Chana's Reviews > Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary Of A Southern Woman

Sarah Morgan by Sarah Morgan Dawson
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Nov 25, 12

bookshelves: history, memoirs-and-biographies, civil-war
Read on December 18, 2010

Sarah Morgan was a young woman,almost 20 years old, from a high ranking family in Baton Rouge LA. She is very intelligent, a gifted writer, extremely attached to her family, and very much not an adult yet. Her feelings and behavior are immature, as well they might be at 19 and 20. She is however, as I said, really smart. She thinks rings around many of the people around her and can't stop herself from being unkind in a charming Southern way. She finds her own witty sarcasm amusing, and she often puts people down for the fun of it. She seems to find most people boring and has a problem with hating young men who show an interest in her. She thinks her father and brothers and sisters are exalted people and has a very strong sense of her entitled privilege. Her feelings about the lower classes, if she ever has to think about them, is dismissive at best and often disgusted. She views slaves like simple children who should be kindly but strictly disciplined. I don't think it occurs to her at all that they have brains that might be the equivalent of hers. So even though this is called "A Civil War Diary" it often has nothing to do with war and everything to do with being a young girl's diary.
The books starts out with several sad events; the devastating death of her favorite older brother in a duel, and then a few months later the death of her beloved father. These were obviously terrible events for her family, but to make everything worse the Civil War had started and pretty soon Baton Rouge was being shelled and her family had to flee their home. In the beginning Sarah is not a rabid anti-Unionist, she would like the Union to make the necessary concessions to the South and if possible for the country to be re-united. As the war progresses and the deaths and privation mount she becomes a person who hates Yankees with a passion. To make things more complicated, of her 4 remaining brothers 3 are fighting for the Confederacy and one is on the side of the Union. Family is everything for Sarah though, she continues to love and think highly of her Union brother. The family is admirable in this way even though Sarah seems to have an unbelievable superiority complex (kind of mixed with a hatred of herself that could be artful but I think has a real basis). Her beau relationships are sad I think. She rejects the possible (she intends to never marry or have children although she does eventually) and sees nothing wrong with an older married man who comes repeatedly to their house for parties and evenings and outings who is obviously very infatuated with her. Well, like I said, she was young. Re-reading some pages I am again struck with how brilliant she is. It is too long to print here but I recommend reading her description of of what she wants in a husband on pages 60,61,62 and 63.
Everything that she wrote about the Civil War was, like war itself I guess, alternately boring and horrific and terribly, terribly sad.
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