This text is an excerpt (pages 4 and 5) from Mrs. Albright’s Reminiscences on the Civil War.
Mrs. James W. Albright
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 6.

A short time after General Longstreet had joined again the army around Petersburg, two guns of the 12th. Va. Battalion were planted in front of my home to repel an attack from Suffolk. My mother was an invalid and we were ordered to move her and the children to a place of safety.  

My father was not at home, and an old family negro was rapidly making arrangements to carry my mother and children to a near neighbor’s. I was almost heart broken and crying when I saw an officer riding at break-neck speed towards my home. He proved to be my future husband, whom I had never seen but once before. He ordered the two guns to hastily go to the front that the Yankees were on the rear. He then came to the door and knocked, and when I appeared he told me the Yankees were falling back and that Major Boggs had sent him to rush the guns forward and tell the young ladies not to move their mother as our troops were going to make a stand, at Beaverdam Church. A mile nearer Suffolk, and if we couldn’t hold them there he would return in time for the family to get safely away. I shall never forget the anxiety of that day. And here I must pay a tribute to our faithful carriage driver, “Uncle Daniel” as we children called him. But for him we would have suffered. He hid our horses, cattle and provisions, in the swamps. The negroes could go to Suffolk, but not the whites—hence Uncle Daniel did our marketing there sugar and coffee. He also run my father’s saw-mill, to get money to buy our necessaries, and by claiming it as his own he saved it from being burned, as every deserted house was[.]  

And notwithstanding we had our troubles, and daily fears of insult, we never needed for the necessaries of life, save chickens which always grew scarcer after each visit of the Yankees. From the fall of Norfolk to the close of the war the negroes were free to go where they pleased and urged to go to Suffolk where they would be treated like white folks; yet, not a single one of our servants left us, and more devotion could not have been manifested during the war and afterwards, as they all remained on the old homestead as long as they lived, in little cabins given them by my father. 

This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15012coll8/id/12947/rec/69.
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    Why were guns placed in front of Mrs. Albright’s house?
    The guns were placed there “to repel an attack from Suffolk.”
  2. Question
    Name a few specific actions taken by Daniel that helped the Albright family survive the war.
    Answers will vary and may include these: arranged to move individuals to a safer location, hid provisions in the swamps to avoid detection, claimed sawmill as his own.
  3. Question
    Who saved the Albrights from “suffering”?
    Uncle Daniel saved them.
  4. Question
    What are the racial connotations of the terms “aunt” and “uncle” in pre-emancipation United States? How do you know?
    Answers may vary and include these: These terms were used to describe enslaved people who generally worked inside the homes of the slave owner as opposed to working in the fields.
  5. Question
    Consider three reasons why the enslaved people owned by Mrs. Albright’s family did not leave their enslavers during the war.
    Answers will vary.
Reveal Answers
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