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Sarah Morgan Dawson
Chapter No. 2357

Sarah Morgan, pictured at age 20, was the daughter of Judge Thomas Morgan of Louisiana. The elder Judge Morgan was opposed to secession, but, once secession was voted in, was a loyal supporter of his state of Louisiana. Three of Sarah Morgan's brothers entered the Confederate Army. But there was another "Judge Morgan," Sarah's eldest brother, who remained loyal to the Union. Sarah's father, the senior Judge Morgan, died in November of 1861. Her Unionist brother arranged for Sarah and her mother to come to New Orleans, provided they would take the oath of allegiance to the United States. This is what happened to Sarah and her mother as recorded in the diary of Sarah:

April 22, 1863
When we at last entered the canal, I beheld the animal now so long unseen......the Yankee. Two officers came up and asked us for our papers. We said we had one. While one went after our passes, others came to examine our baggage. Then came a bundle of papers on board carried by another and he delivered to each a strip of paper that informed the people that Miss, or Mrs. So-and-so had taken and subscribed the oath as a Citizen of the United States.

I thought that was all, and rejoiced at our escape. But after a pause, he told us to hold up our right hands. Half-crying, I covered my face with mine and prayed for the boys and the Confederacy.....there came an awful pause in which not a lip moved....throwing down his blank book, the officer pronounced it "All right!"

Then it was that mother commenced. He asked her if she was ready to take the Oath. "I suppose I have to, since I belong to you."
"No, madam, you are not obliged; we force no one. Can you state your objections?"
"Yes, I have three sons fighting against you, and you have robbed me, beggared me!" she exclaimed, launching into a speech in which Heaven knows what she did not say. There was little she left out, from her despoiled house to her sore hand, both of which she attributed to the first amiable man, who was rapidly losing all patience. Faint with hunger, dizzy with sleeplessness, she was determined to carry it out, and crying and sobbing went through with it.

The officer walked off angrily and sent for a guard to have mother taken before General Bowens, ordering them to keep all on board.

How about that oath of allegiance? Guilty or not guilty of perjury? According to the law of God in the abstract, and of nations, Yes; according to my conscience, Jeff Davis, and the peculiar position I was placed in, No. Which is it? Had I had any idea that such a pledge would be exacted, would I have been willing to come? Never! A forced oath, all agree, is not binding. The Yankees lay particular stress on this being voluntary, and insist that no one is solicited to take it except of their own free will. Yet look at the scene that followed, when mother showed herself unwilling! Think of being ordered to the Custom-House as a prisoner for saying she supposed she would have to! That's liberty! That is free will! It is entirely optional, you have only to take it quietly or go to jail. That is freedom enough, certainly! I told the officer who took down my name that I was unwilling to take the oath and asked if there was no escaping it. "None whatever," was his reply. You have to do it, and there is no getting out of it." His rude tone frightened me into half-crying. If perjury it is, which will God punish: me, who was unwilling to commit the crime, or the man who forced me to do it?"

Sarah began her diary in 1861 and it finally consisted of six books ending in 1865. At war's end, she was living in New Orleans. She moved to Charleston SC where, in 1874, she married an Englishman, Francis W. Dawson. After his death, she moved to Paris France and died there in 1909.

In 1913 Sarah's son, Warrington Dawson, published a book, "A Confederate Girl's Diary", using his mother's six diaries which she had instructed him to burn after her death. This book has become one of the most remarkable records of the war era.

Officers 2004 ~ 2006

President ~ Nola Labat
Vice President ~ Billie Elliott
2nd Vice President ~ Lauren Ainsworth
Recording Secretary ~ Dorothy Patton
Treasurer ~ Sandra Eccles
Historian ~ Bonnie Mahaffey
Recorder of Military Service Awards~Virginia Baronne
Custodian of Flags ~ Lillie Bell Meyer
Chaplain ~ Cheryl Ainsworth

Our chapter was organized in 1967 and meetings are held the third Sunday afternoon of the month at the main library on Goodwood Blvd in Baton Rouge. Email for additional information.

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