23 January 1865: “We hear so many rumors of the movements of the Yankees and of our own troops”

Item Description: A diary entry by Emma LeConte from Columbia describing their conditions as they prepare for the arrival of Yankee and confederate troops. She describes the quality of her clothes as as well as the price of food.

18650123_01 18650123_02


Item Citation: From Folder 1, in the Emma LeConte Diary, #420-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Jan. 23rd
No more news from father. I begin to think he has stayed to get the negroes out. We hear so many rumors of the movements of the Yankees and of our own troops, but they are not worth noting. ******* Mother has packed up the clothing and bed-linen that we may save those at least. All the books are packed too. I have not been in the library since they were taken down. It would make me too sad to look at the empty shelves. *** It may be of interest some day to recall the poor style in which we lived during the war, so I shall make a few notes. My underclothing is of coarse unbleached homespun, such as we gave the negroes formerly only much coarser. My stockings I knit myself, and my shoes are of heavy calfskin. My dresses are two calicoes, (the last one bought cost sixteen dollars a yard) a homespun of black and white plaid, and an old delaine of pre-war times that hangs on in a dilapidated condition, a reminiscence of better days. We have a couple of old silks, carefully preserved for great occasions and which do not look shabby for the simple reason that all the other old silks that still survive the war are in the same state of decay. The homespun cost about eight or ten dollars a yard, – calico is 20 to 30 dollars a yard now, and going higher from week to week. My shoes are 150 dollars a pair. In two or three months these prices will be doubled. We live tolerably poorly. Two meals a day. Two plates of bread for breakfast, one of wheat flour as five bags of flour were recently made a present to us else we would only have corn bread. Corn itself is forty dollars a bushel. Dinner consists of a very small piece of meat, generally beef, a few potatoes and a dish of hominy and a pone of corn bread. We have no reason to complain, so many families are so much worse off. Many have not tasted meat for months, and we too having a cow are able to have butter. Wood is hard to get at one hundred dollars a load. We keep but one fire in the dining room where we sit. We have been fortunate in having gas thus far, (at eighty dollars a thousand) but since the freshet the supply of rosin has been deficient and now and then it is cut off and we burn tallow candles at two dollars apiece. We never have sweet things now, and even molasses candy is a rarity seldom to be thought of.


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