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    Home Front Diaries of Quaker Girl Three Civil War diaries written by Eliza A. Bentley, begun on February 28, 1861 when she was 17 years old. Eliza lived in Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland, a few miles outside of Washington, D.C. The first diary, measuring 3" x 4 3/4", written in 1861, covers the period February 28,1861 to August 12, 1861. Two larger format volumes cover August 14, 1861 through January 28, 1863 and were transcribed at a later date by someone else. The two later volumes total 210 pages and have modern paper and cloth bindings. Eliza inscribed the inside cover of the first volume with a prologue or apologia and began her project with a brief, modest description of herself. Some excerpts from the first volume: " [March 4, 1861] Today, Lincoln is inaugurated. Blessings on his inauguration. I hope he will bear nobly and patriotically the labors he has undertaken. [re: Lincoln's inaugural address] What a good speech it is, so much said in a little; he is up top, and no mistake! [April 7, 1861] the news was distressing... when the war does begin God only knows when it will end... the great resources, the coolness and calculation of the North arrayed against the pluck and chivalry of the South... [the war] will be interminable. [April 26] ... Last night men from Brookeville came down and searched the colored people's houses here for firearms... [an acquaintance] intends to rush to Penna. to avoid being drafted, I suppose. [April 27]... Gov. Letcher has ordered all the volunteer troops to return to their homes. It is conjectured that every gun fired by Northern troops as they passed through Baltimore on Friday last made 10,000 secessionists, but now the people seem to be regaining their senses. [May 23] ... All anxiously await the vote of Virginia on Secession, although I don't suppose that the people will be allowed to vote for Union... [the South] has brought herself into trouble: she stole money, forts, arsenals, arms from the Govt. and threatened to burn the Capitol & slay the President Lincoln, and as soon as troops were summoned to protect Washington she set up a howl of 'let me alone'. [June 3] ... Father heard a Federal soldier say in Baltimore that he had two brothers in the Confederate Army & would pick them out and shoot them down the first time they met. [July 22]... This afternoon listened to cannon with sickening heart. It sounded so distinctly I thought it rejoicing at Washington but the news next morning proved it to be a most disastrous Battle at Manassas. [August 5] ... a band of darkey minstrels came down and gave us some delightful music. They are free from fashionable airs and frills that spoil music, it is a pleasure to hear from them. They do not play correctly but with great beauty. It was a wild sight when delight flashed on their dark faces. [August 12]... If the Union people of Maryland will all vote there is no danger for our state, but the people - many of them at least - vote in fear of their lives, and many will not vote at all. We must support the Union or perish in the attempt." The handwriting, though neat and diminutive, is sometimes difficult to decipher, leaving some gaps. From a sociological perspective, this historic journal is more interesting and revealing that most soldier journals.

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    December, 2015
    12th Saturday
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