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Sarah Lois Wadley was not in Tennessee during the Fort Henry and Fort Donelson Campaign; she was living in a small town along the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern R.R. in northern Louisiana. And in a diary she had kept since 1859, now 18-year old Sarah recorded her own thoughts and news reports in regard to the fight at Fort Donelson on pages 61 and 62: "February 17, 1862 -- Bad news comes in from Tennessee..." and "March 2, 1862 -- We have heard nothing but reverses: Fort Donnelson was taken by the 17th last month. And since that, Nashville has been surrendered. And now, Fort Columbus is threatened..."

Sarah Wadley's Diary is available online via the Louis Round Wilson Special Collection at University of North Carolina, at the link attached below. She covered the entire Civil War (the last diary page available is for May 1865); and some of the other "items of interest" for those of us at SDG include:

  • Sunday March 16, 1862 -- "General Price has defeated the yankees in Arkansas [Pea Ridge] and our battering ram, Virginia, sunk one of the blockading ships last week..."
  • April 13 -- "Oh! what a time this is, the past week has been one of feverish excitement. Tuesday we received news of a great battle, near Corinth..."
  • Easter Sunday, April 20 -- "The battle near Corinth was another added to our Victories [but it is said we had to move the army south to avoid a reinforcing army...]"

Other events included in Sarah's Diary: the Fall of New Orleans; the struggle to maintain Vicksburg; and "the work of her Father (William Morrill Wadley)" who was a Railroad Superintendent in Louisiana, but who appears to have taken on a more powerful role, over time (his frequent visits to Richmond expanding into conferences involving forty other Confederate Railroad superintendents, those meetings led by Wadley, and often taking place in Georgia.)

The Civil War Diary of Amite, Louisiana resident Sarah Lois Wadley is worth a read, to get a Southern civilian's take on significant events; to appreciate "the spin" provided by Southern newspapers; and to get a better understanding of "the Southern experience on the Home Front" during the war years.

Cheers

Ozzy

 

References:  http://docsouth.unc.edu/imls/wadley/wadley.html  [scroll down to Sarah Wadley's Diary]

http://www.csa-railroads.com/Essays/Biography_of_William_M._Wadley.htm  Bio of Railroad Superintendent Wadley at "Confederate Railroads"

http://www.csa-railroads.com/  Confederate Railroads [best site available for Civil War railroads operated in the South].

 

 

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A Grand Tour

Besides reporting on the Battles at Fort Donelson and Shiloh, there are other gems to be found in this journal, one of which is the record (beginning page 4) of a Grand Tour that commenced from Vicksburg Mississippi in August 1859, and involved rail and steamboat travel. In company with her Father and other family members, the tour commenced aboard the Capitol, paddling in comfort up the Mississippi River, with stops at Memphis, St. Louis, Columbus Kentucky and Cairo. By train, the party continued to Chicago, Detroit, Niagara Falls, and Montreal Canada. A stop was made in the ancestral home of the Wadley Family (New Hampshire) before continuing south by rail, to Boston, New York City, Baltimore and Washington D.C. Then on to Richmond; across the Carolinas to Savannah Georgia (where the party remained a few days.) Rail west across Georgia to the head of navigation on the Alabama River, for a two day cruise downriver, pausing at Selma Alabama, before arriving at Mobile. After a few days on Mobile Bay, another steamer was boarded for the one-day passage to New Orleans. Another brief stay, and the train took the party back home to Amite Louisiana, arriving November 19th after two full months of travel.

But, what is truly striking: all of the places visited (that were to play key roles in the conflict that commenced just over a year later.) If someone were to "concoct a list of important places to visit, prior to initiation of the Civil War," it would resemble Sarah's list of places visited...

Just coincidence?

Ozzy

 

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one wonders if her father felt the rumblings of problems and took forth this voyage as these lands/family might not be able to be visited in the near future.i do agree what a list of cities to see one more time before....

 

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