A Civil War Diary

A Civil War Diary

Diary of Mrs. Rachel Young King Anderson (1818-1898),
wife of William Sidney Anderson (1806-1887),
written in Robberson Township, Greene County, MO.

Transcribed by Sally Conrad, who holds the original diary in a safe deposit box in Kansas City, MO.
Provided by Kathleen Macknicki, who can share genealogical information on Rachel's KING line and William's ANDERSON line.

Question marks ???? indicate handwriting unreadable.
Brackets around question-marked words indicates Sally's best translation of fuzzy penmanship.

SOME SURNAMES IN THIS DIARY: Appleby, Phillips, Johnson, Wadlow, Lanford, Lee, Skein, McClure, Danniel or Daniel, Sumners, Perkins, Doss?, Brown, Bayless, Boone, Roberts, Bend, Jones, Winton, Matlock, Col. Faulkner, Shelbee/Shelby, Coffee, Corban, Robberson, Gen. Price


Aug. 26, 1861
This has been a remarkable season. The spring and summer, wet all the time up to some time in this month, when it became dry and excessively hot until Monday the 24th, when it turned cool and rained. Then cleared up and frosted the straw piles on Monday and Tuesday nights, the 24th and 25th of August 1861.

May 28, 1862 Wednesday morning
Mr. Anderson (Rachel's husband, William Sidney Anderson) left home (in Greene Co. Mo.) for Fayetteville, Ark. Got off by 7 o'clock - had to go alone, risking guerilla bands and squads of robbers. God grant him a safe and successful trip. Tis the first time in his life he has got home [passing through an army or in war??] This terrible war that has been raging since the 12th of April, 1861 seems to be just begun. During last year the South was successful in most of the battles. That is at Fort Sumpter, Manasses, Leesburg and many others. This year the tide has turned. The North has been victorious in most of the important engagements; they now have possession of all the border states and of many important points on the coast and rivers. This state is in an alarming condition. Towns, farms, houses are being burned, men hung or shot, women accidentally killed and wounded, children crippled or killed by careless soldiers. Oh for help.

Wednesday, June 4
Mr. A. returned "all right" - wagon and mules safe at home - were gone over 4 months.

Sunday, June 8
I received a letter from my brother Richard urging us to get out of Missouri, offering us assistance should we have to leave our property here. May God bless him and save him from the troubles we endure. Through his letter I learn that my parents were living and well (John King Jr. and Mary Claywell King in Maury County, Tenn. /km) in January. Heaven's blessings on their heads.

July 1, 1862
Well, what next? The whole community is in a state of excitement. The Federal commander has issued the order that all citizens are commanded to take an oath of allegiance to the Federal Government. Those who do not swear are not allowed to follow any business whatever and are prisoners at home. This oath compels thousands to swear against their own conscience or have their families to perish. Mr. Anderson this day subscribed to the oath required. It was a hard thing but the only alternative. Women and children are also required to swear allegiance or be prisoners at home. I am now a prisoner at home, liable to be arrested if I but leave the yard. God being my help, I will not take the oath unless circumstances beyond my control force me to it. We have been in an alarming drought this spring and summer. We had a heavy shower on Saturday June 28th.

Saturday, July 26th
Another panic is upon us. The conscript law is now in force in Missouri; all able bodied men from 16 to 45 years of age are compelled to enroll their names and drill immediately for Federal service. Mass meetings are being held - women pale & tremble and cry "what shall I do, what will become of me and my children?" Southern men say, "Must l fight against my friends, my principles, my conscience?" Their widows and mothers say, "No, never, shoulder your guns and go south and God being our help we will do the best we can while you strike for "God and Liberty!" While the old women and women of the Federal party say to their men, "Go, we will take care of your women and children while you fight for the Government and Federal party." Now they [????] Feds -- collecting, drilling; their women moving to papa's and uncles, while the secesh move off in silent procession by the light of the moon leaving their families in the midst of their enemies. I look on and my heart aches and aches until it almost breaks. Then I say, "I thank thee Father that my husband and son are, the one too old, the other too young, to come under this conscript law." Then I pray for them and us and for peace until my heart is discouraged and I fear there will be no peace, but God is good and "His mercy endureth forever." The excitement is as intense as the mind of man can bear. The southern men who have taken the oath will now be compelled to fight their friends or forfeit their oath. Most of them I think will prefer the latter alternative.

