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In Their Own Words

January 01, 1864

Diary Entries Showed Emotional and Economic Ravages of War

A woman in Covington, Georgia recorded the first entry in her diary; it mentioned both the emotional and economic ravages of the Civil War.

“A new year is ushered in, but peace comes not with it. Scarcely a family but has given some of its members to the bloody war that is still decimating our nation. Oh, that its ravages may soon be stopped! Will another year find us among carnage and bloodshed? Shall we be a nation or shall we be annihilated? … The prices of everything are very high. Corn seven dollars a bushel, calico ten dollars a yard, salt, sixty dollars a hundred, cotton from sixty to eighty cents a pound, everything in like ratio.” Source: Dolly Sumner Lunt, A Woman’s Wartime Journal (New York: The Century Co., 1918), p. 3.

Another woman, this one in Camden County, wrote in her diary of her family’s first direct experience with the war.

Last night we retired in peace and quietude, feeling that we had been wonderfully preserved from the ravages during the past year. We had been so long unmolested that we almost ceased to fear for the future and to settle down in quiet indifference. All our neighbors had fled into the interior with one exception. Kate Lang had remained although ready to flee at the first approach of danger. We were startled from a sound sleep by Sybil and Gussie coming in to tell us that a shell had just been fired on our Bluff, and that the Yankees were probably at the wharf. Mr. Fisher very incredulous went out to explore, but soon returned laughing at the lively imagination of the household, nothing was to be seen or heard. Gussie caught his gun and ran down to the mill. We went to bed again and to sleep. Soon Gussie returned with the information that the old mill was on fire and the yankees had taken to their boats and gone down the river. So they had come at last and caught us napping. The pickets were roused from their slumbers by the firing of the shell and ran to the woods leaving horses and guns behind. The shell went through the warehouse bursting inside, destroying some nice machinery and throwing the door from its hinges. They then fired small arms, one shot raised a splinter on Mr. Brazil’s House. Source: Julia Johnson Fisher, 1814-1885 Diary, 1864