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In Their Own Words

April 29, 1865

Diary Entry Tried to Make Sense of Events as Civil War Ended

A woman who lived near Covington, Georgia wrote in her diary on this day, recording the surrender of Confederate armies, Lincoln’s assassination, and trying to make some sense out of all that had happened.

“Boys plowing in old house field. We are needing rain. Everything looks pleasant, but the state of our country is very gloomy. General Lee has surrendered to the victorious Grant. Well, if it will only hasten the conclusion of this war, I am satisfied. There has been something very strange in the whole affair to me, and I can attribute it to nothing but the hand of Providence working out some problem that has not yet been revealed to us poor, erring mortals. At the beginning of the struggle the minds of men, their wills, their self-control, seemed to be all taken from them in a passionate antagonism to the coming-in President, Abraham Lincoln. Our leaders, to whom the people looked for wisdom, led us into this, perhaps the greatest error of the age. “We will not have this man to rule over us!” was their cry. For years it has been stirring in the hearts of Southern politicians that the North was enriched and built up by Southern labor and wealth. Men’s pockets were always appealed to and appealed to so constantly that an antagonism was excited which it has been impossible to allay. They did not believe that the North would fight. Said Robert Toombes: “I will drink every drop of blood they will shed.” Oh, blinded men! Rivers deep and strong have been shed, and where are we now? - a ruined, subjugated people! What will be our future? is the question which now rests heavily upon the hearts of all. This has been a month never to be forgotten. Two armies have surrendered. The President of the United States has been assassinated, Richmond evacuated, and Davis, President of the Confederacy, put to grief, to flight. The old flag has been raised again upon Sumter and an armistice accepted.”

Source: A Woman’s Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over a Georgia Plantation of Sherman’s Army on the March to the Sea, as recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge)