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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Dolly Sumner Lunt begins her diary, A Woman's Wartime Journal, published in 1918, by recalling her anxiety about the approach of General Sherman's Union army on January 1, 1864. While she worries about the arrival of Sherman's troops and their habit of pillaging and burning everything in their path, she records stories of visits by local raiders posing as U.S. soldiers and the sleepless nights she has spent watching fires on the horizon. Despite Lunt's efforts to hide her valuable possessions, which include sending her mules into the woods, dividing her stores of meat among the slaves, and burying the silver, the passing Union troops raid her house and plantation and take her slaves with them. They also set fire to cotton bales in her barn, but the blaze burns out before spreading, largely sparing Lunt's property the widespread destruction suffered by neighboring plantations. In her last entries, dated December 1865, Lunt writes optimistically about the recovery of her farm, her new sharecropping system, and the first cheerful Christmas in years.

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Excerpt

Though Southern rural life has necessarily changed since the Civil War, I doubt that there is in the entire South a place where it has changed less than on the Burge Plantation, near Covington, Georgia. and I do not know in the whole country a place that I should rather see again in springtime— the Georgia springtime, when the air is like a tonic vapor distilled from the earth, from pine trees, tulip trees, balm-of-Gilead trees (or “bam” trees, as the negroes call them), blossoming Judas trees, Georgia crab-apple, dogwood pink and white, peach blossom, wistaria, [Page vi]sweet-shrub, dog violets, pansy violets, Cherokee roses, wild honeysuckle, azalia, and the evanescent green of new treetops, all carried in solution in the sunlight.

It is indicative of the fidelity of the plantation to its old traditions that though more than threescore springs have come and gone since Sherman and his army crossed the red cottonflelds surrounding the plantation house, and though the Burge family name died out, many years ago, with Mrs. Thomas Burge, a portion of whose wartime journal makes up the body of this book, the place continues to be known by her name and her husband’s, as it was when they resided there before the Civil War. Some of the negroes mentioned in the journal still live in cabins on the plantation, and almost all the younger generation [Page vii]are the children or grandchildren of Mrs. Burge’s former slaves.

Mrs. Burge (Dolly Sumner Lunt) was born September 29,1817, in Bowdoinham, Maine. That she was brought up in New England, in the heart of the abolitionist movement, and that she was a relative of Charles Sumner, consistent foe of the South, lends peculiar interest to the sentiments on slavery expressed in her journal. As a young woman she moved from Maine to Georgia, where her married sister was already settled. While teaching school in Covington she met Thomas Burge, a plantation-owner and gentleman of the Old South, and presently married him. When some years later Mr. Burge died, Mrs. Burge was left on the plantation with her little daughter Sarah (the “Sadai” of the journal) and her slaves, [Page viii] numbering about one hundred. Less than three years after she was widowed the Civil . . .

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