Sunday, August 3rd
Another painful excitement is "up". We went to church and there heard that our preacher had been made prisoner by the Federals. We also learned that Greenfield, Dade, Co., had been taken by the secesh. That Samuel Appleby and Ben Appleby were at that place on Saturday 20th August, organizing companies of militia when they were surprised and captured by the secesh. Several were killed. They say there are 7,000 secesh in Dade and Cedar counties and that a large force is marching on Springfield. Show pity Lord, oh Lord forgive.

Sunday, August 10, 1862
This is the anniversary of the Battle near Springfield 1861 - oh what a year has this been. History has nothing on record equal to it on this continent - blood, bloat - the blood of brothers and kindred flows from one end of our land to the other. The war increases in fury and we have no glimmering ray of peace to enlighten our weary souls. No one was killed in Greenfield as recorded on opposite page. They were imprisoned by the Guerilla [Caffe??] and [ponds???]. They are now fighting in Cedar and Dade counties and may be here soon. We can't know what a day may bring forth.

September 9, 1862
A month of trouble, excitement and intense anxiety has passed since I opened this little book. Southern men who refused to enroll in the militia have been hunted up, imprisoned and are forced to work on the fortifications being built at Springfield, and oh what distress their families are in. The militia under Capt. Phillips has been here and demanded our mules and wagons. But thank Providence, from some cause they have not yet taken them though they pressed Mr. Anderson to haul for them whenever it suited them. At one time they pressed him and his wagons and team when I was with him two miles from home, so I had to walk home and carry a web of yarn--so the war goes, neither [????] nor [?????] respected. Our neighbor, Mr. [???Lemons/Simons/Limons???], died in prison last week. Mr. Johnson is very sick. Mr. A is and has been hauling corn to town. He is generally late as midnight getting home. I am spinning, toiling and sweating in order to clothe my family -- oh the terrors of war --still fighting, fighting, terrible batties in Virginia. The only news we get is great losses on both sides. Show pity, Lord.

October 30, 1862
This evening two militia of Capt. Phillips' company came and took Mr. Anderson or pressed him to go to Rolla with his wagon and team. He had to start off without a minute's warning to go a trip of 145 miles. May God have mercy on us and save us from such tyrannic rule. The weather is fine - hope it may continue so until he gets home.

Sunday night, 10 o'clock, November 9, 1862
Mr. A. has just returned from Rolla and my heart is made glad and sings. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense but trust Him for His grace. Behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face. The militia's clothing had not come and Mr. A. was permitted to haul for pay making $32 in the trip. This is the 2nd time during the war when I was in deep trouble to know where without we should be clothed, when the way was opened up by direct and special providence. A year ago in Sept. the secesh pressed Mr. A to go to Arkansas at the same time the state guards pressed a load of market stuff from us as there were no goods or money in the country. We thought we were ruined, but after awhile we were paid, which enables us to get shoes and clothes for the winter. Thus for the Lord has fed us on and on.

Thursday, Dec. 11
Mr. A. has just started to Rolla with his wagon. May the same good angel be his guard and guide and may God in mercy spare him and bring him back in safety and prosperity. Another bloody battle was fought in the southeast, ten miles south of Fayetteville, Ark. The Federal victorious. Hundreds were slain on both sides. May God have mercy on us and put a stop to this murderous war.

Sunday, Dec. 21st, 1862
We have had heavy rains since Mr. A. Ieft and I fear he is water bound. This is the eleventh day since he left and I am so lonely. Another mammoth battle has been fought in Virginia in which the Confederates were victorious. Thousands of men are slain. Lord have mercy on us! Lord pity us. Is it not enough Thy wrath has been poured out upon us -- Save or we perish. Some of the militia officers of this county are under arrest for burning down houses and killing innocents. Mr. Wadlow has moved his daughter from Cedar Co. to his house near us. They got in on Friday the 12th. She has seen much trouble and been hard pressed. Her husband is in the southern army and the militia took nearly everything she had...her last morsel of meat. She had to carry her firewood 1-1/2 miles to mill. She has four small children.

