A Woman’s War Journal

Those who read my blog regularly know that I love history – especially the history of strong resourceful women. I came across this “journal” and wanted to share it with you. To me it shows the resilency and inner determination of women who lived through hard times.

This excerpt is taken from “A Woman’s War Journal” which was kept during the Civil War. The author Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs Thomas Burge) shares her thoughts, feelings and insights during these unsure times in the state of Georgia.

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.

Published in 1918

Mrs. Burge (Dolly Sumner Lunt) was born September 29, 1817, in Bowdoinham, Maine. As a young woman she moved from Maine to Georgia, where her married sister was already settled.

While teaching school in Covington she met Thomas Burge, a plantation-owner and gentleman of the Old South, and presently married him.  When some years later Mr. Burge died, Mrs. Burge was left on the plantation with her little daughter Sarah (the “Sadai” of the journal). Less than three years after she was widowed the Civil War broke out, and in 1864 this cultivated and charming woman saw Sherman’s army pass across her fields on the March to the Sea. 

JULY 22, 1864.
[The day of the battle of Atlanta]
We have heard the loud booming of cannon all day. Mr. Ward [the overseer] went over to the burial of Thomas Harwell, whose death I witnessed yesterday. They had but just gone when the Rev. A. Turner, wife, and daughter drove up with their wagons, desiring to rest awhile. They went into the ell [a large back room] and lay down, I following them, wishing to enjoy their company. Suddenly I saw the servants running to the palings, and I walked to the door, when I saw such a stampede as I never witnessed before. The road was full of carriages, wagons, men on horseback, all riding at full speed. Judge Floyd stopped, saying: “Mrs. Burge, the Yankees are coming. They have got my family, and here is all I have upon earth.
Hide your mules and carriages and whatever valuables you have.”

Sadai [Mrs. Burge's nine-year-old daughter] said:
“Oh, Mama, what shall we do?”

“Never mind, Sadai,” I said. “They won’t hurt you, and you must help me hide my things.”

I went to the smoke-house, divided out the meat to the servants, and bid them hide it. Julia took a jar of lard and buried it. In the meantime Sadai was taking down and picking up our clothes, which she was giving to the servants to hide in their cabins; silk dresses, challis, muslins, and merinos, linens, and hosiery, all found their way into the chests of the women and under their beds; china and silver were buried underground, and Sadai bid Mary hide a bit of soap under some bricks, that mama might have a little left. Then she came to me with a part of a loaf of bread, asking if she had not better put it in her pocket, that we might have something to eat that night. And, verily, we had cause to fear that we might be homeless, for on every side we could see smoke arising from burning buildings and bridges.

Major Ansley, who was wounded in the hip in the battle of Missionary Ridge, and has not recovered, came with his wife, sister, two little ones, and servants. He was traveling in a bed in a small wagon. They had thought to get to Eatonton, but he was so wearied that they stopped with me for the night. I am glad to have them. I shall sleep none to-night. The woods are full of refugees.

Copyright © 2010 Sharon Michaels – All Rights Reserved

I’m Sharon Michaels  and my business is dedicated to empowering and coaching women in business.

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