am glad to say there is not a disagreeable or objectionable member. It is the more remarkable as we are of different nationalities and walks of life, therefore, have different tastes and habits. But what unites us in a strange bond of friendship and makes us equals, is the sharing of hardships and the threatening danger that we have in common. This was forcibly shown the night before last, when we had such an alarming experience which brought out the true mettle of all the members of our party.

The Camp on the Plains

Always before settling down for the night we sent out scouts to see if there were any Indians near enough to us to disturb our peace during the night. We had that day passed scalps by the roadside, and there were evidences of there having recently been a conflict between the Indians and a number of those who accompanied a train of cotton wagons. They had undoubtedly been killed and the cotton carried off by the Indians. We traveled far into the night until our mules became so exhausted that we had to stop on their account. We hoped to get away from a neighborhood where there might still be some Indians lurking about. Our worst fears were confirmed by the scouts returning with the account of a camp of Indians not far from us. We could go no farther, our mules were exhausted, so there was nothing for us to do but to make our means of defense as strong as possible. I cannot say too much in praise of the brave and gallant men who were to be our defenders. To add to the difficulties of the situation the night was dark, so that all our preparations had to be made in silence and by starlight, no one speaking above a whisper. No fires could be made for fear of attracting the notice of the much-dreaded Indians. The stars were the only witnesses of the solemn and hasty means of defense made by this little group of weary travelers. The only other women in the party were Clarice, Belle, my daughter-in-law, and her little girl. We were to stay in the center of the camp, the stage-coaches forming a barricade around us. There was a thick growth of underbrush not far from where we camped; this was cut and brought in large quantities and arranged in piles so as to form an outside barricade behind which our defenders stood. We also hoped it would serve to conceal from those who were attacking us how few we were in number. Belle and I were to have charge of the extra ammunition, giving it to the men when they needed it. After all possible means of defense had been completed, we said our prayers and waited silently and motionless, feeling sure that the Indians must know how near we were to them. It was a night of inexpressible horror. What we suffered is beyond description. When the first break of dawn came we were a weary, exhausted little band, and on looking at each other were shocked to find every face around us showing great lines and traces of the anxiety and suffering of the night. When we realized that we had passed safely through it, we all knelt, and from every heart went up a prayer of great thankfulness for what seemed to us a miraculous escape. As the day wore on we took turns in resting, for we were not at all sure but what we might still hear from the neighboring camp, and about one o’clock we did, but in a very different way from what we had expected.

One of their scouts came over to our camp, and to our surprise and joy we found that those whom we had taken for Indians were the drivers and scouts of a train of cotton wagons. Their relief on finding out about us was as great as ours, for they too had stayed up all night under arms, supposing our camp to be one of Indians, and expecting an attack from us!

After an evening of rejoicing we took a good rest, and started next day for Laredo, our next destination.


We reached here late last evening with the hope of finding some decent place where we might be moderately comfortable and rest for a few days before starting for Mexico.

Alas! Alas! Our hopes soon vanished, and great was our disappointment when we saw the only accommodation that we could get. There is no hotel and the town is crowded, not a spare bed to be found. We drove around the place, stopped before every decent-looking house, my husband offering a large sum of money if they would only take us in. We were always met with the same answer, and were very politely informed that nothing would give them more pleasure than to have us, but they really had not a spare bed! Finally, in despair, we had to take the only room which we could get, it is in an adobe house. The floor is simply of earth. The bunks in which we sleep are like those of immigrants on board transport ships. On each side of the room are six berths in a row. One side is supposed to be for the men and the other for the women, the latter having a thin cotton curtain in front of them. Not a chair or piece of furniture of any kind, nor the tiniest bit of a looking-glass! For all toilet purposes we have to go to the public fountain in the patio! We have succeeded after a great deal of coaxing and bribing in getting our landlady to partition off a corner of the patio, and after searching in the town we finally found a wooden wash-tub, which we put in this reserved corner and that serves as our bathtub. We take our baths under some difficulties, as the curiosity of the smaller members of the family and their little friends is so great that we have to place someone on guard to protect us from the invasion of curious eyes.

We are feeling really very sad at parting with our friends with whom we have shared so many trials, difficulties, and dangers, which has cemented a strong and lasting friendship between us, even if we never meet again.

We are buying a small supply of provisions that can be easily carried. It is, however, a great relief to us to hear that in the Mexican towns we can always get a good cup of chocolate and fresh eggs. Now it is a greater joy that we can have our own carriages and in every way be more comfortable. Our party will consist of ourselves and only two others, both of them very agreeable and good traveling companions.

Our week here has done us good notwithstanding that we have been so very uncomfortable in our lodgings, but the food has been good. Fortunately we all like Mexican cooking. I am particularly fond of their frijoles.

Just a line before we start, for I know that I shall not feel like writing en route. It is a most beautiful morning and we are all starting off in hopeful spirits.

A few days later.

The days have passed by quickly and the trip so far has not been disagreeable, although not interesting as the country is flat and dusty. The Mexican towns are dirty and most monotonous, so that we have preferred sleeping on the ground away from the villages.

Two days later.

While it is fresh in my mind I must write down the remarkable experience which we had yesterday. It was late in the afternoon, we had driven all day without seeing a habitation of any kind, or heard a sound, or seen any living thing, when we suddenly heard in the distance a weird sound, and as we approached the direction from which it came, we could distinguish human voices, singing with great fervor a religious chant. Then there appeared from behind the underbrush a low adobe hut, and from this hut came the voices. My daughter begged to be allowed to enter the hut. Her father, who is ever ready to grant any wish of hers, the more so if it shows courage, consented, thinking that in this instance it might be an act of devotion. We stopped the carriage some distance away, fearing that the noise of our approach might disturb those who were attending some religious rite. As the girl disappeared over the threshold, we all thought how ethereal she looked, more like a vision than a reality in her simple white muslin. She is very fair, her long hair is golden, falling in curls down her back, then her beautiful eyes are a heavenly blue! As she entered the hut we all held our breath. I was inclined to be provoked with her father for letting her go, for though tall for her age she is nothing more than a child. After waiting some time, I became anxious, and asked one of the men of the party, who speaks Spanish, to go after her. When they joined us we saw that they were both very much moved and overcome by something that had happened. When we were able to be alone with Mr. Cushing he told us of the very remarkable scene that he had witnessed on entering the hut. When the child first went into the hut about twenty dark swarthy Catholic Indians were there, down on their knees, praying with extraordinary fervor to the Virgin. The child, feeling no fear, went to the middle of the room before they noticed her, and when they looked up and saw her, it happened that just at that moment a ray of sunshine fell upon her, and as they had never seen so fair a person before, they took her for a vision come to them in answer to their prayer. They crawled on hands and knees to her, kissing the hem of her garment. The child put her hands on their black swarthy heads and prayed that some day God would allow her to devote her life to the uplifting of the poor and suffering ones of this world, such as these. It has evidently made a great impression upon her, and I pray with all my heart that her prayer may be answered, and that she will feel the responsibility that all good women should feel in the use of the great power that is given to us to be an influence for good in a woman’s way on all who came in contact with us.


We had hardly recovered from the excitement of the visit to the hut, when three days afterwards we met on the road a very handsome young Mexican, wearing the picturesque costume usually worn by the swells of the country, consisting of a light-colored cloth suit, with trousers rather large at the feet, and many rows of buttons down the side; the jacket had also brass buttons and was elaborately embroidered. With this they wear the national sombrero. His saddle and bridle were richly ornamented with gold and silver, and the saddle-blanket heavily embroidered in gold and silver to match. Some time after he had passed us, we saw him returning at full gallop with something blue in his hand which he waved at us. We stopped, and when he drew his horse up by the side of the carriage he pressed the blue veil that he held in his hand, first to his lips and then to his heart, and with a profound bow handed it to Clarice, looking at her with the most intense admiration. She was so overjoyed at recovering her veil, that she was very profuse in her thanks — and not knowing where to stop for the night, we asked his advice. As it was late in the afternoon, he advised us not to go on much further; as a mile or two beyond was the gate to his ranch he begged that we would accept of his hospitality for the night, or for many days, weeks or months, saying that every moment that we honored his home with our presence would be to him a joy and happiness beyond words.

We declined his most pressing and generous invitation with many thanks and proceeded on our way. We passed his gate, and drove some distance further on; as the road was in good condition and it was a beautiful night, we were glad of the chance to drive as late as possible. We found a good place, and settled ourselves for the night; being very tired we were all sleeping when the noise of approaching horses awoke us. It was our young Mexican; he had two carriages, each drawn by four horses, and had come to fetch us to a dance that he was giving to the beautiful Se�orita. While very profuse in his apologies he was very earnest in his determination to have us go with him. My husband finally consented to let the young people go, as Mr. Cushing was willing to go with them. They returned as the day was dawning, and gave a most enthusiastic account of the house, the great courtesy and politeness of their host and of his mother, whom they described as a most charming woman, who received them very cordially, as did all the girls and young men. It must have been a most beautiful entertainment, as the patio (which all Mexican houses have) was illuminated, and with all the flowers and wonderful plants, was an enchanting sight.

