Friday, May 1, 2015

Emmala's War: Audacity of 'the cute Yankee'

First of three episodes
     Emmala Reed was the daughter of Anderson judge J.P. Reed and lived in one of the town's finest homes, Echo Hall, on South Main Street. She was in love with a Confederate surgeon who was away fighting the war. Then her "Robere" came home and broke her heart by marrying another.
     Her unrequited love is the theme of "A Faithful Heart: The Journals of Emmala Reed, 1865 and 1866." Robert Oliver, who edited her journals, has graciously given us permission to publish her entries for May 1-3, 1865, when Stoneman's Raid was in Anderson.
     Unlike "Emma's War" (the serial we presented two weeks ago from the Carson House in Marion, N.C.), this is not a composed memoir but instead is a real-time eyewitness report. You are reading a diary, not an essay. I've edited it lightly for readability, trimmed a few extraneous passages, and added explanatory words in brackets. Otherwide, I've tried to preserve her style, right down to the &c she used for etc.
     Emmala Reed Miller (1839-1893) eventually became a teacher near Columbia, where she married George Miller and raised six children. If you'd like to know more about her, start with this 2011 story by Jennifer Crossley Howard in my old newspaper, the Independent-Mail.
     If you enjoy this peek into her diary, why not buy the book?

Monday, May 1, 1865

     Monday, May 1, 1865, dawned as bright and beautiful as every Mayday before—but we little expected it to be so desecrated here. All schools & young folks of the village went out on picnics in the woods—with lunch and dances and funmany of our village soldiers at home & some strangers. I was not invited to any—strange. Eleanor & Helen went to one—Mamie to another and thus they were all scattered—when the enemy approached and flew home amongst them in the greatest alarm.
     Rumors of their approach came all day. Pa came at noon said it was positive—advized us to pack up our clothes & valuables for moving off in the country somewhere that night, though we could think of no place of safety. We went to the plantation to order the mules & wagons to be brought up quietly, thinking we were a day ahead. Ma began to tear up drawers to pack clothes and silver &c in boxes, but I hadn’t the energy or heart to do anything. Felt petrified & despairing.
     My greatest grief being that I could not see Robere & perhaps might never again, until some awful changes had swept over one or both. Destruction of property, of persons, or change of heart that might alter our whole after life, but I never thought we could forget or neglect each other! Then we hurried around wildly, but in a few minutes more they were upon us, and all was wild terror & confusion!
     I had just torn my clothes out of my trunk &c when many horsemen galloped by—shouting & shooting. And for a moment I did not dream it was the foe, but then it came—"the Yankees, the Yankees!" And all of us rushed together screaming, Ma & the children—white & black—and we girls—negroes all willing to help us bring & hide clothes and silver &c—some of them crying in terror.
     We found they were pursuing some southern cavalry passing through & taking up all the men prisoners—paroling some—passing by those who had paroles from Lee’s army, but confining many in the courthouse for a few days. Clifton [Emmala's brother, a former Confederate soldier] was so excited & rash—rushed out toward those who were rushing madly past exclaiming "what does this mean?" &c.
The front gate at Echo Hall, where Emmala said
that one of the Yankees "shivered a sword."
     Several stopped at the gate—calling him to come out with many oaths or they would blow his brains out—with arms pointed towards him and one shivered a sword on the gate, of which I have a scrap. They made he & Tom Carter walk before them, to town, as prisoners. They observed Tom’s parole, but Clif had some problem in getting them to "respect his stump," but at last an officer let him come home. They hurried back to our delight, for we were all in terror here.
     Then three great ruffians in blue suits and fully armed rushed in the back way to Ma’s room—calling for arms—took an old gun & shivered it. "Knew we had more"—we had just hidden two & saved them, but we had to get out three elegant little pistols & give them up. Yet the key to the drawer could scarcely be found. Ma was excited but talked cool—tried in vain to find the key awhile, they impatient—threatening to break I open, but at last they got them & marched off. One had primped himself before the glass. So cool & impudent.
