WAR TIMES: Recollections of
by Rebecca Blackwell Drake
The year was 1863 and Estelle Trichell was like any other six-year-old in Raymond. She attended church and played with other children in town. On occasion, she accompanied her mother to St. Marks Episcopal Church and observed the women as they sewed clothing for the soldiers. On May 12, 1863, she stood with the crowds along the streets of Raymond waiting for a glimpse of the Confederate soldiers marching to meet the enemy. In her hands she held a bouquet of flowers.
Estelle's memories of war times began months before the actual Battle of Raymond. The town was active in raising money for the Confederacy and supporting their troops. "Near the beginning of the war the ladies of Raymond gave two concerts for the benefit of the company that went from Raymond," Estelle reminisced. "One of the concerts given to raise money featured the Calhoun Quartet (two brothers and two sisters) from Jackson. Also featured were tableaux and, in one, I was a fairy. The second concert was held in the new courthouse. This concert featured the South's popular new song, The Bonnie Blue Flag, which was sung by several young ladies, each representing a southern State and carrying its flag. After those concerts our entertainments were few for, as the war went on, news came of the death of many of our young men. So many families were in sorrow that no one had the heart to dance or sing."
Estelle's mother, like the other women in town, aided the war efforts by sewing clothes for the Confederate Army. "The Episcopal Church was the meeting place where the women in town would sew for the benefit of the soldiers," she wrote, "The women most often present at the sewing society were: Mrs. Peyton, Mrs. Dabney, (wife of Judge Augustine Dabney), Mrs. Nelson, Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Belcher, Mrs. Gibbs and my mother. From time to time boxes of clothing were sent to the soldiers."
For the Trichell family and the Dabney family, life started just like any other day on May 12. Estelle's mother and her neighbor, Miss Dabney, had decided to take their routine walk before breakfast. Usually they would walk out toward Cooper's Wells and back. On this particular day, however, they had decided to walk along the Utica Road. "Before they could get underway," wrote Estelle, "Judge Dabney sent a note to say there were rumors of a battle and he thought it would be best for them to postpone their walk. That was the day of the Battle of Raymond."
Once the word was out that scouts had seen the Union soldiers nearing Raymond, the town was buzzing with activity. Almost everyone turned out to see the events of the day. Many of the women and children picked bouquets of flowers to throw at the Confederate troops as they marched through town. "I gathered a bunch of flowers to throw at the soldiers passing by," recalled Estelle. "When they did come along, I was too bashful to throw it, although one of the soldiers called to me saying 'Give me that!' My conscience hurt me for years for not throwing the bouquet to him."
The battle began around ten o'clock in the morning and lasted almost six hours. The townspeople stood around the center of town watching and waiting. "All day long, people lined the streets listening to the boom of the cannons and the rattle of smaller firearms," Estelle reminisced. " The first wounded soldier I saw was a Yankee, a young officer. He was brought into town riding behind one of our soldiers. I remember the officer had red hair and he leaned his head on his left hand and held on to the captor with his right. I felt sincere pity for him even though he was a Yankee. Late in the afternoon the battle ended, and instead of coming into town by the roads and streets, the swarming horde came pell-mell across lots, through yards, breaking down fences, tramping over gardens and flower beds."
Most of the wounded Confederate soldiers were brought into town and placed in the courthouse. The wounded Yankees were placed in four places - the Odd Fellows Hall and the Methodist, Episcopal and Baptist churches. Some of the soldiers seemed to wish for a "home away from home" and would knock on the doors of private residences. Estelle recalls a Yankee soldier coming to the front door of the Trichell home saying, "He was sick and asked permission to enter the house. He could have gone to the hospital next door (Baptist Church), but I suppose the poor fellow thought of 'home and mother' when he saw my grandmother sitting on the gate. He was shaking so hard with the ague that he could hardly talk. Grandmother invited him into the parlor and let him lie down on a large sofa and had a servant and cover him and give him sage tea. Soon the chill left him. I do not remember how long he remained, but he was deeply affected by my grandmother's kindness and was profuse in his thanks to her and took great notice of me."
Estelle's family was not the only family in Raymond to come to the aid of the wounded soldiers - blue and gray alike. Willie Morris, writer, recalls his great-grandmother, Mrs. George Harper (wife of the founder of the Hinds County Gazette) treating wounded Yankees on her front porch. Mr. Hunter, owner of a hotel in town, even drove his carriage out to the battlefield in a valiant attempt to save the injured. Estelle recalled several severely injured Yankees being kept in private homes. "They later died," she wrote, "and were buried in the yard. Their bodies were later removed and placed in the National Cemetery in Vicksburg."
Following the war years. Estelle married and moved from Raymond but she never left her old friends and memories of Raymond far behind. Before her death, she wrote of the war years in an article entitled. "Raymond, Miss. In War Time: Reminiscences of One Who Was a Child at the Time." This rare piece of manuscript was later published in a turn-of-the-century, edition of "The Confederate Veteran."
*Writer's note: Estelle Trichell Oltrogge's family lived in the immediate area of the Baptist Church. Her neighbor was Judge Augustine Dabney, brother of the famous Thomas Dabney of Dry Grove. Estelle lived long enough to see the establishment of the Monument to Confederate Veterans (courthouse) and the Confederate Cemetery. Her final home was in Jacksonville, Florida.
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