If Clarice had accepted all the things the young Mexican offered her (including his heart and his hand) she would have found it difficult to have brought them with her. He begged permission to write to her, and assured her that he would never forget her — and would go to Paris to see her.


The days following the dance were uneventful, nothing happening of any interest until we reached here, when it was with a great sigh of relief that we entered this very unpromising town, for it meant to us the end of our wearisome and long journey. We had our usual experience of driving around in search of rooms, and were feeling very discouraged as every available place was full, when my husband met someone whom he had known in New Orleans. On hearing of our difficulties, he kindly offered to give us the use of a room at the back of a shop, where his clerks slept in cots such as the soldiers use. When my husband asked him, “What will they do?” “Oh,” he said, “they can sleep on the counters of the shop.” We were not very cordially received by these young men when they were told that they had to move out and give us the use of their not very luxurious quarters, though these were little better than the shop would be. The partition between the two rooms is only of paper, not meeting the wall on either side by several inches. This makes it rather difficult as the occupants of both rooms must avoid the sides while dressing. We have the cots as close together as possible in the middle of the room, and the girls dress standing on theirs. All conversation must be scrupulously avoided; we were constantly calling out to our neighbors, warning them of our near presence, which they occasionally forgot.

Our baths we take in the patio; it is not quite such a struggle with difficulties as we had in Lareda. For among these. young men there are two or three Englishmen who have made a very decent bathroom on the side of the patio, where they can have their “tub” very comfortably, and they have graciously given us the use of it during certain hours of the day. We have reached that condition of mind that nothing disturbs us very much; fortunately, most of the party are young; they only see fun in it, and I unconsciously imbibe some of their youthful spirits! We take our meals at a most excellent restaurant where our long privation from good food enables us to appreciate and do justice to the well-prepared dishes by a first-class French chef. We have been so long removed from all contact with the outside world that to be once more in touch with it, and hear of the events that have taken place, makes me feel as though I had been asleep, and all the terrible scenes and suffering that I have gone through might be some hideous nightmare. Oh! if I could only awake and find it so. My darling boy alive, Richard out of prison, and feel that I could go back to our dear old home, with our loved ones around us once more.

But I must not allow myself to dwell on my own sorrows, for it unnerves me and unfits me for my duty to others — my husband needs all the help and comfort that I can give him, my other children all the love and devotion that I can bestow upon them. Should it not be our first duty as well as our pleasure to make those we love and all those we come in contact with happy? With all my sorrows, I am thankful that one distress has been spared me, and that is the feeling of remorse, and I pray God that it may never enter into my life.

It seems to me that it must be the most terrible of all sufferings to know that we have neglected or failed in our duty to some loved one who has been taken from us. What a terrible memory it would be to have caused them pain or have been unkind and unjust to them when they depended upon us for their happiness. How dreadful to have turned away from them seeking our own selfish pleasures, forgetting how they need our love and sympathy — anything but that in my life. There is no sacrifice too great that I would not gladly make for those I love, so that when God calls them from me there will be only sweet memories of the happy, loving life that we have had together, and the joyous sound of their voices, and the looking back of their dear faces will always be with me, and there will be no bitterness in the parting.

We have been watching with great interest the development of a love affair. One of the French officers attached to Maximilian’s staff has fallen in love with Belle. He first saw her at the restaurant as his table was directly opposite ours. We noticed that he was always there when we went in, and stayed until we left, watching Belle most admiringly. Then she found beautiful flowers at her place, and finally he asked to be presented — but that was the night before we were leaving for Bagdad, at the mouth of the Rio Grande, as we set sail for Havana.


This is the worst place that we have seen; the so-called hotel is only an old boat, it might have been a canal boat dragged ashore, with the bunks made into beds for those who were unfortunate enough to have to stop here over night. We were not surprised on our arrival to find that our friend the French officer, Count de Sombreuil, had preceded us, and had brought fruit, flowers, and many things that added much to our comfort. After we had dined together, and had gone to our rooms in the upper part of this extraordinarily constructed house, we heard strains of very sweet music under our windows; in our haste to look out, we forgot the large earthen jars filled with water that are kept in all Mexican windows. We had four windows in a room, each of us went to a window, and as we did so we knocked over the jars; so the contents of the four large jars went down in a stream on the heads of the musicians; while it was entirely accidental, it really seemed as if they were knocked over by agreement, as it was simultaneous. This stream of cold water cooled their ardour, for instantly they stopped playing, no more music was heard, and this morning we were not surprised to hear that the Count had left, as it was he who serenaded Belle. I doubt if we ever hear from him, or see him again.

This place is really nothing more than a stretch of sand with a few wretched huts on it, and to give it such an important name is ridiculous. No ships can come up to it, so that it is not even a harbor.

They have come to tell us that the sailing vessel on which we are going to Havana has arrived outside the bar, and that we must cross this terrible bar, which is very rough, in small sailing boats, and that we shall probably got a thorough soaking. As we have no good clothes to spoil, we don’t feel so badly about it. The boats are ready, so I must stop!

On board sailing vessel.

What a terrible experience we have had, it was not a case of getting soaked once, but many times. It was difficult after being engulfed by a great wave to know for a moment or two if we were still in the boat or thrown out into the water; it is marvelous how we ever got across without one of us being drowned. Then came the great difficulty of getting on board of this vessel; we had to wait until a wave would lift us to the side of it, then take our turn in being hauled up to the deck by the sailors in any way by which they could get a good hold upon us. Their grip was so rough as to send us rolling over the deck, and I am not sure but what some of us were taken by the hair of our heads, judging from our disheveled condition. But we lost all thought of ourselves in our great anxiety about James; it seemed impossible to get him on board, he is so heavy, weighs two hundred and twenty-five pounds. After several unsuccessful attempts the sailors put a rope around his waist and under his arms and hoisted him on board by the means of a pulley, but it took time and patience to accomplish it. I was terribly afraid the ropes might slip or break, or he might be injured in some way; it was such a relief when they finally got him safely on board. We have changed our clothes, everything we had on is ruined. While they were not of any value, they were an important part of our scanty wardrobe.

Mexian Water Jars

It is a most lovely afternoon, only the sea is rough, but it has cleared since we came on board. We cannot help but wonder why the vessel does not start, as we were told we must be on board before noon, so that she could sail at one o’clock, and now the sun is setting, and we have not started. There are only four cabins. We are the only passengers and my husband thought that he had taken them all. He was very much surprised to know that one had been reserved for a French officer, and that the vessel was waiting for him. He had sent a large sum of money to the captain to remain until he could go to Matamoras and obtain a leave of absence; if successful, he would return before sunset. We are all excitement about his coming, for we realize that it is Belle’s admirer, and we are rather relieved to know that he left Bagdad before his musicians received their drenching. The sun is down, and the captain only agreed to wait for him until night, as he would then have had sufficient time to go to Matamoras and return, if he had obtained his leave.

It is dark! and he has not come, so we are sailing.


Our first day on board.

This small but comfortable sailing vessel is owned by the Captain, who is a splendid type of a Norseman, and evidently looks upon his ship as his most precious possession, and speaks of it as though it was the love of his life. The day after we left he came to the cabin with a letter, which he gave my husband. It was from the Count to Belle, and was to be given to her in the event of his not being able to sail with us. In this letter he tells her of his great love for her, and his intention of following her to Paris, when he hopes to win her love and marry her.

We are thoroughly enjoying the sea trip, being good sailors; we don’t in the least mind an occasional squall, which is to be expected at this season of the year in the Gulf of Mexico. We have had some heavenly days, with smooth sea and wind enough to fill the sails, so that we go skimming over the water like a bird. The nights are beautiful, and with a temperature that makes it delightful on deck, so that we are tempted to spend most of the night there, and rarely go down to our cabins until very nearly dawn. Captain Hansen is so pleased at our appreciation of his dear ship that there is nothing he will not do for us — we shall be almost sorry to reach Havana. There is certainly something very fascinating about a sailing vessel, when the wind is favorable and the sails are full, and you feel yourself gliding rapidly over the water, with no motion or vibration of machinery; one has the sensation of flying. We grudge the days as they pass by, for it has been such a complete rest for us, and we are all feeling greatly benefited by it.

This is our seventh day. The Captain tells us that to-morrow we shall see the shores of Cuba, but unless we have a favorable wind we shall not be able to enter the harbor, as it is necessary for us to do so before the sunset gun fires; otherwise we must stay outside until morning.


