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Southern Discomfort


From the unpublished diaries of LeRoy Wiley Gresham (1847–65), son of John J. Gresham, twice mayor of Macon, Georgia. LeRoy, a longtime invalid confined to his bed or to a mattress in a wagon drawn by slaves, wrote his final entry on June 9, 1865; he died nine days later. Bill, Allen, Florence, and Julia Anne are the given names of the Greshams’ slaves; Minnie is LeRoy’s sister. Selected pages of the diary are on display until June as part of The Civil War in America, an exhibition at the Library of Congress.

february 23, 1865

Cloudy. Rained a little between 8 and 9 a.m. Sherman is marching on Charlotte N.C. tearing up the R.R. and destroying everything. Father returned from Houston with 5 partridges, doves, and blackbirds, also “Bill” to pull me. Allen is “played out.” Aunt Ann sent me cake, pudding, syllabub, turkey, jellies, pickle etc.

february 27, 1865

Clear and beautiful day. The Militia have been furloughed indefinitely. It has been raining since half past 4. Nothing reliable from Sherman. I have been trying to clothe “Bill” in the garments of civilization today and have improved his appearance wonderfully.

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