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In Their Own Words

March 29, 1865

Journal Entry as Civil War End Neared

Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas grew up in the antebellum South, in Augusta, Georgia. She came from a well-to-do family, married a handsome Princeton graduate, and seemed to be living a comfortable, happy life when the Civil War started in 1861. Her well-written diary, kept from 1848-1889, shows not only her education but her personal feelings about life in Georgia before, during, and after the war. On March 29, 1865, with the inevitable end of the war in sight, she wrote:

“At times I feel as I was drifting on, on, ever onward to be at last dashed against some rock and I shut my eyes Amy almost wish it was over, the shock encountered and I prepared to know what destiny awaits me. I am tired, oh so tired, of this war. I feel the restraint of the blockade and as port after port becomes blockaded, I feel shut up, pent up and am irrestibly reminded of the old story of the iron shroud contracting more and more each hour, each moment … . I may perhaps be glad hereafter that I have lived through this war but now the height of my ambition is to be quiet, to have no distracting cares - the time to read - leisure to think and write - and study … . Country, glory, and patriotism are great things but to the bereaved hearts of Mrs. Stovall and Mrs. Clayton, each moaning for the death of their first born, what bitter mockery there must be in the words … . Thus it is - I strive to get away, to forget in reading or in writing or in talking the ever present, the one absorbing theme of war and thus it is thrust upon me - I make no plans for the future.”

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), p. 257.