We were very unlucky yesterday in having a head wind so that we were tacking all day in sight of Havana, and just missed by a few minutes being able to enter the harbor before the gun fired. This morning we entered soon after sunrise, and what a wonderfully beautiful sight greeted us! We were well repaid for having got up at the break of day, for as the sun rose there gradually came out of the mist, first the picturesque old fort, then the city with its various-colored houses surrounded by gardens of tropical vegetation and flowers, then the outline of the tops of the feathery palms against the gradually reddening sky, making a picture never to be forgotten. One hates to think that this very picturesque, quaint city may all be changed some day with the introduction of modern improvements and better sanitary conditions, which I am sorry to say it sadly needs. While it may become healthier, it will necessarily lose much of its picturesqueness and foreign appearance, and I hope they will not paint the houses all the same color.

Havana Harbor

There never was any vehicle so fascinating as the Spanish volante, with its long shafts, and peculiar swaying motion, and the postilion in his gay and festive costume. They are nearly always good-looking, and very polite.


It was very hot coming from the ship; we had a long dusty drive and were very thirsty; when we reached the hotel we asked for a cool drink; one of our friends advised us to try a pine-apple, and we ordered some. Great was our astonishment when we were given each a whole pine-apple in a deep soup plate; they had been peeled, and so tender were they that we only had to use a fork in taking them apart (they are never cut in slices). They were very cold and perfectly delicious, so juicy that we had a plate full of this cool and most refreshing liquid, sweet enough not to need sugar. The fruit is entirely different from what it is when picked green and ripened en route.

2d day.

Last night, as we were passing through one of the dark passages of the hotel, we saw approaching us a lady with the most beautiful ornament, in her hair, of emeralds; they were very brilliant, most unusually so! We were desirous to see them in the light, so we followed her into the drawing-room, but great was our surprise, on entering the lighted room, to find that she had nothing in her hair, which was very black. We wondered what was the matter with our eyes! Had we been dreaming? We were so close to her that, had she taken off the ornament, we must have seen her. We had become so interested in her that we watched her until she went out on the balcony where there was no light. To our astonishment the emeralds re-appeared in her hair, and were even more brilliant than when we had first seen them. While we were in this bewildered state of mind, a friend joined us, who had been living for some time in Havana, and we appealed to him for an explanation. With great amusement he told us it was a beetle, a large edition of our fire-fly, that in the dark gives out a brilliant light which is green like an emerald. The ladies wear them in a fine black net, which is pinned into their black hair, and the beetle, being black, does not show — even in a strong light.

A week later.

We have been reveling in the luxury of shopping. James has given us carte blanche to replenish our wardrobes; the many exquisite thin materials that they have here are very tempting, as they make lovely dresses. So our days have been spent at dressmakers’ and lingerie shops. Some of the party had only the dresses they wore ashore; the Custom House officers were amazed at the emptiness of our trunks, and at our general appearance as well. However amused they may have been, with the good manners of the Spanish they were too polite to let us see it. It has been a great pleasure to find here our old friend General William Preston, whom we have known for years; he is a very distinguished man, having held with great honor many official positions, and was representing this country at the Court of Spain when the war broke out, when he resigned and entered the diplomatic service of the Confederacy. With him on his staff is Captain Walter Fane. The General called his attention to us, when we entered the dining-room just after our arrival, and possessing a keen sense of humor, our forlorn appearance was too much for him, and he made most unmerciful fun of us to the amusement of everyone at his table. My daughter, it seems, was the one who most attracted his attention, and called forth his severest criticism. I am afraid the poor dear child did look rather ungainly and awkward, as her only dress was made of a material that the sea air caused to shrink several inches, bringing it up to her shoe- tops. She is an overgrown child, in size a woman, but in all other ways so like a child with her lovely, sweet, innocent face that I rather resented his laughing at her and told General Preston so. He consoled me by saying, “Just wait till she gets some new clothes in which she will look so lovely that Walter Fane will be down on his knees to her.” The General was right; the beautiful new clothes have made a wonderful difference. No more laughing remarks are made, the young men are only too eager to be presented, and no one more so than Walter Fane. We are being tremendously f�ted, invitations of all kinds are received. While I rarely ever go anywhere, I let Belle take Clarice. Last night we went to the Opera to hear Lucia, which was a great treat, as it has been so long since we have heard any good music. The Opera was well given, and the house very attractive with the open boxes like the Opera house in New Orleans, showing off to great advantage the toilets of the handsome women. Belle created quite a sensation; I never saw her look handsomer and more fascinating; she had no end of admirers. Clarice was also very lovely in her white dress, unconscious that she was the object of much admiration, and no one was more devoted to her than Walter Fane.

We have been here three weeks, of which we have enjoyed every moment, although it is very hot. Like all Southerners we never go out in the middle of the day, but take advantage of the freshness of the early morning, going out again after sunset. I can see that James is becoming very impatient to get us away, as there is a rumor that there is yellow fever in the hotel; we know there is a great deal of it in the city. I am not afraid of it for myself, but I am anxious on account of Clarice. We are awaiting the arrival of a coasting steamer, that is expected here any day going directly to Liverpool, so we are hoping to get away very soon.


august 1st.

The steamer has arrived and we go on board to-morrow; we hear the most awful accounts of her condition, that she is very dirty. James sent his valet and my maid to clean our cabins, and to make a list of what will be needed to make us more comfortable. We are going to take a large quantity of fruit and fresh vegetables, also barrels of ice, as they have none on board. From all accounts we shall have very poor food. Our friends predict the most terrible things for us, as the steamer has been for weeks putting in at all the ports on the coast and islands, without stopping for repairs or general cleaning, but we cannot help ourselves; we must leave here and take our chances, for I have known since yesterday that there are cases of yellow fever in the hotel.

on board s. s. “st. thomas.”
A week later.

Nothing we heard about this ship was in any way exaggerated. Her condition is too awful!!! dirty in every way. It was not a matter of one day, but many days, before Jack and my maid could clean our cabins so that we could sleep in them. We have all slept on deck; the mattresses or hammocks are brought up after dark, and we do not go to the cabins in the morning until we are driven down by the sailors, who, I am glad to say, do wash the decks. Some of the crew have died and been buried at sea. It seems that at the last port where the ship stopped to coal there was prevailing an epidemic of the worst type of tropical fever, which is generally fatal; not only numbers of the crew, but some of the steerage passengers have died of it. All danger of contagion will not be over for ten days, indeed we shall not feel free from anxiety until we get into the Atlantic, and sufficiently far North to have cold weather. Nothing could be worse than the food; fortunately we have the fruit, vegetables, and barrels of ice that James had put on board; also a friend of ours had all the life boats filled with fruit and provisions of all kinds that could be bought in Havana to add to our comfort; without these we should be in a very bad way.

One rather amusing thing happened the day we sailed. One of Clarice’s friends asked her what she would like to have on the voyage. She replied, “Something to read.” “Very well, I will see that you have plenty of books,” he added. After we had sailed her father asked her what was in the very large box addressed to her. She opened it, and great was her surprise to find two dozen most beautiful and very costly books; but still greater was her astonishment to see her father on reading the titles throw one after the other into the sea. Her friend was evidently not a scholar, and had simply given the bookseller an order for twenty-four of the most expensive and handsomely bound books he had, regardless of the character or title of them. Poor child! she was heart-broken to have all her beautiful books (at least in appearance) thrown into the sea.

I have not been able to write for many days, as after we got out of the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic, we have had terrible weather, very rough seas, and high winds with constant rains. The necessity of sleeping in our cabins has been dreadful, we slept on deck even when it rained and was most disagreeable; anything seemed preferable to going down into our stuffy, bad-smelling cabins; but when it got very rough the Captain refused to allow us to remain above as he thought it was not safe.

It is two weeks to-day since we sailed, and if all goes well we may reach England in ten days; we are tremendously relieved that all danger of taking the fever is over; in fact, we are all in better health than when we sailed, particularly since we have had cooler weather.

Our dear friend General Preston is with us, he is the life of the party, as he is always in a good humor and full of fun; there are also Captain Scott from Mobile, and Mr. and Mrs. Goldenell, an American married to an Englishwoman, both of whom are very agreeable and pleasant traveling companions, and one or two other passengers. It is very fortunate that there are not many on board, as the steamer has a limited number of cabins, and the provisions, bad as they are, are getting very low; each day we are reduced to one dish less. They tell us that if we do not reach England within a few days, we shall indeed be reduced to very slim rations. We have exhausted our supply of vegetables, fruit, and all other provisions, and what our good friend had put in the life boats for us was forgotten the first storm we encountered, and until hours afterwards when it was thought of, but it had by that time been completely spoilt, as these boats are not covered.

september 3rd.

