V. In the dust and ashes of defeat (may 6-June 1, 1865).
Explanatory note.-The circumstances under which this part of the diary were written now belong to the world's history, and need no explanation here.
The bitterness that pervades its pages may seem regrettable to those who have never passed through the like experiences, but if the reader will “uncentury” himself for a moment and try to realize the position of the old slaveholders, a proud and masterful race, on seeing bands of their former slaves marching in triumph through their streets, he may perhaps understand our feelings sufficiently to admit that they were, to say the least, not unnatural.
And let me here repeat what I have tried to make clear from the beginning, that this book is not offered to the public as an exposition of the present attitude of the writer or her people, nor as a calm and impartial history of the time with which it deals.
It is rather to be compared to one of those fossil relics gathered by the geologist from the wrecks of former generations; a simple footprint, perhaps, or a vestige of a bone, which yet, imperfect and of small account in itself, conveys to the practiced eye a clearer knowledge of the world to which it belonged than volumes of learned research.
The incident about the flag with which the chapter opens, and other similar ones related further on, may perhaps give pain to some brave men who fought with honor
under it. For this I am sorry, but the truth is the truth, and if the flag of our country has sometimes been dishonored in the hands of unworthy men, there is all the more reason why the sons of those who fought honorably and conscientiously on both sides should unite in closer fellowship to wipe out the stains put on it by fratricidal hate, and see that the light of its stars shall never again be dimmed by any act that the heart of a true American cannot be proud of.
May 6, Saturday
The mournful silence of yesterday has been succeeded by noise and confusion passing anything we have yet experienced.
Reenforcements have joined Wilcox
, and large numbers of Stoneman
's and Wilson
's cavalry are passing through on their way to Augusta
Confederate soldiers, too, are beginning to come by this route again, so Washington
is now a thoroughfare for both armies.
Our troops do not come in such numbers as formerly, still there have been a great many on the streets to-day.
About noon, two brigades of our cavalry passed going west, and at the same time a body of Yankees went by going east.
There were several companies of negroes among them, and their hateful old striped rag was floating in triumph over their heads.
Cousin Liza turned her back on it, Cora
shook her fist at it, and I was so enraged that I said I wished the wind would tear it to flinders and roll it in the dirt till it was black all over, as the colors of such a crew ought to be. Then father took me by the shoulder and said that if I didn't change my
way of talking about the flag of my country he would send me to my room and keep me there a week.
We had never known anything but peace and security and protection under that flag, he said, as long as we remained true to it. I wanted to ask him what sort of peace and protection the people along Sherman
's line of march had found under it, but I didn't dare.
Father don't often say much, but when he does flare up like that, we all know we have got to hold our tongues or get out of the way. It made me think of that night when Georgia
What would father have done if he had known that that secession flag was made in his house?
It pinches my conscience, sometimes, when I think about it. What a dreadful thing it is for a household to be so divided in politics as we are!
Father sticks to the Union
through thick and thin, and mother sticks to father, though I believe she is more than half a rebel at heart, on account of the boys.
Fred and Garnett
are good Confederates, but too considerate of father to say much, while all the rest of us are redhot Rebs.
is the coolest head in the family, and Henry the hottest.
I used to sympathize with father myself, in the beginning, for it did seem a pity to break up a great nation about a parcel of African
savages, if we had known any other way to protect our rights; but now, since the Yankees
have treated us so abominably, burning and plundering our country and bringing a gang of negro soldiers here to insult us, I don't see how anybody can tolerate the sight of their
odious old flag again.
To do father justice, our house is so far from the street that he couldn't see the plunder with which the wretches, both black
, were loaded, but Cousin Mary Cooper
, who lives right on the street, opposite our gate, told us that she saw one white man with a silver cake basket tied to the pommel of his saddle, and nearly all of them had stolen articles dangling from the front of their saddles, or slung on in bags behind.
And yet, they blame us for not respecting their flag, when we see it again for the first time in four years, floating over scenes like this!
A large body of the brigands are camped back of Aunty's meadow, and have actually thrown the dear old lady, who was never known to speak a cross word to anybody, into a rage, by their insolence.
had almost to kick one of them out of the house before he could get him to move, and the rascal cried out, as he went down the steps: “I thought you Rebs were all subjugated now, and I could go where I pleased.”
Another taunted her by saying: “You have got plenty of slaves to wait on you now, but you won't have them long.”
They tried to buy provisions of her, but she told them that everything she had to spare was for our own soldiers, and would not let them have a mouthful.
[her son-in-law] had to ask for a guard from the commanding officer
to protect the family.
They have their patrols all over the town, and I can hear their insolent songs and laughter whenever I stop talking long enough to listen.
house is so far back from the street that we suffer comparatively little.
Two men in blue came up and asked for supper while we were sitting on the piazza after tea, but nobody took any notice of them.
Mother had been so busy all day getting up extra meals for our own men, and was so utterly fagged out that she did not even look up to see who they were.
We didn't tell her, for fear father might hear and want us to give them something, and they went away.
is with us now, and a body of his men are camped in the grove.
He is a rough old fellow, but has a brave record, and wears an empty sleeve.
They say he was the richest man in Louisiana
“before the deluge” owned 30,000 acres of land and 900 negroes, besides plantations in Texas
-and now, he hasn't money enough to pay his way home.
He is very fond of cigarettes, and I keep both him and Capt. Hudson
supplied with them.
The captain taught me how to roll them, and I have become so skilful that I can make them like we used to knit socks, without looking at what I am doing.
called after tea, and I failed to recognize him at first, because he had on a white jacket, and there is such a strange mixture of Yanks
and Rebs in town that I am suspicious of every man who doesn't wear a gray coat.
The moon was shining in my eyes and blinded me as I met the general at the head of the steps, and I kept a sour face, intended for a possible Yankee intruder, till he caught my hand and spoke;
then we both laughed.
Our laughter, however, was short-lived; we spent a miserable evening in the beautiful moonlight that we knew was shining on the ruin of our country.
made heroic efforts to keep up his spirits and cheer the rest of us, but even he failed.
