From the Phillip Phillips Papers, Library of Congress. Reprinted and annotated
in A Southern Woman’s Story (1959), Bell I. Wiley, ed.
Richmond. 25 June, 1863.
Dear sister E,
brought me your letter in person – which tho’ very pleasant was not half as
agreeable as it ought to have been considering how long it took to get it up –
you are not like Edward Everett who having taken fourteen years to write his
memorial of Washington produced at last a masterpiece. But I am not in any way
detracting from the pleasure its receipt gave me.
Eugene has altered very little,
except he has become a great talker, a talent I really believe lying dormant in
all the family ready to bloom at any moment. His vessel lies about fourteen
miles from Richmond, opposite Drewey’s Bluff and when he comes to the city, he
is compelled to land just under Chimborazo Hill. I told him as I tell you that
anything that lies in my power to make him comfortable, or to add to his
pleasure, I will do willingly. He seems to be very happy and comfortable and I
see no chance of any temptations being presented to him situated where he is. He
brought a young friend the last time he came here, a “Texican” as one of my ward
nurses called him, a very nice, gentle quiet young fellow who I think will just
do for him. When you write to Eugene tell him whenever he wants to spend a day
in town to come to me and if it will be allowed on ship, I can always give him a
bed as I have two rooms, one at the Hospital and one in town.
We are still having most
delightful weather sleeping with closed windows and under a blanket and tho’ I
dreaded the summer very much I think I can easily bear three months of heat
counting from the first of July. The walk to and from the Hospital is rather
appalling in very warm weather as there is no shade, only a long but sandy
stretch, but it will not be for very long as when the fall comes I shall again
stay in my shanty.
I have nothing of interest to tell
you, as I have been in bed for the last two weeks with rheumatizm and have seen
very few people, the Richmonders are going rural at this season paying visits to
the neighboring plantations and many of them have been caught by the raiders who
are now only ten miles from the city. The public attention is fixed upon Gen.
Lee who having got Hooker away from Fredericksburg and in the vicinity
of Alexandria, just where he wants him to be – will have to whip him
before he advances into Pennsylvania, as it will be impossible to leave such an
army in his rear. Whatever Lee’s plans are he has managed to keep his own
counsel as even the military men in the highest posts are unacquainted with
them. However Mrs. Davis gives out and is aided and abetted in her announcement
by all the ignorant ones that Lee has not moved from Culpeper. Mrs. Long, the
wife of Col. Long of the Confederate Army and daughter of Gen. Sumner, has just
returned from New York.
She was to have brought me all I needed, but it has been a great disappointment
Lincoln gave her a pass (as she went to him herself) allowing her to bring
everything she had, but in stepping into the cars at Baltimore she was arrested
by order of Gen. Fish who opened her trunks and only let her take out certain
articles. For instance two, out of a dozen boxes, of black pins, one shawl out
of five and three pairs of gloves out of a dozen. With quite a refinement of
cruelty he only let her bring heavy winter clothing, knowing she was coming to a
very warm climate. Mrs. McLean and herself came yesterday to tell me the
cheerful news and to give me all she had – a couple of lemmons. Mrs. McLean
is still staying with Mrs. Davis. If you think it will ever be in your power to
buy me anything in black I will send you a draft, things are cheaper anywhere
than in Richmond. I paid sixty five dollars for a black barege! Anything in
black will be of service either as a dress or petticoat and Confederate money is
not worth keeping. Tell me if I shall send you some money and wait my chance?
You need not feel any hesitation in letting me do so, for I have more than I
need and I make it very quickly and very easily. I wish that I could take
advantage of your offer to let Phebe help me in my sewing as I have to give out
everything not having a moment’s spare time, but the express bill would amount
to quite as much as the work paid for here. I have laughed as you did at the
report concerning the large fortune I ignored, but I heard it in another way,
that I “had refused a large fortune” from such patriotic views – and – who knows
I may perhaps one of these days have a chance of doing so if any one with a
large fortune proposes.
