Civil War Digital Scrapbook

April 20, 1865

Dearest diary,


Today is the day! The Confederate army has surrendered and we are free at last. I never thought this day would come, but it’s here. My dad came home last night and he is very tired from the walk back. The master, wait not my master called us to a meeting and told us we are free men and women and he will give us ten days worth of food for wherever our feet decide to take us. Most of the slaves are going to stay in the south and work on a plantation for money, but we smiths are going up north to Vermont. It is going to be a long walk, 15 days. I suppose we will have to find some food along the way. My dad let me have the help wanted ad, he is going to become a blacksmith for Edward Maclean, Mr. Maclean came to the confederate army to find people to work for him, and he saw dad and decided to hire him. I am going to miss my friends but I couldn’t be happier. I know we won’t be treated the same but I can’t wait to go up north. Today we went to town as free people and I know this sounds funny, but everything seemed more cheerful without slavery, the birds were singing and the flowers were in full bloom.

Thank you for being my companion diary,

Eliza
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December 15, 1864

Dear diary,

The mistress won’t let us go but I can tell this war is coming to an end and we slaves will soon be out of the wretched hands of the south and we can go out into the world, free. Mom is not doing so well, she contracted pneumonia which means her lungs filled up with fluid and she had to be drained of her “bad blood.” The slave doctor came and did this horrible treatment, and and he said she will be better in a couple of weeks. I hope she gets well soon. The mistress sure has been on edge lately. She yells at amd beats us if we don’t polish the china fast enough. Sherman and his troops came through a couple of days ago and it was the most scary thing I have ever seen, even the adults screamed in fear! They came through on their horses and cannons and line after line of men marching through. I was so happy though for the Union to march through the middle of the Confederacy took a ton of guts and those are the kind of guts I want my country to have. I found a picture of General Sherman in the trash from a newspaper, so I thought it would be a nice edition to my diary.

See you soon,

Eliza
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July 3, 1863

Dear Diary,

I am so hungry. We slaves used to have enough to eat but now with the food supply dwindling we are down to the bare minimum. Yesterday for dinner I had a small scrap of meat and less than a cup of rice. I had had to give some of my food up, but I decided to slip some of my rice into my brothers cup because he works in the field and needs the energy. The Confederates are very low on food since the Union has destroyed our crops, so they have to practically slave us slaves. The only good thing I have to look forward to is being free, and tomorrow, the fourth of July. The mistress doesn’t know it but we slaves are planning a feast. Momma is going to sneak away some food and so will everyone else who works in the kitchen. I can smell it now! I try to be patient but I can’t stop thinking about freedom and I wonder everyday what it will feel like to take my first few steps onto the streets and out into the world as a free girl. The plantation house is so beautiful and I hope when we are freed we find a house as beautiful as this one. Momma drew a picture of it so we can remember it when we leave. Still no word from dad and that puts a damper on our spirits but we know the good Lord is watching over him, and will bring him back to us safely. I have to go because the preparation of the food is starting!
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January 3, 1863


Dear diary,

Hallelujah! Lincoln has set forth the Emancipation Proclamation. This says we slaves are freed. The mistress said we aren’t free, this put a damper on our spirit but we think this means the war will soon be over and daddy can come home. WIlliam came to our cabin to celebrate my 14th birthday, this was amazing because he is always tired and goes right to bed, but today he stayed up to celebrate. Momma also snuck a piece of toffee for me so I could have a treat on my birthday. I got a new pencil from Darla, since this one i'm writing with has become only a stub. The mistress gave me a new dress this year, but I also got stockings and a bonnet since im growing up to become a young woman. We haven’t heard anything from my dad in years and I miss him so much. We have heard from the master so we assume dad is still well. The mistress is not happy at all about this proclamation and she says we should not listen to a president who isn’t president Davis. I pretend to agree 100 percent but I believe the exact opposite. Mom keeps telling us slaves to stay strong and that’s what we are doing, we are pushing through till we can leave this plantation free people. My mom drew a picture of William since he is gone full time now.
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May 3, 1861

Dear Diary,

Sorry I have not written in you for a while, I am very sad the first battle, has been fought and the Confederates have won. I am sad because if they win I will be a slave for the rest of my life, and that would be awful. I am also sad because the master is going off to war with his sons but that is bad because, he is taking my dad with him. My dad started as a blacksmith when he was very young and he is very good, the confederates came to my master and told him to bring my dad along to make things for the army. We will not see him for a very long time. The Union went into fort Sumner and the Confederates surrounded them and forced them to evacuate, this is very good news for us slaves because it is one step towards being free. My mistress is getting very stressed out because she has to run the plantation single handedly. When I feel stressed I used to look out into the sea of rice and that made me feel better, but now since my brother has gotten older and stronger the masters are making him go and work in the field, full time. He used to work with my dad learning how to be a blacksmith, but now that dad is gone, he has to go work. The fields do not make me calm anymore knowing my poor little brother is slaving away in the hot South Carolina sun, while I sit inside. My mother drew me a picture of the fields I used to love but now I am going to keep it in here where I can’t see it.

Talk to you later,

Eliza

P.S. I will be working non-stop so I probably won’t check in for a while.
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January 3, 1860

Dear Diary,

Today is my 13th birthday, and daddy got me a diary he put together using string and scrap pieces of paper he found in the trash. This was a great birthday because dad working as a blacksmith and all, I do not see him often and this was great. Darla, my mistress has taught me to read and write so I can keep this wonderful diary, but I am going to hide it because the masters do not want us to know how to read or write. I am forever grateful to Darla because she taught me how to read and write, she said that no one should be denied the right to read. I am very happy, because twice a year on our birthday, and the beginning of spring we get new clothes. This year I got a pretty pink dress, but the other slaves my age who work in the fields only get drab brown, coarse clothes, which gets very hot since we live in Savannah, North Carolina. My mom made me a doll today which I love, I found a song in the trash thrown out by the masters, my mom and I sang it when she got home from the kitchen, the song is called Rock My Soul, it’s about freeing us slaves, that’s probably why the masters threw it out, I am going to keep this song in here so the masters don’t find it. The food the masters have is wonderful, my mom works as the cook but we slaves don’t have much food, we usually eat corn and a small piece of meat, but today on my birthday we had a small piece of cornbread my mama swiped as she was cleaning up after dinner. It’s getting dark and I don’t have any candle left to write by.

See you soon, Eliza
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