, too, did his best to laugh at our miserable little jokes, and told some good stories of his own, but they fell flat, like the captain's. Judge Crump
tried to talk of literature and art, but conversation flagged and always returned to the same miserable theme.
said he wished that he had been killed in battle.
He says that this is the most miserable day of his life, and he looked it. It is very hard on the West Point
men, for they don't know anything but soldiering, and the army is closed to them: they have no career before them.
There is a brigade of Kentucky
cavalry camped out in Mr. Wiley
's grove, and some fear is felt of a Collision between them and the Yankees
Some of them have already engaged in fist fights on their own account.
I wish they would get into a general row, for I believe the Kentuckians would whip them.
I am just exasperated enough to be reckless as to consequences.
Think of a lot of negroes being brought here to play the master over us!
I was walking on the street this afternoon with Mr. Dodd
and a Lieut. Sale
, from Ark.
, when we met three gorgeous Yankee officers, flaunting their smart new uniforms in the faces of our poor, shabby Rebs, but I
would not even look their way till they had passed and couldn't see me. Oh, how I do love the dear old Confederate gray!
My heart sickens to think that soon I shall have seen the last of it. The Confederate officers who have been stationed here are leaving, as fast as they can find the means, for their homes, or for the Trans-Mississippi
, where some of them still base their hopes.
Of those that remain, some have already laid aside their uniforms and their military titles.
They say they are not going to wait to be deprived of them at the command of a Yankee.
left this morning for his home in Columbus
He has a horse to ride, but not a cent of money to buy provisions.
Cousin Liza gave him letters to some friends of hers that live along his route, requesting them to entertain him. He and Capt. Irwin
have traced out a relationship, both being lineal descendants of the famous old Lord Protector
How it would make the old Puritan
snort, if he could rise out of his grave and behold two of his descendants stanch members of the Episcopal Church, and rollicking cavaliers both, fighting for the South
against the Roundheads of the North
says that his father bears a striking likeness to the portrait of old Noll
, barring the famous wart on his nose.
He has relations in Georgia
who go by the name of Crowell
Prudence led them to drop the m
while making the voyage to America
, and they have never taken it back into their name.
While we were at dinner Mrs. Combs
[companion to Aunt Sallie] came rushing in to say that there was a man in the grove trying to steal one of father's carriage horses.
We had seen three horsemen ride to the spring, and the most natural thing to expect was that when they went away, some of our own horses would be missing.
The gentlemen all grabbed their pistols and went out to meet the supposed marauders, while we ladies left our soup to get cold and ranged ourselves on the piazza to witness the combat.
But, oh, most lame and impotent conclusion!
not a shot was fired.
The three cavalrymen were sleeping quietly in the shade, and the horse-thief turned out to be nobody but ‘Ginny Dick 1
catching the pony for father.
May 7, Sunday
I went to the Baptist church and heard a good sermon from Mr. Tupper
on the text: “For now we live by faith, and not by sight.”
There was not a word that could give the Yankees
a handle against us, yet much that we poor rebels could draw comfort from.
The congregation was very small, and I am told the same was the case at all the other churches, people not caring to have their devotions disturbed by the sight of the “abomination of desolation” in their holy places.
The streets are frightfully dusty.
A passing carriage
will almost suffocate one.
When the first batch of Yankees entered Washington
, one of them was heard to say: “We have been hunting for this little mudhole the last six months.”
No wonder they didn't succeed; it is anything but a mudhole now.
Fred has just returned from Greensborough [Ga.
], where he went to look after some horses and wagons of Brother Troup's department, but both had been seized by our soldiers.
I am glad they got them instead of the Yanks.
It is a case of cheating the devil.
He says the Yankees
are plundering right and left around Athens
They ran a train off the track on the Athens Branch
, and robbed the passengers.
They have not given any trouble in Washington
to-day, as the greater part of the cavalry that came to town on Saturday have passed on, and the garrison, or provost guard, or whatever the odious thing is called, are probably afraid to be too obstreperous while so many Confederate troops are about.
They have taken up their quarters in the courthouse now, but have not yet raised their old flaring rag on the spot where our own brave boys placed the first rebel flag, that my own hands helped to make.
I wish our troops would get into a fracas with them and thrash them out of town.
Since they have set a price on the head of our president, “immortal hate and study of revenge” have taken possession of my heart, and it don't make me love them or their detestable old flag any better because I have to keep my feelings pent up. Father won't
let me say anything against the old flag in his presence, but he can't keep me from thinking and writing what I please.
I believe I would burst sometimes, if I didn't have this safety-valve.
He may talk about the way Union men were suppressed when they tried to oppose secession, but now, the Yankees
are denying us not only liberty of speech and of the press, but even of prayer, forcing the ministers in our Church to read the prayer for their old renegade of a president and those other odious persons “in authority” at Washington
Well, as Bishop Elliot
says, I don't know anybody that needs it more.
But even if father does stick to the Union
, nobody can accuse him of being a sycophant or say that he is not honest in his opinions.
He was no less a Union man in the days of persecution and danger for his side than he is now. And though he still holds to his love for the Union
--if there is any such thing-he has made no indecent haste, as some others have done, to be friends with the Yankees
, and he seeks no personal advantage from them.
He has said and done nothing to curry favor with them, or draw their attention to his “loyalty,” and he has not even hinted to us at the idea of paying them any social attentions.
Poor father, it is his own house, but he knows too well what a domestic hurricane that
would raise, and though he does storm at us sometimes, when we say too much, as if he was going to break the head of the last one of us, he is a dear, good, sweet, old
father, after all, and I am ashamed of myself for my undutiful conduct to him. I know I deserve to have my head cracked, but oh!
I do wish that he was on our side!
He is too good a man to be in the same political boat with the wretches that are plundering and devastating our country.
He was right in the beginning, when he said that secession was a mistake, and it would be better to have our negroes freed in the Union
, if necessary, than out of it, because in that case, it would be done without passion, and violence, and we would get compensation for them-but now the thing is done, and there is no use talking about the right or the wrong of it. I sympathize with the spirit of that sturdy old heathen I have read about somewhere, who said to the priests who were trying to convert him, that he would rather stick to his own gods and go to hell with his warrior ancestors, than sit down to feast in heaven with their little starveling band of Christians.
