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An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America

Endeavors to stop the whipping of women

The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton (Chapter XVII)


All the versions of this article:

Jean de Villiot, The Memoirs Of Dolly Morton : The Story of A Woman’s Part in The Struggle to Free The Slaves, An Account of the Whippings, Rapes, and Violences that Preceded the Civil War in America, With Curious Anthropological Observations on the Radical Diversities In the Conformation of the Female Bottom and the Way Different Women endure Chastisement, Ed. Charles Carrington, London, Paris, 1899.

Defeat of the Federals; Randolph goes to Richmond; I am left in charge; endeavors to stop the whipping of women; an eventful afternoon; the soldiers arrive; I meet Captain Franklin.

The weeks passed, and, in their course, the tide of war flowed nearer to us at Woodlands. The Federal troops had entered Virginia, and many skirmishes had taken place with various results. Then came the battle of Bull Run, in which, as you know, the Federals were utterly defeated.

When the news of the Confederate victory arrived at Woodlands, Randolph was jubilant. He said to me that the damned Yankees soon would be driven out of Virginia. He gave the field hands a couple of days’ holiday with an extra supply of food and liquor; the house women also had a treat and were allowed to invite their sweethearts to a dance in the servants’ quarters. I was very sorry to hear of the defeat of the Federal troops, but I did not think that they would be driven out of Virginia.

A short time after the battle of Bull Run, Randolph was summoned to Richmond to attend the first meeting of the Congress of the Confederates States. Since he expected to be away a considerable time, he gave me full instructions about what he wished me to do regarding the affairs on the plantation. He told me that I was to write twice a week, telling him exactly how things were going. He want away a couple of days later, and I was for the second time left alone; but on this occasion I had full charge of everything at Woodlands.

Randolph had lately been treating me with a little more consideration, and, though I had not the least love for him, I missed his company a little at first. Soon, however, I settled down contentedly to my solitary Me and did what I could to keep up the usual routine of work on the plantation, my efforts being well assisted by the overseers, who had been told to take any orders which I might give them. They were trustworthy men, and, though rather rough creatures, were always civil to me. I determined that as long as I was mistress on the plantation there should be as little whipping as possible, at least so far as the women were concerned. So I gave orders that no woman or girl was to be whipped in any way without my sanction. The overseers were very much surprised at my order, but I believe that they obeyed it; at any rate, as far as I knew, no woman or girl was whipped during the time I was in charge of the estate.

The days passed quietly and uneventfully on the plantation, but outside of it, everything was in a most disturbed state. Fighting was always going on somewhere. The Federal troops were concentrating in force, and were pressing on Richmond. Many of the neighboring plantations had been occupied by parties of the union soldiers, and I was daily expecting them to make their appearance at Woodlands. I wrote twice a week to Randolph, giving him particulars of everything which happened, and he wrote to me once a week, his letters always being business ones without a word of love.

At last, the «boys in blue» did come. One afternoon about four o’clock I happened to be looking out of one of the drawing-room windows when I saw a party of soldiers—led by an officer and accompanied by an army wagon—coming up the avenue towards the house. In a few minutes they halted on the terrace, piled their arms and unpacked the wagon, which contained blankets and other things belonging to the soldiers. My heart began to beat with excitement, and I sat down on the sofa to wait the denouement to the affair.

In a minute or two, Dinah ushered in an officer, who saluted me politely and said: «Madam, I have been ordered to occupy this plantation, but I assure you that you shall not be interfered with in any way. I will put my men in the slaves’ quarters, but I must ask you to give me a room in the house.»

I rose to my feet, smiling. It did my heart good to see the dear old blue uniform again. «I am very glad to see you and your men, Sir,» I said; «I am a Northern woman and all my sympathies are with you. Take a seat, and I will have a room prepared for you at once.»

He took a chair, looking very much surprised. Then I rang the bell for Dinah, and gave her the requisite orders. The officer was about twenty-seven years of age. He was a tall, handsome man with a bronzed face, clear grey eyes and a long, silky-blond moustache. His uniform was a little worn, but it fitted him to perfection and he evidently was a well-bred gentleman.

We entered into conversation, and, since there already was a bond of sympathy between us, we soon were chatting and laughing as if we had been old friends. He told me that he was a captain in the United States Army, that his name was Franklin and that he came from Pennsylvania. This fact made me feel even more friendly towards him, and I informed him that I also was a Pennsylvanian. Then we laughed and shook hands. I could see that it puzzled him to find that a Northern woman, and one who openly expressed her sympathy with the Union soldiers, should be the mistress of a Southern plantation. But he was too well bred to ask questions, and I did not volunteer any explanations.

