Richmond panned by press! — Restauranteurs “swindlers and knaves” say soldiers — One dollar twenty-five cent outrage!

The Family Budget was a hand-written camp newspaper by Edward Budget, Confederate soldier in Hampton’s Legion which was formed after South Carolina seceded.  The Library of Virginia holds this issue from July of 1861 in which Budget describes camp life on a rainy day, the arrival of artillery from Tredegar Iron Works, and criticizes Richmond at length for taking advantage of soldiers, and of being too “Yankee,” among other offenses.  The text is transcribed below.

 

 

 

 

 

Family Budget

July 14th, 1861

Camp Manning

We had hoped to have been able to chronicle in this issue an account of the presentation by Pres. Davis of a flag to Hampton Legion as the Legion were informed several days ago that said presentation would take place on the afternoon of Saturday the 13th […]; this however we are unable to do, not through any fault of our reporters but simply because the presentation did not take place, owing to the fact that the Executive was on that day too unwell to come out to Camp.  The presentation will probably take place tomorrow at any rate in time for us to give an account of it in our next. The [stand] of colors is a present from Carolina ladies.

Yesterday two six-pound rifle cannons arrived for the artillery and received a hearty welcome; these pieces were cast in the Tredegar Works Richmond and are beautiful specimens of workmanship.

Judging from appearances we would think that some important military movement was on foot in the neighborhood of Yorktown this morning.  There were […] about fifty or sixty feet long passed here on the rail road on their way to said place yesterday, a number of gun carriages, [timber chests], etc. and the day before several heavy pieces of artillery all bound to the same destination; what the nature of the movement is we are unable to say and cannot even venture a guess. While Yorktown is [best][ …5] miles from Richmond and our camp is directly on the road we are as ignorant of matters in that neighborhood as we are of affairs in Charleston; in fact now that we are so near the [seat of war] we are far more ignorant of the progress of events than we were when several hundred miles off.

Yesterday evening the camp was excited by hearing that Norfolk had been attacked and was the [surrounded] by forces both on land and sea, but this morning one of our man inquired at one of the news-paper offices in the city and was told that they had heard nothing of it. Consequently we are inclined to set it down as one of the numerous […] that are everyday got up for the entertainment of the credulous.

The people of Richmond – on this subject we must speak with caution; our opportunities for judging them being none of the best. of the better classes we have seen nothing at all accepting that there are a number of ladies at our Dress parade every […], but of the store and shop keepers we can speak feelingly. we consider them a set of [arrant] [knaves] and consummate swindlers; such instance of [exorbitance] as we every day meet with are without a parallel elsewhere; they appear to look upon the needy soldiers as fair prey as being game for them and accordingly make the most they can out of them; this morning a member of company [H] stopped at a restaurant in Richmond to get some refreshments, [he eat] one small plate batter-cakes, drank one cup of coffee and two mint juleps and for this he was charged one dollar an twenty-five cents for what he could have got for thirty-cents in Charleston; this I consider a swindle. Doubtless if he had worn a citizens coat he would have been charged a more reasonable amount but his military coat marked him out to be fleeced and fleeced he was. The people you meet on the street are more like Yankees than like Southerners. There is a rudeness and flippancy in their manner that is very revolting to a South Carolinian. The Negroes are impudent and disobliging. Speaking then from what I have seen I am inclined to dislike the people of Richmond. It strikes me that there is too much of the Yankee element in their midst. The city itself I admire more than any I have ever seen but the people less.

In the next column will be found the description of a rainy day in camp written yesterday during the continuance of a very heavy rain.

A Rainy Day in Camp

Rainy days are always considered dull even amid all the appliances for comfort and amusements which home offers.  The City Belle or beau finds a rainy-day an [inexpressible] bore; time hangs heavy on their hands, as listlessly they wander o’er the house, peering into odd corners, or, lying upon some velvet lounge with half-opened boots and half-shut eyes; turning frequently to the windows to watch the dark masses of sluggish vapor that cloud the sky; wondering if it will ever stop raining; half-fearing that it never will. To such as these a rainy day passes wearily enough, it presents no attractions whatever and is pronounced by them a decided bore.

