In Their Own Words
January 28, 1865
Diary Entry on Woman Left to Oversee Plantation
Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of a party being interrupted by the arrival of some soldiers - one very handsome - that needed shelter, which they were happy to provide. She also mentioned her sister’s overseer leaving unexpectedly, leaving her to oversee a plantation - something that happened to many women during the Civil War.
We left Albany at an early hour. Albert Bacon rode out home in the carriage with us, and I did the best I could for him by pretending to be too sleepy to talk and so leaving him free to devote himself to Mett. Fortunately, the roads have improved since last Saturday, and we were not so long on the way. We found sister busy with preparations for Julia’s birthday party, which came off in the afternoon. All the children in the neighborhood were invited and most of the grown people, too. The youngsters were turned loose in the backyard to play King’s Base, Miley Bright, &c., and before we knew it, we grown people found ourselves as deep in the fun as the children. In the midst of it all a servant came up on horseback with a letter for sister. It proved to be a note from Capt. Hines bespeaking her hospitality for Gen. Sam Jones and staff, and of course she couldn’t refuse, though the house was crowded to overflowing already. She had hardly finished reading when a whole cavalcade of horses and government wagons came rattling up to the door, and the general and one of his aides helped two ladies and their children to alight from an ambulance in which they were traveling. When they saw what a party we had on hand, they seemed a little embarrassed, but sister laughed away their fears, and sent the children out to join the others in the backyard and left the ladies, who were introduced as Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Creighton, with their escorts, in the parlor, while she went out to give orders about supper and make arrangements for their accommodation. Mrs. Meals, Metta, and I hustled out of our rooms and doubled up with sister and the children. Everybody was stowed away somewhere, when, just before bedtime, two more aides, Capt. Warwick, of Richmond, and Capt. Frazer, of Charleston, rode up and were invited to come in, though the house was so crowded that sister had not even a pallet on the floor to offer them. All she could do was to give them some pillows and tell them they were welcome to stay in the parlor if they could make themselves comfortable there. People are used to putting up with any sort of accommodations these times and they seemed very glad of the shelter. They said it was a great deal better than camping out in the wagons, as they had been doing, and with the help of the parlor rugs and their overcoats and army blankets, they could make themselves very comfortable. They were regular thoroughbreds, we could see, and Capt. Frazer one of the handsomest men I ever laid my eyes on - a great, big, splendid, fair-haired giant, that might have been a Viking leader if he had lived a thousand years ago. Sister has been so put out by Mr. Ballou that I don’t see how she could keep her temper well enough to be polite to anybody. He has packed up and taken himself off, leaving her without an overseer, after giving but one day’s notice, and she has the whole responsibility of the plantation and all these negroes on her hands. It was disgraceful for him to treat her so, and Brother Troup off at the war, too.
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 79-81.