Eliza McHatton

Louisiana refugee. Her journal, though published long after the war and under her married name, provides useful geographic information about the route she traveled through Beaumont. See guterl2008, 84–113, for extensive discussion of her Brazilian exile.

p. 44: Mentions that her plantation home turned into a guest house for many travelers during the war: “People journeying from point to point avoided towns on the river-bank and sought hospitality at plantation or farm houses. So frequent were the demands made upon Arlington by lonely and forlorn travelers, that a couple of rooms in the rear of the house were set apart for their convenience.”

p. 45: On the flight of slaves to Union gunboats: “One fine day the fleet of gunboats steamed away, accompanied by transports loaded to the edge with their black freight. Negroes from every direction flocked in after the battle, old and young and of both sexes.”

Much like Kate Stone, McHatton tells the story of her leaving the plantation as a sudden, frantic “midnight flight,” even though her husband’s relocation of many slaves to her brother’s Texas plantation suggests a more planned removal. She also, like Stone, lingers on the dirt and unsophistication she found in Texas and the slovenly homes of locals.

p. 51: “So, in direct violation of military orders issued from headquarters in New Orleans, prohibiting the transfer of slaves from one plantation to another, a number of our negroes were sent to my brother’s plantation, where work was provided for them, by which they could at least earn their food, and at the same time partially relieve us of an element of querulous discontent that was fast becoming dangerous.”

p. 66:

WE were going to Texas, the great State that opened its hospitable doors to hundreds of refugees fleeing like ourselves from their own homes. We were going to Texas for many reasons.

A loving brother was there, and our slaves were there at peaceful work on land cultivated on shares. We had, besides, the feeling that the Federals could never get a foothold on its boundless prairies, though they had made an ominous beginning by capturing its most valuable seaport; but, above and beyond all, we could take refuge in Mexico if the worse came to the worst.

p. 70, on poor state of Texas railroads:

No recollection remains to me regarding the time-table of the Houston and Beaumont Railroad, but a dim idea dawns that it was intended to make a round trip daily, Deo volente, which implied “weather permitting”; but when rain soaked the wood piled by the road-side so that it would not make steam, or when sleet made the rails slippery, travel was entirely suspended. As both these contingencies existed the week we were in Beaumont, of course no travel could be thought of.

Her husband secures government contract to haul cotton to Rio Grande: “He had contracts to move Government cotton to the frontier, which afforded him opportunities to move his own; and in following up that cotton we took more than one trip to the Rio Grande” (77). Her diary includes good descriptions of the number of teamsters in San Antonio during the war. Eventually, around time of the fall of Brownsville, they slip into Mexico. Discusses chance encounter with a former employee of her husband’s who helped them into Mexico via Piedra Negras.


  • Notice about the death of her son in Houston, April 1863