Paxton Diaries Now at Washington and Lee

Rather timely news in the Washington Post today:

[Alexander Sterrett ] Paxton’s diaries — six of them, chronicling the conflict from beginning to end — surfaced at auction this summer. A group of donors raised the funds to purchase them for Washington and Lee University, where Paxton was a senior when the war erupted. Paxton marched off to fight with about 100 classmates, known to posterity as the Liberty Hall Volunteers.

I say timely because on Tuesday this week, historian Frank O’Reilly spoke to our roundtable about the Liberty Hall Volunteers, which became Company I, 4th Virginia Infantry, of the “Stonewall” Brigade.

The article offers several quotes from the diaries.  Regarding General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s famous stand at First Manassas, Paxton wrote:

Whilst we were there Gen Jackson rode up & down the line as cool & calm as if on an evening parade, tho’ the missiles of destruction flew around him as thick as hail. Now & then he would exclaim “Alls well,” & remarked “This night we will drive them across the Potomac.”

A quote that is almost as stirring as “.. we shall give them the bayonet.”

And there is this indication of Paxton’s feelings towards his adversaries:

Nothing is so exciting as to get a shot at a Yankee. How strange that the better & kinder feelings of our natures should be thus changed!

Andy Hall may want to consider another word-string search:

Paxton began his account with this legend: Devoted to a brief history of the adventures, movements &c of the ‘Liberty Hall Volunteers’ during the war of Southern Independence & of resistance to Northern Despotism.

He wrote that he had joined the conflict because the peace & safety of our homes in the Old Dominion were threatened by the warlike preparations of Old Abe Lincoln.

Though I must say, “War of Northern Despotism” makes me suspicious about the Quebec license plates on I-95.