During the war, life continued for those on the home front much the way it had been with only a few changes. Prices changed and news of the war became important to the men, women, and children not fighting on the battlefield. Adeline Hutter’s diary is an example of this.
During the Battle of Lynchburg in 1864, from June 17-18, Sandusky served as the Union headquarters. During this time, the house was occupied by the Hutter family. Adeline Lawrence Hutter was a member of this family, only 17 in 1864.
Known as Ada, her diary reveals how she felt during the war, and likely how many other young women in the South felt as well. Many of the entries show that the war did not occupy her thoughts entirely, but it certainly had its effect. Some days she comments only on personal musings, other days her notes extend to life in Lynchburg and other prominent families in the area such as the Oteys, Langhornes, and Bells. However, quite often she makes comments almost as if in passing about the war. There is or is not any news, someone has died, they have heard from her brother Risque Hutter, or perhaps she conveys her hatred for the Yankees. In one entry, she records a poem that had been widely published in the south calling for people to give up their church bells to be melted for the war effort.
Below are more images of Ada Hutter’s diary. Click on the images to read the transcription of the page.
July 21, 1864 Thursday, July 21 Today I spent at “The Forest,” the house of “Jefferson,” one of Virginia’s most honored sons. The dear old place never looked so beautiful than now. The Yankees have left Sandusky in desolation. The broad fields of waving grain, the lowlands covered with rich looking clover [dell] that met the eye with joy and filled the heart heart (duplicated in original) with thankfulness, are destroyed. Nothing but dusty fields are seen in place, with here and there, the remains of dead horses ______. Mounds telling the sad tale of [another] war. Down [in] the grove just back of the barn, there are about a dozen mounds, not but one of them has any headstone. A small piece of board is placed over that one bearing this inscription: “Lieut. J.W. Gordon 10th Va. Cavalry” Who is he — I wonder? resting so quietly in the shade of the fine old oaks. I am sorry to see that he was a Virginian. He has only ____ the fate he deserved for being a traitor to his state, altho perhaps he was from Ohio, as nearly all the Regs. With [the North. Virg.] are really from Ohio, he deserved his fate. Still, when I look at his grave, imagination sees a fond a mother watcher with loving, tearful eyes for any mention of J.W. Gordon. She does not know that all that is earthly of her darling lies buried here in an enemy country, with no loving hand to care for his grave, no eye to shed a tear over his last resting place. I have forgotten all about The Forest and have filled this page with ____.
July 22, 1864 Friday, July 22nd, Sandusky After a very pleasant ride, I reached home this morning about half past ten. I spent a very pleasant time at Uncle’s, as I always do. They are all well but Nannie who has the “whooping cough”. Romantic. I found all well at home and very glad to have me back again. A French boat has just arrived bringing a large mail and some Ladies from the North. I hope we have letters from dear Risque. It has been nearly three months since his last was written. In every letter nearly he mentioned “Rebel”. I think the soldiers have taken him. I am glad, tho’, that the Yankees did not get him. I miss my beautiful horse so much. He had learned to know me & tho’ so wild as to be almost unmanageable, he was very gentle with me. Would follow me all over the yard and feed from my hands. Risque will be so much distressed to hear that he is gone, but he cannot be more grieved than I was. Gen. Averell offered me a horse. I almost wish now I had taken it. Gen. Hunter’s army is very much demoralized. On the retreat it is said he lost about eight thousand men. I know it is not womanly to delight in suffering, still, they are only drinking the bitter [gall] prepared for us. Thank God that He has punished them. I only wish the Rulers at Washington could feel what they have doomed the soldiers to. They will, I hope, at no distant day; “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. I will repay”.
July 23, 1864 Saturday, July 23rd I rode in to Lynchburg in the carriage this evening, and brought out Brother & dear Sister with me. I am so delighted to have her at home again. She has been in Richmond nearly three weeks. Who should I meet this morning riding ___ but my old “beau”, Jos. G. He made me a very respectful bow, but passed so swiftly I did not have to smile to return it. There is glorious news from Gen. Hood this evening. We have gained a glorious victory before Atlanta. “Allah be praised!” Oh! God, we thank thee — for everything. I think we will soon thank Him for a speedy peace. It is said our army is going again into Maryland. Sister brought me Guy Livingston to read. I have heard it so often spoken of. I know I shall like it. Sister and I called to see Mrs. Col. Walker this evening. She is in great distress about poor little Annie. I feel so much for her. I saw Annie Lewis on the street this evening. She is very fine looking. Dear Pa is so grateful for the great victory which God has given us. I thought I heard tears in his voice when he was reading it to me.