That is the way I feel about Yankees; I would rather be wrong with Lee
and his glorious army than right with a gang of fanatics that have come down here to plunder and oppress us in the name of liberty.
and other friends called after tea, and we spent another half-happy, half-wretched evening on the moonlit piazza.
Even these pleasant reunions make me sad because I know they must soon come to an end. Since the war began, I have made friends only to lose them.
Dear Mrs. Elzey
is like a gleam of sunshine on a rainy day. She pitches into the Yankees
with such vigor, and says such funny things about them, that even father has to laugh.
is a whole day of sunshine himself, but even his happy temper is so dimmed by sadness that his best jokes fall flat for want of the old spirit in telling them.
and his train left this morning.
Fred is to meet him in Augusta
to-morrow and go as far as Yazoo City
with him, to look after father's Mississippi plantation, if anything is left there to look after.
The general went off with both pockets full of my cigarettes, and he laughingly assured me that he would think of me at least as long as they lasted.
May 8, Monday
We had a sad leave-taking at noon. Capt. Irwin
, finding it impossible to get transportation to Norfolk
by way of Savannah
, decided last night that he would start for Virginia
this morning with Judge Crump
He has no money to pay his way with, but like thousands of other poor Confederates, depends on his war horse to carry him through, and on Southern hospitality to feed and lodge him. He left his trunk, and Judge Crump
his official papers, in father's care.
Mother packed up a large quantity of provisions for them, and father gave them letters to friends of his all along the route, through Georgia
, as far as his personal acquaintance extends.
Our avenue was alive all the morning with Confederates riding back and forth to bid their old comrades good-by.
The dear captain tried to keep up a brave heart, and rode off with a jest on his lips and moisture
in his eyes, while as for us-we ladies all broke down and cried like children.
The dear old Judge
, too, seemed deeply moved at parting, and we could do nothing but cry, and nobody could say what we wanted to. Partings are doubly sad now, when the chances of meeting again are so few. We shall all be too poor to travel, and too poor to extend the hospitality for which our Southern homes have been noted, any more.
The pinch of want is making itself felt more severely every day, and we haven't the thought that we are suffering for our country that buoyed us up during the war. Men with thousands of Confederate money in their pockets cannot buy a pin. Father has a little specie which he was prudent enough to lay aside at the beginning of the war, but he has given a good deal of it to the boys at different times, when they were hard up, and the little that is left will have to be spent with the greatest care, to feed our family.
I could not even pay postage on a letter if it were necessary to write one.
I have serious notions of trying to sell cigarettes to the Yankees
in order to get a little pocket money,--only, I could not bear the humiliation.
Part of the regiment that plundered the train on the Athens Branch
has been sent to Washington
, and is behaving very badly.
Aunt Cornelia's guard, too, refused to stay with her any longer because he was not invited to eat at the table with the family!
Others of the company then went there and committed all sorts
of depredations on the lot. They cursed Aunty and threatened to burn the house down, and one of them drew a pistol on Mr. Hull
for interfering, but promptly took to his heels when Mr. Hull
returned the civility.
He soon came back with several of his comrades and made such threats that Aunty sent to their commanding officer and asked for a guard, but received for answer that “they would guard her to hell.”
then went to the provost-marshal
in command of the town, Capt. Lot Abraham
, who sent a lieutenant with another guard.
Aunty complained to the lieutenant of the way she had been insulted, but he replied that the guard might stay or not, as he chose; that she had not treated the former one with proper consideration, and he would not compel another to stay in her house.
Aunty was ready.
to choke with rage, she says, but dared not speak a word, and now the family have to purchase safety by having a horrid plebeian of a Yankee, who is fitter company for the negroes in the kitchen, sit at the table with them.
The whole family are bursting with indignation, but dare not show it for fear of having their house burned over their heads.
They spoke in whispers while telling me about it, and I was so angry that I felt as if I would like to run a knitting needle into the rascal, who sat lolling at his ease in an armchair on the piazza, looking as insolent as if he were the master of the house.
It is said we are to have a negro garrison in Washington
, and all sorts of horrible rumors
But we know nothing except what the tyrants choose that we shall.
The form of parole has been changed so that none of our officers are willing to take it, and many of them slip through in the night and make their escape without being paroled at all.
's army is pouring in now. People are getting used to the presence of the Yankees
, and Washington
is a great thoroughfare for Confederates once more.
's men used up all the breadstuffs in the commissariat, so the newcomers have to depend on private hospitality.
say they can't collect corn and flour to replace what was destroyed during the riots.
They give out rations of meat, but nothing else, and it is pitiful to see the poor fellows going about the streets offering to exchange part of their scanty ration of bacon for bread.
Numbers of them come to our door every day, begging for bread, and it almost makes me cry when a poor fellow sometimes pulls out a piece of rancid bacon from his haversack and offers it in pay. Mother will never take anything from a soldier, and we always share what little we have with them.
It gives me more pleasure to feed the poor Rebs than to eat myself.
I go out and talk with them frequently, while they are waiting to have their food cooked.
This evening, two of them were sitting on the front steps talking over their troubles, and I heard one of them say: “If I kin just git back home to Sally once more, I won't care
about nothin‘ else.”
He was young, I could see, through all the dirt and grime on his face, so I suppose “Sally” was either his sweetheart, or the young bride he left when he went away to the war. Some of our Confederates wear a dark, bluish-gray uniform which is difficult to distinguish from the Federal
blue, and I live in constant fear of making a mistake.
As a general thing our privates have no uniform but rags, poor fellows, but the officers sometimes puzzle me, unless they wear the Hungarian
knot on their sleeves.
It makes the letters, C. S.A., but one would not be apt to notice the monogram unless it was pointed out to him. It is a beautiful uniform, and I shall always love the colors, gray and gold, for its sake-or rather for the sake of the men who wore it. There is a report that Confederate officers are going to be ordered to lay aside their uniforms.
