28 January 1865: “It commenced when I was thirteen, and I am now seventeen and no prospect yet of its ending.”

Item Description: Entry, dated 28 January 1865, from the diary of Emma Florence LeConte, the daughter of scientist Joseph LeConte of Columbia, S.C.


Item Citation: From Folder 1, in the Emma LeConte Diary, #420-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Jan. 28th.

Grandpa leaves for Macon the day after tomorrow – Monday. Mother wanted to send me with him but we came to the conclusion we had best not leave home or separate till father comes. ***** Mr. Memminger was here this evening to bid us goodbye. He places no confidence in rumors of foreign aid. He left early and a few minutes after Dr. Nat Pratt dropped in and talked more cheerfully. He seems quite confident we will hear tomorrow that an armistice of 60 days has been declared, having learned that Gen. Hampton has received a telegram to that effect. Gen. Lee has been made Generalissimo, and Hood has taken leave of his army. His farewell address is very manly. He shoulders the whole responsibility of his campaign. Says he did his best and failed.

The weather is intensely, fearfully cold. Walter is getting on very well but is breaking out in boils now. ** How dreadfully sick I am of this war. Trully we girls whose lot it is to grow up in these times are unfortunate! It commenced when I was thirteen, and I am now seventeen and no prospect yet of its ending. No pleasure, no enjoyment – nothing but rigid economy and hard work – nothing but the stern realities of life. Those which should come later are made familiar to us at an age when only gladness should surround us. We have only the saddest anticipations and the dread of hardships and cares when bright dreams of the future ought to shine on us. I have seen little of the light-heartedness and exuberant joy that people talk about as the natural heritage of youth. It is a hard school to be bred up in and I often wonder if I will ever have my share of fun and happiness. If it had not been for my books it would indeed have been hard to bear. But in them I have lived and found my chief source of pleasure. I would take refuge in them from the sadness all around if it were not for other work to be done. I do all my own sewing now besides helping mother some. Now that everything is lost perhaps we will all have to work for a living before long. I would far rather do that and bear much more than submit to the Yankees.


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