From the Phoebe Pember and Phillips-Myers Collections, UNC. Reprinted and annotated in A Southern Woman’s Story (1959), Bell I. Wiley, ed. 

Marietta, 29 November, 1862

I have been waiting to write you, dear sister E.[1], till I could tell you where to direct to me, and only received a letter today giving me information that will direct my future movements. I leave here next Wednesday or Thursday to take charge of one of the Hospitals at Richmond.

You know how unpleasantly I have been situated at Papa's house, and owing to his indifference, I see no chance of better­ing my position while there, -one child takes pattern after the other, and any little difference or conflict of opinions results in a desire that they may never have to live with me, or be with me, or something of the kind. I hope that Mrs. Anzi will have told Brother[2] some of the occurrences that took place here this summer. I was loath to go away under the false accusa­tions made against me, for I felt the force of the old proverb, “Give a dog a bad name.” Mrs. Nott and Mrs. Anzi heard all that went on with their own ears and saw with their own eyes and so did all the house here, -they were as kind and sympa­thizing as if they were my own family. I can never forget Mrs. Anzi's affectionate kindness.

You may imagine how frightened and nervous I feel con­cerning the step I am about to take and how important in its small way it will be to me, for I have too much common sense to underrate what I am giving up. I care more for the worldly interests [?] I give up, than the labors I take upon myself, but I have had such kind friends that it makes me brave, and I look forward with pleasure to any life that will exempt me from daily jealousies and rudeness. I shall speak to Papa today and really believe that the step I take will be a relief to him.

I have not thanked you for my gloves; they were a great ac­quisition and are the only pair of any kind that I have had for ten months. How could you come out of New Orleans without some black cloathes [sic.] for me? I would pay any price for any of the necessary things for mourning. Do if you have any­thing in the way of shoes, boots or gloves, or anything at all not wanted let me buy it, it will be the greatest favor that can be done me, nothing could come amiss. You may think how badly off I am when I am having a petticoat quilted of an old gingham dress, and Mrs. Gen. Lovell[3] and Nancy are sitting in my room finishing off my dresses made of common home spun for which I gave one dollar a yard, to wear in the place of flannel.

I hope that you will write to me and cheer me up, for I have not the most enlivening life before me, and if I have time to answer letters they will be my chiefest pleasure. I hear a great deal of Richmond gossip-and that it is a very scandalizing place for gay and fashionable women. Mrs. Joe Johnson[4] is quite a leader of tea, and Mrs. McLane, Gen. Sumner's daugh­ter, is the chere ami of Mrs. Jeff. Davis. Mrs. McL. was sus­pected of being a spy and sent on to Richmond under surveil­lance, but very private, as her husband stands high in the army, and when around there Mrs. Greenhow was paid to watch her.[5] They make a very amusing story of it, however, for the report says that Lincoln pays Mrs. McLane for her in­formation and Jeff. Davis pays Mrs. Greenhow for watching her, and Mrs. G. is also paid by the Federals for not seeing too much and lastly that the two ladies are in collusion and divide the spoils.

I have not told you of my pecuniary affairs. I am to have board and lodging in the Hospital and at a boarding house ad­jacent and forty dollars a month, which will clothe me. I have entire charge of my department, seeing that everything is cleanly, orderly and all prescriptions of physicians given in proper time, food properly prepared and so on. I had the choice of the large Hospital at Cotoosa Springs, formerly the Hotel under Dr. Foster, the Chimborazo Hospital at Rich­mond, or one at Atlanta, and chose the Richmond one, be­cause it was divided among half a dozen ladies who would be companionable perhaps. Cotoosa is very bleak and lonely & I have no warm clothing, besides Dr. Foster is a friend, very pleasant, handsome and intelligent, and as we would be com­paratively alone and eat together, that would not do. Tell Fanny[6] that she has never remembered me in any of her let­ters, give her my love, also to your husband. I am sorry that I did not see Brother while he was here, except for a moment in Mrs. Anzi's room. I don't wonder that you feel attached to people so kind as those you are among. I am writing in great haste. I have just finished a letter to Mrs. Randolph accepting the place of matron and want to get both of them in the mail.

Anything in the way of clothing that you do not need please let me have. I will thankfully pay double, and feel no delicacy I have plenty of money, but no effects. If you prefer silver I will exchange with you. I was going to beg for my Balmoral back again, but John told me it was defunct. Should the fate of war take me to Washington, I shall join my fate to Elsie's. Please answer my letter here; I may not go as soon as I think. My duties commence the 1 December. Anyway I shall leave word to have my letters forwarded to Richmond.

With a great deal of love and hopes that we may meet again & that you will believe that nothing but the strongest pressure could force me out into the world in such a painful and labori­ous life, believe me affectionately yours,

Phebe


 

[1] Eugenia (Mrs. Phillip) Phillips.

[2] Samuel Yates Levy

[3] Probably Mrs. Mansfield Lovell, whose husband was in command at New Orleans before the Federals occupied that city.

[4] Mrs. Joseph E. Johnston, nee Lydia McLane of Maryland.

[5] Mrs. Rose O’Neal Greenhow was a famous spy for the Confederacy. Mrs. McLane, daughter of General E. V. Sumner, was a favorite in Richmond war-time society. Mary Boykin Chesnut, in one of several references to her in A Diary from Dixie states (June 27, 1861): “Mrs. McLane is here. Mrs. Davis always has clever women around her.”

[6] Phoebe's niece, daughter of Mrs. Phillip Phillips

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