Frances A. Murdoch Journal
Scope and Content
This collection consists of a journal maintained by Frances A. "Fannie" Murdoch, a young woman living on a Mississippi plantation during the American Civil War. Containing approximately 90 pages, the journal commences with an entry dated May 29, 1861. The journal is largely introspective in nature, as Murdoch dwells on personal feelings, focusing heavily on her religious beliefs. She often questions her worthiness and chastises herself for sins, frequently mentioning her quick temper. At the same time, Murdoch takes pride in the evening Bible studies she conducts with the people her family enslaved. Murdoch also describes the weather and often refers to siblings Willie, Jonnie and Sallie, as well as various relatives, servants and neighbors.
As the Civil War commences, Murdoch very briefly mentions reports from Harpers Ferry and Philippi, Virginia. After the Battle of Manassas, her entries focus more on war rumors and news. She mentions a personal telegram received by acquaintances from President Davis, relaying news of the Confederate victory at Manassas, and Davis' proclamation for a day of prayer and fasting.
On April 18, 1862, Murdoch expresses thanks for what she considers a Confederate victory at Shiloh, while at the same time disagreeing with those who believe the war's end may soon be drawing near. As the war progresses, she becomes ever less hopeful of victory and mentions a prophecy that the war will last four years and result in the reunification of the states. She relays secondhand but somewhat lengthy descriptions of a battle between the Natchez militia and a Union gunboat, the death of Colonel Stuart Wilkins Fisk at the Battle of Murfreesboro, and the plundering of Bruinsburg by Union soldiers. Elsewhere, she reports the surrenders of New Orleans and Vicksburg.
On a few occasions, Murdoch expresses her fear of a revolt by enslaved people but feels confident that Ben or Henry, people her family enslaved, would save her and brother Jonnie, "as they say they like us so much." Elsewhere, Murdoch deplores the torture used on Natchez enslaved people to elicit information about rumored plans for an uprising. On May 3, 1863, she notes that many of the people her family enslaved have departed, averring that they had forgotten how well they were treated by the family and comparing them to a fly being lured by a spider--the lure in this case being the promise of eleven dollars a month. Also on this date, Murdoch notes that the carriage horses are all gone, and she feels in danger of being "outraged and insulted at any time." After intermittent entries made during the next several months, the journal ends on October 12, 1863.
- 1861 - 1863
- Murdoch, Francis A., b.1847 (Person)
Language of Materials
The material in the collection is in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.
Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.
Frances A. "Fannie" Murdoch was born in Mississippi around 1847. Her father, John Murdoch (1813-1861) had been born in Louisiana, attended Yale University (class of 1834), and in 1840 married Frances Louisa Bristol (1819-1875), daughter of a New Haven, Connecticut family. The Murdochs later resided at Cane Mount, their cotton plantation near Rodney (Jefferson County), Mississippi. Fannie was one of eight children and was schooled by private tutors at home with her siblings before briefly attending Professor Baird's school from December 1862 until April 1863. No further information about Fannie Murdoch could be found.
0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)
The collection contains the journal of a young woman living on a Mississippi plantation during the American Civil War, relaying descriptions of a battle between the Natchez militia and a Union gunboat, the death of Colonel Stuart Wilkins Fisk at the Battle of Murfreesboro, the plundering of Bruinsburg by Union soldiers, and other war news.
Source of Acquisition
The Frances A. Murdoch Journal was donated to Special Collections in 2005.
Existence and Location of Copies
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Frances A. Murdoch Journal by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing and description of the Frances A. Murdoch Journal commenced and was completed in October 2009.
- Frances A. Murdoch Journal, 1861-1863
- John M. Jackson, Archivist
- 2009 (CC0 1.0)
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
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