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Civil War diary entries

Unidentified Federal soldiers (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

In the Sisters of Providence Archives there is a bound transcription of the diary of General Superior Mother Mary Cecilia Bailly. She served as general superior after the death of Mother Theodore Guerin in 1856 until 1868, covering the turbulent years of the Civil War, 1861-1865. The diary consists of entries about the day-to-day activities of Mother Mary Cecilia, the Congregation and local and national happenings. Some entries are very short — one sentence — while others are more detailed.

Some of the entries that Mother Mary Cecilia wrote during the Civil War appear below:

April 8, 1861: “Wednesday. We lose our five scholars [at the Academy] from the South. Mr. Dodds comes for them all; they fear that if war is declared, communications will be cut off, and it will [be] extremely difficult to get the girls home.”

May 15, 1861: “I go to Indianapolis to see about the offer we have to take care of the soldiers in the hospital [City Hospital soon to be renamed Military Hospital].”

June 7, 1861: “Friday. I go to Indianapolis to see the Sisters who have commenced the charge of the hospital [Military Hospital].”

Nov. 22, 1862: “Saturday. Feast of St. Cecilia, but it is not celebrated this year; the state of the country is such that we should not make merry. …”

Feb. 24, 1863: “Our wood chopper, Henry Howe, being a runaway soldier, four soldiers came to seize him on the ground where he was chopping, and carried him off.”

Oct. 4, 1864: “Tuesday. The dreaded draft is being made on the men of our Township. Some of the Catholic young men of the Congregation are drafted, among whom is Tom Butler, a young man in our service, and son of the hostess of Visitors’ Home. Parents are in distress to see their sons carried off by force to the butchery of battle field.”

Oct. 5, 1864: “Thursday. I go to town to make purchases. … The streets of Terre Haute are filled with men that have been drafted and who are examined, enrolled and equipped in Soldier’s dress.”

Nov. 7, 1864: “Monday I go to town on the cars. … This was also the day of the Presidential election; the town is very quiet, it rains in torrents, many men are on the streets, but no quarreling and fighting. …”

Feb. 23, 1865: “Charlie Carney, a young man that has been in our service several years, goes off on the night train to escape the draft. Poor boy, where does he go[?] I do not know.”

April 14, 1865: “Good Friday. President Lincoln is assassinated! This awful deed was committed in the theatre, he was shot in the head. He did not die on the spot, he lived till the next morning.”

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Connie McCammon

Connie McCammon worked in the communications office for the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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