July 24, 1864 Sunday, July 24th None of us went to Church today except Pa. He has brought home information of the glorious news from Atlanta. I am so sorry I did not go to Church today & I have been reading Guy Livingston all day. I am afraid it was very wrong. Still, I was interested and had nothing “good” to read so I thought I had as well read that as do nothing. Sister & Brother have just gone out for a walk. I did not go with them because I was reading – Ma is standing just under my window counting her turkeys – I must hurry & go down to her. I am afraid she is lonely – She is looking up here now & says I must come down that my journal is all nonsense. I don’t think Ma understands me very well. We have nothing from Risque yet. I hope oh! so sincerely that we will get a letter. This evening is so cool & like fall. The sky is a dull neutral grey so different from the gorgeous skies that we have had. I think “Guy Livingston” is exceedingly interesting but I do not like books in which everybody dies.
July 26, 1864 Tuesday, 26th July How fast time flies the month is nearly out now. Oh! my God, was I made for such a life as this! I have an impossible longing in my heart for a better life. There is an indefinable longing in my soul for something. is it human longing for human love? Or is it something higher & nobler that I wish for, I do not know. I know I have dreamed of a happier home. Father, Mother, Brothers all have a share in it. Then I think of the high place in society that I think I am fitted to fill; that perhaps is selfish and worldly: Is it unworthy of a woman to wish to shine in society? I do not think so, I think all of us owe something to the world & in discharging our duty here we [may] fulfill our destiny. God has fitted woman to be an ornament to society — it is a noble ____ I hope some day that I may take the place that God has fitted me to fill. Oh! God, keep always in my heart a love for truth, honor & virtue, let me place those above all other idols. I am young, I am ambitious…. I almost afraid that I when I enter the world, I will become one of the world; selfish, proud, & forgetful of the noble principle of truth and religion. I feel what a true woman has written is but the unspoken burden of thought, that I feel: “Rise woman rise! Aspire! to all the calms and magnanimities The lofty uses & noble ends, The sanctified devotion & full work To which thou art elect forever more”
July 27, 1864 Wednesday, July 27th Was spent very pleasantly at “Hunter’s Hill”, the old country residence of Major J. Beverly Risque, (my grandfather). How the old place has changed since Grand Pa died. I don’t think he would hardly recognize it now. Cousin James Ward has a pottery there & the green sloping lawn looks like a brick yard. The old rambling house is going to decay. “Ben Bob” and a family of the aristocratic name of Sadler (Sadler) are is living there. Mrs. John [Otey] lives in a wing. It was to her that our visit was made. We spent a very pleasant day. Ella Ward is staying out there. It seemed so strange that Ella and I should see so little of each other when we were almost like sisters sometime ago. I love her dearly yet and always shall, let come what may. A letter has been received from Captain Boyd Falkner. He is at Johnston’s Island & says he has seen his old friends Risque Hutter and Charlie Averett — that they are both well. We were delighted to hear that Risque was well. It has been so long since we heard from him. I am glad that Captain Falkner has been sent to Johnston’s Island. He can give Risque all the news about Lynchburg. Gen. Early has gained a decided victory in the Valley. Gen. Sullivan among the killed (Yankee) He was in Hunter’s army. He has met the fate he so richly deserves, all of them — I hope will meet the same — except General Averell.
July 29, 1864Friday morning, July 29th Brother and Sister are spending today in Lynchburg. I mean Sister, — Brother spends everyday there. I have just finished a long letter to Risque, dear Brother. We received three such long, sweet letters from him yesterday. He can only write one page but he says so much on a page that it seems like a long letter. Dear Ma is sick today. I hope she will soon be well. She is in bed. I went in the garden and gathered a basket full of plumbs — and am so heated. [After dinner] — I am housekeep since Ma is sick. Pa said I had a very nice dinner — & I think so too, for [one]. Desserts are very rare these days, but I had one — plumbs with sugar and cream. They were delightful. I hope we may hear good news this evening. It is said our Army has gone back into Maryland. I hope so. In the news this evening there is a report of Gen. Averall’s death. I would be more than sorry if it be true. I will never forget the kindness and gentleness with which he treated me, and when I needed it so much. I suppose the interest I feel in him is very foolish a thing. No more than the interest every young girl feels in a brave and handsome man. I know he is a bitter enemy of the South, but still, the North is his country & he loves it just as I love the south. He places his country before truth & right. Thank God I know the South is right & and that our cause is truth’s and God’s.