Thursday, January 1, 1863
A new year dawns on us gloomily, tho I have very many thanks recorded on my heart for especial mercies and blessings that we as a family have been favored with during the stormy times that have been and still are raging around since the war began in 1861 and that is now raging. Hundreds of thousands of mothers, wives and sisters have been bereft of sons, husbands and brothers, but thank God my husband and son are still with me and I hope my brothers may be spared to us and theirs. While thousands are famishing for food and clothing, thank the good Lord we have enough to eat and to wear. While thousands are languishing on beds of affliction, thank God we are all well. While hundreds have been driven from home, others had their houses burned and robbed, we still have shelter and food and raiment for which we are indebted to the goodness of God alone and still look to Him and Him alone for deliverance from the horrors of war and sin, for protection and for safety. Oh that His mercies may continue with us to the end. Lord pity our people and may this year be noted for the restoration of peace, the reunion of families, the spread of the Gospel and the supreme and universal reign of piety. Amen.

January 12, 1863
The 12 days of this new year have been crowded with events too numerous and too exciting for my broken pen to mark or my little book to contain. A week ago one of our near neighbors brought home the dead body of his son and also one of his friend's sons from Arkansas to be buried. They sickened and died in camp. This was a solemn time with me to see Mr. Lanford driving alone with two dead bodies and one his own son. A few days passed off quietly and this whole western world is thrown into the wildest confusion by the sudden appearance of 2,000 rebel cavalry who made battle at Springfield; after fighting six hours they (the rebels) are repulsed. Many poor souls are suddenly ushered into Eternity from one to two hundred Federals are killed and surrounded and many rebels left dead and wounded. One poor woman was killed, another wounded and many sad incidents happened -- houses burned and robbed. A thousand conflicting reports are afloat as to the whereabouts of the rebels but the facts cannot be come at. It seems as if we are fallen into the deepest abyss of misery, "a lower deep still threatening to devour us" -- oh God hear Thou in Heaven and answer us on Earth. Send us peace!

January 27, Tuesday, 1863
Mr. A. Ieft home this evening for Rolla. It is intensely cold and the road miserably bad. O Lord be with him and keep him Safe.

Wednesday night, January 28, 1863
I am sad and gloomy tonight. O God shine away the darkness that prevails and give me to feel that I am Thine and mine are Thine and for Christ's sake give us day by day our daily bread for unless the Lord be our Shepherd we shall come to want. The army wagons are taking nearly all the corn all through our neighborhood. They take pigs, chickens, geese and whatever they pass. Men are dying by scores in prisons and in camps. There is no help but in the Almighty.

Wednesday Feb. 11, 1863
This is the 16th day since Mr. A. Ieft home and he is not come. And oh such weather, first warm and muddy, then bitter cold, then came a snow 11 inches deep, then intense cold, moderates, and such a slish slosh we have. The snow is not all gone and tis raining today and wonder where he is, how he is and when he will get home. Since he left (on Monday the 9th) the forage wagons came upon us and almost emptied our crib, the tramps and [????] their wagon's six mule teams and only allowed [????] [??using??] to the [??]0ad/road??] then receipted us for 50 cents per bushel then comes the shaver and shaved us 16 percent, and so the war goes. Men and horses are eating up the life bread of helpless women and children. And they, the men, are dying so fast there is great mortality amongst the citizenry prisoners at Springfield, so much so that their friends believe and say all those whom they cannot prove guilty enough to shoot, they poison. But the Lord only knows. He alone will avenge the righteous so we will ever trust in Him.

Sunday evening, Feb. 15th, 1863
Today Mr. A. got home "all right" from Rolla and I am so thankful. He was gone nearly three weeks and was exposed to all sorts of bad weather, bad roads and high waters. But thank the good Lord he is once more safe at home.

Thursday, Feb. 26th, 1863
The past week has been one of much anxiety and distress in our community. Our near neighbors and friend, Mr. Charles Wadlow died at half past twelve yesterday, was sick only one week. He was a good man and true and died the Christian's death. His latest breath was spent in prayer for peace and farewell admonitions to his family. His family has lost a true husband and father and we his neighbors a faithful friend. To add to our sorrows a company of soldiers with over 100 horses fed off of us today. They robbed all my hens nests, boiled the eggs in my milk bucket, stole my milk cups and plundered into things generally.

