18 July 1862: “I never the happiness of peace until I felt the bitterness, the weariness of war, now the peaceful seems to as a dream…”

Item description: Diary entry from Sarah Lois Wadley, dated 18 July 1862. In this entry, Wadley recounts seeing cavalry from Texas, and her personal emotional burdens dealing with the war.

[Transcription available below images] 

Item citation: From the Sarah Lois Wadley Papers, #1258, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item transcription: 

Thursday, July 18th /62–

Oh we have had such a delightful rain, yesterday it rained all day, so softly, that it penetrating the parched earth without washing the soil off. Today it has been showering a little, everything looks so beautiful, the trees are so green and seem almost to speak their thanks for the rain.

Mr. Dwight returned today, and we have not had any school this evening. I have been writing a french translation for tomorrow, and can hardly write correct English now, I have commenced to make the acute and grave accents quite often since I began this.–

Captain Smith came down yesterday morning, he does not look very well, is anxious about his son, who was in the battle of Richmond, he is in Jackson’s division, had been (when his Father last heard from him) marching for thirty days, often twenty miles a day, and had a fight nineteen days out of the thirty.

Father et Capt. Smith left this morning before the break of day, Father went off on the cars, he will to back Saturday. We did not wish him to go fearing that it would make him sick, but he said he must start the repairs of the road, the commanding General at Monroe has ordered the repairs to be continued, they had been stopped so that the road might not afford facilities to the Yankees in penetrating into the country, but the General says it is necessary to transport troops over the road.

A large body of Cavalry from Texas passed here the other day, we waved to them, Miss Mary was in the grove waving and hurrahing, one cried out to her “I will bring you two Yankees home” “I will not thank you for so few as that”, she said. He replied enthusiastically, “God Bless your little Jeff. Davis rebel soul”; a characteristic dialogue, characteristic of the time, ah! we almost froget humanity now, and applaud sentiments at which in other times, we would have wept.

Peace, how beautiful thou art! I never the happiness of peace until I felt the bitterness, the weariness of war, now the peaceful seems to as a dream; and yet even in the midst of war we may have inward peace, sometimes I realize this, and though I mourn for my country, mourn for my loved ones, yet I feel sometimes as if I have known an inward conflict, a conflict of passion and duty, of good and evil far more difficult to bear that even this heavy heavy burdun. It is not only the present it is the future I think of, I am seldom aught but hopeful and trustful but yet I often feel an anxious dread for my country. I fear evil to her, not from foreign ennemies but from internal faults, Oh! may these fears be groundless, may southern liberty yet triumph over every obstacle to her greatness.

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