On this day 150 years ago, in Columbia, South Carolina, Mary Boykin Chesnut surveyed the war news.
August 22d. - Hope I may never know a raid except from hearsay. Mrs. Huger describes the one at Athens. The proudest and most timid of women were running madly in the streets, corsets in one hand, stockings in the other- déshabillé as far as it will go, Mobile is half taken. The railroad between us and Richmond has been tapped.
Notes from a letter written by a young lady who is riding a high horse. Her fiancé, a maimed hero, has been abused. "You say to me with a sneer, 'So you love that man.' Yes, I do, and I thank God that I love better than all the world the man who is to be my husband. 'Proud of him, are you?' Yes, I am, in exact proportion to my love. You say, ' I am selfish.' Yes, I am selfish. He is my second self, so utterly absorbed am I in him. There is not a moment, day or night, that I do not think of him. In point of fact, I do not think of anything else." No reply was deemed necessary by the astounded recipient of this outburst of indignation, who showed me the letter and continued to observe: "Did you ever? She seems so shy, so timid, so cold."
Sunday Isabella took us to a chapel, Methodist, of course; her father had a hand in building it. It was not clean, but it was crowded, hot, and stuffy. An eloquent man preached with a delightful voice and wonderful fluency; nearly eloquent, and at times nearly ridiculous. He described a scene during one of his sermons when "beautiful young faces were turned up to me, radiant faces though bathed in tears, moral rainbows of emotion playing over them," etc.
He then described his own conversion, and stripped himself naked morally. All that is very revolting to one's innate sense of decency. He tackled the patriarchs. Adam, Noah, and so on down to Joseph, who was "a man whose modesty and purity were so transcendent they enabled him to resist the greatest temptation to which fallen man is exposed." "Fiddlesticks! that is played out!" my neighbor whispered. "Everybody gives up now that old Mrs. Pharaoh was forty." "Mrs. Potiphar, you goose, and she was fifty!" "That solves the riddle." "Sh-sh!!" from the devout Isabella.
At home met General Preston on the piazza. He was vastly entertaining. Gave us Darwin, Herodotus, and Livy. We understood him and were delighted, but we did not know enough to be sure when it was his own wisdom or when wise saws and cheering words came from the authors of whom he spoke.