By Philip Vickers Fithian
From the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian, A Plantation Tutor of the Old Dominion, 1773-1774
Editor's note: the spellings are to period and from Mr. Fithian's diary.
La[s]t night we had a Gust of Rain & Thunder; very acceptable—To Day in course Mr. Christians Dance happens here--He came before Breakfast—Miss Jenny Washington came also, & Miss Priscilla Hale while we were at Breakfast
What a date, My Dear Heart, and what a country from which to write in the month of January! It is in a camp in the middle of woods; it is fifteen hundred leagues from you that I find myself buried in midwinter. Not too long ago, we were separated from the enemy by a small river; now we are seven leagues away from them and it is here that the American army will spend the winter in small barracks hardly more cheerful than a jail. I do not know if the general … will decide to visit our new abode; should he, we would show him around. The bearer of this letter will describe to you the pleasant place which I seem to prefer to being with you, with all my friends and amidst all possible pleasures.
This is the recipe I always use. Good.
Cream 1/2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar, add 2 eggs well beaten, 3/4 cup cold water, 2 heaping teaspoonfuls yeast powder, enough flour to make a stiff batter. Flavor with vanilla. Drop on well greased pans and bake in a moderately quick oven.*
This takes about 1 pt flour.
This recipe comes from a fascinating little book, Annie Flora Myer, Confederate Daughter of Fredericksburg: Recipes and Remedies in Her Own Hand, edited by her great grandniece Anne Ligon. It is available for reserve and check out through the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.
Emma Edmonds kept a wartime journal which she later expanded into a book, available today as Nurse and Spy in the Union Army. In this selection, "Frank Thompson" volunteers to substitute for General Hancock's aide-de-camp. Here she tells of a wild ride, an unexpected death, and a wounded officer.
Battle-field, Fredericksburg, VA.,
December 13, 1862
I rode three miles with General H. to General Franklin's headquarters, the second night we were at Fredericksburg, and all the night that I can recall to mind that was the darkest. On our way we had numerous ditches to leap, various ravines to cross, and mountains to climb, which can be better imagined than described. It was not only once or twice that horse and rider went tumbling into chasms head first, but frequently.
Historians believe at least 400 women served in the Civil War as soldiers, but documented cases are very few.
The kids are running around the house screaming. One has a cat, the other a bottle of dishwashing liquid. They're heading for the bathroom. Your head is pounding as you rush after them; you arrive seconds before your Persian sinks her claws into your five-year-old. After you dry off the cat, lecture the children, and bring out some popcorn to distract them, that extra cup of coffee and sweet roll are starting to look pretty good. If you smoke, you're probably reaching for the pack by now. After all, you deserve it, don't you?
Fredericksburg's Mary Ball Washington was an intrepid 18th-century woman who raised five children alone. The oldest became the first President of the United States.
Mary Washington's name and heritage are alive and well in the Fredericksburg area and beyond. Her home is at the corner of Lewis and Charles streets; the Mary Washington Monument is on Washington Avenue, which was originally Mary Washington Avenue.