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Reminiscences titled "To My Daughters" by Mrs. Grabill, no date

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Identifier: D04838

Title: Reminiscences titled "To My Daughters" by Mrs. Grabill, no date


Describe Mrs. Grabill's wartime affairs primarily in Newtonia, Mo.

Transcription: To My Daughters

In response to your oft. repeated request that I should preserve my memoirs of war-time experience by putting them on paper, I hereby make an effort at recording them.

The yeas of the later fifties and of 1860 were marked by great uncertainty and unrest in the minds of the people. Sectional divisions in politics, a weak-willed President, the growing arrogance of the Southern members of Congress, who, with comparatively little opposition from its members from the North, dominated in affairs of State, all increased the state of feeling Even the populace of the different sections of the Union were long in coming to a belief that real war was inevitable; something, they thought, would happen to adjust matters — and things would somehow settle themselves amicably.

Four candidates for the election to the Presidency were brought forward: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas, both of Illinois, John Bell of Tennesse[Tennessee], and Robert Breckenridge of Kentucky. Of these, Douglas belonged to the Northern wing of the Democracy: John Bell to the Constitutional wing of the same party: Robert Breckenridge to its extreme Southern element, and Abraham Lincoln to the Republican party — “Black Republican,” the South called it.

The divisions among the Democrats and the numerous candidates Easily gave the Republicans a victory at the polls. Then there was revolt! And State after State seceded from the Union — the South being determined to cast away from an element which did not sanction the extension nor even the retention of slavery. But I am not writing a history of the War. You may read that from other sources.

Every mind was bewildered over the chaotic state of affairs. And in the little light of experience no one had a possible conception of the horror and devastation that were to ensue in the four years’ war. The Southerners declared that each of them could easily whip from three to five of the other side, and the North was confident of easy victory from overwhelming numbers — and a speedy one. And how both sides were undeceived!

To such of us as had always been environed by slavery and its adjuncts, nothing else seemed, for a long time, right or possible. There was more unity in the sentiment of the Southern people, although not of a sameness in degree. And many a staunch heart or wise head held on, tenaciously, to the old order of things; and on the other hand, many a Northern resident in the Southern latitude cast his lot with that section. It took years after the beginning of the strife for the proper adjustment of many a neutral attitude. And as the months wore on, and the actual trend of matters was disclosed, things wore a different aspect to vast numbers, who, at the first, had caught only the surge of sentiment about them.

It was a heart-breaking time of divided families and interests, of undecided minds as to what to do or where to go — of what was best, and what right.

Those who had money, especially specie, hid it from every eye and denied its existence, for times were hard, and debts uncollectible in shape. Paper money was little considered. No one knew when it might depreciate. This reminds me that after the retreat of the Confederates from Newtonia, in the Fall of ’62, the prairie for quite a space was strewn with the fractional currency of the government, called “shin-plasters,” and a Confederate soldier once gave me a two-dollar “greenback” for a wooden bucket. The Southerners had no use for United States money where they were going! Any particular twist of fortune might alter the value of paper money of any kind.

In the summer previous to the election of ’60 your father had purchased of its owner and editor, a college classmate, the Morgan County Forum...

Rights: InC

Place: United States
St Louis

Dates: ca. 1910

Type(s): Reminiscence


Subjects: Civil War, 1861-1865
Camp Jackson (Mo.)
Indians of North America
Politics and government
Armed Forces
African Americans


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