Land is in sight, and none too soon, for we have heard rumors for the last ten days that the ship is not in a seaworthy condition. Last night she sprung a leak, and all hands worked at the pumps during the night. There was no immediate danger, as we had a perfectly smooth sea and clear weather, but there seems to be very little doubt in the minds of the men that if we had encountered a storm during the last days, the ship would have foundered, and nothing could have saved us. It is with feelings of great gratitude and rejoicing that we see the land and know that we are in reach of help if needed, and that we shall soon be on shore. We are destined to experience what short rations mean on ship-board as well as when traveling across the wilds of Texas, for our food has been portioned out to us in small quantities these last ten days. We have complained less than the other passengers, owing to our former discipline in this respect and have made rather a joke of it, laughing unmercifully at the complaints and grumblings of the others, to their indignation.



Once more safely on shore, and to our great joy and surprise our son Charles, with his very pretty and attractive young wife, met us on our arrival. My nieces, who are to me as though they were my children, are here also, so it is like a home-coming for us poor weary travelers. With our English ancestors and traditions, England must be to those coming from the Southern States like the mother country; apart from this, we feel that in their hearts the English people sympathize with us in our struggle for freedom, and would like to have us succeed, even if they do not openly declare so.

We are comfortably settled in lodgings such as you find only in England, where you have all the comforts and privacy of home, without the responsibilities. The landlady probably has lived for years with one of the great families, and is an excellent cook. She married the butler, and they set up an establishment for themselves. It all seems very peaceful and delightful, making us feel as though we had, indeed, reached a safe harbor after so much traveling, and the many hardships, dangers, and difficulties that we have had to endure.

Dear old England, how I love it! with its centuries of civilization and traditions, making every place one of great historical interest. How little one can appreciate the English people until you have visited, and learned to know them, in their comfortable and beautiful homes. It is there that you see the English gentleman at his best, and on his country estates he is always a most cordial and charming host. The Englishwoman, who is generally shy and more reserved than we are, becomes gracious, and does the honors of her home with great simplicity and charm. This well-regulated and delightful life is a great contrast to what it is in a new country, where much is crude and often almost barbarous, with its vulgar money estimate of everything. I am afraid my husband is right when he calls me a born aristocrat. I cannot help it! I love the refinement and well-established customs of old countries, with the well-regulated routine of domestic life such as exists here.

Some weeks later.    
In Paris.

After a most delightful visit to Leamington, where we went to attend the wedding of my cousin, who married Dr. How of Baltimore, we spent a few days at Stratford-on-Avon, and saw all that was interesting there, and also Warwick. We have had a most enjoyable trip, and were very loath to leave England. It was necessary, however, for us to come here, as my husband wishes to see us settled for the winter, and find a school for Clarice before he leaves to return to Mexico, where he has large interests.

We are indulging in the great pleasure that all women feel, when they can shop in Paris. The things we bought in Havana are not suitable for the winter climate here, and they do not seem to us quite so wonderfully beautiful as they did when we bought them. I think we are becoming more fastidious and difficult to please than we were on reaching Havana.


Beautiful, fascinating Paris! But with all its brightness and the splendor that exists under the third Empire, it does not appeal to me; my heart goes back to England. However, I know that I must stay here for the winter on account of Clarice. We are looking for an apartment; while we have seen many, none of them are suitable, so few are even clean, and as yet we have not seen one with a bathroom.

A Review Day Under the Empire

A curious thing happened last night while we were at the theater, just before the close of the piece. During the last act we noticed a man who had been for some time looking steadily at our box through his opera-glass, but as he stood in a passage where there was very little light, this prevented us from seeing his face. On coming out we thought we saw in the crowd our friend the French officer of Matamoras. It seemed so unlikely that we dismissed the idea as being improbable. In the course of a few days we found out that we were not mistaken, as he was the man who had been looking so long at Belle, and followed us to our hotel. The next day he came to the hotel and bribed Jack (my husband’s valet) to tell him our plans; on hearing that we were looking for an apartment, he gave Jack the address of one, and told him to be sure and have us go to look at it. When he went home to his mother, he informed her that an American family were coming to look at the apartment that she wanted to let, and that she must allow them to have it on their own terms as it meant everything to him and his future happiness. This apartment was a part of a large and very handsome private house of a French lady of high rank and wealth. It was not only beautiful, and very handsomely furnished, but it was perfect in all of its appointments, as it had been furnished for her only daughter at the time of her marriage. The son-in-law having recently received a foreign appointment, she was left alone in this enormous house with her bachelor son, and as he was in the army, he was frequently away for long intervals. The dear old lady, with the usual French thought of economy, had the idea that if she could find some desirable people who would be congenial to her, she would be willing to rent this part of her house. Her son impressed upon her that it was most important for her not to give her real name to these Americans that were coming until they had decided to take the apartment, and it became necessary to do so. When we called to look at the apartment the next day, Count de Sombreuil having told his mother that we were very wealthy, she had at once the thought of a possible rich American daughter-in-law, so she did not hesitate to make such terms as would be acceptable to us.

Of course, we were more than pleased with the spacious and beautiful apartment on the ground floor, the large salon opened out onto a most lovely garden where there was a fountain, and great profusion of flowers, servants in handsome livery an every appearance of great wealth. We were simply amazed when told the price of it, and all that we should have, even the use of one of the old lady’s carriages and horses, also twice a week seats in her box at the Opera.

We thought it much too good a bargain to miss, so James said he would not take it for less than a year. The old lady agreed most willingly to let us have it for any length of time that we should want it. The next day we moved in, and great was our surprise on looking out into the garden to see our friend the French officer walking with the old lady as though it was his home. In the afternoon he sent to ask permission to call on us, and explained that the lady was his mother, the Countess de Sombreuil. As the French Army had been withdrawn from Mexico he was able to leave almost immediately after we left, but he could not reach Bagdad in time to sail with us. Clarice, with a child’s frankness, said to him, “Oh! Count, I hope you did not get very wet when the water poured down on the musicians at the time of the serenade.” He laughed heartily and replied, “My dear young friend, I had left before it happened,” which confirmed what we had heard.


We have been in our luxurious quarters just a month; nothing could exceed the kindness and generosity of the dear old Countess, and the devotion and many kind acts of the Count. The Countess sends in every morning to know what hour we should like to have the carriage, and Belle has been several times to the Opera with her.

I have found an excellent school in the neighborhood for Clarice, where she boards during the week; but spends Saturday and Sunday with us. Madame Hoffman, who is at the head of the school, came to see me in a great state of excitement, as she said that while walking in the Bois with the girls of the school, the Emperor, seeing Clarice, was so struck with her beauty that he sent one of his aide-de-camps to inquire of the teacher (who was in charge of the girls) the name and address of the young girl. Madame Hoffman is very unhappy about it, but I cannot imagine that anything serious will come of it; the Emperor has probably forgotten all about her — she is such a child!

A few days later.

I have been very much upset by receiving an invitation to be present with my daughter at the next reception to be given at the Palace of the Tuileries. I have declined to go on account of my deep mourning, and refused for Clarice on the score of her being too young. Since my refusal to attend the reception at the Palace of the Tuileries, the Emperor has had Clarice asked to a small entertainment for young people, to be given at the Palace of one of the Court officials, and it is known that he intends to be present. After consulting friends as to what I should do, they advise me to take her away from Paris for the present, as the admiration of the Emperor is something for a young girl to avoid rather than seek, so I am going to take Clarice to London for a few weeks; it is very annoying, as it takes her away from her studies.

A month later.

I remained away only ten days, as I really had to bring Clarice back to her studies. I shall simply not allow her to go where there is any chance of the Emperor seeing her again.

All Paris is going mad over the beautiful young Swedish prima donna, Christine Nilsson. Clarice came home a few days ago very much excited, as the evening before Christine had dined with the girls at the school; she was visiting the daughter of the Swedish Minister, who is there as one of the scholars. According to the rules of the school, when a visitor dines with the girls, she is allowed to select one of them to be her hostess, besides the one whose guest she is. The girl selected is to be the hostess of the evening, and must fill that role by making herself agreeable, and graciously doing the honors of the occasion.

Napoleon III

The girls were all standing in their places when Christine entered the dining-room, each one eagerly hoping in her heart to be the chosen one. After looking up and down the line of girls with their eager faces, she walked up to Clarice and said: “You fair young creature, I want you.” This was the beginning of a strong friendship between the two that bids fair to last for a long time. As great a pleasure as this friendship is to Clarice, I think I have even more pleasure from it, as Christine is very sweet and kind in coming to sing; whenever she has the spare time, she very generously gives me the benefit of it, and it is a rare treat, for I am a great lover of music, and being in mourning I do not go to the Opera. Apart from her voice, she has a charming personality, with great beauty; her coloring is wonderful, her hair very golden, large blue eyes, and the fair skin that usually goes with such hair and eyes. She is very simple, and has a lovely nature, spontaneous and like a child. She radiates sunshine and happiness on all who come in contact with her. I am very grateful to her for the brightness and cheer that she has brought into my sad life, and the great enjoyment that I have had from her music. She has not been singing very long in Opera, as she has only recently made her debut in “La Traviata,” when she sent Clarice a box to hear her. They tell me the child was so excited that it was all they could do to keep her from falling out of the box.