Saturday, Feb. 28th, 1863
Last night near midnight four Federals called for food and lodging. They behaved very well, but I am so afraid of men calling in so late at night.

Monday, March 2nd, 1863
Our rest was broken again last night by a crowd calling after we had fallen asleep. They said they were hunting apples, but we had none.

Wednesday, March 4th, 1863
I have been in poor health for some days. Just rode to Mr. [??Winter??] yesterday and home today - not much relieved - Mrs. [??D/Winter/Winslow??] has a new babe, which she has named for me. It is a very sweet babe. I found the family in trouble. A man armed with sabre and four revolvers went to Mr. Winters on Saturday, arrested him and took him and his horse off - he released Mr. W. after taking him 6 miles but took off his horse. Oh God be merciful - the war cloud blackens deeper, roars wilder, we are overwhelmed - almost maddened with terror and grief! Another conscript law in force. Taxes so very heavy to be paid and our sons and brothers, husbands dragged forth to kill and be killed by their kindred and friends. Lord save us. Lord have mercy upon us. Send deliverance. I will trust in thee, thine arm can save.

Saturday, March 14th, 1863
Yesterday we heard heavy cannonading southwest, fighting somewhere near us. A double terror is reigning now. We are in the midst of desperate men in arms. Two weeks ago, armed soldiers called at a Mr. Lee's and insulted his wife and ravaged a little orphan girl. Last week an armed soldier stopped in at Mr. Skein's who lives near us and who has a very nice family - two daughters were at home, the mother in bed sick, the father off in the fields. The soldier drew his revolver and ordered Bettie to come and go with him; she refused. With his threats and force he took her out and got her on his horse behind him. In the meantime her sister, Jane, slipped out and ran with all speed for a neighbor and a little boy ran for the father. They succeeded in overtaking them at the same time some men came meeting them when Bettie was released and he was arrested and put in prison. Bettie was so frightened that she is almost deranged, and the mother's life is despaired of. God only knows what is to become of us. He alone is able to protect and defend the innocent. His vengeance will overtake the guilty.

Monday, April 6th, 1863
Opened school at home with 13 scholars. Hope I may succeed in teaching my children something profitable. From all the war news I can glean I feel like there are some glimmerings of hope penetrating the dark gloom.

Saturday, May 16th, 1863
I have just witnessed one of the most heartrending scenes I have ever witnessed. In the fall of 1861 our neighbor, William McClure, went south with his stock, negro and sons. His youngest son, Alvin, came back to his mother. He was soon made prisoner. After working as prisoner on the fort at Springfield, he started to try to go to his father in Texas. He started in December. News came back that he had been caught and killed as a spy which was proven by his having plots of the forts in and around Springfield. His mother knew this to be false and did not believe he had been taken but this spring she heard more particularly that he had been killed and not buried, that his body was rotting in the sun some 35 miles from Springfield. She took a wagon, charcoal and coffin and went to the place and sure enough there laid the decayed remains of her dear Alvin, her baby boy, the youngest and darling of the family. The flesh was all off his face and ribs. She knew the remnants of his clothes, the buttons, cloth and binding and his boots and says she knew his hands which were whole. She rolled him on a blanket and brought him home. She kept his remains some four days before burying them. We all visited the distressed mother and sisters. Oh what sorrow they feel God only knows. He was 19 years, handsome and quite intelligent.

Monday, June 8
School met as usual; 25 scholars present, but had to be dismissed on account of our Bell's being sick. She was taken with pleuritic pneumonia on Wednesday the 31st and is dangerously ill.

June 15, Monday morning
School met all right. Bell is improving, has been very low and is still very weak.

Wednesday, June 10th, 1863
Another family misfortune is upon us; Bud (Lorenzo "Bud" Anderson) has cut his foot very badly; it bleeds copiously. I fear it is a dangerous cut.

July 11th
Lorenzo is still going on crutches and his foot badly swollen. This is certainly the most gloomy looking evening I ever beheld. We have had heavy rains all spring and summer; corn is swamped, wheat sprouting, a few days past was been excessively hot. This morning was cool and smokey -- sun barely visible through the smoke. The air has become cooler as the day advances, The smoke thicker until it is almost dark enough in the house at this hour (5 p.m.) to light a candle. There is a sulphurous smell as if some coal were burning close by. Tis a very singular phenomenon for midsummer. The chickens have gone to roost it but five. The sun is now more than three hours high, but so dense is the smoke around, the fowls have gone to their roost. I can distinguish no objects at any considerable distance. I can but think of Egyptian darkness.

