This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
‘  requisition, and the coveted wealth was speedily unearthed. Nothing escaped the observation of these sharp-witted soldiers. A woman standing upon the porch of a house, apparently watching their proceedings, instantly became an object of suspicion, and she was watched until some movement betrayed a place of concealment. The fresh earth recently thrown up, a bed of flowers just set out, the slightest indication of a change in appearance or position, all attracted the gaze of these military agriculturists. It was all fair spoil of war, and the search made one of the excitements of the march.’1 The author of the work from which the foregoing is an extract was an aide-de-camp on the staff of General Sherman. The playful manner in which he describes these habitual acts of plunder of ‘plate, jewelry, and other rich goods’ from private and undefended dwellings, shows that not only was such conduct not forbidden by the military authorities, but that it was permitted and applauded, that it was practiced ‘wherever the army halted’ under the eye of the staff officers of the general commanding, and was looked upon as one of the pleasurable ‘excitements of the march.’ Indeed, so agreeable was the impression made by these scenes of robbery of women's ‘rich goods’ that he has adorned his narrative with a fullpage illustration, exhibiting a plantation home surrounded by soldiers engaged, as this staff officer humorously terms it, in ‘treasure-seeking,’ while the lady of the house—its only apparent occupant—stands upon the veranda, with hands uplifted, beseeching them not to steal the watch and chain which they are taking out of a vessel which they have just dug up. That the foreign mercenaries, of which the Federal army was largely composed, should have been guilty of such disgraceful conduct, when free from the observation of their officers, is conceivable; it is difficult, however, to imagine that, in the nineteenth century, such acts as are described above could be committed habitually, in view of the officer of highest rank in the army of a civilized country, and not merely pass unpunished or unrebuked, but be recorded with conspicuous approval in the pages of a military history. The advance of the enemy's columns across the Catawba, Lynch's Creek, and the Pedee, at Cheraw, though retarded as much as possible by the vigilant skill of our cavalry under Generals Hampton, Butler, and Wheeler, was steady and continuous. General Johnston's hope that, from the enemy's order of moving by wings, sometimes a day's march from each other, he could find an opportunity to strike one of
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.