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[197] Lieutenant C. A. B. Langdon, Fifth Iowa cavalry, A. D. C.

The country along a great portion of the rout traversed is barren and thinly settled, but other portions are rich and fertile, and the plantations gave indications of wealthy owners. But little cotton was seen growing — the crops generally being wheat, rye, oats, and corn. The small grain was mostly standing in shooks in the field, and the crops were generally good. The corn crop is fair but rather irregular — some fields or parts of fields just hardening into “roasting ear,” while in others the stalks were but two or three feet high. The corn ground generally is not well cultivated-probably from scarcity of labor. On the whole, the appearance of the country and crops does not strengthen the opinion that the rebels are soon to be starved out. Nevertheless there is much destitution and scarcity of food among the poorer classes. The rebel government, with inexorable rigor, seizes all the necessaries of life for the use of the army. Not only is one-tenth of all products taken in the shape of tax, but plantations generally are worked exclusively for the benefit of the government. Their owners are enrolled in the service and then “detailed” to superintend the working of their own farms, the conditions being that all the surplus above what is consumed on the place is to be sold to the Confederate government at prices fixed by the authorities. This makes food difficult to be procured, except through their agents. At one house where a party of officers had dinner prepared for them, the woman was asked to name her price, but refused to do so, saying that if she had the money she could not buy flour with it, but asked that they would furnish her flour from a mill near by, as she could not procure it otherwise. She was the wife of a rebel soldier.

The country was not so completely deprived of stock as has been anticipated, and numbers of horses and mules were obtained along the rout. About three hundred fine mules were brought into our lines by the command.

Everything is under military control. The conscription law is vigorously enforced. Scarcely an able-bodied man is to be met with. Even the infirm and crippled, who are capable of doing light duty, are enrolled and detailed for such service as they are competent to perform. Tanners, millers, and others following occupations of necessity to the army or the community, are also enrolled, and then detailed to pursue their business for the benefit of the Government. Conscript officers are in every neighborhood, hunting down any who may have escaped conscription, or in any way evaded service. The most iron-heeled despotism prevails throughout, and individual rights and freedom are utterly trampled under foot. No “subjugation” could be more thorough than that under which the people of the South are placed by the rebel government.

The slaves along the rout were exceedingly anxious to follow the Yankees, but the rate of marching was too rapid for them to keep along on foot, and all the horses and mules to be found were needed for remounts for the men whose horses were daily giving out. Nevertheless a number succeeded in making their way. They would trudge along uncomplainingly, riding when they could get an animal, and walking at other times, and if asked where they were going, the invariable answer was, “Gwine wid you all.” They knew that they were leaving slavery behind them, and they were willing to risk all for the hope of freedom. About three hundred were with the command when it reached Marietta.

Many of the citizens fled in terror at the approach of the command, stripping their houses of their furniture and everything they could transport with them. The enormous lies so assiduously circulated by rebel papers and rebel officers as to the barbarous conduct of the Federal troops, even to the murdering of women and children, were really believed by some of the more credulous, and their flight was extreme. Those who remained even felt that they were incurring great risk, and were astonished to find that the dreaded Yankees were so different from what their imaginations had pictured them. General Rousseau's orders were stringent against depredations on private property. The following is an extract from an order issued at Ashville, and printed and distributed to the command:

Headquarters cavalry forces, in the field, July 13, 1864.
* * * * * *

There shall be no straggling under any pretext. Private houses will not be entered by soldiers on any pretext whatever, being a prolific cause of straggling. Such entries are generally made by those who maraud and rob. Such acts are denounced as unworthy a soldier, and will be summarily punished.

The Major-General, commanding, tenders his thanks to the command generally, for their good conduct and soldierly bearing, and hopes that such deportment will continue.

By order of

Owing to the hasty formation of the command, and the nature of the service, discipline could not be as strictly enforced as under other circumstances, but every effort was made to protect private property, except such as was necessary for the expedition; and it was acknowledged by a number of citizens, at different places, that the people suffered less from the Yankees than from the rebel soldiers. The prisoners taken were also surprised at being treated like men, and were unanimous in grateful expressions. It was impossible to take prisoners along during the trip. and consequently all were paroled except those captured on the last two or three days before reaching our lines.

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