Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1862 December 25 Staunton, Va.

[from the diary of Joseph A. Waddell, former newspaper publisher and civilian employee of the Quartermaster dept.]

Thursday night, Dec. 25, 1862.
I did some work this morning about one of my grape vines, and went down street about 10 o'clock.  Found sentinels, from the Provost Marshal's Guard, at the corners, — strange and sad change from the times we had only two years ago! Upon joining a crowd near the Courthouse, I learned that the sentinels had, last night, assaulted citizens on the street, and ordered them not to pass unless they were going home. We all agreed that it was a high-handed usurpation which should not be submitted to. So John Baldwin wrote down Edwin Edmondson's statement of his aunt, shortly after 9 o'clock, and sent it with a note to Davidson, commander of the post, enquiring if the guard had acted in pursuance of orders, and if so whether the proceeding was to be continued to-night. The note was signed in his reply that the Guard were inexperienced, and had misunderstood their instructions — notwithstanding the papers sent to him showed that the Provost Marshall was present at one of the public corners, and required the sentinel to use his gun when necessary to arrest passersby.
I feel a special jealously of the exercise of unnecessary military authority. It is what we have most to fear at this time. — While fully sustaining the military in all lawful and necessary measures, every encroachment by them upon civil rights should be promptly resisted.
I brought Legh up to dinner. We had Alick, Adeline, Sarah Warden, Mr + Mrs Baker, and Agnes + Augusta Tinsley. Legh seemed rather low- spirited, and left us abruptly just before dinner. I have felt much troubled about the matter. None of us knew he had left the house till we sat down to dinner. Poor fellow, he has cause for depression. The supply of rosin gave out at the Gas Works last night, and we have to get along with tallow candles. I should have mentioned that Va's dinner was as good as she could have provided in peace times — Turkey, Old ham, spare-ribs, some cheese, sundry vegetables (potatoes, [illeg.], tomatoes +c) "huckleberry" + damson pies, raspberry puffs, cake, peaches + milk + preserves — We had a sufficiency of table furniture also — many families are sadly off for plates, tumblers, cups +c, having broken up old sets, and not being able to procure new ones.

[transcript by the Valley of the Shadow project]

MSS 38-258

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