ALD, Hide the silver, Alfred.
We had no hope and wrote to our friends in New York who set to work to find him in the Northern prisons. For four months we thought he must be dead and our home was very sad. In my absence in Richmond trying to get news, George’s horse was sent home by the Captain. I was not at home but the family told me how the horse seemed to know his rider was gone. He would turn his head toward the saddle and neigh. The servants, always emotional, cried and gave evidence of distress, When the saddle bags were opened and all his belongings so neatly packed, they cried out, “Oh Lord, why did Marse George go to fight them Yankees!”
The horse was a beauty and everybody’s pet. He was kept in the yard and many tears were shed over the missing Soldier. The fourth month my father received a few lines from George saying that he was a prisoner at Fort Lookout and had been ill and unable to write. He had been kept in close confinement for several weeks and was told he and others captured with him would be shot. They endured a great deal, were kept in a closet and could not lie down. With little food and guarded by negroes, they were offered freedom if they would take the oath never to fight for the south, which they refused to do. In the wee bit of a note my brother asked to have ten pounds of tobacco and invested in material for a restaurant on a small scale with the money which he received upon selling the tobacco. Then our northern friends found him and his wants were supplied. He remained there eight months and at last got away by paying the doctor twenty-five dollars in gold. He was greatly lionized on his return. He was well after a long spell and much suffering. He was home only a few weeks and then returned to his command. He escaped without a wound or further imprisonment.
John was crazy to enter the Army now, but was still in school, I think it was in Lynchburg in September 1863. We had soldiers all the time. They all seemed to enjoy our lovely home. It is impossible for me to mention all. So many of our friends were killed, a battle always meant sorrow. Sidney Strother, Ellis Munford, William Mean, John Jountaine and so many others. We had a visit from Philip Hazall who was engaged to my sister Mollie, a very devoted lover of hers and friend of mine. The three, Phil, Sidney and John Reeve were life long friends of ours. All dead and she too, and I am left to mourn their going away.
These were my three dearest friends. I corresponded with them from my fourteenth year all through the War. Sidney was the first to die and the others lived through the war and some years after John went to Henderson, Ky. and died there. Some years after my sister’s death, Philip Hazall married the beautiful Nancy Triplet, famous for her wonderful beauty and the episode of Meadecar and McCarthy duel. She was engaged to Meadecar who was killed. McCarthy was imprisoned for some months but was finally exonerated. This marriage of Philip Hazall’s was not a happy one. She died first and he finally died at Retreat, a sad life he had.
I am afraid my life will seem very disconnected. I write as I remember and often put things in the wrong place.
We had many girls to visit us, and some spent months. Things were narrowing down. Foods and clothes were scarce. We living in the country were enabled to send boxes to soldiers in camps. I remember many we sent. One to 2nd Maryland where our tutor Mr. Burk was enlisted. I had a note of thanks from Colonel Dorsey, also from Washington artillery, a Louisiana regiment. A number of officers were our guests. Captain Ed Owen and brother William Owen who after the war wrote a history and wrote of our home and the hospitality he and his friends enjoyed there. He died several years ago. He went back to North Carolina and married. He was a very attractive man.
I cannot attempt a history and will only give a few personal experiences. We were subject to Raiders at any time. We were never in the line of battle, But these raiders would search houses and take and destroy valuables and were boisterous and rude. My mother would have to meet them. My father took off the horses, negroes and sheep to save them. We had a private ferry, there was no public one, and he would carry his possessions across the canal and sometimes he would be gone a week. Our year’s supply of meat and lard my mother would divide among the negroes. She knew the Yankees never searched their homes, and she would tell them, now you take so many hams and so many kegs of lard. Remember, this is your living as well as mine. It was always returned just as she handed it to them. They were faithful and so respectful we felt we could and did trust them. All the time I was in charge alone in my parents absence they were respectful and considerate of my every wish. We had to hide all silver and jewels and valuable books. My mother used to hide the silver under the growing plants and wherever we could think safe.
So when the alarm that the Yankees were coming came, we would begin hiding. They never found our valuables. Several times they came so unexpectedly that we had to give all these things to a trusted servant. Once my mother hurriedly threw the silver in a common potato sack and gave it to our gardener to hide. “Hide it where you think it safe, Daniel.”
We did not see the silver for three weeks as the Yankees were in the vicinity that long and my father across the river. He would send the servants over at night for more food. Finally, the Raiders left, and of course, left little food behind them.
Another time, the most tragic of all, may mother gave the silver to a man, Alfred Brooks. The enemy were coming in sight. “Take it Alfred and don’t let them get it.” They came as usual, rude and drunken, rushing everywhere ungoverned. One of the officers said, “Where is Alfred Brooks?”
“Here I am, Sir.”
“Where is that silver you have hidden? Come now, no lies.”
Alfred said, “I can’t tell you sir. I promised my mistress to keep it for her. “
The officer said, “I will see that you tell, and raised his pistol. My mother was so frightened she called out, “Oh Alfred, tell. Don’t let them shoot you!”
But his wife who stood by him said, “Don’t you tell, Alfred, because if he chooses to be a dog, let him shoot.”
The officer dropped his pistol and turned to my mother and said, “I could not shoot such a brave man, madam.”
She gave him a grateful look and said, “Thank God!” This was our last experience with Raiders. Our life went on, so dreary and sad. We knew how our soldiers were starving and without clothes. We saw our chance of victory was waning and our cause was losing. We had word of the death of our tutor Mr. Burk, defending a bridge in Halifax County, Virginia. He was instantly killed. We were distressed at his death. Our friends Stuart and Jackson dead made us sadder and more hopeless. My father, who opposed secession not that he felt that “We did not have the right,” but our utter inability to win and he felt every death a sacrifice. He thought our leaders would have seen the inevitable result as clearly as he did, but he was in full sympathy, doing everything he could until the day of his death when he was 88 and some months.