In Beyond All Price, the Roundhead Regiment moved to Beaufort, SC in Early December, 1861. The regimental headquarters occupied a lovely plantation home on Bay Street, and Nellie Chase was just beginning to learn what it meant to keep such a household running smoothly.
Nellie Chase loved the view from the front windows that looked over the bay, where
the water was now still and glassy. “How do you ever get any work done in here?” she asked as
the colonel ushered her to an armchair in front of the window. “I’m afraid I’d sit and gawk at
the beauty of this place.”
“Sometimes I do,” Leasure answered with a grin. He stood at the window for a moment and
then turned away deliberately. “Christmas,” he pronounced.
“Yes. We definitely need to do something.” Nellie said, and then stopped as the colonel
held up his hand.
“I’ve been doing some checking. It seems the tradition down here is that the slave owners
give their slaves gifts at Christmas—new clothes, a pocket knife, a pipe, a head kerchief, shoes,
a bit of cash, extra food rations—that sort of thing. And the children get candy, nuts, maybe a
ball. These people are working for us now, and the least we can do is fill their owners’ shoes in
Nellie breathed a sigh of relief. “Yes indeed. Little Glory told me earlier today there
wouldn’t be any Christmas presents this year because ‘Massa Leverett done skedaddled.’ She
broke my heart.”
“Well, we’ll do our best to fix that. I’ll add the cost into our expenses for labor. How would
you like to go shopping?”
“Shopping? But where?”
“I’ve learned some of the free blacks in town are opening up the stores again. Why don’t
you take Mary Pollack with you, and a couple of the young blades around here to carry the
packages, and make a day of it?”
“I’d love to. But I’ll need a list of the slaves. I’ve seen many of them in the yard, but I don’t
know all their names.”
“Uncle Bob can take care of that for you.”
“All right! I’ll get started planning right away.” Nellie began to rise from her chair, but the
colonel motioned her to wait.
“I’m not through, I’m afraid. I have more chores for you. We need to throw a party.”
“A party.” Nellie let her breathe out in a swoosh as she sat down again. “For?”
“We’re going to have lots of homesick soldiers around here, come Christmas. They’ll have
a day off and a good meal—maybe some games in their companies. But I’d like to invite the
staff, the officers and the non-commissioned officers, along with the band, to come here on
Christmas afternoon. I thought we could serve some punch, eggnog, cookies, that sort of thing.
The band can play some music. Just try to make the day a bit more festive for them.”
“Of course we can do that. I’ll talk to Cook and see what ideas she may have.”