1862 May 30 Clarke County, Va.

[from the diary of Matthella Page Harrison as transcribed at a later date]

Friday May 30

Oh how can I write the mournful fact that our country has again been polluted by the Yankees.  The morning dawned as beautiful as any of our freedom.  Before breakfast Mr. Charles Rust came saying eleven thousand Yankees were in Paris and Upperville but we did not apprehend their immediate appearance, hoping the river would be a tedious barrier to overcome. Liz went out riding in the neighborhood, brother Archie to Berryville.  Between twelve and one there was a cry raised that Millwood was filled with Yankees.  Fez hurried on his soldier’s accourtrements and rode quietly across the fields, followed by Jacob on another horse in case the new one did not answer.  I mounted Tom on a horse and sent off brother Archie’s saddle bags.  Oh misery, misery.  Are we to be incarcerated again?  After hiding everything I thought northern thieves might take a fancy to, I went back to Linden where from the window we could see them racing over the fields.  Soon we saw the White Post road darkening with them.  Thinking one company might be scouring the country I began counting them, but they came so fast and we were so numerous I soon gave up in despair.  They had five baggage waggons.  Our hearts became heavy within us.  We laid down and tried to sleep away the present care. While at dinner it was announced they were all coming back.  I ran over home expecting to be called on and, determined to resist, I got the pistol and sat at the door.  Soon they came dashing n.  Some rode into the church yard and looked into the windows.  One pulled down the fence and jumped into the woods adjoining, rode along back of the stable and got over into the field just where Fez had gone.  I feared for him for Jacob had just come racing back and announced that he was at Cousin Burwell’s in company with Cousin Nat.  They stopped Jacob and he told them was going for the doctor.  They said doctors were not needed now, people would have to get well without them.  He came here, left his horse and tried to walk across the fields to Cousin Burwell’s but was sent back. They got safely off however.  Cousin Hugh Nelson was coming to Millwood in full uniform, not expecting to see any soldiers but ours.  He rode up to
the Federal party and saluted them.  Finding his mistake he turned and ran.  They fired at  him three times without effect.  He got safely to Winchester.  They also chased Cousin Nat some distance.  One of them rode close by me while I stood on the step, bowed to me, which salutation I did not returned but only grasped my pistol tighter, feeling as if I could let him feel it.  My poor brothers only resting at home for a few short days and chased away by these vile wretches.  He rode into the stable and looked in, then pulled down the fence and went to the Linden garden ad asked Uncle Harry if any Confederate soldiers were about.  Though in a body of some thousand strong, they are such cowards hat one rode up the road with his pistol in hand cocked.  Tonight we hear that Front Royal with all our stores and horses are again in their hands.  We had only parts of two regiments there which were very much cut to pieces.  It is said that the prisoners, stores and wounded are being moved from Winchester.  Jackson is on the Maryland Heights. Tom overtook brother Archie nearly at Charles Town.   I am so sorry I did not send his blanket.  I am uneasy about him, fearing he will have rheumatism  again.  Oh, it is a dreadful thing to have the cup of freedom dashed to the ground when we thought it almost to our lips. I still cling to the idea and hope of Davis being a good man, fitted for the responsible station he holds.  Personal ambition I fear is at war with his real policy and love for his country.  Some secret influence seems to drag him from the right.  He seems to feel himself the ruler alone, not the servant of the people.  Republicans pay their officers to serve them and not to rule despotically.  Alas our new wine, when will it find fitly vessels?  the principal of right must be very strong in our little new republic to stand the many downfalls to our hopes.  the destruction of the Merrimac, what a blow it was just after her brilliant exploits had been heralded through the land.  the government clapt an extinguisher upon her when they sent old Tatnal to take command of her.  It seems so very strange to take the oldest officer in the service to command anything so new and wonderful.  The new wine in the old bottle made a great crash.  I mean to liken the principle to the old bottle not the man.  Oh for a good, honest, simple republican government, but I fear there will have to be many severe explosions before the new wine is bottled for age.


MSS 9759

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