Refugitta of Richmond
The Wartime Recollections, Grave and Gay, of Constance Cary Harrison
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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In the Fall of 2008, during our preparation of Constance Cary Harrison’s wartime memoir, almost fifty thousand Civil War reenactors, historians, and history buffs gathered just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to remember and to recreate as best they could the 1863 three-day battle of Chickamauga. Vice President Dick Cheney was on hand to make...
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We must acknowledge the long-suffering and eternally patient Bucky Hughes and Frances Bender Rushing. Without their constant support and encouragement, our efforts would have been handicapped. Others we wish to thank are the Virginia Historical Society archivists who made time for our work during...
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Constance Cary (1843–1920) came to Richmond, Virginia, as a refugee in the winter of 1861–62 at the age of eighteen. Upon the death of Constance’s father in 1854, her mother, Monimia Fairfax Cary, had moved Constance and her two younger brothers to “Vaucluse,” Monimia’s girlhood home and the Fairfax family estate, just a few miles south of Alexandria, Virginia...
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My father was Archibald Cary , of Carysbrooke—all old-time Virginians loved to write themselves down as part of their parental estates—son of Wilson Jefferson Cary, a nephew of Thomas Jefferson, whose marriage with Miss Virginia Randolph had taken place at Monticello; upon which occasion the bride was given away by the master of the house, who hung...
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Our establishment at Vaucluse now consisted of the dear and beneficent lady, its head, and her two widowed daughters with their children (six of the latter, off and on), together with an endless procession, coming and going, of aunts and cousins, who stayed as long as they found it convenient and agreeable. Now, the “connection,” as it was called...
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And now the war -clarion blew , the clans were all alert, and every male creature belonging to us was straining for the fray. As Vaucluse lay in the track of probably advancing armies, my mother and aunt decided to send their younger children out of harm’s way. Accordingly, to my despair, I was packed off with my brother Clarence and my little cousin Meta...
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In the early days of the winter of ’62, my mother, wedded to her beloved hospital work at Culpeper Court House, sent me to Richmond to be under care of my uncle and aunt, Dr. and Mrs. Fairfax, who had found quarters in the Clifton House, a dreary old building, indifferently kept, honey-combed with subterranean passages suggesting the romances...
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Before the seven days ’ battles in front of Richmond were delivered, my mother insisted upon my going with my aunt to Botetourt Springs, in the southwestern hill country of Virginia, in a region that seemed to our strained and weary gaze, to our ears jaded with sounds of battle and hospital, akin to paradise.1 Leaving the train, we drove in an archaic stagecoach...
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Our “On to Washington ” experience was a nine days’ wonder among our friends in Richmond, and for a brief space I enjoyed distinction as an arbiter of fashion, resulting from possession of a new hat and gown, boots and gloves, all at once. My few fineries, snatched from the protesting clutch of Uncle Sam, were handed about to be copied, till I feared they...
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Dark days were in store for Richmond. An incipient bread riot occurred in her streets in April, when a large number of women and children of the poorer class met and marched through Main and Cary streets, attacking and sacking several stores kept by known speculators. President Davis, Governor Letcher...
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Now came the winter ’s lull before the new fury of the storm should break forth with the spring. It was evident to all older and graver people that the iron belt surrounding the Southern country was being gradually drawn closer and her vitality in mortal peril of exhaustion. Our armies were dwindling, those of the North...
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The question of executive policy was by no means left at rest among the exponents of public opinion in Richmond. While there was a large faction supporting the President in his disapproval of General Johnston’s method of playing the game of war with General Sherman in northern Georgia, many a bitter...
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On the morning of April 2, a perfect Sunday of the Southern spring, a large congregation assembled as usual at St. Paul’s. I happened to sit in the rear of the President’s pew, so near that I plainly saw the sort of gray pallor that came upon his face as he read a scrap of paper thrust into his hand by a messenger...
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It was thought best for us ex-Confederates of both sexes to keep quietly out of public observation while still the wave of feeling (enormously increased by the assassination of Lincoln) dashed high over our reunion with Northern friends. Our cousin, the Rev. Herbert Norris...
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Four chapters follow in Mrs. Harrison’s original Recollections. In those final chapters she provides details about her life in New York City. Burton Harrison’s law practice was successful. The family spent its summers in their cottage at Bar Harbor, Maine. Constance performed in small musical productions, she continued writing, and she and her husband were...
Appendix: Burton Norvell Harrison
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Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 24 halftones
Publication Year: 2011