     I felt so humiliated & alarmed, but calm. Then a crowd came in the other way and called for liquor—had to get a jug full, which they got & dashed off with. We feared much danger from these drunken wretches. But all these were in terror of being detected by officers—we could see—for they were so hurried. And just then an elegant looking young officer—Captain [W.J.] Patterson—Adj. Gen’l of Brown’s Division—Stoneman’s corps—came & rang the bell politely. He asked if we could have a guard—sorry it had not come before we were molested &c. In a few moments sent one who proved a most faithful & invaluable sentinel & saved us much danger.
     But ere this—a gang had taken both of our good old carriage horses from the stable—"Pearce and Derry"—ordering Emory [a Reed family servant] to give them up. We were too sorry to see them going off—rode through our yard afterwards. What will be their fate? To be rode to death very soon, I’ve no doubt. How we shall miss them—no more riding for us!
     Pa advanced to meet the Gen’ls Brown & Miller of Stoneman’s cavalry raid of over 2,000 men—who had at last come to sweep our little unprotected village! They had been trying to get up some defense before, but 'twas well that none was attempted or we would have been destroyed! We hear they said "They hoped some defense would have been made here, for this was the hotbed of Secession & they wished to ruin us."
     We were forced to be submissive—humiliating as it was—for our little militia force—few arms &ccould have done nothing here—now that Lee’s & Johnston’s armies have surrendered. We have no further means of carrying on the war and could only have reaped desolation now at the last. Of course, "self-preservation" is the first instinct.
     Gen’l Brown seemed to be rather a hard—indifferent man. Said they were ordered to collect horses—arms & tithes of provisions as we did—from the commissary stores and they had soon robbed the place of all these things. Pa pointed out to him a building where were stored quantities of liquers of Mr. [Henry] Guardine of Charleston—wine merchant. At least $200,000 worth of splendid old wines—brandies &c considered invaluable by these men, but ought to have been destroyed—to prevent drunkenness and ruin here which was visited upon Columbia. He promised to keep his soldiers from it, but didn’t try. They were soon breaking in & drinking madly & all trembled for the effects. Happily—night soon came & then strict orders drove them out to camps in the suburbs. Only the patrol guards left to ride the streets & a guard—one or more at nearly every house. All was soon as quiet as though no hostile foe occupied the town & human hearts throbbed in terror.
     The soft young moon shone sweetly down on the fragrant earth & all was calm and lovely, but how the earth quaked with dread & horrible suspense in fear of worse things! Pa came safely home & we were all together. 
     The guard was a dirty, stupid youngster from mid Tenn., was wounded in Longstreet’s corps in Va., then deserted or was freed to go with the enemy. Has no choice either way I think, but wants to go back home. Seemed very contented to sit & walk around here & sleep. Yes, no plunder—though he needed a horse & clothes &c. He never left the place—walked around whistling or singing merrily (the native talent). Had a right good face. Talked with us all—too much if anything, but seemed earnest & took good care of us. Many villains asked if we had a guard—or came in & were repelled. So we were glad little "Hinton" stayed so closely here with his "two story horse," which he promised to give us if he could get another—did not.
     The officer was a real cute & impertinent downEaster from New York—near the lakes. Red hair—florid face—hooked nose and nasal twang of the Yankees & their broad pronunciation. He tried to quiz us much, & Pa was rather too obsequious. I feared to speak to him—we would have quarreled &c. Got few replies from us & fewer smiles, though his were profuse, with many impertinent glances from cynical eyes. (He was a married man, he told Pa.) Rather gallant to us. Presumed once to ask me if I were single & guessed my age (26) exactly (Oh, the cute Yankee!) & urged me to guess his. At last I said 30 & he added three, but I felt disgusted!
     He told us they were Stoneman’s Com’d. Left Knoxville, Tenn., some weeks ago—many thousands strong dashed on through N.C. and here. Came from Caesar’s Head—the grand view in our state—marked it "their headquarters—April 30, 1865." Left there only yesterday at noon & rode rapidly here in a day—over 70 miles. The strongest brigade—Palmer’s going through Greenville. He couldn’t tell us their force—or their destination. Was guarded & suspectful of his words—not insulting, but prophesied that in two years Robt Lee, our southern hero whom they venerate, will be leading the Union armies to Mexico, to whip France &c. Will it be so, with our fickle, humiliated people? Perhaps so.

No comments:

Post a Comment