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In Their Own Words

December 24, 1865

Christmas Eve in Post-Civil War Diary

The final two entries in the journal of Dolly Lunt Burge show how some happiness was returning to the South, but that problems for freedmen remained; the ending of the Civil War marked a new beginning for them - freedom had been obtained, but the struggle for civil rights was just beginning.

DECEMBER 24, 1865.

It has been many months since I wrote in this journal, and many things of interest have occurred. But above all I give thanks to God for His goodness in preserving my life and so much of my property for me. My freedmen have been with me and have worked for one-sixth of my crop. This is a very rainy, unpleasant day. How many poor freedmen are suffering! Thousands of them must be exposed to the pitiless rain! Oh, that everybody would do right, and there would not be so much suffering in the world! Sadai and I are all alone in the house. We have been reading, talking, and thus spending the hours until she went to bed, that I might play Santa Claus. Her stocking hangs invitingly in the corner. Happy child and childhood, that can be so easily made content!
DECEMBER 25, 1865.

Sadai woke very early and crept out of bed to her stocking. Seeing it well filled she soon had a light and eight little negroes around her, gazing upon the treasures. Everything opened that could be divided was shared with them. ‘T is the last Christmas, probably, that we shall be together, freedmen! Now you will, I trust, have your own homes, and be joyful under your own vine and fig tree, with none to molest or make afraid.”

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)