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THE DUSKY WINGS OF WAR: The Journal of Lucy G. Breckinridge, 1862-1864 Edited by Mary D. Robertson Grove Hill, in the Great Valley of Virginia, was built in 1804 by James Breckinridge (1763-1833), soldier, lawyer, and congressman .1 The site of the estate was in the Catawba Creek area near Fincastle, Botetourt County. Some ten years after the death of the general, his son, Cary, moved his young family from their nearby home, Catawba, to Grove Hill. It was here that his daughter Lucy lived most of her life and where, at age nineteen, she began writing her journal. Although the Shenandoah Valley was the scene of extensive military operations during the war, Grove HiII, in the southwestern portion of the valley, was spared the scourges of real fighting. Life for those who remained at Grove Hill was relatively peaceful, marred by the anxieties and tragedies suffered by all families whose young men were in the army. All five of Lucy's brothers served and three were killed. The following excerpts from Lucy's journal are intended to depict life at Grove Hill during the years 1862-1864. Minor changes have been made in the original spelling and punctuation when deemed necessary for clarity. The character of the author—cultured, witty, high-spirited, loving, and often wistful—is vividly reflected, as is her sense of place and family. The Breckinridge Family Cary Breckinridge and Emma Walker Gilmer Breckinridge (parents) Mary Ann Breckinridge married James Lewis Woodville Peachy Gilmer Breckinridge married Julia Anthony James Breckinridge married Fanny Burwell Cary Breckinridge married Virginia Caldwell Eliza Breckinridge Lucy Gilmer Breckinridge married Jefferson Bassett ("Tommy") John Breckinridge Emma Jane Breckinridge George Breckinridge married Ann Harmer and then Leticia Maurin St. Martin 1 Frances Niederer, "Grove Hill, Va., Home of Gen. James Breckinridge," DAR Magazine (Nov., 1961), pp. 629-630. 26 Grove Hill, August 11, 1862 I am going to keep an Acta Diurna—no, that would not be an appropriate name. I think I shall write in the epistolary style, telling all the events of the day, my thoughts, feelings, etc. It will be good employment these war times, when we have no visitors to receive and no visits to pay, no materials to work upon and no inclination to read anything but the Bible and the newspapers. Well, the question presents itself, what sort of friend shall I choose? A discreet female of advanced years? A respectable maiden aunt? A young and intimate school mate? Or an old and attached governess and tutor? It is a hard question to decide. Upon reflection I think I shall select a female, rather older than myself and a great deal smarter, but whose sweet and gentle disposition shall call forth all my confidence , an expression of all my feelings and doubts, and whose deep and loving interest in my family shall induce me to write anything which concerns them. I never had such a friend and I shall love her so much. So, my dear, kind, blue eyed friend, my fidus Achates, here comes my first letter dated Tuesday, August 12, 1862 Cousin Carr left this morning to go to the Sweet Springs for his health.2 The day was a very quiet one. We all read most of the time. Papa came home after dinner, bringing the papers containing the news of a victory over Pope's army near Gordonsville, 400 prisoners captured.3 How I wish I could get hold of Pope. Since he issued those cruel bulls of his, I have felt a peculiar spite for him.4 2 Grove Hill was located along the main route to "the Springs" of western Virginia; the Sweet, the Warm, the Hot, the White Sulphur, the Salt Sulphur, and the Red Sulphur. These fashionable spas were noted for the medicinal effects of their waters which were heavily laced with natural minerals. Perceval Reniers, The Springs of Virginia (Chapel Hill: Univ. of N.C. Press, I94I), pp. 25-32. 3 Confederate losses in the battle of Cedar Run, Aug. 9, 1862, under the command of Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, were 1,314. Union losses in this encounter , under the command of Gen. John Pope...


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