On this day 150 years ago, Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote in her diary about the progress of Sherman's March to the Sea.
November 25th. - Sherman is thundering at Augusta's very doors. My General was on the wing, somber, and full of care. The girls are merry enough; the staff, who fairly live here, no better. Cassandra, with a black shawl over her head, is chased by the gay crew from sofa to sofa, for she avoids them, being full of miserable anxiety. There is nothing but distraction and confusion. All things tend to the preparation for the departure of the troops. It rains all the time, such rains as I never saw before; incessant torrents. These men come in and out in the red mud and slush of Columbia streets. Things seem dismal and wretched to me to the last degree, but the staff, the girls, and the youngsters do not see it.
Mrs. S. (born in Connecticut) came, and she was radiant. She did not come to see me, but my nieces. She says exultingly that "Sherman will open a way out at last, and I will go at once to Europe or go North to my relatives there." How she derided our misery and "mocked when our fear cometh." I dare say she takes me for a fool. I sat there dumb, although she was in my own house. I have heard of a woman so enraged that she struck some one over the head with a shovel. To-day, for the first time in my life, I know how that mad woman felt. I could have given Mrs. S. the benefit of shovel and tongs both.
That splendid fellow, Preston Hampton; "home they brought their warrior, dead," and wrapped in that very Legion flag he had borne so often in battle with his own hands.
A letter from Mrs. Davis to-day, under date of Richmond, Va., November 20, 1864. She says: "Affairs West are looking so critical now that, before you receive this, you and I will be in the depths or else triumphant. I confess I do not sniff success in every passing breeze, but I am so tired, hoping, fearing, and being disappointed, that I have made up my mind not to be disconsolate, even though thieves break through and steal. Some people expect another attack upon Richmond shortly, but I think the avalanche will not slide until the spring breaks up its winter quarters. I have a blind kind of prognostics of victory for us, but somehow I am not cheered. The temper of Congress is less vicious, but more concerted in its hostile action." Mrs. Davis is a woman that my heart aches for in the troubles ahead.
My journal, a quire of Confederate paper, lies wide open on my desk in the corner of my drawing-room. Everybody reads it who chooses. Buck comes regularly to see what I have written last, and makes faces when it does not suit her. Isabella still calls me Cassandra, and puts her hands to her ears when I begin to wail. Well, Cassandra only records what she hears; she does not vouch for it. For really, one nowadays never feels certain of anything.