Skip to main content

Archive:

The Women of Petersburg from “Southern Soldier Stories” by George Cary Eggleston

The Women of Petersburg from 
“Southern Soldier Stories” 
by 
George Cary Eggleston

WE went into Petersburg in June, 1864, with the horses at a brisk trot, and the men on foot at a double quick. The enemy's battalions were already at the other end of Sycamore Street, and it was our task to drive them back before they should be reinforced.

Nevertheless those good women of Petersburg ministered to us. They knew that we had been marching all night and that we were in a famishing condition. They knew also that we must not waste a moment if Petersburg, the key to Richmond, was not to be lost.

So they formed themselves in platoons —God bless them! —bearing gifts of sandwiches and coffee. We could not stop even to take, much less to eat, the food they offered, so they thrust their platoons between ours and marched backward as fast as we marched forward, serving their food and drink to us as we went. 

Every now and then a Federal shell would come bowling down the street, but these alert women would jump it as nimbly as if its passage had been a prearranged figure in the dance. Not one of them showed the slightest fear. Not one of them faltered for a moment in her ministrations in consideration of herself. There was not one of them, I think, who would not have gone with us into the crash of the battle itself; but by the time we had refreshed ourselves a little, we were so near to the aggressive enemy's lines, that we cried aloud with one voice the order for the womenkind to go back. A minute later we were in the thick of the struggle for Petersburg. The enemy was not in such force as we had supposed, and we had fortunately arrived some hours in advance of General Grant's ponderous divisions. After fifteen minutes of hard fighting the enemy retired beyond the Jerusalem turnpike and we spent the night in beginning that thin line of earthworks which was destined for eight months to come to hold at bay a force two or three times as strong in numbers as our own.

At any hour during all that eight months the Federal forces could have broken through our lines at any point they pleased, if they had been resolute.

Anybody who will look at the old works today, as I have recently done, and consider the facts dispassionately, can see this clearly for himself. Our enemies had behind them, and running parallel with their lines, a system of roads that was out of our sight. They had resources practically illimitable. They had in front of them an attenuated line of men, stretched out for twenty miles, and without the possibility of reinforcement from any source. They could have concentrated any force they pleased at any point they pleased and at any time they pleased, without the possibility of our discovering what they were doing. They could have made an irresistible attack upon any point of our line at will. They did not do it. And so the fight went on.

During all those weary months the good women of Petersburg went about their household affairs with fifteen-inch shells dropping occasionally into their boudoirs or uncomfortably near to their kitchen ranges. Yet they paid no attention to any danger that threatened themselves.

Their deeds of mercy will never be adequately recorded until the angels report. But this much I want to say of them—they were "war women" of the most daring and devoted type. When there was need of their ministrations on the line, they were sure to be promptly there ; and once, as I have recorded elsewhere in print, a bevy of them came out to the lines only to encourage us, and, under a fearful fire, sang Bayard Taylor's "Song of the Camp," giving us as an encore the lines;—

"Ah, soldiers, to your honored rest,
Your truth and valor bearing.
The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring."

With inspiration such as these women gave us, it was no wonder that, as I heard General Sherman say soon after the war: "It took us four years, with all our enormous superiority in resources, to overcome the stubborn resistance of those men."

George Cary Eggleston, Southern Soldier Stories (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1915), 70-73.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag

Origin of the Confederate Battle Flag


[The facts concerning the origin of the battle flag contained in this article are derived from a speech by General Beauregard before a special meeting of Louisiana Division, Army of Northern Virginia Association, December 6, 1878.—EDITOR.]
This banner, the witness and inspiration of many victories, which was proudly borne on every field from enemy. General Beauregard was momentarily expecting help from the right, and the uncertainty and anxiety of this hour amounted to anguish.
Still the column pressed on. Calling a staff officer, General Beauregard instructed him to go at once to General Johnston, at the Lewis house, and say that the enemy were receiving heavy re-enforcements, that the troops on the plateau were very much scattered, and that he would be compelled to retire to the Lewis house and there reform hoping that the troops ordered up from the right would arrive in time to enable him to establish and hold the new line.
Meanwhile, the unknown t…

Was the War Between the States Fought Over Slavery? By Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

Was the War Between the States Fought Over Slavery? By Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

True or false? Abraham Lincoln gave us the answer. When asked in March of 1861 by a newspaper reporter at a Virginia Compromise Delegation, “Why not let the South go?” Abraham Lincoln replied, “Let the South go? Let the South go! Where then shall we gain our revenues?” 1 Why would President Lincoln say such a thing? Well, it’s because he was alluding to the fact that the South paid 85 percent of the tax (Tariffs) burden of the nation. Lincoln sensed total financial ruin for the North so he waged war on the South.
In fact, the notion that the war was fought over slavery is so far from the truth and yet this interpretation has taught so many generations a deceptive lie. Even across the Atlantic Ocean in England, Charles Dickens, in 1862 said, “The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states. Secession by …

The Southern Baptist Convention & The Confederate States by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

The Southern Baptist Convention &  The Confederate States by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery
Now, to begin with, as far back as I can remember, I was raised a Southern Baptist in Corpus Christi, Texas. I heard the Gospel preached at Lindale Baptist Church and it was there, that the mercy and grace of God was extended to me and it was there that the Lord Jesus Christ regenerated my soul and it was there that I was saved and in obedience to my Lord, I received a believers baptism. As a Junior in high school, I received the call of God to serve the Lord Jesus in ministry. To prepare for this call, I attended Southern Baptist institutions: Howard Payne College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and graduated from both. I have served in Southern Baptist
Churches in both Texas and Wyoming, for twenty six plus years. Point is, Southern Baptist principles, theology and history, played a pivotal roll in my life. 

Also important, is the fact that, as I grew up, I was not ignorant of words…