August 1863

August 1, 1863

Studying. (Paid $25.00 for board.)

Gravemarker of George Herbert Wait in Mt. Holly Cemetery

August 2, 1863

Sunday. Saw Syberg & Egan.

August 3, 1863

Attended to funeral of [George] Herbert Wait. He was on horseback & was thrown off & struck his private parts on the pommel of the saddle. His testicles were completely mashed. He walked into the house & told his mother that he was not much hurt. There must have been some internal injury.

Gravemarker of Mary Francis (“Frank”) Wassell in Mt. Holly Cemetery

Frank Vaughan was wounded at the Helena fight & has been at DeVall’s Bluff [ever since]. He sent over for the girls to come over for him today so a number of them & boys went this morning.

When they arrived there, or before they got there, “Frank” Wassell was sitting on the engine above the cow catcher. She thought the train had stopped and jumped off. Her clothes caught and her leg was caught & run over by the wheel [of the locomotive]. The engineer stopped as soon as he could. Her leg from the knee to the ankle was completely mashed. She did not faint but was blind for sometime. When they left in the morning, her parents lingered long on the banks of the river looking so long until some wondered why they waited so long.

It was an extremely foolish thing for the girls to go over there for Vaughan. There was no feminine delicacy in it. I am sorry – truly sorry — that it happened to Frank Wassell. Her poor parents. She may live through it.

August 4, 1863

[Mary Francis] “Frank” Wassell died last night to be buried today. Her mother is nearly crazy.

August 5, 1863

Studying & reading.

August 6, 1863


August 7, 1863

Reading & studying. Saw Wiedemann. Wanted him to ask [Ed] Sauter who is in the Adjutant General’s office if he could get me a pass to go to Mexico.  Said he could if I could get a man in town to say that I wanted to go there for my health & that it was necessary.

August 8, 1863

Reading and studying.

August 9, 1863


August 10, 1863

Mr. Graves and his wife here. They expect to go to North Carolina & start Wednesday. I am sorry. Gloomy news. Taking all the conscripts they can.

August 11, 1863

Reading. Down the street in morning.

Night. At Egans. I am going to [start working at] the Penitentiary tomorrow.  Saw Mr. Graves. He could not get a pass [to leave Little Rock].

State Penitentiary at Little Rock, 1866

August 12, 1863

Went to work at [the State] Prison. I am a guard on the wall. Nothing to do except stay in my little house on top of the wall.

August 13, 1863

At Prison. Dull. Syberg has been appointed Captain of the Engineer’s Corp by General [Edmund Kirby] Smith. I saw him last night but he refuses to do anything for me after promising that he would so many times. Well, Syberg, if you ever found a more disinterested friend than me, you have done good, but I doubt it. All my well wishes & exertions for you are this requested.

August 14, 1864

At Prison. Hard work to do nothing.

Edmund Kirby Smith, Arkansas History Commission

Edmund Kirby Smith, Arkansas History Commission

August 15, 1863

At Prison. Called on Syberg. He goes tomorrow. Wants me to go with him but I would have to be detailed [into the Confederate service]. (Paid $2.50 for tobacco and $2.00 for whiskey.)

August 16, 1863

Sunday. At Prison.

August 17, 1863

At penitentiary. Hard life. Some of the prisoners, perfect knaves, say that when they get out, they will have the state, for there are more villains & cheats in this state than any other.

August 18, 1863

At penitentiary. Evening, went down to Wiedemann’s. He has bought a house & store in Washington [Arkansas] for fifteen thousand dollars in Confederate [dollars]. He is going there when times get better. He says he will take me as partner or clerk.

August 19, 1863

In Penitentiary.

August 20, 1863

At Penitentiary. Nothing new. (Paid $2.00 for whiskey.)

August 21, 1863

At Penitentiary.

August 22, 1863

At Penitentiary.

Page from Goodrich Diary, Arkansas History Commission

Page from Goodrich Diary, Arkansas History Commission

August 23, 1863

Sunday. At penitentiary part of the day. A convict learned me how to braid with horsehair. Gave me two rings of hair.

August 24, 1863

At penitentiary. Making a chain of hair.

August 25, 1863

At Prison working on chain.