Some from the possession of internal resources find no dullness in the day be the sky ever so dark and lowering, be the rain ever so heavy and incessant, cheerfully employed in some useful occupation, reading, writing or sewing, surrounded by loved ones, their minds occupied by pleasant thoughts, they do not dream of weariness; to such as these a rainy day, instead of being an object of dislike is often a blessing.

Rainy days have afforded material for innumerable essays, some light and entertaining, others dull and [prosy]; I have read many of both classes but do no recollect to have read one written during a rainy day in camp, hence this attempt.

To these who find a rainy-day dull amid the comforts of home surrounded by everything that can contribute to their amusement, what would be the dullness of a day spent in a six-foot tent with naught within to amuse or interest and naught without to please the eye or entrap the fancy.

In the tent where I am now seated there are four others, three of these stretched out upon the straw floor sleeping or trying to sleep, another perched on the end of a [board] with solemn face and [p…ing] manner is writing a letter on the head of a drum, while I with portfolio on knee am seated upon a knapsack, two upright muskets supporting my back while the pattering rain furnishes a topic to write on.

A stranger glancing in upon us now would receive an impression of utter discomfort, nothing would meet his eye suggestive either of ease or pleasure; the solemn looking [guns] have a forbidding aspect; the sleepers have an uncomfortable look while the melancholy looking bundle of coats and pants that swings from the ridge- pole flaps about in a most disconsolate manner; in one corner a pile of canteens, tin cups, and such like household utensils have a dull heavy appear-ance that makes one sleepy to look at them. The wide mouthed cups seem to yawn with weariness; a ragged flag that droops from the gun rack seems tired of the world and as if unable to flutter in the breeze again; the crushed and scattered hand-fuls of straw have a look of “yellow melancholy” that is most dispiriting while the pattering rain and heavy atmosphere is suggestive of yawns and lay attitudes; so much for what is within.

Immediately in front of the opening-called for politeness sake the door- is a large mud puddle, beyond this is another tent, the occupants of which lie huddled together upon the damp ground like pigs in a sty. Farther than this the view is obscured by the backs of other tents that look dreary and desolate in the gloom; from one of the neighboring tents is heard the melancholy tones of an ill used fiddle the […] of which being in full accordance with the weather and neither lively nor pleasant to the ear; the numerous voices heard from the near and far sound as if the speakers were growling in their sleep while an occasional laugh from some inconquerable spirit sounds strange and out of place.

With such surroundings one would naturally be surprised to find the day unbearably dull but such is not the case with a piece of paper to scribble on and my thoughts with those for whose amusement I write- I do not think whether the day is dull or otherwise. On a day like this with what pleasure do we turn from the outer to the inner world, from the darkened present to the sunlit past! With what pleasure do we wander through memory’s well filled storehouse and [revel] amid the scenes of the past calling around us, the faces and scenes we [most love]. we go over again the joys that have been ours, the outer world with us clouds and discomforts- fades from the view, the present is forgotten and the past, the ever pleasant past, lit up by the sunlight of home and by memory’s aid drawn near becomes a present reality which naught can darken or destroy.

A rainy day in camp then is not necessarily dull and despite the lowering clouds, the beating rain, despite even that discordant fiddle, one can succeed in keeping up their spirits.

In lieu of the absent sunlight memory creates a sunny spot where undisturbed I may repose and dream the hours away caring not whether the rain continues or ceases, in fact rather preferring the former for with the thought of the clearing away of the clouds looms up dark and threatening the certainty of a battalion drill, the terror of the camp and my peculiar aversion.

News being [not] – we are again obliged to [curtail] our [valuable] [st…] but trust our patrons will be lenient towards us E. Budget.

Catalog record

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