After talking for some time, he rose from his seat, saying that he must go and see to the quartering of his men. I told him that dinner would be ready at seven o’clock. Then he bowed and left the room.

Sending for Dinah, I asked if she had seen that everything had been readied for the officer. She replied that she had seen to everything, and that his valise had been taken up to the room. I then told her that, now that the United States troops had come, she and all the other slaves soon would be set free.

«Oh, Missis, is dat a fact?» she exclaimed, showing her white teeth in a broad smile.

«Yes,» I replied.

«Den I’ll look after de ossifer myself. He is a fine lookin’ young gentleman,» she said, bustling away.

I went to my room and dressed for dinner, putting on one of my prettiest frocks. Then I went down to the drawing room to wait for Captain Franklin. Presently he came in, and, after making a bow, thanked me for the comfortable chamber which I had alloted him. I think he was rather surprised to find me in full evening toilette, with bare arms and shoulders. He had changed his rather war-worn uniform for an undress jacket and braided pantaloons, and he looked smart, soldierly and very handsome.

Presently dinner was announced and we went into the dining room. The meal was a good one, and I had ordered Dinah to get out some champagne as well as claret and sherry. Since Captain Franklin had been campaigning in a very rough way for six months, he thoroughly appreciated the dainty, well-cooked dishes and the good wine, and he said with a smile that he was a most fortunate man in having been detailed to occupy Woodlands instead of having to live in a damp, muddy tent and fare on tough ration beef and hard biscuits.

I laughed, saying that I was glad to hear he liked his quarters. Then we talked about all sorts of things, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, finding that I had plenty to say and that I was quite able to hold my own in an argument when I was not snubbed.

Captain Franklin was polite and agreeable, treating my opinions with consideration and never contradicting me. When we went into the drawing-room, he bade me good night, saying that he had to visit his men and mount a guard. He then went away, and I felt quite lonely. His coming to the house had excited me, and I found that I could not settle down quietly to anything that evening, so I went upstairs to my room and got Rosa to brush my hair for half an hour, then I went to bed.

Some days passed, and I soon found that the presence of the soldiers had caused nearly all the work on the plantation to come to a standstill. The field hands did pretty much as they pleased—though they were still slaves, the proclamation of their freedom not having been made until some time afterwards.

I had written to Randolph and acquainted him fully with the state of affairs, and had received a letter in which he said that he would not come back to Woodlands just then. It would be no use for him to return, he observed, and it would only annoy him to see his old home overrun by a lot of damned Yankees. He did not think that he would be able to stand it quietly, and there probably would be trouble, which most likely would end in shooting. He also said that he was thinking of taking a house in Richmond, and, if he did, he would send for me at once. He wanted me badly, as there was not a decent looking woman to be had in the place. He wound up by saying that, when I came away, I could leave everything in charge of the overseers—if there was anything left to be taken charge of.

The letter was typical of the man. It was utterly selfish; there was not a word of tenderness in it, and he had not even thought it necessary to be silent about his doings with other women. However, his unfaithfulness did not trouble me in the least, and I only smiled when I read that part of his letter.

During the time which had passed, I had seen very little of the soldiers, for they had kept well out of the way. But I was pretty sure that they were having a good time with the women and girls belonging to the plantation. I knew that Rosa had secured a sergeant as her beau, for I had seen her one afternoon in a summer house with him in a rather suspicious attitude. But I did not care how many sweethearts the girl had, or what they did to her, so long as she was at my service whenever I wanted her. And she always was.

Captain Franklin had never obtruded his presence on me, but we met at meals and he always used to spend an hour with me in the drawing room after dinner. It was a most pleasant time for me, because he was always agreeable and amusing. Moreover, we had many ideas in common, and our natures were sympathetic. I saw that he admired me, and before long I felt pretty sure from the way he looked at me and by various other little signs that he had more than a mere liking for me, though I had but little doubt that he had guessed the nature of the relations existing between me and the owner of Woodlands. But whether he had or not, he always treated me with respect, and I could not help contrasting his courteous, gentlemanly manner with the coarse and often brutal way in which Randolph nearly always had treated me.

View online : I employ the courtesan’s art of seduction (Chapter XVIII)

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