Summer 1861 No 6


In the summer of 1861, Johanna Cardiff was becoming a young woman; her country was preparing for war.
This is her journal; these are her journeys.


Dear Brothers,

As you know, I am attempting to record my thoughts, feelings and prayers to share with you both, upon your return. This journal is, in all accounts intended for the three of us to share. Having restated that declaration, I address the bulk of my thoughts today to my older brother Samuel. Please bear with me, Luke, as most of my thoughts today are formed as questions, that if our father still lived, would be addressed to him. I mean you no disrespect, Luke, but Samuel is now the patriarch of our family. The lesser portion of my thoughts today impact directly on Samuel and not on either of us. I am simply the messenger in those matters, and I believe I will start there.

Samuel, I am not breaking confidence as I share with you the courage and fortitude of your betrothed, Miss Patsy Brown. Many think of her as being less than serious, with her dancing blue eyes, curled blonde hair, and easy laugh. We grew up with her and she always walked her own path. She continues today.

As I mentioned earlier, the ladies of Elmira are working to support Mister Lincoln, even though many of us do not approve of his handling of the situation. Nonetheless, we consider ourselves loyal union ladies and wish to do our share. We have held, and continue to hold meetings and discussion teas trying to direct our efforts. At these gatherings, each of us is free to offer suggestions to the body for discussion. It is about one such discussion that I write.

A few days ago, at our tea, Patsy stood to share an idea she was sure would shorten the war. She had all our attention. She went on to explain she had made a study of the “southern gentleman.” She said he considers himself brave, loyal, courageous, and attentive to the needs and desires of women. She added he is, as a rule, also kind to animals.

She suggested that every single woman of the county determine to write a minimum of three letters a week to Senator Jefferson Davis, who, as I’m sure you know, is now considered President of the Confederate States. He, after having been raised in such a society as earlier described would be honor bound to respond to each and every letter. She stood straight, tall, and beautiful as she declared, “President Davis would be so busy writing letters to northern ladies that he would have little time to plan ways to kill northern men.”

There have been few times I was ashamed of my Elmira ladies, this was one of them. After greeting her suggestion with grave like silence, they burst into laughter, slighting Patsy, and name-calling. They sounded like a flock of hens made nervous by a fox. While I was ashamed of the women, I have never been as proud to be friends with Patsy as I was at that moment.

Her face colored, first with embarrassment and then with anger. If she had been treated in such a manner, only a few months ago, she would have burst into tears, and retreated from the room. On this day, she stood with her chin raised and allowed her eyes to shift from woman to woman and silently return their ridicule. I wish I had been brave enough to rise to my feet and stand beside her, but I did not. My lack of action is a shame I will carry for a long time.

After all had finished, and a small sense of order was reclaimed, she quietly said, “I am in love with a man who believes this course of action, this taking up arms against our southern neighbors is wrong. He believes a non-violent course should be chosen. He fears, as I do, the wounds and scars of militarily prosecuting the South will take generations to heal. You laugh at my suggestion, and possibly, on the surface it appears to be the product of a silly and impetuous girl. Maybe it is.

“The man I love, against his own beliefs marched from Elmira in support of our President, even though doing so, violated his convictions. I will support his sacrifice, I will write my letters, and while I possibly will accomplish nothing, each letter I mail will carry with the prayer of distracting the Southern leaders, even for a few scant minutes.”

With the dignity of royalty, she turned and exited. I waited only moments before finding strength to rise and follow her. I found her crying just outside the building. Neither of us will attend additional meetings and I invest heavily in postage.

Samuel, you can be very proud of your betrothed; she is a woman worthy of you.

The other matter I alluded to is the consternation of Col. Maddox. His full name is Edwin Robert Maddox and he is from the Bronx, New York. By training he is a lawyer and being a graduate of the Military Academy, he was selected for his current post. He is not nearly as old as I once thought him. He is but a scant thirty, not really that much older than me when our ages are projected over the course of our lives.

We have crossed paths a few times and twice he has escorted me home. He has hinted his intention to formally call on me, and so, dear brother, I ask for your advice and hope for your consent.

Be safe brothers.

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