Our colony of Americans from the Southern States is not a large one, but we are drawn all the closer together, in our anxiety and sorrow regarding the sad events that are taking place in our section of the country. What we hear in regard to the treatment of the prisoners on Johnson’s Island, makes us very anxious about Richard. We are hoping daily to hear that he has been exchanged; we have written begging him to apply at once for leave so that he may join us, for I am sure that he must be suffering from the effects of his long imprisonment, now nearly twenty months; for one who is not very strong, the long confinement and lack of proper food must have had serious effect upon him.

Christine Nilsson

It is Belle who brightens our lives and fills them with interest; her great charm and personal fascination draw around her a most interesting and clever set of people of all nationalities. In her salon are met men of fame, statesmen, diplomatists, high officials of the Court and Government; they meet there to discuss the important political and current events of the day; she is the brilliant center of all with her quick wit and marvelous gift of language. The occasional opportunities given to Clarice, when she is at home on Saturday and Sunday, to meet these distinguished men and scholars, who are making the history of the day, is greatly appreciated and enjoyed by her. I hope that it may prove a liberal education for her, and cultivate in her an interest in higher and more serious subjects than young girls of her age usually care for, the influence of which she will feel all throughout her life. It is very easy to entertain in these handsome and attractive rooms, with the generous assistance of the Countess, who not only fills them with the greatest variety of beautiful plants and flowers from her conservatory, but insists upon our having all of her men servants in their gorgeous livery. This makes a great impression upon our Southern friends. One of our naval officers came the other night, and seeing this evidence of great wealth and the beautiful surroundings, when one of the men offered to help him with his coat, said: “No, I have made a mistake, this cannot be where my friends are living, we Southerners cannot afford to live like this.” But on the assurance of the servant that we did live there, he came in, and was shown into my sitting-room, where I receive a few of my personal friends, as I never go into the large salon on these occasions. I could not help but be amused at his evident disapproval of our surroundings and way of living; he took it so seriously that I had to explain to him how it all happened.

spring of 1865.

The winter is over and the spring has come with all of its glorious beauty; nowhere could it be more wonderful than in Paris, all the broad streets have such splendid avenues of trees, I believe that no city in the world can boast of so many. I have heard the number estimated as high as four hundred thousand, making a veritable forest. Then Paris with all its attractions has, in addition, many enchanting and interesting places nearby that one can reach in a short time, and there spend a most delightful day; such are St. Cloud, Versailles, St. Germain, where not only is the country beautiful, but there is so much that is historically interesting to see. To me the Bois is an endless source of amusement. What could be more enchanting than it is, with its wealth of flowers and avenues of acacia (when in bloom), and beneath them long lines of carriages of all kinds are ever passing; those of the Court with their glittering horses and outriders, also those of the French beauties in their marvelous toilets, and combined with the varied and bright uniforms of the officers, they make a brilliant and ever-changing throng of people to watch. But of all this splendid pageant the person who interests me most is the Empress Eugénie. I always feel a thrill when I see her, for she is really most beautiful — graceful, and with something about her that is intensely sympathetic. The sweet smile with which she always greets the people as she passes by, never fails to fascinate those who come under her spell. She is one of those rare persons who is beautiful under all circumstances; with her marvelously perfect figure, and being a remarkably good rider, she is simply stunning on horseback. At night in ball dress, with her wonderful coloring, she is a vision of loveliness. Then she moves with that ease and grace peculiar to the Spanish race; no nation possesses it quite to the same degree. One of the many stories that they tell of her is, that on the occasion of a great f�te at St. Cloud, before the Emperor had asked her to marry him, she was present wearing a wonderful Parisian creation of lace and muslin, such as only they can make, and in it she looked her loveliest. While leaning over to peer into a basin of water surrounding one of the great fountains, she lost her balance and fell in. The Emperor came to her rescue. According to the story, she was thoroughly drenched and, her garments being of very thin and transparent material, clung to her in such a way as to show to great advantage the outlines of her faultless figure. If the Emperor had any doubt in his mind about asking her hand in marriage this removed it, for the following day the engagement was announced. There are such conflicting accounts about her, she has her ardent admirers and devoted followers, and from these you hear nothing but what is in her praise — they tell you that she is most charitable, kind, and good. Being myself one of her greatest admirers I prefer to believe all the good that I hear of her, and will not listen to any other account of her.

The Empress Eugenie

We hear from America there is a rumor that the prisoners of Johnson’s Island are going to be exchanged. God grant that it may be so, and that when free, Richard may be given a leave of absence and join us here; this anxiety, and not being able to hear from him, is terrible.

A month later.

Not our hopes, but our worst fears are realized. It is a sad story to relate; until to-day I could not write it, but perhaps it may help me if I do so. General Grant did what he could for our brave boy, he sent an order that when the prisoners were released, instead of Richard going up to be exchanged with the other prisoners from Johnson’s Island, he was to be brought to him; but by some misunderstanding of the order, Richard was allowed to go with the others. He heard those ahead of him have their names called, and as each responded he was detailed for exchange; when his name came and he answered, a Federal officer touched him on the shoulder and said, “No, you come with me.” Poor dear boy! fearing that he was going to be taken back to prison again, he fainted; owing to his weak condition from the want of proper food, and the long confinement, he had not the strength to bear the disappointment and shock that it gave him. It was some time before he recovered consciousness, and when he did, great was his astonishment to find himself in General Grant’s tent. He kept Richard with him for several days until he was stronger and had recovered from the effects of the shock that he had received. General Grant did all that he could for him; realizing his weak condition, and knowing how we longed to see him, he begged Richard to come to Europe on parole, offering to be responsible for him and to give him his parole until the end of the war. General Grant knew only too well that our army could not hold out much longer against the hordes of Germans and other nationalities that were being enlisted in the Northern army in large numbers, too great for our reduced army to fight against. With the blockade of our ports, and no outside help possible, boys of fifteen and younger taking the place of the older men as they fell, it meant that the end was not far off, when we must lay down our arms and accept the inevitable consequences of defeat. The more the General tried to impress these conditions upon my brave boy, the more keenly he felt that his duty was to join his comrades; it was not a moment when he could desert the cause of his country in its death struggle, when every man counted for so much. He said, “Oh! no, General, I must go, and with my brave companions defend our cause to the end. Greatly tempted as I am to accept your generous offer and join my poor father and mother, knowing how they have suffered and that they need all the consolation which I might be able to give them, my sense of duty to the cause I have espoused makes it impossible for me, while I fully appreciate what you have offered to do for me, to accept it. Remember, we are of the same blood. Would you do differently if you were in my place?” “No,” he replied. “Then, I beg of you,” said Richard, “have me exchanged.” But the General sent him under a flag of truce to Richmond. Only a few days after reaching there, before he received his appointment, he was taken ill with pneumonia. In his weak condition there was no hope of his recovery from the first. He was fortunately staying in the house of a dear friend, Miss S. L. Bayne, who nursed him with the greatest devotion all during his illness. With him also was Joe Denegre of New Orleans, a very dear comrade and friend of his, one with whom he had been closely associated from the beginning of the war until he was taken prisoner. It was in his arms that Richard passed away.

I have many letters about him, the one from General Grant expresses great sympathy for us, and admiration of Richard’s courage and high sense of honor. Much as he wanted him for my sake to accept the parole and urged him to do so, he was glad he refused, and he loved the boy for faithfully fulfilling his duty to the cause he had so much at heart.

What a sad little colony we are! with the continual succession of bad news telling of one disaster after another until we are in despair. Apart from my own overwhelming sorrows are those that we all suffer together in our great anxiety in regard to the fate of our loved ones who are struggling in vain against such fearful odds. How much longer can they hold out is the question we ask each other, but the answer is read in the sad faces around us, for we all know in our hearts that the end is near.

A few days later.

All hope is over! Richmond fell on the 3d of April, and Lee surrendered on the 9th, six days afterwards, so this dreadful war is over!!! What a useless sacrifice of life it has been, what untold suffering it has brought to the thousands of broken-hearted mothers and wives! to say nothing of the ruined homes and desolation of a once rich and productive part of the country.

General Grant in his treatment of General Lee when he surrendered was worthy of the big- hearted and just man that he is; the utterance of those simple but ever-touching words, “Let us have peace,” ought to make him dear to all Americans, North and South. It will take time to enable us to adjust ourselves to the inevitable, and the process of reconstruction of the States, I fear, will be long and tedious. It will be in the hands of such just men as President Lincoln and General Grant that we must trust our fate. In the agony of our own sorrows, every heart goes out in love and sympathy for our noble and great hero General Lee. Never was a man so dear to the hearts of his people, adored by his troops, who willingly laid down their lives at his feet. In his hour of misfortune he will rise to greater heights than those who are victorious, his word is law for us, we accept his surrender as the noblest proof of his greatness and unselfish love for his poor, half-clothed, starving little band of heroes, who became such from his brave example, and were loyal to him to the last hour.