July 29, 1864 Saturday morning, July 29th Today is emphatically “Hot,” as the Republican delicately expresses it – it is the “[blaginist]” day ever felt. Sister has just finished a long letter to Risque. I hope he will receive all our letters regularly. Dear Ma is much better, indeed nearly well this morning. Dr. Terrell was here this morning. I did not see the light of his countenance. I was attending to the breakfast table. Brother brought home the news this evening that the Enemy had blown up our works at Petersburg, killing some of our men. They were driven back as the papers say with “terrible slaughter.” We lost heavily too. I hope their blood will cease flowing when Lincoln is no longer President. Only six more months if it does of war and wretchedness. “Peace” is freely spoken of at the North, & a peace President will, I hope, be chosen. “Still, still forever, Better tho’ each man’s life blood were a river. ________________________ Better be, where the extinguished Spartans still are free. In their proud charnel of Thermopylea” Than yield and accept a “peace” without entire freedom I sometimes ask myself where will all this end? I hope I may live to see my country enjoying her “rights cheaply earned with Blood.”
July 30, 1864 Sunday morning, July 30th Pa has just returned from Church. Says he heard a very fine sermon on the “Beauty of Holiness” from the lips of our dear Pastor, Mr. Kinkle. I wish I could have heard it. I have been at home all the morning reading & talking to Ma and Sister. Pa says Amelia Halsey fainted in Church today. Poor Amelia. I feel so much sympathy for her. She lost, her betrothed Gen. Gordon, & a few weeks since her brother Alex. It seems hard to bear with such affliction, & she is such a noble girl too. Sunday evening. We have had a delightful shower this evening. I am afraid not enough to do a great deal of good to the earth which is burning up, but enough to cool the air very pleasantly. I see Aunt Aley just coming from Church & it now after five. I think all the servants went to hear the funeral sermon of Uncle Lewis, one of Grand Pa’s old family servants. The Northern papers say Gen. Averell has not been heard of since the late battle. I hope he may be a prisoner, I should think if an officer of his renown had been killed, it would certainly have been known. It is said he lost all his artillery. I am delighted at that. I wish his whole army may be destroyed, but I hope his life will be spared. I do not believe a word of the report about his death.
August 3, 1864 Wednesday August 3rd For the past three or four days I have had such a painful rising on my finger that it has been impossible to write. It is getting better now, tho’ yet I suffer with it. Sister and I have been sitting in her chamber reading Byron’s “Manfred.” I think it is grand. All of us are in a state of anxiety to hear the news of our [Armies]. It is said it is our plan to invade the enemy’s country again. I hope it may be true. I think they ought, in simple justice, to be made to feel something of the war. They will know then what we have had to suffer during the last four years. I pray every day for peace. When Lincoln’s time is out I think we can then hope for it. Brother has come – no news. How glad Sister is when he arives. “Tis sweet to known there is an eye will mark our coming & grow brighter when we come.” I suppose he realizes the truth contained in those two lines. I know I should, – had I an eye to mark my coming- It must be very sweet to love someone as Sister loves Brother. I wonder if the feverish dream I have known is real love, deep as my woman’s heart is capable of feeling. No, I do not think I have yet loved as I will someday love.
August 4, 1864 Thursday eve, August 4th The shadows which herald the coming of night are deepening around me. Today, Aunt Emma & Miss Edwards spent with us. day I spent very pleasantly. Miss Edwards is going North, & from there to sail for England. She is going “home.” I sometimes look at that woman and wonder if there is not some “wild heart history” in her life. I pity her, she seems very sad now. I love to talk to her. She is well read and has traveled. We had a long talk in the parlor today. She paid me a compliment which I hope will not be vanity to record. I think she has a special power of drawing people out. I am glad tho’ some[times] [a fraid] someone who feels as I feel. She told me that I had “genius” it only wanted a little encouragement- and perseverance to bring it out. Oh! God, that I had genius, & could soothe the restlessness of my soul in some way. I know I am not gifted, still I think I am a little better. I have taste enough to appreciate the beautiful in art and nature it is that enthusiasm which she takes for genius- It is so dark I cannot see to write anymore -“[value].”
August 5, 1864 Friday eve, August 5th This morning Johnnie Ward drove over for us. We spent the day delightfully at Hunter’s Hill. rode over in a spring wagon with two mules, quite an aristocratic equipage! We spent a delightful day. Ella and Addie both there after dinner Ella, Addie & I retired to the woods, undressed ourselves all but our nether garments and had a “funny old” time. Ella read me some of her letter from Mr. Adams. They are “quite daring” to use the mildest expression applicable. I hope she will marry him, & realize all the happiness I wish for her. I think she is very deeply in love. Ella informed me today that [Jimmie] Otey had told her to ask me to correspond with him when he returned to the [army]. I think he might have had the manliness to ask me himself. Our Army in Penn. has burnt Chambersburg. There is a great hue and cry in the North about it – a great & magnificent burst of indignation. They don’t seem to think of the ashes of Southern towns and homesteads. The desolated fields, – & the greatest outrage of all, the charred remains our glorious Institute where the best and noblest of Virginia’s sons have received their military education. I thank Heaven that the people of Pennsylvania, have felt something, just one ____ of anguish it is when compared with mortal throes that Virginia has suffered – Still how proud she stands before the world – glorious in her suffering, in her desolation & her heroism Thank God for my birthright.
