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.,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Phoebe's niece, daughter of Mrs. Phillip Phillips
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