August 26, 1863

At prison working. Had a fight yesterday and a man was whipped. Capt. [John D.] Adams and family left today. Did not ask me to go [with him]. Yesterday, Henry Moore left for Washington [Arkansas], Ashley’s & Walsh’s have left. Nothing new. Only the town is in great excitement on account of the Feds coming.

August 27, 1863

Rainy. At penitentiary. Put advertisement for school in paper ($5.00).

August 28, 1863

At penitentiary.

August 29, 1863

At penitentiary. Finished my hair chain. (Paid $4.00 for whiskey.)

August 30, 1863

Sunday. At home. Nothing new.

August 31, 1863

At Penitentiary. Feds going back. It is believed that they will not come now. [Turned back by Marmaduke’s dismounted troopers at Reed’s Bridge near Graytown, some 10 miles northeast of Little Rock, the Federal troopers of Davidson’s cavalry division retired back East to Brownsville and Hick’s Station to regroup.]


George Herbert Wait was born in October 1845 and died on 2 August 1863. His father was William B. Wait (1808-1892), a Little Rock merchant originally from Massachusetts. His mother was Martha Lavinia Reardon (1809-1864). All are buried in Mt. Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.

Gravestone of Frank Vaughan, Mt. Holly Cemetery

Francis (Frank) T. Vaughan served in Capt. John G. Marshall’s Battery, Arkansas Light Artillery. He was very seriously wounded at the Battle of Helena, losing his left arm and receiving additional wounds in his right hand and breast. Five other artillerymen in this unit were injured at the Battle of Helena attempting to support Brig. General Dandridge McRae’s Brigade in Sterling Price’s Division. He would survive his wounds and live until 1916, however. He is buried in Mt. Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, AR.

Mary Francis [“Frank”] Wassell was the 18 year-old daughter of John Wassell (1813-1881) and Margaret Spotts (1815-1895).

In her diary on the same date, Annie E. Cowgill also described “Franke” Wassell’s tragic death. She recorded that “Franke” died “last night at half past nine o’clock” and that “there was a great many” at the funeral she attended on the evening of the 4th with her sister and grandmother.

To avoid serving once again in the Confederate military, Goodrich managed to obtain a government job at the State Penitentiary in Little Rock guarding civilian prisoners.

When Private James B. Lockney of Co. G, 28th Wisconsin, toured Little Rock during the Union occupation in September 1863, he described the enclosure of the State Penitentiary as being “115 paces or steps of about 30 inches each on each side.” He also described the wall as “20 or 25 feet high & very strong.” In 1863, the State Penitentiary was located on the site of the present day State Capitol building with a commanding view of the Arkansas River. Source: Private collection of James R. Shirey. Used by permission.

Unbeknownst to Goodrich, his brother James – a member of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry – was part of the Federal army then advancing on Little Rock from Helena, Arkansas. The march on Little Rock was described by James Goodrich to his sister as follows:

Camp at Clarendon [Arkansas]
August 21, 1863

My Dear Sister [Augusta].  Your letter of August 9th I just received today from Helena and as I have a chance to send one I will improve the opertunity & try & write you a few lines. We have been here two days waiting to cross the river here. We are in the rear of nearly all the army going to Little Rock & will have to wait a day or two longer before we can cross. It is reported here that they are forty firing at Brownsville 30 miles from here & intend to give us battle. If so, I hope that we can whip them. Our advance is some fifteen miles from here & have some little fighting to do. We are having some very hot & dry dusty country to travel over now & it comes very hard on us. We left Helena with only 200 men & nearly half of them are sick now. We lost one man in our company since we have been here. His name was Joseph Jingles from Doniphan, Kansas. He was not well when we left Helena but would go with us.  I have received a letter from Ma stating the particulars of Pa’s death [on July 11, 1863]. I can hardly believe it but it is too true. I am expecting a letter from ma. Hope I shall get one before long. I do not feel very well today nor have I since I left Helena. I should write to ma but I do not feel well enough to… I must close this as they are waiting for it. Direct as usual to Helena & they will be sent on to us. Love to all. Write soon & believe me your affectionate brother, — James Goodrich

Source: James S. Griffing Collection, Kansas State Historical Society

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