"Can the very Spirit of Freedom Die out?"

What use is there in my writing this record? What profit, what pleasure, do I find in it? None! none! yet altho it is an actual pain to me I continue it from mere force of habit. We are crushed! subjugated! and I fear, O how I fear, conquered, & what is to me the saddest part, our people do not feel it as they ought — like men who have lost their Liberty. The cup has not to them the full bitterness which a once free people ought to find in the draught held to them by a Victor’s hand. They accept the situation tacitly, fold their hands, & say “resistance is vain,” “we have done all that men could do,” we are out numbered, over-run, & have not the where withal to set an army in the field. Their once high spirit, their stern resolve, seems dead within them! “The War is over” & that fact seems to console them. O My God, can the very spirit of Freedom die out thus & leave not a trace behind it? Are the lives laid down in its defence to be but as water spilled on the ground? Is the very memory of one dead to vanish from our minds? One would think so from the conduct of those around us. On Thursday, on our way out to Hascosea, we met crowds of people, almost the whole neighborhood it seemed to me, on their way to a Pic Nic at Hills Mill. The usual preparations for dancing had been made & there they spent the day feasting, dancing, fishing, & merry making in their old familiar way. It seems almost like dancing over their husband’s, brothers, & sons graves. Do they realize what they do, or are they stupefied by the calamity which has befallen them & say “let us eat & drink for tomorrow we die.” O my Country, my Country, I look forward to the future with bitter forebodings when I see your children thus forgetful of your and their own honour, of their own blood!


Credit text

Catherine Edmondston, diary entry of May 7, 1865, in Beth Gilbert Crabtree and James W. Patton, eds., "Journal of a Secesh Lady": The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston, 1860–1866 (Raleigh: Division of Archivea and History, 1979), p. 708.