Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Confederate Civil War Christmas Memories of Dolly Sumner Lunt 1864 in Georgia

A Woman's Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over Georgia's Plantationof Sherman's Army on the March to the Sea, as Recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge) :

Dolly Lunt Burge, 1817-1891, was born in Maine in 1817. As a young woman, moved from Maine to Georgia with her physician husband in the 1840s. By the time she began her diary at age thirty, Dolly had lost her husband and her only living child to illness. A devout and self-sufficient schoolteacher, she soon married again, to Thomas Burge, a planter and widowed father of four. In 1855, she gave birth to their daughter, Sarah, called Sadai. Upon her second husband's death in 1858, Dolly independently ran the plantation, located in Mansfield. She remained there during the Civil War, witnessing Sherman's march through the area. Dolly married a final time, in 1866, to Rev. William Parks, a prominent Methodist minister. Dolly's diary is filled with news about her daughter, her struggles, and her slaves. See Documenting the American South (DocSouth.unc.edu), a digital publishing initiative of the University Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

DECEMBER 24, 1864.
This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Now how changed! No confectionery, cakes, or pies can I have. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of fire-crackers [the Southern custom of celebrating Christmas with fireworks] and the hanging up of stockings, is an occasion now of sadness and gloom. I have nothing even to put in Sadai's stocking, which hangs so invitingly for Santa Claus. How disappointed she will be in the morning, though I have explained to her why he cannot come. Poor children! Why must the innocent suffer with the guilty?

DECEMBER 25, 1864.
Sadai jumped out of bed very early this morning to feel in her stocking. She could not believe but that there would be something in it. Finding nothing, she crept back into bed, pulled the cover over her face, and I soon heard her sobbing. The little negroes all came in: "Christmas gift, mist'ess! Christmas gift, mist'ess!" I pulled the cover over my face and was soon mingling my tears with Sadai's.