21 April 1861: “who knows what may be before us, but whatever comes, it is woman’s lot to wait and pray…”

Item description: Diary of Sarah Lois Wadley, 1859-1861, near Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, La.  This entry, dated 21 April 1861, describes a Sunday afternoon near her family home in Louisiana, an accident resulting in the death of a timber worker, the secession of Virginia from the Union and other war news, and comments on her outlook as a Southern woman.

Item citation: From volume 1 (in folder 1) from the Sarah Lois Wadley Papers, #1258, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

[Full transcription of diary via Documenting the American South.]

Father returned last night, he is looking very well, but is not so bouyant as when he went down; truly it is a blessing to be allowed to spend our life in those quiet shades, especially during such troublous times as these, bitter indeed must be that spirit which away from the haunts of men with the never ceasing hymn of the forest swelling, and softening around, is not soothed out of all but the rememberance of sorrow, how the hush of the Sabbath has fallen on everything, even the birds sing in subdued strains so as not to interrupt the beautiful harmony which the wind makes in the tops of these lofty trees; war with all its unutterable horrors is half forgot as I sit quietly in my little room, and my heart swells with thankfullness for our blessings, not the less intense because it is subdued by the thought that God stands this day the God of battles and the dispenser of justice, and that our only reliance is upon him; in these quiet moments when Faith triumphs over unbelief I can truly say “thy will be done Oh Lord”, I feel that God rules justly and mercifully.

A very sorrowful accident happened yesterday to a man who was getting out timber for Uncle Moses, a large limb lodged in a tree, and fell upon this man, as he was walking under it, crushing the bones in shoulder and injuring his head so severely that he died in less than an hour. Willie and Uncle Moses have gone to see him buried this morning, they say he is a lone man, without friends or relatives to care for him; but a few short months ago Willie himself narrowly escaped a death so sudden and so painful, can he ever cease to thank God for his goodness?

Virginia has seceded, General Scott has resigned his position as commander in chief of the United States Army and tendered his services to Virginia (his native state). Tennessee has offered us troops, the requirements of President Davis have been fully met by the Confederate States; our people have determined to fight to the last and lastly we have right and Liberty on our side, if war must come we are prepared to meet it. Father says if he were a younger man he would have been among the first to offer his services to the government, as it is, if the North prosecutes her madness, so far as to enter our country, of course he will enroll; who knows what may be before us, but whatever comes, it is woman’s lot to wait and pray; if I were a man–but I am not; my spirit of ten makes me chafe at the regulations which it is right a woman should submit to and I will not encourage it by giving way to vain wishes and vauntings “if I were a man”.

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