A few days later.

Our sorrows and misfortunes are never to cease. I can see only dark, terrible days ahead of us in consequence of the awful assassination of President Lincoln. Coming at this time it is the greatest misfortune, and will be more disastrous in its effect upon the South than anything that could have happened. What a madman Booth was not to realize this! and it is terrible to think of the many innocent people that are going to be made to suffer in consequence of his mad and unjustifiable act. This awful crime cannot be wiped out by the hanging of Booth only, I fear others will be made to pay very dearly for it; if not with their lives, it will be in other ways of suffering and humiliation. I am sure that all just and fair-minded Southerners feel that. Had Lincoln lived, aided by the conciliatory policy of General Grant, the reconstruction of the States could have been brought about with less difficulty, and on far better terms and conditions for us than can be hoped for now. The bad feeling that President Lincoln’s assassination will arouse against us throughout the North will make them want to show us little mercy, and greatly complicate the settlement of the difficult questions that we must all face. God help us!

Then the emancipation of the slaves. How is that going to be dealt with? We who know them, and have learned to love them and care for them since we were children, cannot foresee what their freedom will bring to them. While I rejoice that they have it, I pity them, for they are in no way prepared for it. I cannot help but fear terrible conditions for those who will have to depend upon negro labor for the cultivation of their fields. I have faith in the older ones taking it sensibly, and remaining in most cases faithful in their allegiance to their owners, from force of habit as well as sentiment, for they have a strong sense of attachment; it is the younger generation that will be demoralized and corrupted by it. If the suggestion made during the War by some of the largest slave-owners in the South had been accepted, and adopted, it would have been better. These wise men were in favor of arming the negroes, putting them in the Southern army, and at the same time giving them their freedom. If it could have been done it might have changed the conditions of the war, for I have not the slightest doubt but that they would have fought bravely under the command of their masters; not in a single instance have I heard of their failing to do so, when they have been in a battle with their young masters. Often have they been known to run great risks, and shown great bravery in their efforts to save their masters when they have been wounded on the battlefield. I wish that they could have been in some way educated or prepared for freedom, before it was so suddenly thrust upon them. The North has assumed a tremendous responsibility; I hope that they will prove themselves equal to it, and treat this race of people with a firm, just, and discriminating policy; otherwise they will be- come an evil and menace to the welfare of the country.

The Tuileries in 1880

I cannot help but wonder what our slaves will do when told that they are free. I am sure that they will all want to go back to the plantation, for they hate Texas and long to return to the sugar-cane and warmth of Louisiana. James has written to the overseer to give them the necessary money to take them back if they wish to go.

Several months later.

The conditions in our part of the country are still very unsettled, the events of the last months indicate clearly that the reconstruction is going to be a long, tedious, and trying time for the Southern States. We begin to feel that we must go back, but it will be a sad home-coming, without a home to go to. The family circle is broken by the death of our boys, and many dear old friends will be missing. Then we are uncertain as to whether we shall be able to save enough from the wreck of our fortune to enable us to live even in a very modest way. It is hard for my husband after a long life of success in everything that he has ever undertaken, now in his old age to have the wealth representing years of hard and successful work swept away, through no fault of his own. He is wonderfully brave and plucky about it, and is anxious to go back and begin to rebuild his fortune. But I see a great change in him since Richard’s death. I have my doubts about his strength and health enabling him to do much more. The spirit is willing, but the poor heart has suffered so much anxiety and sorrow during those terrible four years that I fear it has reached its limit.

october, 1865.

The romance commenced in Matamoras, resumed in Paris under rather extraordinary circumstances, has ended in a marriage, which I have reason to hope will be for the happiness of both Belle and the Count. The wedding was a very small one, owing to our deep mourning, but all our little colony was present, as it was the last time we shall see our friends. We bid them farewell; tomorrow we leave Paris for Liverpool, and shall sail from there to New York. Count de Sombreuil has endeared himself to us in many ways. He has never failed in his devotion and sympathy for us during the trying times that we have passed through while living in his mother’s house. The dear old Countess, too, has been the same, full of sympathy and kindness, ever ready to do anything that she could for us. I am glad that she is so delighted with the marriage. As the Count is leaving the army, she no longer dreads the possibility of being left alone in this beautiful home, for it is understood that her son and his wife are to live with her. I wonder if I shall have the courage to resume my diary when I reach New Orleans. Will it be to record painful experiences, or will the conditions be better than they promise at present? However, I shall write no more until I get there.

I bid farewell to you, my constant little companion, and close your pages with regret, for you have been a great help and consolation to me, during these years of sorrow and many trials.


My dear little Companion,

When I closed you in Paris, I hardly expected to confide in you so soon again, but the habit has grown upon me, and now I cannot resist writing up my experiences of these last few months. They have seemed so unnatural and strange that it is hard to adjust myself to the new conditions of our life.

I must go back and take up the threads of my story, a few months before the close of the War. Clarice, who seemed to us such a child, but to others appeared considerably older than her years, had two very devoted lovers, one of whom was Walter Fane, a man of unusual intellectual and scholarly gifts, well fitted for the high diplomatic position that he held, and to whose presence with us while in Havana I have already referred.

He followed us to Paris, and though much older than my child, her father, who greatly admired Captain Fane, felt that her happiness and welfare would be secure in his keeping.

The second suitor was Captain Scott, who was also abroad on an important diplomatic mission.

From Paris we had gone to Liverpool, where we received a letter from Walter Fane imploring us to await his arrival there. He expected to join us in three weeks’ time, as he was sailing at once from Havana for England.

We waited impatiently and fearfully for three long months. Finally all hope of seeing him was abandoned, and the agents of the line could only believe that the steamer must have gone down in mid-ocean, as no trace of her could be obtained.

We then decided to sail for home on Sunday by the steamer “Arabia,” when lo, and behold, who should walk in upon us three days earlier, but Walter Fane, coming as one from the dead, so amazed were we to see him.

The steamer on which he had sailed from Havana had had an accident to her machinery, and had to resort to her sails only to be becalmed and drift about the Gulf of Mexico for six weeks! Finally they managed to hail a passing steamer, the passengers were transferred and enabled to continue their journey to England. The disabled steamer was subsequently towed to the nearest port. This accounted for Walter Fane’s three months’ disappearance from the world.

Though my husband’s preference was undoubtedly for Captain Fane, he realized that Clarice’s extreme youth necessitated the continuance of her studies for another year or two, and therefore on his return to Mexico he exacted, before leaving, a promise that she would not, during his absence, accept any offer of marriage from either of her two ardent suitors. Captain Fane’s proposal was not long delayed. On hearing the condition imposed upon us by my husband, he started post-haste in pursuit of James to Mexico. Shortly afterwards Captain Scott also declared his suit, and receiving the same information, started with the same eagerness for Mexico. The night before he left, he called to say good-by, and finding Clarice alone, he pressed into her hand a tiny box, begging her to open it only when she should hear the door close behind him. He knew full well that I should never have allowed the child to accept its contents, had I seen them. Once out of the house, no return of his gift could be possible, as his intention was to leave by the night train for Liverpool and to sail from there early the next morning for Havana. His little farewell present to my daughter was a ring containing a diamond of large size and of great value.

When Captain Scott reached Havana on his way to Mexico, the first person whom he saw on entering the hotel was his friend Fane, who told him of his return from Matanzas. The meeting between the two friends, while a cordial one, was full of deep feeling and emotion for both men. Captain Scott realized that he must learn his fate from his rival, and that if Fane had won so he had lost; while Fane, knowing the strong and determined character of his friend, and what the loss of the girl he loved would mean to him, felt an intense sympathy and great sorrow for the pain that he must inflict in acknowledging his own engagement.

The Writer of the Diary

What passed between the two friends when they parted in Havana has never been told. Captain Fane returned to England, while Captain Scott has seemed to drop out of the world. No one can tell us any news of him! Rumor says that he has joined the British Army.

[Note by the Editor. — Seventeen years later, at a ball in New Orleans, whose setting was one of the beautiful and typical old Southern houses, a stranger among the guests was unconscious of the attention that concentrated upon him as he wandered through the spacious rooms, indifferent, after a glance at many a noted beauty, and evidently searching until the evening was far spent for someone whom he failed to find. Just as the guests were leaving, he suddenly came face to face with a tall, fair woman — and instinctively knew, though he saw her sad and wistful countenance for the first time, that she was the object of his quest.