July 30th, 1862, Thursday
A day of sorrow and thick darkness is this. One of our neighbors, a Mr. Danniel, was robbed and murdered last night in cold blood by bushwackers. May God have mercy upon us. Our mules, our faithful mules, are just sold and led off. Oh I do feel so bad. They were so gentle and kind and had done so much labor for us, but I do (feel) they will fall in good hands and not be too hardly treated. They were sold just because we were sure we could not keep them from the robbers. When oh when will the time come when we can live like free men and women.

August 4, 1863
The murder of Mr. Danniel has created much excitement and has somewhat affected my school. Miss Sumners and Miss Perkins and some others are not in, in consequence of the excitement. Well I will, by the help of God, go steadily forward in discharge of my duties, living or dying, standing or falling, and am His and He is mine to save.

Friday, August 7th, 1863
This is a sad evening. Our dear Nannie [??Doss/Dass??] who has been boarding with us four months has left us. Her father has been forced to leave home and the family ordered to leave home because they are rebels. May God protect them where ere they go.

August 27th, 1863
Since the death or murder of Mr. Danniel the Federal militia has killed a Mr. Brown, and Mr. [??Wan??] and a Mr. Bayless. They were shot at home, in cold blood. They have burned many houses, Mrs. Perkins', Mrs. [??Sayed'??], Mr. Roberts', Boone's, Bends' etc. etc. and some others. They say these families harbor bushwackers. They may and they may not, God only knows, for I don't. Be that as it may, we have fallen on terrible times. That the innocent must suffer for the guilty. There is no help save in the protecting arm of God. He alone can save.

Friday night, Aug. 18th, 1863
My school closed today. Mrs. Winton and her girls are here. We had a very pleasant time and a nice little exhibition.

Saturday, August 29th, 1863
Another tragedy in our community last night. The Danniel boys and some others went to Mr. Tom. Jones', called him out and shot him dead and then robbed his family of their money and valuable papers. Mr. Jones is said to be an excellent man, stood fair and honorable and had a large family. They preferred not charge against him, only that he was a Southern man. The murderers were arrested. They also burnt the house of a Mr. Matlock and robbed him. He was a Union man.

Friday morning, Sept. 11th, 1863
We are in trouble again. Yesterday evening Mr. Anderson bought a mare, gave $55 cash for her, brought her home and put her in the stable and fed her just at dark. This morning the stable is empty, the mare stolen and gone, so we must foot it still.

October 2, Saturday, 1863
Come my faithful old pen and make a record of the darkest night of my life, and while I record it on my little book, l pray God no darker day or night may ever pass over my horizon of life. Between nine and ten o'clock last night just after we had gone to sleep, our faithful "old Turk" awaked us by a fierce and desperate barking. Mr. A and I both sprang out of bed at once. I looked out at the window and saw three men in Federal uniform all throwing rocks and beating the dog, and a man at the door demanding it to be opened. We opened the door and he entered, a bony faced man without beard, had on an old slouched white hat and grey coat with his revolver cocked and presented. He called out, "Strike a light and be damn quick. " I demanded who and what they were when they only swore at me to strike a light; a light was struck. He then demanded arms and finding none and knowing we had none, he then said, "You have green backs, you damn southern man, and we have come for it. I began to beg and cry out when he cursed me for a god damn fool and said if I did not get it quick he would blow Mr. Anderson's brains out. He looked so terrible and threatened so awful that I gave him what money we had on hand, some $65 or so. He counted it all over and swore we had more and he would have it and also demanded gold but as I have no doubt he knew before he came what money was on hand, he did not search anything except one satchel. I went to the door and cried out hoping to alarm the near neighbors. When the man outside darted back into the shade of the house and hedges and one of them a tall man swore at me if I did not hush he would burn everything we had, but I still cried out until my daughter Belle sprang out of bed and clinging round my neck begged me to hush or they might kill her pa. They left in a hurry. We kept a light all night fearing they would return. At daylight we opened the door and old Turk rushed in and smelling all round found us all here. He jumped and reared and capered as though he was in an ecstacy of joy. It was enough to make us shed tears to look at his actions. The same night the robbers called on Mr. Andrew Appleby and robbed him of $80 or $90 and took the books and notes belonging to Dr. Wilson. The notes were found in the prairie next day. How long, oh Lord, how long?! Is there no "balm in Gilead" O God make bare thy almighty army and save us, Lord save us. Oh do thou in mercy direct our course - open a way for our safety. Help Lord or we perish!