It will be a black day when this habit that we all love so well gives place to the badge of servitude.
There is nothing in the history of nations to compare with the humiliations we Southerners have to endure.
Brother Troup and Mr. Forline
came in to-day.
Fred was left by the train this afternoon and will make another start to-morrow, in company with Mr. Forline
He is very anxious to reach Yazoo City
, to save some of father's property in the Yazoo Bottom
, if he can, but I am afraid there is nothing left to save.
They hope to get transportation with a Kentucky regiment that is going by way of Savannah
or New York — a rather roundabout way to reach Mississippi
, but better than footing it overland in the present disturbed state of the country.
May 9, Tuesday
Ladies are beginning to visit a little, though the streets are as crowded and dusty as ever.
's men are coming through in full tide, and there is constant danger of a collision between them and the Yankees
There are four brigades of cavalry camped on the outskirts of town waiting to be paroled.
Contrary to their agreement with Lee
, the Yankees
now want to deprive these men of their horses and side arms, and refuse to parole them until they are dismounted and disarmed.
Our men refuse to submit to such an indignity and vow they will kill every “d d Yankee
” in Washington
rather than suffer such a perfidious breach of faith.
Lot Abraham, or “Marse
lot,” as we call him, seems to be a fairly good sort of a man for a Yankee, and disposed to behave as well as the higher powers will let him. He has gone to Augusta
with Gen. Vaughan
, who is in command of one of the refractory brigades, to try to have the unjust order repealed.
If he does not succeed, we may look out for hot times.
have only a provost guard here at present, and one brigade of our men could chop them to mince meat.
I almost wish there would be a fight.
It would do my heart good to see those ruffians who insulted Aunty thrashed out, though I know it would be the worse for us in the end.
I have been exchanging experiences with a good many people, and find that we have fared better than most of our friends, on account, I suppose, of our retired situation, and the distance of our house from the street.
While Gen. Stacy
's men were camped out at the mineral spring, he made his headquarters at Mrs. James DuBose
's house, and permitted his negro troops to have the freedom of the premises, even after Mrs. DuBose
had appealed to him for protection.
They go into people's kitchens and try to make the other negroes discontented and disobedient.
Some of the girls who live near the street tell me they don't venture to open their pianos, because if they begin to play, they are liable to be interrupted by Yankee soldiers intruding themselves into the parlor to hear the music.
People are very much exasperated, but have no redress.
Our soldiers are likely to raise a row with them at any time, but it would do no good.
Yesterday, they gave the garrison a scare by pretending to storm their quarters in the courthouse.
They say the Yankees
are very uneasy, and sing small whenever a big troop of our men arrive, though they grow very impertinent in the intervals.
Our little town has witnessed only the saddest act of the war — the dissolution of the Confederate Government and the dispersal of our armies.
are gathering up all the wagons and stores that belonged to our government for their own use. The remains of our poor little treasury have also been handed over to them.
I am sorry now that our
cavalry didn't complete their job and get the whole of it. It seems hard that the supplies contributed out of our necessities during these four years of privation for the support of our own government, should go now to fill the pockets of our oppressors.
The negroes, thus far, have behaved fairly well, except where they have been tampered with.
Not one of father's has left us, and they are just as humble and obedient as ever.
On Sunday, a good many runaways came in from the country but their loving brothers in blue sent them back — not from any regard for us or our institutions, but because they prefer to have their pets fed by their masters until their plans for emancipation are complete.
They kept some of the likeliest of the men who went to them, as servants; and refused to give them up when the owners called for them.
, a giant of a country squire, exasperated at their refusal to restore one of his men, stepped in amongst them, collared the negro, and gave him a thrashing on the spot.
There were so many Confederate soldiers on the square, watching the fracas, that the little handful of a garrison didn't venture to interfere, and he carried his negro off home unopposed.
took tea with us. The general and Capt. Hudson
have gone to Augusta
to try to raise money to take them home.
The general is going to sell all his horses, even his favorite war horse, Nell
, named for his wife.
May 10, Wednesday
Harry Day came over from Macon
looking very pale and ill. He brought letters from our Macon
Since Confederate money and Confederate postage stamps have “gone up,” most of us are too poor to indulge in corresponding with friends except by private hand, and besides, the mails are so uncertain that one does not feel safe in trusting them.
We have had no mail at all for several days and rumor has it that the Augusta
post office has been closed by order of the commanding officer
, but nobody knows anything for certain.
Our masters do not let us into their plans, and we can only wait in suspense to see what they will do next.
The “Constitutionalist” has been suppressed because it uttered sentiments not approved by the conquerors.
And yet, they talk about Russian
Even father can't find any excuse for such doings, though he says this is no worse than the suppression of Union papers at the beginning of the war by Secession violence.
But I think the sporadic acts of excited mobs don't carry the same weight of responsibility, and are not nearly so dangerous to the liberties of a country, as the encroachments of an established government.
The hardest to bear of all the humiliations yet put upon us, is the sight of Andy Johnson
's proclamation offering rewards for the arrest of Jefferson Davis
, Clement C. Clay
, and Beverly Tucker
, under pretense that they were implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln
It is printed in huge letters on handbills
and posted in every public place in town — a flaming insult to every man, woman, and child in the village, as if they believed there was a traitor among us so base as to betray the victims of their malice, even if we knew where they were.
If they had posted one of their lying accusations on our street gate, I would tear it down with my own hands, even if they sent me to jail for it. But I am sure that father would never permit his premises to be desecrated by such an infamy as that.
It is the most villainous slander ever perpetrated, and is gotten up solely with a view to making criminals of political offenders so that foreign governments would be obliged to deliver them up if they should succeed in making their escape.
Fortunately, the characters of the men they have chosen as scapegoats are so far above suspicion as only to discredit the accusers themselves in the eyes of all decent people.
The Clays were at our house while I was away last winter, and father says Mr. Clay
reminded him of our friend Mr. Lafayette Lamar
, and would be just about as capable of murder.