Eagerly he inquired her name, and on hearing it asked to be presented. After a few minutes’ conversation he said: “I have a message for you, and I must speak with you alone.” Much surprised the lady followed him to a remote corner of the conservatory, whereupon he spoke hurriedly as follows: “My message is from a dying man, who bids me tell you that he has loved you all these years. Send him some word in return that may comfort and sustain him in his last hours.”

He then went on to tell her of her old friend and lover Captain Scott, who had won honors and distinctions for brave and gallant deeds on the battlefields of many campaigns. Always a most generous man, ever ready to help those in need, he had given away and distributed practically the whole of his large fortune, and was reduced to actual want himself without means of procuring any comforts or luxuries in his last illness and hours of distress.

This story brought to the lady’s face an expression of great sorrow and pain. Evidently she was no indifferent friend of the poor gallant Captain Scott! On hearing finally of his poverty, a curious expression of relief, almost of joy, lighted up her face, as if she divined a source from which help might come! Aloud, she thanked the stranger for his message and said that she had a souvenir which she would send his friend, one that would surely be of help and comfort. In her heart she thanked God that after all these years, atonement might be made for the suffering that she had innocently caused her hapless lover. The ring he had given her would prove like that of the Arabian Nights and bring ease and plenty to its possessor.

Next day her hand held out to the departing stranger the precious little box that had been placed there seventeen years before, by the man who little dreamed what it was destined to bring into his life at its close. From its sale the poor invalid was surrounded with every possible luxury and comfort, his very life being prolonged for several months, and with a blessing and a loving farewell for the woman who had so benefited him, he died with her name on his lips.]

As we had made all our plans to sail for home we could not alter them, even after Walter Fane’s surprising re-appearance in our midst. He, however, decided to remain in England, as it was understood that a strong feeling prevailed against all those who had held diplomatic appointments under the Confederate Government.

James was advised to enter New York under an assumed name: he might have been a ready mark for enmity, being so well known throughout the country, a Northern man who was also a Southern planter.

The very reverse of our anticipations was what actually happened on reaching our native shores. Clarice very thoughtlessly put in the top tray of her trunk a large bonbon box, from Paris, of white satin emblazoned with two crossed Confederate flags. When the Customs Officer saw it, he looked quickly at the girl, who proclaimed with ready pride, “It is mine!” He replied, “Well, my young lady, it is fortunate for you that I am delegated to open your trunk. As it is you won’t have trouble, for I happen to love the South,” whereupon he quickly closed the lid.

staten island, new york,     
november, 1865.

We were met on our arrival by James’ cousin, David P. Morgan, who took us at once to his beautiful home on Staten Island, where we were most cordially welcomed by his dear and charming wife, who was a daughter of William Fellowes, an old friend of my husband and a man who was very prominent both socially and financially.

A short time after our return, James was advised by his Northern relatives and friends to go to Washington and take the oath of allegiance. This he did!

We were very loath to leave David and his attractive wife and children; it was such a great pleasure to us who had been so long wanderers and aliens, to revive old friendships, renew old associations, but alas! Our own home in New York City, where it would have been such a comfort to settle for our few remaining years of life, had been sold while we were refugees in Texas, needlessly sacrificed, as we now know, in our absence, by an ill-advised friend. My husband’s friends are urging him to remain in the North, particularly dear David, who is very generously offering him most advantageous conditions if he will join him in business. But James feels that he must go South, and see what can be done with the wreck of his possessions there, with the responsibilities incurred there and which he does not feel it right to shirk now that that section of the country is so distracted and distressed. What remains of our farm near Louisville he has given to our younger son Charles, but there is unfortunately only a little left of the dear old place, as it was used for the encampment of Federal troops owing to its commanding situation on the hills overlooking the Ohio River, three miles distant from Louisville.

This farm was the first property that James had ever owned and was purchased in his early youth. It was known as Rock Hill, and here all our children were born, eleven, and only five have outlived infancy! We spent our summers here, the spring and fall in New York, the winters on the plantation, so that our life has always been full of movement and variety.

James is a wonderful traveler, but he strictly limits our wardrobes when we are en route from one part of the country to the other. We can have all the clothes we like, but we mustn’t be loaded with trunks, so we usually leave a full trousseau in our bureaus and closets and find or purchase another on our arrival North or South.

I loved Rock Hill best of my three dwelling-places. It really meant home to me and to my husband, who took a boundless pride in beautifying both house and park. The latter was well stocked with deer, who were never killed, and in the course of many years they were very plentiful and also very tame. At the sound of carriages approaching along the driveway, they would line up against the fence, and visitors usually came provided with tit-bits to offer these gentle-eyed sentinels, ready to eat out of their hands with military precision. Poor dears! They were all killed and eaten by the soldiers.

new orleans.

Here we are back again in the dear old Crescent City. It takes all our courage and fortitude to face these new and strange conditions of life. The inevitable consequences of war are all about us, everyone is adrift, social and business conditions are disorganized, the permanence of home seems a mockery. The one active trade that is noticeable is the constant barter and sale of jewels and silver plate to provide the family with its daily market money. In Louisiana our only home has been on the plantation. When in the city we have always visited my sister, who lived on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter of the town. This home, like many others, has now been completely broken up, so we must find another as an abiding-place for our old age. James makes to return to the plantation, but his health is failing rapidly and the doctors consider him quite unequal to the heavy task of reorganizing the work as it must be done under the new régime of the freed slaves. The plantation must, therefore, be put up for sale. What an irony of fate! For years he tried to make up his mind to do this very act, but like most planters he was under the strong fascination of sugar-making, which has all the elements of gambling. The likelihood of an early frost which blights the cane, of a late heat during the grinding process which ferments the juice, of uncertain climatic conditions at all times in Louisiana, make it impossible to calculate even approximately what the result of the sugar-cane crop may be.

On the other hand, exactly favorable conditions may furnish an output that far exceeds the most sanguine expectations. This was actually the case, after years of trials and disappointments, the first year of the War.

The slaves have all returned to the plantation from Texas and are most eager in their inquiries “if ole Massa is coming back?” On hearing that we are to make our home in New Orleans, all the house-servants have descended upon us and are practically encamped on the doorsteps, clamoring to be allowed to return to their work as usual. The question of their wages has never been raised, they have only made one stipulation, viz.: that when they die they are to have “a gran’ funeral,” with all their friends invited and lots of white cape jessamines to cover “de daid body.” The funeral rites they lay great stress upon; of the marriage ones they are inclined to be somewhat negligent.

The other day Black Betty, Clarice’s maid, walked in upon us with her two children, born during slavery, and throwing her arms around the girl said, “Miss Clarice, I wish to goodness dat you’d tek me and de chillun! Leastways I mek you a present of de chillun. Dey tells me dat’s we’se all free, but I can’ mek out how I’m guine raise ’em if you don’ help me! I reckon you ain’ guine refuse me, is you?”

november, 1866.

For many months I have been unable to write at all, following injuries received in a severe fall which has caused me intense suffering, and deprived me of the use of my right hand. During my period of invalidism, our friends have been very kind in coming to see me, making my drawing-room quite a political salon, politics in these days being an absorbing topic in this sore and sorry period of reconstruction. There is endless discussion of the heart-breaking measures that are being enforced as the means to restore conditions that can never be accepted by our people. While I am deeply interested in all questions that concern not only the welfare of my own community, but of the country at large, I prefer to avoid in my diary any personal bias in discussing the present fearful situation, the appalling complications and evil events that have resulted from this period of reconstruction. There is a difference of opinion even among our own people as to what methods should be pursued. Such men as Generals Hood, Wheeler, Longstreet, and Beaureguard cannot agree, some taking more advanced and conciliatory views than others. General Longstreet, for instance, seems far ahead of prevailing opinions, so much so that, if he presses the policy which he now advocates, he is bound to be looked upon askance by his former companions in arms. On the other hand, how can anyone doubt the sincerity of his loyalty to the cause for which he has so gallantly fought? Only time can prove the wisdom or the fallacy of the cause for which he is now struggling with all his might.

We have been terribly distressed at the tragic death of the wife and children of our old friend Dr. Richardson.

There is no mode of travel more comfortable or really luxurious than on one of our large river steamboats, but certainly there is none attended by more terrible accidents. With their high-pressure boilers and the temptation to constantly increase their rate of speed, the result is often a frightful explosion, followed by fire, the passengers perishing in an agonized death before any means of rescue can be effected.

Dr. Richardson’s wife and children were to join him here, coming from Louisville on one of these floating palaces, when the not unusual explosion occurred and all were lost. For many years of my life I have made this trip every spring and fall. We had usually a number of friends on board, there was dancing every night in the large saloon, we made a toilet for dinner, and looked upon the ten days or fortnight of our trip as a very pleasant period of social enjoyment. We always took a good supply of provisions, even to a cow, who became so accustomed to her semi-annual jaunt that she walked on and off the steamer with perfect complacency.

