Item description: Letter, 7 February 1864, from Louisa (Quitman) Lovell Chadbourne to her husband Joseph Lovell. In the letter, Louisa comments on the behavior of her servants and the disappearance of many of them.
[item transcription available below images]
Monmouth near Natchez
Sunday night Feb 7th 1864
It seems months my own beloved Joe since I saw or heard from you. Why cannot you smuggle me a letter sometimes you will perhaps think that I might do the … We are so watched & spied upon that I dare not do it, unless one of the family can be the bearer, as in the … case then there is great risk to attend .. it. Oh! Ive since since we met I have had all kinds of troubles. the servants since then have behaved outrageously To begin with Isaac- he refused deciding to return to you. I could do nothing with him. I … it that he is driving a day in town, set up for himself, the ungrateful fellow. Isaac Taylor has also left, disappeared suddenly one morning & Miss Annie behaved so outrageously that Rose & I ordered her to pack up & leave. She is now somewhere in town. I think this decided step has had a good effect with those remaining.
To cap the … of annoyances [Lult?] has taken it into her head to get married & refuses to leave Yankeedom too, so when I go I must hunt me up a nurse Upon whom do you think she has cast her regards? You would never guess that it was old [Harvy?]. Yes, she has turned the old fellow’s head & as he hinted to us last night something about “making something for himself” to present another exodus possibly I agreed to give him some wages monthly. Oh! deliver me from the “citizens of African descent” I am disgusted forever with the whole race. I have not faith in one single dark individual. They are all alike ungrateful and treacherous. every servant is a spy upon us & everything we do or say is reported to the Yankees. They know everything. I am now writing late at night that they cannot know it & report to the pickets- who are always now stationed at our gate & examine every visitor that we have- & questions the servants all about them. It is horrible to live as we do now. As for money we are so low down that I am hunting up every old thing to sell to buy us food I sold the old Woodlands … the other day for $35.00 & and old carpet for $15.00. Upon this we are now living
The Yankees wont let us keep a fence or a garden and indeed when the old things give out we shall be in a bad fix. From the sale of old clothes I procure clothing & milk for the little baby for what with the Yankees killing and starvation our three cows give but little milk. The awful times! A few mornings ago though we had our hearts … When I went down to breakfast I heard numbers of trees falling. Upon … I found that a party of hateful Yankees, sixteen men, were cutting down the large oaks on the hill in front of the house. I immediately sent word to them to stop. They replied that “if I was loyal they would, but otherwise it was government timber.” I ordered out our mule train and went immediately to Head Quarters that forbidden of iniquity & found Col Johnson in a very ugly … I told him my … & begged that he would issue orders to put a stop to the cutting of the dear old trees. He answered me in the most offensive manner that he had or it to be done. I then told him that they were ornamental trees to our residence & asked if he could not supply himself elsewhere with wood. He said “yes plenty of places there were.” but “he had ordered it to be especially cut from the Lorde estate.” I told him that “it was not the Lorde estate, but that of my father Genl Quitman” He said it made no matter … he had ordered so to be done. Oh! For none but God knew how I felt at that low form ruffian I felt myself turn white with rage I could have killed him. However I controlled myself & walked proudly out of the house. With a bursting heart I went home. the first sight that met my eyes were dozens of splendid oaks laid low on the hill- it is almost bare. Imagine our feelings. how have we to sit down quietly & let those rascals do as they choose, deface and destroy our once beautiful home. That old ruffian Johnson seems to have a particular spite against us. He will grant us nothing. He has ordered [here they just fleece everyone]. Nothing but negroes & yankees does one see in Natchez. It is too disgusting. I must tell you a little about myself- By far a more interesting theme I know. I have not yet got cured up. I have been obliged to bathe my breast in sugar of lead water & it is now slowly healing such a time as I have had- poor little baby had but me to comfort her self with. Now I am much better. I am going through a course of medicine for that [eruption?]. When I feel perfectly well I shall start for you- that is if I am not driven away before. The darling little babe! How I wish that you could see her. She is getting so fat and is the sweetest dearest little thing in the world. Her eyes are so bright, like her dear father’s & such a beautiful blue. her complexion is much fairer than when you saw her & she is a little beauty. She laughs & cooes and takes so much notion of everything. She knows me, .. & Dedie perfectly well. She hears my voice in the room she will look all around for me. in the morning when I bathe her & in the evening when I prepare her for bed she is so sweet that I always wish my dear Joe could see & play with her I tell her that Father is thinking about & she laughs & thinks it very funny I sing some of your songs to her, she seems to admire them very much Her favorite amusement is to have Sarah hold her up to the window & let her watch the trees. On pleasant days she goes out and takes a walk & comes back so rosy & sweet. Dedie is so fond of her- plays with & pets her all the time. Between her & Pat there seems to exist an understanding. He is always patting & kissing her. Oh! dear Joe such a precious little gift she is to us If I could only see you for a little while it would be delightful. Did you remember our fifth anniversary? I thought of you all that day and night. You did not see our dear Freddie married? I was so sorry that I could not be present. The dear child she seems to be very happy she has not yet returned. Rose Armistead’s house to be used for smallpox patients. Not withstanding my request of him that I might pull it down. His rough insulting answer to me was that “he would take that or any other building on our premises that suited him” to put those horrid loathesome & contageous diseases in. That Hospital is filled with smallpox. One night last week twelve died of it. they are all buried in Mrs. Ogden’s old garden. We see them every day digging the graves. Now a worse calamity than all threatens us. Mr Nutt informed us the other day that unless he acceded to some requirements of the Yankees they intended to seize … Of course first & foremost is that horrible oath What to do I do not know. I feel as if I would submit to every privation rather than go against my conscience & yet here is the fearful alternative of that or starvation & begging. I believe that should we persist in our present feelings as regards this diabolical oath, that the next move would be to order us out of the … & away from our house. Would not this be awful!
We hope to hear some news tomorrow that may determine us what to do Is it not … to place helpless women in such a position as this! none but a base grovelling covetous yankee would do it. I pray for wisdom & direction. Thus far dearest Joe our beloved Creator has cared for & protected us & I feel implicit faith that if we are steadfast in the right He will still guide us out of all of our troubles. Mary advises taking the oath as one would submit to the torture of the rack. Such indeed it would be to me. I dont believe I could ever do it. If you can send me some advice. The reason the Yanks want … is that it is inaccessible to our forces & is such a magnificent place for cotton. The are like … wolves after it such swarms of spectators and lessees. to convert it into farms for their robber government. Joe when will the day come when all this will be settled I fear these speculators, abolitionists & politicians will try to keep up the war as they are all making such fortunes robbing & stealing from the South
… for her tomorrow & it is by her that I send this in hopes that you may be fortunate enough to get it. Her wedding was simple & very quiet. Her friends were extremely kind to her in making all the needful arrangements. Poor [Lidie?] seems quite lost I dont know how she will get on without her beloved partner. She & Rose are well & both send much love to you. God bless you my own dear husband & bring us together again soon. With a most tender embrace I bid you goodnight
Your ever loving