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Sarah Morgan Dawson (1842–1909)

Author of Sarah Morgan: The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman

Includes the names: Sarah M. (WRP) Dawson

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Sarah Ida Morgan was the daughter of a wealthy and influential Louisiana judge and lived a comfortable life in Baton Rouge until the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War in 1861. Her father died, one of her brothers was killed in a duel, and three other brothers joined the Confederate Army and Navy. The family was divided as her half-brother, Judge Philip Hicky Morgan, remained loyal to the Union. Sarah began keeping a diary in January 1862, at age 19. She recorded the shortages of food and household goods as a result of the Union blockade, and other experiences of the upheaval of war. After Union forces attacked Baton Rouge, Sarah, her widowed mother and sisters were forced to flee to various temporary homes until finally seeking refuge with Philip Morgan in New Orleans. Her brothers Thomas and George died of disease during the conflict. Sarah and her mother never returned to Baton Rouge. In 1872, they moved to South Carolina to live with her remaining brother James. Sarah got a job writing for the Charleston News and Courier. Two years later, she married the paper's editor, Francis Warrington Dawson, with whom she had three children. Her husband died in 1889, and Sarah earned a living writing short stories and translating French works into English. In 1899, she moved to Paris, where she lived until her death ten years later. Her son Warrington Dawson inherited her wartime journals, which comprised six volumes, and published an abridged version as A Confederate Girl's Diary (1913). The complete version finally appeared in 1991. Along with Mary Chestnut, a relative whom she never met, Sarah Morgan Dawson became one of the best known female diarists of the Civil War.
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