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Published in Gary W. Gallagher, ed., The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864 (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2006), pp. 222-256. Copyright 2006 The University of North Carolina Press.


Nancy Emerson lived in Staunton, Virginia, and kept a diary intermittently throughout the Civil War. Emerson was raised in Massachusetts and moved south with her brother, a Lutheran minister, in the late 1850s. They became Confederates, transplanting themselves and driving deep roots into the new soil around them. Emerson intended her diary to be read by her "northern friends, should any of them have the curiosity to read [it] ." She felt increasingly sick with what she thought might be typhoid fever, so she directed that the journal "be forwarded to" her northern friends "at some future time." She wondered what her friends in the North thought about the war and the South, and what they thought about the destruction of civilian property in Staunton and farther up the Valley in Lexington in June 1864. She wondered whether any of her friends in the North had even heard of the pillaging in the Valley and whether they favored '?his unjust &abominable war." She decided that she could not guess what they thought anymore- their distance of mind and spirit were too great. "Such strange things happen these days," she concluded, "that nothing ought to astonish us."

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