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Eliza Frances Andrews, b. 1840
The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865
New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1908.

Summary

Eliza Frances Andrews was born to a prominent judge and planter in Washington, Georgia in 1840. According to one report, her family owned two hundred slaves. She attended the Ladies' Seminary and then enrolled at La Grange Female College, from which she received her A. B. in 1857. Leading up to and during the Civil War Andrews's parents supported the Union, but Eliza supported the Confederacy and her three brothers who fought for the South. At the end of the War, her article, "A Romance of Robbery," appeared in the New York World. The article fictionalized the mistreatment of family friends by Reconstruction officials. This article launched her long career as an author; her writings include articles, novels, and textbooks, some of which appeared under the pseudonym Elzey Hay. After the death of her parents, Eliza was forced to earn more money, which led her to secretly take on the task of editing the local paper, the Washington Gazette. After a short time, however, the publisher discovered his new editor was a woman and declared newspaper work inappropriate for a female. In 1873 Andrews became a school principal in Yazoo, Mississippi, and in 1874 she returned to Washington, Georgia to teach. In 1896 she began teaching literature and French at Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia, and continued there until 1896. It was not until 1908, more than forty years after the Civil War, that she published her diary, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl. She edited this journal significantly before publishing it—omitting personal sections and passages she found embarrassing. She was a strong supporter of slavery during the Civil War, but by the time she published the Journal she was ambivalent. She was a self-proclaimed socialist and espoused Social Darwinism, and actively supported segregation of African Americans and whites. She returned to teach botany at Washington's public high school and wrote two botany textbooks. While her primary means of financial support was teaching, during her lifetime she had an international reputation as both a botanist and writer. She died in 1931.

The Journal begins in December 1864, with General Sherman's Union troops camped around Atlanta. The first entry records Andrews's safe arrival in Macon en route to meet relatives with whom she would stay in Southwest Georgia until the War ended. The rest of the diary records Andrews's daily activities, parties with Confederate soldiers, and visits with various relatives and friends, including Julia Toombs, wife of Robert Toombs, a famous Georgia orator and author of the Confederate Constitution. Throughout the diary, Andrews remains a staunch supporter of the Confederate cause and does not equivocate in describing the Union's mistreatment of southerners.

One of the important aspects of the Journal is the record of daily interactions among upper-class southern men and women struggling as refugees in southern Georgia. What makes the diary unique, however, is the commentary that Andrews adds some forty years after her original experience. She confesses to the difficulty she has remembering such a trying time and highlights the challenge the South faced in moving beyond its painful past.

Works Consulted: Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999; Jones, Katherine M., Heroines of Dixie: Confederate Women Tell Their Story of the War, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1955.

Harris Henderson

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