August 6, 1864 Saturday, August 6th I have nothing to record today. Aunt Aley brought us the mail. No news. says she saw a good many people standing, round the “bullet board.” I think it is only a sensation ____ gotten up by herself. Our Army is still in Maryland. it is supposed, tho’ the Northern papers seem to be in a delightful state of ignorance as to the movements of our “Army of Invasion” & we are kept in the same by our government. Pa and I were sitting not he porch this evening. He looks very bad. I was trying to cheer him up. I asked him during the conversation what he thought a woman’s destiny & duty were. I had my soul full of aspiring thoughts – ambition that was as daring as it was impossible. I remember so well how Pa said, he thought a woman’s duty was entirely a domestic one – she ought to learn to sew, knit, keep house, spin, etc. I felt my eyes fill with blinding tears. It was such a damper to my thoughts. I will be nineteen in November, nineteen it seems an age to me – still in the world’s eye it is but a span. [Mellie] is in my room talking all the time, saying she wonders whose children will be the prettiest when I am married, mine & Mip Mary’s. Her verdict is that mine will surpass all other children- I think that is a practical illustration of “counting the chickens before they are hatched.”
August 7, 1864 Sunday morning August 7th Pa has just called me to consult me about wearing a white linen coat and straw hat to Church. He has gone now and looked very nicely, tho’ quite rural. He gave me a very sweet kiss. Oh! I wish I could win Pa back to his old pleasant winning ways. I think I could. Brother & Sister have both gone to Church. Ma & I are at home. I wish so much that I could have gone to Church this morning. I have not been for so long. It is a beautiful day bright & cloudless & quite pleasant. Sunday eve — Pa, Brother & Sister all have returned from Church. They heard one of Mr. Kinkle’s usually fine sermons. Sister came home enraptured with the music. Annie & Lizzie & Col. Langhorne have left the choir (a good thing) & Mrs. Edmund Norvell taken the lead. The music, they say, was delightful. I wish I could have heard it. Gen. Lee has been counter mining & has blown up Grant’s works. I hope that will put a stop to Grant’s mining. At Atlanta a great battle is expected. I have few fears for the result. Gen. Hood is a glorious fellow – familiar, [nest pas] – He was one of Brother’s most intimate friends. They were at West Point together. It is raining a little. I wish we could have a good rain. How it would benefit everything.
Friday morning, Sept 3rd Gen Robert E. Rodes is to be buried this morning. Gen. Coleton sent out yesterday for Pa to be one of the pall bearers. I was so anxious for Pa to go in, as it is such a distinction. They wished to have six distinguished citizens and rest officers. Pa declined. I am very sorry. I wanted him to show that he honored the dead patriot soldier. He was killed in the Valley in the late defeat to our arms- how many noble spirits have been sacrificed to this war- I should not have written spirits – no! Their bodies are only dead. Their brave patriot souls still live in another, I hope, & happier world. To It is a sweet thought to me, that they watch from their high home the ____ struggles of the South – and intercede before in our behalf. But a poet has expressed it beautifully than any poor words of mine. “With the heart of the South, before the throne of God, And these wounds to tell the storys-” Ah! Yes we have ____ glorious army of martyrs in heaven, their intercessions before the everlasting throne with be of more service than the sympathy & aid of the whole world, Yes our Jackson, Polk, Stewart, ______, Johnston, Rhodes, & _____ others are still [compatriots] and [co-laborers] with our Lee-Davis [Beauregarde] – __. Yes & do we not humbly trust that the Lord of battles, the Ruler of Nations, the king of Kings and Lord of Lords is with us.
Below are pages from Ada’s diary that contain the poem called “Melt the Bells” written in 1862 after General Beauregard issued a call in April to the people of the South for the donation of metals to meet the wartime emergency; specifically, bells for the casting of cannon. The poem ran in the Memphis Commercial Appeal later that month. Click here to view the full transcription of Ada Hutter’s Diary
“Melt the Bells” in Ada Hutter’s Journal // The following lines were written on Gen. Beauregard’s appeal to the people to confiscate their bells, to be melted into cannon— Melt the bells, melt the bells. Still the tinkling on the plains. And transmute the evening chimes Into war’s resounding rhymes. That the invaders may be slain [Page ripped here] …the bells—
“Melt the Bells” in Ada Hutter’s Journal // Melt [page ripped] [Continued on verso] Melt the bells, melt the bells, Into cannon, vast and grim. And the foe shall feel the ire From its heaving lung of fire. And we’ll put our trust in Him And the bells. Melt the bells, melt the bells, And when the foe is driven back, And the lightening cloud of war Shall roll thunderless & far We will melt the…[page ripped]…