And Jefferson Davis
, our noble, unfortunate president — the accusation is simply a disgrace to those who make it. If there should happen to be any truth in that strangely persistent rumor about Lincoln
being brothers, what a situation for the future Scotts
While there is no proof that I know of, the thing does not seem so very improbable.
I don't know anything about old Sam Davis
or his morals, but when David
said “all men are liars,” he might have added another and greater sin-and proved it by his own example.
There is undoubtedly a curious general resemblance in the physique of the two men as shown in their pictures, notwithstanding the plebeian aspect of the Illinois
railsplitter, which would easily be accounted for by the circumstances of his birth.
True or false, it is a situation to rank with Don Carlos, Le Cid,
or Les Freres Ennemis.
Our cavalry have won their point about the terms of surrender, and rode triumphantly out of town this afternoon, still retaining their side arms.
There were 3,000 of them, and they made a sight worth looking at as they passed by our street gate.
It is well the Yanks gave up to them, for they said they were determined to fight again rather than yield, and our own returned volunteers were ready to help them.
They say the little handful of a garrison were frightened all but out of their wits anyway, for our men could have eaten them up before they had time to send for reenforcements.
Some of our cavalry got drunk a night or two ago, and drove them all into the courthouse, wounding one man in the row. An officer came up from Augusta
to-day, with reinforcements.
They seem to regard Washington
as true to its old revolutionary sobriquet of “The Hornets' Nest
,” and are evidently afraid to stay here without a strong force while such large numbers of our rebel soldiers are passing through.
's army is now in full sweep.
The town is thronged
with them from morn till night, and from night till morning.
They camp in our grove by whole companies, but never do any mischief.
I love to look out of my windows in the night and see their camp fires burning among the trees and their figures moving dimly in and out among the shadows, like protecting spirits.
I love to lie awake and hear the sound of their voices talking and laughing over their hard experiences.
Metta and I often go out to the gate after supper and sing the old rebel songs that we know will please them.
May 11, Thursday
Henry reached home late in the afternoon, so ragged and dirty that none of us knew him till he spoke.
He had not had a change of clothes for three weeks, and his face was so dirty that he had to wash it before we could kiss him. He came all the way from Greensborough, N. C.
, on horseback, and when we asked him where he got his horse, he laughed and said that he bought a saddle for fifty cents in silver-his pay for three years service-and kept on swapping till he found himself provided with a horse and full outfit.
said he had better quit medicine and go to horse trading.
The scarcity of specie gives it a fictitious value that brings down prices wonderfully, but even this is not sufficient to account for the sudden fall in the value of horses that has taken place in the track of our returning armies.
Even here in Wilkes County
, where the Confederate
treasury was raided and specie is comparatively plentiful, horses
sell every day at prices ranging from 50 to $2.50; and yesterday on the square, a negro sold one for 25 The tide of travel is now mostly westward, and the soldiers help themselves to horses on the way that they have no further use for when they strike the railroad here, and are glad to sell them for any price they will bring, or even turn them loose to get rid of them.
Instead of having to be guarded like gold, as was the case a week or two ago, horses are now a drug on the market at every railway station.
says he found no sale for his in Augusta
I don't know what he will do for money to get home on.
Henry traveled out from Greensborough (N. C.)
with an artillery company which paid its way in cloth and thread.
The regiment to which he had been attached disbanded and scattered soon after the surrender, all except himself and the adjutant.
says Henry doctored the adjutant and the adjutant officered him. They attached themselves to Maj. Palmer
's battalion of artillery and Henry traveled as far as Ruckersville
with it. He is now ready to begin life anew with a broken-down old army horse as his sole stock in trade.
has not even that much.
got his horse, and his boy Sidney, whom he left with Henry when he took to the field, disappeared — to enjoy the delights of freedom, I suppose.
began favoring Gen. Toombs
with their attentions to-day.
He and Gov. Brown
have been permitted to remain so long unmolested that people were beginning to wonder what it could mean.
To-day, however, news came of the arrest of Brown
, and an attempt was made to take Mr. Toombs
An extra train came in about noon, bringing a company of bluecoats under the command of a Capt. Saint
-and a precious saint he proved to be. Everybody thought they had merely come to reinforce Capt. Abraham
's garrison, but their purpose was soon made apparent when they marched up to Gen. Toombs
was up there spending the day, and saw it all. The general was in his sittingroom when the Yankees
were seen entering his front gate.
He divined their purpose and made his escape through the back door as they were entering the front, and I suppose he is safely concealed now in some country house.
The intruders proceeded to search the dwelling, looking between mattresses and under bureaus, as if a man of Gen. Toombs
's size could be hid like a paper doll!
They then questioned the servants, but none of them would give the least information, though the Yankees
arrested all the negro men and threatened to put them in jail.
They asked old Aunt Betty where her master was, and she answered bluntly: “Ef I knowed, I wouldn't tell you.”
They then ordered her to cook dinner for them, but she turned her broad back on them, saying: “I won't do no sech a thing; I'se a gwineter hep my missis pack up her clo'es.”
The servants were all very indignant at
the manner in which they were ordered about, and declared that their own white folks had never spoken to them in “any sech a way.”
's dinner was on the table and the family about to go into the dining-room when the intruders arrived, and they ate it all up besides ordering more to be cooked for them.
They threatened to burn the house down if the general was not given up, and gave the family just two hours to move out. Gen. Gilmer
, who was in the old army before the war, remonstrated with them, and they extended the time till ten o'clock at night, and kindly promised not to burn it at all if the general were delivered up to them in the meantime.
straightened herself up and said: “Burn it then,” and the family immediately began to move out. Neither Mrs. Toombs
nor Mrs. DuBose
suffered the Yankees
to see them shed a tear, though both are ready to die of grief, and Mrs. DuBose
on the verge of her confinement, too. Everything is moved out of the house now, and Mrs. Toombs
says she hopes it will be burned rather than used by the miserable plunderers and their negro companions.
The family have found shelter with their relatives and distributed their valuables among their friends.
The family pictures and some of the plate are stored in our house, and mother invited Mrs. Walthall
here, but she went to the Anthonys', knowing how crowded we are. Cora
staid with them till late in the afternoon, when the news of Henry's arrival brought her home.
