of the Potomac
,, which travelled the same roads year after year, either before or behind the Rebel
Army of Northern Virginia.
In or near the routes of these bodies little was attempted by the people in the way of crop-raising, for their products were sure to feed one or the other of the two armies as they tramped up and down the state, so that destitution in some of the wayside cabins and farm-houses was often quite marked.
No one with a heart less hard than flint could deprive such families of their last cow, shote, or ear of corn.
Yet there were many unauthorized foragers who would not hesitate a moment to seize and carry off the last visible mouthful of food.
So it has seemed to me that the cup of Rebellion was made unnecessarily bitter from the fact that such appeals too often fell on deaf ears.
Granting it to be true that the Rebels
had forfeited all right to whatever property their antagonists saw fit to appropriate, yet in the absence of those Rebels their families ought not to suffer want and distress; the innocent should not suffer for the guilty, and when nothing was known against them they should not have been deprived of their last morsel.
But there were exceptions.
There were some families who gave information to the Rebel
army or detachments of it, by which fragments of ours were killed or captured, and when this was known the members of that family were likely sooner or later to suffer for it, as would naturally be expected.
Some of these families were so destitute that they were at times driven to appeal to the nearest army headquarters for rations to relieve their sufferings.
To do this it was often necessary for them to walk many miles.
Horses they had not. They could not keep them, for if the Union
cavalry did not “borrow.,” the Rebel
cavalry would impress them; so that they were not only without a beast of burden for farm work, but had none to use as a means of transportation.
Now and then a sore-backed, emaciated, and generally usedup horse or mule, which had been abandoned and left in the