I had quite a party here just
before I was sick – some of the prettiest girls in Richmond – The Cary’s, Hettie
and Constance, Mary Garnett, Misses Marve, Harrison, Robinson, Saunders, all
They were matronized by Mrs. Gen. Myers, who has turned up again into
fashionable life with a five week old baby.
They all came at six o’clock, eat strawberries and ice cream, walked all around
the Bluff and at eleven were driven home by their respective cavaliers. The
next evening we all went down to Drewry’s Bluff in a government boat and visited
the fortifications & the gunboats. I suppose that you are surprised at my seeing
so much company, but if I did not make an effort to be agreeable and encourage
people to come to me I should be very isolated and lonely. The Haxalls
and Mrs. Allen call for me to drive very often. Mrs. Allen was an old
acquaintance, Pick Hoffman from Baltimore.
Mrs. Long gave me a great deal of
news from the North She staid at the Latrobe’s and says the spirit is still
indomitable among the Baltimore women. Their last fashion was to wear cents as
brooches, which as soon as the Federals found meant “Copperheads” they were
arrested. Photographs of Jackson were selling all over the city, till the
gallery which issued them was shut up by military order and the last taken sold
for three hundred dollars apiece. After his death everyone who wore black was
arrested. There is nothing very new in the fashions – a shirt point in front and
a little jacket tail behind with three buttons. Dresses very high with a
standing bias piece of silk with a very narrow little frill in lace at
the top in place of ribbon and collar. And to make up for so little white, an
immense white muslin bow with rumeled [?] ends trimmed with deep lace. The hair
instead of drooping is worn very high, with all sorts of things in the top. Mrs.
Long declares sometimes a bird’s with the setting mother. She also described a
novelty in the shape of a serpent winding around the head with the crest over
the left ear – this is an India rubber tube and in entering the screw is turned
and the lady throws out a brilliant jet of flame which lasts fifteen minutes.
The idea taken from the Empress going to a fancy ball as a volcano. The most
curious article I have seen lately is a small trumpet that hangs to the watch
chain inside there is a glass about as large as the head of a big pin with nine
little specks – in looking through the end you distinctly see the perfect
portraits of our nine generals! The Baltimore ladies wear them. Five were
brought here for sale and I sent for one I wished to give sister, but I was too
sick to go myself and am very much afraid I won’t get it.
I hear very often from all my
friends-they are scattered in every direction - Mrs. Maury at Shelbyville - Mrs.
Caskill at Winchester, Mrs. Soule at Columbus and Mrs. Yandell at Cartersville.
Mrs. Anzi tells me that Brother is in Mobile and passed the evening with them.
came out to invite me to go to the natural bridge with him, but I would not put
myself under the pecuniary obligation. Dr. McCaw, the surgeon in chief of
Hospitals sent me word that I had overworked myself and required change, giving
me a furlough for six weeks, but I declined taking advantage of it not having
any place I cared to go to, nor anything nice to wear. Since then I received a
warm invitation from my friend Mrs. McBlair who is living at Charlotte, N. C.,
and may go there next month. Tell Fan
with my love that I have none but Georgians in my Hospital though a gentleman
from N. C. did come here without out a furlough for love of “mes beaus yeux.”
What does she mean by saying that Fanny
would hardly trifle with Walsh, he was such an
“unfortunate young man.” I wish that Fanny would come up during
the fall and spend a couple of months with me. If she would come as my assistant
I could send her a transportation ticket. All the girls here are in the
different departments they make a frolic of it. Give my love and
congratulations to Lena.
I have a little shirt half embroidered that I could not finish that I shall have
to keep for Fanny. What has
Lena called her baby? Give my kindest love to Mrs. Amanda and remembrance to
Mrs. Armistead L. Long, whose husband was on
Lee’s staff, was the daughter of Federal General
E. V. Sumner. When after the war
Long lost his sight, President Grant appointed Mrs. Long Postmistress of
Col. John T. Pickett,
Confederate commissioner to Mexico and chief of staff to Gen. John
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