Item description: Entry, dated 4 January 1865, from the diary of Emma Florence LeConte, the daughter of scientist Joseph LeConte of Columbia, S.C.
Item citation: From the Emma LeConte Diary, #420-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What a budget of bad news this morning! Four letters. One from father who writes from camp at Doctortown only fifteen miles from Halifax, but he cannot get there. He had sent word to Aunt Jane by some scouts to try to reach him with the girls, but how can they when every mule and horse has been taken – they could only walk, and that of course would be impracticable. Father said the Yanks made a clean sweep of everything, and we have lost all our worldly possessions except the few negroes here. Perhaps Aunt Jane’s family and Sallie are almost starving! Oh it is too dreadful to think of! A second letter from Aunt Ann in Baker County says that Will and Joe Henry (Quarterman) seeing the outrageous conduct of the Yankees in one of the upper counties, mounted and rode night and day to reach Liberty in time to beseech their mother and sisters to run anywhere rather than encounter such fiends. The house was surrounded – (so says report) – Willy was killed, Joe Henry mortally wounded, and Gus taken prisoner. Cousin Corinne’s husband was found in the swamp. How I hope it is not true! Poor Aunt Harriet! She has so recently buried her husband and daughter. And oh, what are my feelings when I think of Aunt Jane, Annie and Ada and poor little Sallie! What fate may not have overtaken them, alone as they are upon the plantation! And father – I cannot bear to think of him. Every day I tremble with the fear that I may hear he is a prisoner or killed. Killed – Oh, no – God would not be so cruel as that – I could not think of that – my darling precious father, if you were only safe at home again! Grandma writes more dreadful accounts of outrages and horrors that happened in Milledgeville. Walter writes from the hospital in Charleston that he has been laid up with chills and fever as a consequence of the terrible march after the evacuation of Savannah. He has got transferred to our College hospital, and we expect to see him this evening. I am constantly thinking of the time when Columbia will be given up to the enemy. The horrible picture is constantly before my mind. They have promised to show no mercy in this State. Mother wants to send me off, but of course I would not leave her. I can only hope their conduct in a city will not be so shocking as it has been through the country. Yet no doubt the College buildings will be burned, with other public buildings, and we will at least lose our home.