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In Their Own Words

February 17, 1862

Journal Entry on Civil War Events

From Richmond County, Gertrude Thomas recorded the events of the Civil War in her journal. Though the war was not yet upon her doorstep, she was still feeling its effects:

“My pen refuses to fly fast enough to record the thick coming events. Just now we are in the midst of a great crisis. The Anaconda embrace with which Lincoln has threatened us is almost being fulfilled. As he unfurls ‘his slow length along’ we begin to perceive the better his huge proportions. The Yankees are upon our coast and his footprints are upon the soil of almost every Confederate state. We have recently sustained some startling reverses but today we have the news that Fort Donelson has surrendered and we have had 15000 of our men taken prisoner… . Oh these are troublous times. For two or three weeks an hourly attack has been expected at Savannah. We lost Roanoke Island and between two and three thousand prisoners. Poor Cap Wise was killed there but in dying called to his men ‘to fight them on.’ Last night and tonight there is a meeting at the City Hall to adopt some measures for the defence of this place… .”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.), The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 200-201.