Jane Beale Diary
April 27, 1862
Fredericksburg is a captured town, the enemy took possession of the Stafford hills which command the town on Friday the 18th and their guns have frowned down upon us ever since, fortunately for us our troops were enabled to burn the bridges connecting our town with the Stafford shore and thus saved us the presence of the Northern soldiers in our midst, but our relief from this annoyance will not be long as they have brought boats to the wharf and will of course be enabled to cross at their pleasure, it is painfully humiliating to feel one's self a captive, but all sorrow for self is now lost in the deeper feeling of anxiety for our army, for our cause, we have lost every thing, regained nothing, our army has fallen back before the superior forces of the enemy until but a small strip of our dear Old Dominion is left to us, our sons are all in the field and we who are now in the hands of the enemy cannot even hear from them, must their precious young lives be sacrificed, their homes made desolate, our cause be lost and all our rights be trampled under the foot of a vindictive foe, Gracious God avert from us these terrible calamities! Rise in they Majesty and strength and rebuke our enemies.
We heard this morning from Mr. T. Lacy a sermon from the text "The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth" and right gladly our hearts welcomed the truth in its grandeur and strength, when we are sinking into despondency and feeling the weakness of all human dependence.
May 7, 1862Sent my letters by another person so it seems we are not entirely blockaded yet. attended lecture this afternoon, and enjoyed the service very much, the text was "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver," after service we walked down to see the ridge of boats built in a day by the enemy and I was surprised at the appearance of strength and perfect adaptation to its purpose which it presented, this is a wonderful people with whom we have to contend, their resources appear unlimited their energy inexhaustible.
May 13, 1862Since my last entry my heart has been crushed with sorrow, for I have seen the death of my Son Charley1 mentioned in the Richmond paper. He fell in the battle near Williamsburg on Monday the 5th some time between the hours of 7 o'clock and 11 AM for it was then the battle waged. sorrow has rolled in on my soul in heavy waves, but even in this great calamity I am not left to despair, my darling precious boy left good evidence that he was "a new creature in Christ Jesus" four years ago he wept in bitterness over his sinfulness by nature and by practice and sought the Savior with a childlike humility and deep earnestness which could not have failed to obtain the blessing he sought, and since then his Christian course has been strait onward with very great animal spirits and a keen relish for the enjoyments which this life affords. he had also a quick temper and a strong will but the spirits were subdued within the bounds of Christian moderation, the pleasures were always given up when he even supposed they conflicted with duty, the temper was curbed into the sweetest tenderest of feelings, and the strong will was only exercised in resisting the current of evil and steadily setting his face towards that which was right and good. he was the best the most affectionate and dutiful of sons to his Mother and she will ever cherish his memory with a fondness which none other can know. Our heavenly Father has taken him in his early youth (just 20 years of age) before the shadow of the sinful world had fallen deeply upon him and I can rejoice in the thought of his brightness here and follow him into the unclouded radiance of his Redeemer's presence in heaven then dry these selfish tears and force back these murmurings of heart, and let my soul seek more earnestly than ever to drop its earthly clogs and rise into the full glad liberty of the children of God. My boy was lovely and pleasant to me and memory will revert to his dear face and sweet cheerful ways, but I will try and give him up to his Savior, knowing that He has taken him to Himself and can provide for 'His own.'
Corporal Charles D. Beale was killed during heavy fighting near Williamsburg on May 5, 1862. He is buried in Section 8 of the Fredericksburg City Cemetery.
May 14, 1862We can hear nothing from our army or our friends, nothing which might tend in some measure to alleviate the affliction under which we are sorrowing, we are shut in by the enemy on all sides and even the comforts of life are many of them cut off, no one is allowed even to bring wood to town and we know not how we are to be supplied with the means of cooking the small amount of food we can procure. the enemy has interfered with our labor by inducing our servants to leave us and many families are left without the help they have been accustomed to in their domestic arrangements. they tell the servants not to leave, but to demand wages. this policy may suit them very well as it will prevent the north from feeling the great evil of a useless, expensive and degraded population among them, but it strikes at the root of those principles and rights for which our Southern people are contending and cannot be submitted to, it fixes upon us this incubus of supporting a race, who were ordained of high Heaven to serve the white man and it is only in that capacity they can be happy useful and respected. I love my servants, they are part of my family and their happiness has been my care as well as that of my own children. I can but hope that no evil influences will be brought to bear upon their minds inducing them to place themselves and me in a more unhappy position than that which we now occupy, but several of my neighbors are left without theirs and we cannot now tell "what a day may bring forth" not the least painful of our trials is that we are often compelled to listen to the enemy's exultant cheers, firing of guns and loud strains of martial music in celebration of some triumph of their arms and superior numbers over our Spartan bands of which we know nothing except what their boasting tongues tell us. they invade our premises, find pretexts for thrusting unwelcome presence upon us at every turn and are "surprised not to find more Union feeling among us" they must be most profoundly ignorant of the moral science of causes and effects to suppose that love for the 'Union' can be produced and cultivated by experience teaches that those who suffer the tyranny of unjust warfare, learn to cling with a devotion to their principles that they would never have felt under milder influences and our Southern people will not be apt to form the first exception to this general rule.
In the midst of so much that is painful added to the deep sadness which environs our household, we are not left to feel ourselves forsaken, the kindness and sympathy of the dear Fred'g people was never more manifest to me than now, scarcely an hour of the day passes in which I do not receive some token of remembrance from friends, either a kind message, a lovely bunch of flowers, a waiter of nice things to eat or, best of all a visit from some dear Christian friend who talks to me of my dear boy who has fought the battle of life and so early won the crown of victory to cast at the Redeemer's feet, surely there has been great mercy mingled with this stroke, there should be no murmurings in my heart but an humble acquiescence in the Divine will and a heart-felt reliance upon Him who "doeth all things well".
Did You Know?
William Fitzhugh was the grandson of Robert "King" Carter and the grandfather of Mrs. Robert E. Lee. His wife was the second cousin of Thomas Jefferson.