I hope the general
will get off safe, and Gov. Brown
too, though I never admired him. But when people are in misfortune is no time to be bringing up their faults against them.
The most infamous thing I ever heard of even a Yankee doing, was their trying to entrap Gen. Toombs
's little grand-children into betraying him, and little Toombs DuBose
innocently informed them that “grand-pa was in the house when they came.”
They met Touch Elzey
coming from school and taunted him with being the son of a rebel, but he spoke up like a man and said he was proud of being a rebel, and so was his father.
They insulted the boy by telling him that now was his chance to make a fortune by informing where the president and Mr. Clay
was so angry when Touch told her about it that she says she was ready to go on the war-path herself.
May 12, Friday
and his angels failed to burn Gen. Toombs
's house, after all. Whether the threat was a mere idle swagger to bully helpless women and children, time must reveal.
returned from Augusta
to-day with more reenforcements, and immediately apologized to Mrs. Toombs
for the insults to which she had been subjected, and said that orders for the raid upon her were given over his head and without his knowledge.
He really seems to have the instincts of a gentleman, and I am afraid I shall be obliged to respect him a little, in spite of his uniform.
Although considerably reinforced, his garrison seems to be still in wholesome fear of a conflict
with our throngs of disbanded soldiers.
A cavalryman went to the courthouse the other day and deliberately helped himself to a musket before their eyes, and they did not even remonstrate.
Our cavalry are a reckless, unruly lot, yet I can't help admiring them because they are such red-hot rebels.
It may be foolish, but somehow I like the spirit of those who refuse to repent, and who swear they would do it all over, if the thing were to be done again.
A curious story was told me to-day about the fate of some of the plundered Confederate treasure.
A troop of horsemen who were making off with a bag of specie they had “captured,” containing $5,000 in silver, were alarmed the other day, just as they were riding past Gen. Toombs
's gate, by a report that the Yankees
were after them, and threw the sack over the fence into his yard.
The general sent it to the commandant as belonging to the assets of the defunct Confederacy.
I wish he had thrown it into the fire rather than given it to them.
I had a little adventure with a party of Yankees myself this afternoon.
I was down in the back garden with Marshall
, Touchy, Gilmer Sale, and some other boys, shooting at a mark with an Enfield rifle and a minie musket they had picked up somewhere.
We were using the trunk of a small cedar at the foot of the hill for our target, and it was such a retired spot that we never dreamed of anybody's being within range of our guns, when a dozen bluecoats came tearing down the hill on the other side of the rose hedge, frightened
out of their senses and cursing like fury.
They had been taking a stroll through the woods on the other side of the hedge, and when our balls began to whistle about their ears, thought they were bushwhacked.
I heard one of them say, as he made his way through an opening in the vines: “I never saw balls fly thicker in battle.”
Fortunately for us they were unarmed and could not return the fire.
When they saw that the supposed bushwhackers were only a woman and half a dozen children, they sent one of their number to speak with us. The little boys wanted to run when they saw him coming, but I was afraid the affair might get us into trouble unless I explained, so I stood waiting for the envoy, with Marshall
's rifle in my hand.
I told the man what we were doing, and expressed the hope — which happened, for once, to be sincere-that we had not hurt anybody.
He looked very gruff, and answered: “No, you ain't shot anybody, but you came within an inch of killing me. You ought to be more careful how you shoot.”
I wanted to tell him that he ought to be more careful how he went prowling about on private grounds, but I didn't know what tale he might carry to headquarters if I angered him, so I answered very politely that I didn't know there was anybody behind the hedge, or I would not have fired in that direction.
“ What are you shooting at, anyway?”
he asked, looking round unsatisfied and suspicious.
I pointed to the cedar trunk, as yet unscathed by
our wandering bullets.
The fellow laughed, and reaching out for the rifle, said: “Let me show you how to shoot.”
But I held fast to my weapon, though I knew I couldn't fire it to save my life, without resting it on something and pulling at the trigger with both hands, but I thought it best to put on a brave face in the presence of the enemy.
He then took Gilmer
's musket, aimed it at a small vine no bigger round than my little finger, twined about a sapling at least 100 feet away, and cut it in two as clean as if he had done it with a penknife.
I couldn't help admiring the accuracy of his shot, but I pretended to take no notice.
He then examined the empty barrel closely, returned it to Gilmer
, and marched away to join his companions, without even touching his hat, as the most ignorant Confederate would have done.
The others were peeping all the time through the hedge, and I heard one of them ask him: “Why didn't you take the guns away from the damned little rebels?”
I didn't change my position till they were out of sight, and then we all scuttled off to the house as hard as we could go. We had not been there long before a squad of soldiers came up the avenue, and said there were some army guns in the house, which they must have, as by the terms of the surrender they were now the property of the Federal Government
They called father “old fellow” in a very insolent manner, that made me indignant.
Our grove is alight every night with the camp fires
's men. I often go out to talk with them in the evenings, and hear them tell about their homes and their adventures in the war. They are all greatly discontented with the peace, and I sympathize with them.
They are always grateful for an encouraging word, and it is about all we have to give them now. Most of them are plain, uneducated men, and all are ragged and dirty and sunburnt.
Some of the poor fellows have hardly clothes enough to make them decent.
But they are Confederate soldiers, and those honorable rags have seen some glorious fighting.
heard one Yankee soldier say to another yesterday, as he was walking behind them on the street, in passing our house: “Garnett Andrews
gave one of our men the hell of a saber cut the other day, at Salisbury
I am glad he gave them something so good to remember him by. Poor Garnett
is suffering very much from his arm. He is confined to bed, threatened with fever, and we can't get proper food for him. We have nothing but ham, ham, ham, every day, and such crowds of company in the house, and so many lunches to furnish, that even the ham has to be husbanded carefully.
It is dreadful to think what wretched fare we have to set before the charming people who are thrown upon our hospitality.
and cornfield peas for dinner one day, and cornfield peas and ham the next, is the tedious menu
. Mother does her best by making Emily give us every variation on peas that ever was heard of; one
day we have pea soup, another, pea croquettes, then baked peas and ham, and so on, through the whole gamut, but alas!
they are cornfield peas still, and often not enough of even them.
