Diary of a Refugee
#090109
Fearn, Frances Hewitt
120 pgs.

This book was first published in 1910. The name of the diary's author is unknown, and no further information is available about her life. It is probable that this work is the Civil War diary belonging to one of Frances Hewitt Fearn's relatives, and that the young daughter in the journal, Clarice, was Fearn's mother. We do know that Fearn edited the diary and annotated it with her recollections. We also know that she dramatized the diary in a short play entitled, Let Us Now Have Peace. However, we do not know anything else about Frances Fearn.

The diary begins in 1862 on the author's plantation in Bayou LaFourche, in southern Louisiana, just after the rumored fall of New Orleans. A prominent feature in the author's daily life is her attempt to foster a positive environment for her slaves. She established a hospital for them; her husband built them a church; and the family hosted balls and parties for them. As she describes the community's preparations to flee from the advancing Union army, she expresses her gratitude for the slaves' willingness to help, despite their upcoming emancipation. To escape the northern armies, the family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where the food supply was limited. Sometime in 1863 or 1864 the family left for Texas, traveling through Fairfield, San Antonio, Laredo, and into Mexico before sailing to Havana, Cuba. From Cuba, they traveled to England and Paris, France, where they settled until the end of the war. They returned to live in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Excerpts:

Poor James is in a most terrible state of mind, as he has heard that one of his partners in New York, fearing that our home there may be confiscated, has sold the house with the furniture and all it contains at auction. Intending this to be the home of our old age, we had spared no expense in making it luxurious in all its appointments. It is very hard to think that all the beautiful works of art which we had been years collecting, old pictures, and rare manuscripts have all been sold. My husband does not believe that it was necessary. He thinks Mr. Adams became panic-stricken, and did it without consulting his older and wiser friends in New York.

I have been all day with Mrs. Taylor. It is marvelous, her courage and sweet resignation to the will of God, as both of her darling boys are dead. The younger died this morning. In the midst of her own overwhelming sorrow she is unselfishly thinking what a terrible grief it would be to her husband who is with the army, fighting gallantly in defense of our country. The two little girls are a great comfort to their mother, as they are very sweet and attractive children.

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