Entry by Cornelia Peake McDonald, December 26, 1862

    Source citation
    Cornelia Peake McDonald, A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862, ed. Minrose C. Gwin (New York: Gramercy Books, 2003), 104-106.
    Date Certainty
    Transcription adapted from A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862 (2003), edited by Minrose C. Gwin
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following transcript has been adapted from A Woman's Civil War: A Diary, with Reminiscences of the War, from March 1862 (2003).
    [December] 26th - All day distress and misery. As soon as I was up, and before I was dressed, some officers came to search the house. They found poor Harry’s gun which, with his toy pistol, they took of course.

    That was scarcely over and we were about to sit down to breakfast, when the house was surrounded by men who, with their fists began to break in the windows, and also threatened to come in and break up the furniture if breakfast was not immediately given them. I rushed to the front of the house, and shut and locked the hall door, but on opening the study door found that they had entered there by breaking in the windows, and were carrying off the few stores I had which had been put there instead of the usual place for safe-keeping. I locked that door, shutting them off from the rest of the house, leaving the things there to their mercy, and returned to the other part of the house where were assembled at least a hundred desperate and furious men. We fastened down the windows and tried, Sue and I, to keep them from coming in at the door. In the midst of it all a deputation of surgeons arrived and there was a pause in the havoc for a while. They came to inform me that they should that day take the house for a hospital, and would give me a few hours to find quarters elsewhere.

    I stood in the door, and they around it, with fierce, resentful faces. Not a look of kindliness or pity did I see on a face in the group. All around were the soldiers, impudent and aggressive, and not one word was said by any one of them, who no doubt thought themselves gentlemen as they wore shoulder straps, to remonstrate with the men for their behavior, or to interfere in behalf of a helpless woman and a young girl.….

    As the surgeons departed a rush was made for the dining room where Sue and I were with the children. A hundred heads looking over each other seemed to be clustered about the door. I told Sue if she would try to keep them out, I would, as a desperate venture, go in town and see the commanding officer. I went, and met Mr. Williams near there, and he went with me to see Cluseret. At first he was indisposed to listen to me, but Mr. Williams kindly helped me to lay the case before him. He was very polite, listened to the end, and taking his cap requested me to lead the way to the scene of the commotion. When he arrived at the house, he looked around at all the havoc and destruction, knitted his black brows, and told a man to disperse the crowd, and send a guard. That was done and we were once more left in peace. When I left, Sue told me, the crowd had continued to push in, and that for some time she, with Kenneth’s assistance, small as he is, was able to keep them out by standing in the door and holding to the sides of it. Even they were not brutal enough to push her away, but presently she saw a powerful man with a pipe in his mouth pushing his way through the crowd, and elbowing his way up to her, and with oaths and curses declaring his determination to enter in spite of her. Then she cried aloud, “Is there not one man in that crowd that will keep that Dutchman away from me?” One tall fellow seized him from behind, another, and then another, and between them they turned him around and put him out on the porch. The rest then quieted down a little, and she maintained her position till I arrived with Cluseret. Tonight, thank our Father, we have a shelter left.
    Minor Figures

    Gustave Paul Cluseret (1823–1900) – Union Brigadier General
    How to Cite This Page: "Entry by Cornelia Peake McDonald, December 26, 1862," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/34730.