Sorghum molasses is all the sweetening we have, and if it were not for the nice home-made butter and milk, and father's fine old Catawba
wine and brandy, there would be literally nothing to redeem the family larder from bankruptcy.
And if that were all, it would not be so bad, but there is as great a scarcity of house linen as of provisions.
All that has not been given to hospitals or cut up into underclothing, is worn out, and we have hardly anything but the coarse yellow sheeting made by the Macon and Augusta mills
, with such a shortage of even that, as not to give sheets enough to change the beds half as often as they ought to be. As for towels, mammy spends her whole time going from room to room, gathering up the soiled ones and taking them to the wash and back again as fast as they can be done, and even then there are not enough to give everybody a good clean wipe more than once a day. It is delightful to have so many charming people in the house, but dreadfully mortifying to think we can't entertain them any better.
Besides the guests staying in the house we have a stream of callers all day long, both friends and strangers.
The Irvin Artillery are all back home now and each one has some friend to introduce.
May 13, Saturday.
. torn] . . . The Yankees
have stopped our mails, or else the mails have
We get no papers, but thousands of wild rumors from every direction take their place and keep us stirred up all the time.
Among the arrivals to-day was Mr. Wyman
, who brought with him a Dr. Nicholson
, surgeon of his regiment [the 1st Alabama Cavalry], and the poor fellows were so starved that it made me tremble to see how our meager dinner disappeared before them, though it did my heart good, too, to see how they enjoyed it. They belong to Wheeler
's Cavalry, and we had a great time running them about being in such bad company.
Mother said she was going to hide the silver, and Mr. Wyman
told her she had better search the doctor's pockets before he went away, and the doctor gave the same advice about Mr. Wyman
Their regiment was commanded by the Col
. Blakey I met in Montgomery
winter before last, and Mr. Wyman
says he disbanded his men to get rid of them.
They tell all sorts of hard jokes on themselves.
A favorite topic of conversation at this time is what we are going to do for a living.
Mary Day has been working assiduously at paper cigarettes to sell the Yankees
I made some myself, with the same intention, but we both gave them all away to the poor Confederates as fast as we could roll them.
It is dreadful to be so poor, but somehow, I can't suppress a forlorn hope that it won't last always, and that a time may come when we will laugh at all these troubles even more heartily than we do now. But although we
laugh, I sometimes feel in my heart more like crying, and I am afraid that father speaks the truth when he says that things are more likely to become worse than better.
May 14, Sunday
and Dr. Nicholson
went their way this morning long before anybody was up, so that I had to peep through the blinds to bid them good-by.
I told them the reason they were off so early was to avoid having their pockets searched, and Dr. Nicholson
answered that they thought it best to get out of the way before we had time to count the spoons.
They must have had a lively time on their journey thus far, judging from Mr. Wyman
's account of it.
On my way to church I had a striking illustration of the difference between our old friends and our new masters.
The streets were thronged with rebel soldiers, and in one part of my walk, I had to pass where a large number of them were gathered on the pavement, some sitting, some standing, some lying down, but as soon as I appeared, the way was instantly cleared for me, the men standing like a wall, on either side, with hats off, until I had passed.
A little farther on I came to a group of Yankees and negroes that filled up the sidewalk, but not one of them budged, and I had to flank them by going out into the dusty road.
It is the first time in my life that I have ever had to give up the sidewalk to a man, much less to negroes!
I was so indignant that I did not carry a devotional spirit to church.
have pressed five of father's negro men to work for them.
They even took old Uncle Watson, whom father himself never calls on to do anything except the lightest work about the place, and that only when he feels like it. They are very capricious in their treatment of negroes, as is usually the case with upstarts who are not used to having servants of their own. Sometimes they whip them and send them back to their masters, and last week, Lot Abraham sent three of his white men to jail for tampering with “slaves,” as they call them.
This morning, however, they sent off several wagon-loads of runaways, and it is reported that Harrison
and Alfred, two of father's men, have gone with them.
People are making no effort to detain their negroes now, for they have found out that they are free, and our power over them is gone.
Our own servants have behaved very well thus far. The house servants have every one remained with us, and three out of five plantation hands whom the Yankees
captured in Alabama
, ran away from them and came back home.
's nurse, went off to Augusta
this morning, professedly to see her husband, who she says is sick, but we all think, in reality, to try the sweets of freedom.
and Henry made no effort to keep her, but merely warned her that if she once went over to the Yankees
, she could never come back to them any more.
Mother will have to give up one of her maids to nurse Maud, but I suppose it is a mere question of time when we
shall have to give them all up anyway, so it doesn't matter.
We have had an unusually quiet day. Only three new guests, and two of them were sent by Judge Crump
to see father on business.
They brought news of the Judge
and our dear Captain
which we were glad to hear.
I walked in the grove after sunset and talked with the rebels who were camping there, and we mourned together over the capture of our beloved President
's army will soon have all passed through, and then the Yankee
garrison will feel free to treat us as it pleases.
Several thousand of our men pass through almost every day. Six thousand are expected to-morrow.
When the last one is gone, what desolation there will be!
I think I will hang a Confederate uniform on a pole and keep it to look at.
May 15, Monday
Harry Day returned from Augusta
, bringing frightful accounts of what the taxes, proscriptions, and confiscations are going to be. Father says that if a man were to sit down and write a programme for reducing a country to the very worst condition it could possibly be in, his imagination could not invent anything half so bad as the misery that is likely to come upon us. The cities and towns are already becoming overcrowded with runaway negroes.
they are clamoring for food, which the Yankees
refuse to give, and their masters, having once been deserted by them, refuse to take them back.
Even in our little town the streets are so full of idle negroes and bluecoats that ladies scarcely ever venture out. We are obliged to go sometimes, but it is always with drooping heads and downcast eyes.
A settled gloom, deep and heavy, hangs over the whole land.
