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[537] large portion of the machinery which had been removed from Harpers Ferry—and effect a junction at that point with General Schofield's command, then known to be at Wilmington. Up to this time, while no encounter of any magnitude had taken place, the enemy's progress had been much impeded by the Confederate cavalry, and the robbery of private citizens by gangs of armed banditti, called ‘foraging parties,’ was in a large measure prevented. The right of an army to forage as it advances through an enemy's country is not questioned. But the right to forage, to collect food for men and horses, does not mean the right to rob household furniture, plate, trinkets, and every conceivable species of private property, and to burn whatever could not be carried away, together with the dwellings. General Sherman complained that some of these ‘foragers’ who were caught in the commission of the abovenamed offenses, and had added thereto the greater crime of assaulting women, had been summarily dealt with by some of those whose wives and daughters they had outraged, and whose homes they had made desolate; he informed General Hampton that in retaliation he had ordered a number of Confederate prisoners of war to be put to death. To arrest this brutality General Hampton promptly informed him that ‘for every soldier of mine murdered by you, I shall have executed at once two of yours, giving in all cases preference to any officers who may be in our hands,’ and adding a view to check the inhuman system of burning the houses of those citizens whom they had robbed, that he had ordered his men ‘to shoot down all of your men who are caught burning houses.’1 This notice and the knowledge that General Hampton would keep his word produced, it is believed, a very salutary effect, and thereafter the fear of punishment wrought a reform which the dictates of honor and humanity had been powerless to effect.

The historian of Sherman's ‘Great March,’ in his illustrated narrative of that expedition, describes both with pen and pencil the manner in which ‘with untiring zeal the soldiers hunted for concealed treasures. . . . Wherever the army halted,’ he writes, ‘almost every inch of ground in the vicinity of the dwellings was poked by ramrods, pierced with sabers, or upturned with spades,’ searching for ‘valuable personal effects, plate, jewelry, and other rich goods, as well as articles of food, such as hams, sugar, flour, etc. . . It was comical,’ adds the chronicler, ‘to see a group of these red-bearded, barefooted, ragged veterans punching the unoffending earth in an apparently idiotic but certainly most energetic way. If they “struck a vein,” a spade was instantly put into ’

1 General Hampton's letter to General Sherman, February 27, 1865.

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