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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

February 26, 1865

Diary Entry on Wanting to Go Home, with Racially Sensitive Comments

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of wanting to return home to Washington, Georgia in spite of the danger of Yankee raiders, but still enjoying the beautiful spring like weather in south Georgia. She also made some racially sensitive comments, which were natural for her day.

“Flora and the captain have returned to Gopher Hill, whither Metta, Mecca, and I are invited to follow on Friday, when sister goes up to Macon. Jimmy Callaway and his father have just come from Washington with such glowing accounts of the excitement and gayety there that I am distracted to go back home. If father don’t write for us to come soon, I think we will go to Chunnenuggee by way of Eufaula and the Chattahoochee, and if Thomas’s raiders catch us over in Alabama, father will wish he had let us come home. After dinner I took Mecca over to the Praise House to hear the negroes sing. I wish I was an artist so that I could draw a picture of the scene. Alfred, one of the chief singers, is a gigantic creature, more like an ape than a man. I have seen pictures of African savages in books of travel that were just like him. His hands and feet are so huge that it looks as if their weight would crush the heads of the little piccaninnies when he pats them; yet, with all this strength, they say he is a great coward, and one of the most docile negroes on the plantation. The women, when they get excited with the singing, shut their eyes and rock themselves back and forth, clapping their hands, and in the intervals, when not moved by the “sperrit,” occupy themselves hunting for lice in their children’s heads. Old Bob and Jim are the preachers, and very good old darkies they are, in spite of their religion. But the chief personages on the plantation are old Granny Mimey, old Uncle Wally, and Uncle Setley, who are all superannuated and privileged characters. I tell sister that Uncle Wally has nothing to do, and Uncle Setley to help him. The latter is very deaf, and half crazy, but harmless. I am a special favorite of Uncle Wally’s. We have a chat every morning when he passes through the back yard on his way to the cowpen. The other day he said to me: “You is de putties lady ever I seed; you looks jes’ lack one er dese heer alablastered dolls.” We walked to the bluff on the river bank, after leaving the quarter, and sat there a long time talking. Spring is here in earnest. The yellow jessamines are bursting into bloom, and the air is fragrant with the wild crab apples.” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 101-102.