Thursday, Oct. 7th, 1863
Another stormy excitement is up. Tis reported that 5,000 rebels under Coffee [??] Reins/Ruins/Runs & Stanweather??] have taken Greenfield and Stockdon. The militia and citizens are flying to Springfield for protection. Mr. Corban's house was burned last night and our hearts ache and ache and ache. Mr. A is at Springfield went to the Government sale and I am so distressed. Night of 7th Mr. A. returned from town - bought three C.U.S. horses. The 5,000 rebels has come down to 1,000. They burned the courthouses in Greenfield and Stockdon and have gone on I don't know where. A raid by Shelby and Coffee creates much excitement and distress. Reports are conflicting as to where they are or what their aim. Our hearts cry out to God for protection. Oh Lord save the innocent from suffering for the guilty.

Sunday, Oct. 18th, 1863
Rode down to Col. Faulkner's, found all well but so distressed on account of the raging war.

Monday, Oct. 19th
This day five years ago parted with my dear parents and sister in Maury Co. Tenn. That was a day of thick darkness to my troubled mind. But today, oh what sorrow swells my heart. I cannot even hear from my parents and sisters and brothers. I dream and dream of them but know not if they are living. Show pity Lord.

Tuesday, 19th Dec. 1863
Moved from the Appleby farm to Mrs. McClure. I am very tired. Wednesday 28th, it is blowing, cold.

Friday, Jan. 1, 1864
The weather is intensely cold. Many people are frostbit and some in camps have frozen to death.

Friday, Jan 22nd, 1864
Change, change, a very unexpected change in our situation has taken place. Mr. [??L???] A. Appleby came to engage us to take charge of his deceased father in law's farm and of his family during his absence in the army. The offer appearing to our advantage. Our kind friend Mrs. McClure consents for us to come so after spending three weeks very pleasantly with Mrs. McClure we moved to the Robinson farm 12 miles distance. I regret much leaving Mrs. McClure so lonely but ever trusting the guiding hand of God, I trust all will work together for one good. Lord help us.

Sept. 1, 1864
This has been an eventful year with all the world and with myself and family. I opened school in a new barn on the Allen Robinson farm on the first Monday in April (and closed August 26, 1864). Lost but 2 days and that not for sickness -- had two letters from home. In the first l learned that my youngest brother, John [????] King, was killed in battle on the 17th of Sept. 1862, and in the last l learned that my dear father died in Maury Co. Tenn on the 10th of July 1864. Hundreds of battles have been fought and are still being fought in our divided country -- citizens killed and robbed, houses burned and people driven from their homes and God alone knows how or when our troubles will end.

Sunday night, Jan 1, 1865
The new year dawns upon us one time more in the midst of a frightful war. It finds myself and family all alive and well, but without a settle home. Yesterday was my birthday. I have lived 46 years on this earth. The prospect before me is gloomy in the extreme but I trust in the same strong arm that has brought me safe this far. The Lord is my shepherd and I trust will provide a pasture for me. The past year has been one of continued excitement. The Rebel army under Gen. Price entered this state in November and passed through the state coming in at the southeast and going out southwest, creating the same consternation that is usually created by an invading army. My son and husband have been at home all the time. We have lost this past fall or winter one of our best horses taken from us by the government.

Thurs., Feb. 9, 1865
Moved today from Mrs. Robberson's farm to Mrs. Perkins' two miles east of [????]. Am tired, discouraged, almost hopeless. Lord help us.

Saturday evening, April 15, 1865
Oh how terrible! The wires are flashing for the news that President Lincoln was shot last night at Ford's Theatre by an assassin named Booth, and died this morning at 22 minutes past seven. People hold their breath with terror and wait more issue.

Rachel Young King Anderson holding her diary. (photo circa 1860s)

Copyright © 2000 Sally Conrad; all rights reserved. Reproduced here with permission.

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