Until that dreary 1861, I had no idea of sorrow or grief.... How I love to think of myself at that time! Not as myself, but as some happy, careless child who danced through life, loving God's whole world too much to love any particular one, outside of her own family. She was more childish then—yet I like her for all her folly; I can say it now, for she is as dead as though she was lying underground.
Now do not imagine that Sarah has become an aged lady in the fifteen months that have elapsed since, for it is no such thing; her heart does ache occasionally, but that is a secret between her and this little rosewood furnished room; and when she gets over it, there is no one more fond of making wheelbarrows of the children, or of catching Charlie or mother by the foot and making them play lame chicken.... Now all this done by a young lady who remembers eighteen months ago with so much regret that she has lost so much of her high spirits—might argue that her spirits were before tremendous; and yet they were not. That other Sarah was ladylike, I am sure, in her wildest moments, but there is something hurried and boisterous in this one's tricks that reminds me of some one who is making a merit of being jolly under depressing circumstances. No! that is not a nice Sarah now, to my taste.
The commencement of '61 promised much pleasure for the rest of the year, and though Secession was talked about, I do not believe any one anticipated the war that has been desolating our country ever since, with no prospect of terminating for some time to come. True the garrison was taken, but then several pleasant officers of the Louisiana army were stationed there, and made quite an agreeable addition to our small parties, and we did not think for a moment that trouble would grow out of it—at least, we girls did not. Next Louisiana seceded, but still we did not trouble ourselves with gloomy anticipations, for many strangers visited the town, and our parties, rides, and walks grew gayer and more frequent.
One little party—shall I ever forget it?—was on the 9th of March, I think; such an odd, funny little party! Such queer things happened! What a fool Mr. McG—— made of himself! Even more so than usual. But hush! It's not fair to laugh at a lady—under peculiar circumstances. And he tried so hard to make himself agreeable, poor fellow, that I ought to like him for being so obedient to my commands. "Say something new; something funny," I said, tired of a subject on which he had been expatiating all the evening; for I had taken a long ride with him before sunset, he had escorted me to Mrs. Brunot's, and here he was still at my side, and his conversation did not interest me. To hear, with him, was to obey. "Something funny? Well—" here he commenced telling something about somebody, the fun of which seemed to consist in the somebody's having "knocked his shins" against something else. I only listened to the latter part; I was bored, and showed it. "Shins!" was I to laugh at such a story?
Sarah Morgan Dawson (1842-1909) woonde tijdens de Amerikaanse burgeroorlog in Louisiana en hield in die periode een dagboek bij.