For a whole year James has worked hard trying to raise money for the first payment on the house purchased since we arrived here. We have now been settled in it for three months. The house has a stable, but alas! no horses or carriages, so it is empty, but the negroes know that we have it, and lately whole families from the plantation have arrived to pay us prolonged visits, which are very trying, now that every extra mouth we feed involves an expense clearly beyond our means. When they want to shirk their work on the plantation, they are suddenly seized with a desire to visit “de fambly in de city. Sho’ ole Massa and ole Missus will be glad to see us!” They are perfectly willing to work for us, but there is nothing to employ them in, and it requires very firm diplomacy to persuade them to return to the plantation.

One family may be disposed of, but unfortunately they go back and give such glowing accounts of their visit to us, that their departure is only too quickly followed by other arrivals.

James has sold the plantation! The negroes, however, refuse to work unless some member of the family returns to manage them. The present owner has offered my son Louis a good salary if he will reorganize the work and manage the plantation, so he has accepted, but he writes that the task is not an easy one; that it is pathetic how the old slaves long to have us back, and most difficult to make them understand that they are free, and to grasp the fact that the family no longer owns the plantation. He urges me to come back and see if I can exert some influence or powers of persuasion that may help to reconcile these helpless creatures with their present lot, and enable them to adjust themselves to the new order. This sudden freedom, the manner in which it has come about, will, I fear, breed very serious trouble for our country in the near future. Of course the South will suffer most at the outset, but the evil will eventually go much further and have very far-reaching results.

If the negroes could only have been in some slight measure prepared, if we could have had a little more time in which to train them, this tremendous power that has so unexpectedly been placed in their hands might have been used to some good purpose. The freed slaves that show any ability to do for themselves are those who have been taught a trade during slavery, who are trained carpenters, blacksmiths, bricklayers, etc.

The Clarice of Today

A touching instance of the love and loyalty shown by these people for their former owners, is strikingly shown in the case of a negro who was sent abroad before the War by his mistress to be taught instrumental music, for which he showed very pronounced aptitude. He had a natural sense of rhythm that made his dance music a very valuable acquisition on the plantation, most Southerners being proverbially fond of dancing and much given to this form of amusement. From the time when he could crawl this boy would steal into his mistress’ drawing-room and be found perched on the music stool and trying to play on her piano. On his return to New Orleans at the close of the War, he found his old mistress penniless, a widow, and alone in the world, as her two sons had been killed on the battlefield. He went manfully to work to support her, and has eventually been able to give her a home, but in order to do this he works all day in a music store, and plays at night for dancing parties. He is quite the most important feature of a successful ball, as it is not considered “chic” to have anyone else play. Apart from his delightful dance music, his intense enjoyment of the pleasure that he is giving shows in his face, which is like glistening ebony and radiant with a smile that stretches from ear to ear, and reveals a set of teeth the counterpart of the ivories from which his powerful hands produce a melody and a measure that one cannot resist. He always requests that the piano shall be placed so that he can see the dancers, and for children’s parties his big right foot is set forth to beat time, upon whose observance he strictly insists, though the little people adore him and call him, with all due respect, “Snowball.”

january, 1867.

Christmas has come and gone! The hearts of the young are full of its joy, the hearts of the old are apt to be full of its sadness! Not so with me, however, for whom it becomes more and more, as I go on in life, the record day of all the year, measuring the happiness of my childhood, the hopes of my girlhood, and as each record becomes the concentrated essence of all previous records, in the delight and exquisite pleasure of my motherhood, I realize the past years of happiness in the happiness of my children. The years of my sorrow are forgotten on this day sacred to memory and to peace.

crescent plantation.

How strange it seems to return here again! Louis is overjoyed at having me with him, and I am glad that I came, in spite of the bitter struggle that it cost me to do so. We are living in a part of the old house that has been rebuilt for Louis. Perhaps it is as well that the rest has gone. Its presence would be too suggestive of sad memories. This morning after my arrival all their negroes hurried to greet me, and on the back porch are strewn the simple and varied offerings of love — half a dozen eggs, a chicken, some flowers or vegetables that have grown in their own small gardens. It is a curious but touching collection, and brings tears to my eyes. Some of the older mammies put their fat black arms around me and our tears mingled. While the maturer ones urge our return and would undoubtedly serve us with loyalty, the younger men and women are full of their freedom, and the famous promise of “a mule and an acre of ground” apiece, which they firmly credit, opens out to them a vista of wealth and ease, the equivalent to their simple minds of a Monte Cristo fortune. What I fear most for them is the likelihood in the near future of their having free access to liquor. The drinking curse is what we have always dreaded most in our African slaves.

During the few days that I have spent here, I have fully realized how wise James was not to attempt, in his condition of health, a renewal of the old life under the new regime. Younger men than he must undertake the arduous task. Perhaps those who come from afar, without handicap of the older systems, may stand a better chance to revive sugar-making and work out new and fresh ideas along different lines.

new orleans.

Since my return I have found myself involved in a work for a cause which appeals to me tremendously, and to undertake it gives me great comfort at the same time. I heartily wish that such heavy responsibilities had not fallen on my already much bowed shoulders. At the French Opera House where were gathered many prominent representatives of military-civil circles, a mass meeting was held for the purpose of electing a president of an association to raise money for the widows and disabled in the Confederate ranks. Great was my consternation and surprise when my name was called out from the stage as the woman selected for this great honor. The announcement was quickly followed by the selection of a most able and distinguished committee of ladies to aid me: Mrs. Slanffer, Mrs. Slocomb, Mrs. H. Connor, Mrs. Nolitt, and many others who are younger and probably much more efficient than I am to organize and carry out this tremendous task. Of course I shall bring to it my best efforts and work in its behalf with all my heart and soul.

A month later.

My days being all too short for the work in hand, I have had no time to record its progress here. We have decided, after much discussion as to the wisest means of raising money among those who have so very little left to give, upon a general bazaar and lottery, combined with evening entertainments of varied character, for which the price of admission will be very moderate, as all actors and singers have volunteered to give their services free. There is not a store in New Orleans from the largest dry goods and jewelry establishments to the smallest Italian fruit stand that has not made some generous contribution, including precious stones, silverware, clothing, and household articles of every description to be offered for raffle or sale. We have the Mauresque Building, which is very large and lends itself easily to decoration, giving us all the space we require. I go every day with one of the committee to ask for donations, very seldom for money, but any article is of value, small or large, either for sale or lottery, and it is most gratifying that not once in any quarter has our request for a donation been refused.

This is the fourth day of the bazaar and we have every reason to hope for great results. Last night the great Ristori offered to give us recitations from several of her plays. This crowded the house to its utmost capacity, and all who came were well repaid, for it was a wonderful, never-to-be-forgotten evening. The great artiste was at her best, and won us all with the charm of her rare and fascinating personality. Walter Fane was appointed on the committee that received her, and being a fluent Italian scholar was spokesman for the others. Ristori was enchanted at his greeting her in her own tongue and still more delighted over his knowledge of, and love for, her country. She has been most sympathetic and generous in her desire to help our cause. I felt proud, too, that I could present to her so many charming and distinguished women, to say nothing of the men whose gallantry and courteous bearing greatly pleased her, reminding her of the best Latin traditions in the Old World from which she comes.

The most attractive feature of the bazaar is the flower and fruit stand. The girls in their bower of roses are “queen roses” themselves, and their fresh young faces are a great magnet to the crowd, so that a lively trade goes on daily, and their contributions to the fund is an ever-increasing one. In the group are the two famous beauties, Anna and Lydia Henning, and so many are the disputes as to their respective charms, that my cousin Billy Walker swears he will risk bigamy and marry both, Anna, who is very intellectual, to be his fireside companion, and Lydia to preside and adorn the head of his table. Clara and Minnie Morton, who have just returned from Europe, are full of dash and “chic,” and they, too, having a large circle of beaux and swains following in their wake, add a merry note of wit and repartee to the popularity of their stronghold.

Nature’s nobleman, a true Christian and a faithful friend, untiring in his efforts to assist and uplift the good of the community in which he lives. As a citizen he was fully appreciated and admired, and the Chamber of Commerce has just passed and sent me resolutions that are a full and touching tribute to his memory. His greatest hobby was in educating and giving young men a start in life, and many a successful one owes his good fortune to James’ timely aid.

[Note by Editor. — The writer of the Diary saw her prayer fulfilled and did not long survive her husband. Although a great invalid she spent her remaining years in good work, but her compensating joy and comfort in her declining years was the marriage of her daughter with Walter Fane.]


  1. “Dick” Taylor. He was a great personal friend of King Edward VII of England. — Note in the original publication.

Text prepared by:


Fearn, Frances H., ed. Diary of a Refugee. Illus. Rosalie Urquhart. New York: Moffat, Yard, 1910. Internet Archive. 02 June 2009. Web. 20 June 2014. <https:// archive.org/ details/ diaryof refugee00 fear>.

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