All hearts are in mourning for the fall of our country, and all minds rebellious against the wrongs and oppression to which our cruel conquerors subject us. I don't believe this war is over yet. The Trans-Mississippi
bubble has burst, but wait till the tyranny and arrogance of the United States
engages them in a foreign war!
Ah, we'll bide our time.
That's what all the men say, and their eyes glow and their cheeks burn when they say it. Though the whole world has deserted us and left us to perish without even a pitying sigh at our miserable doom, and we hate the whole world for its cruelty, yet we hate the Yankees
more, and they will find the South
a volcano ready to burst beneath their feet whenever the justice of heaven hurls a thunderbolt at their heads.
We are overwhelmed, overpowered, and trodden underfoot . . . but “immortal hate and study of revenge” lives, in the soul of every man. . . . [Ms.
torn.] Mrs. Alfred Cumming
, whose husband was Governor
before the war, came to see us this morning.
She tried to go to Clarkesville
, but found the country so infested with robbers and bushwhackers and “Kirke
's lambs,” that she dared not venture three miles beyond Athens
such depredations there that the whole country is destitute and the people desperate.
The poor are clamoring for bread, and many of them have taken to “bushwhacking” as their only means of living.
traveled from Union Point
in the same car with Mr. Stephens
The Yankee guard suffered him to stop an hour at Crawfordville
[his home], in order to collect some of his clothing.
As soon as his arrival became known, the people flocked to see him, weeping and wringing their hands.
All his negroes went out to see him off, and many others from the surrounding plantations.
says that as the train moved off, all along the platform, honest black hands of every shape and size were thrust in at the window, with cries of “Good-by, Mr. Stephens
;” “Far'well, Marse Aleck.”
All the spectators were moved to tears; the vice-president
himself gave way to an outburst of affectionate-not cowardly grief, and even his Yankee guard looked serious while this affecting scene passed before their eyes. . . .
May 16, Tuesday
Two delightful visitors after tea, Col. Trenholm
[son of the secretary of the treasury
] and Mr. Morgan
, of the navy, who is to marry his sister.
The news this evening is that we have all got to take the oath of allegiance before getting married.
This horrid law caused much talk in our rebellious circle, and the gentlemen laughed very much when Cora said:
“Talk about dying for your country, but what is that to being an old maid for it?”
The chief thought of our men now is how to embroil the United States
either in foreign or internal commotions, so that we can rebel again.
They all say that if the Yankees
had given us any sort of tolerable terms they would submit quietly, though unwillingly, to the inevitable; but if they carry out the abominable programme of which flying rumors reach us, extermination itself will be better than submission.
says that if it comes to the worst, he can turn bushwhacker, and we all came to the conclusion that if this kind of peace continues, bushwhacking will be the most respectable occupation in which a man can engage.
said, with a lugubrious smile, that his most ambitious hope now is to get himself hanged as quickly as possible.
May 17, Wednesday
has a letter from Mattie [her sister] giving a very pathetic account of the passage of the prisoners through Augusta
She says that Telfair
St. was thronged with ladies, all weeping bitterly, as the mournful procession passed on, and that even the President
's Yankee guard seemed touched by the exhibition of grief.
The more sensitive may have shut themselves up, as Mr. Day
said, but I am glad some were there to testify that the feeling of the South
is still with our fallen President
and to shame with their tears the insulting cries of his persecutors.
The weather was very threatening and cloudy in
the afternoon so that I did not dress as much as usual, and, of course, had more visitors than ever . . Maria Irvin
said something which made me feel very uncomfortable.
I was sitting across the room from her, and she told me, loud enough for everybody to hear, that the first evening the Yankees
arrived in Washington
, they were heard to say that they knew all about Judge Andrews
; he was a good Union man, and they liked him. At my side was Maj. White
, an exile from Maryland
, whose poor down-trodden State has suffered so much, and I thought it was real spiteful in her to be throwing up father's politics to me there, so I flew up and told her that if my father was a Union man he had more sons in the Confederate army than hers had,2
and he didn't wait till the war was over, like so many other people that I knew, to express his Union sentiments.
Father's politics distress me a great deal, but nobody shall say a word against him where I am. Poor, dear old father, everything he said in the beginning has come true, just as he said it would, even to the Confederacy
being split in two by an invasion through Tennessee
,but all that don't make me love the ones that have brought it about any better.
's army has nearly all gone.
The last large body of troops has passed through, and in a few weeks even the stragglers and hangers — on will have disappeared.
There have been no camp fires in our grove
since Sunday, but five of the dear old Rebs are sleeping in our corn-crib to-night.
They said they were too dirty to come into the house, and they are so considerate that they would not even sleep in an out-house without asking permission.
Hundreds, if not thousands of them have camped in our grove, and the only damage they ever did — if that can be called a damage, --was to burn a few fence rails.
In the whole history of war I don't believe another instance can be found of so little mischief being committed as has been done by these disbanded, disorganized, poverty-stricken, starving men of Lee
's and Johnston
Against the thousands and tens of thousands that have passed through Washington
, the worst that can be charged is the plundering of the treasury and the government stores, and as they would have gone to the Yankees
anyway, our men can hardly be blamed for taking whatever they could get, rather than let it go to the enemy.
They were on their way to far-distant homes, without a cent of money in their pockets or a mouthful of food in their haversacks, and the Confederate
stores had been collected for the use of our army, and were theirs by right, anyway.
They have hardly ever troubled private property, except horses and provender, and when we think of the desperate situation in which they were left after the surrender, the only wonder is that greater depredations were not committed.
And at the worst, what is the theft of a few bundles of fodder, or even of a horse, compared with hanging men
up on a slack rope and poking them with bayonets to make them tell where their valuables were hid; or to pulling the cover off a sick woman as the Yankees
did that one at Barnesville
, and exposing her person to make sure she had no jewelry or money concealed in the bed with her?
The Northern papers are full of wild stories about Southern lawlessness, though everybody in this county can testify that the two or three thousand sleek, well-fed Yankee troops who have come here to take “peaceable possession” of the country have committed ten times more depredations than the whole Confederate army during its march into Pennsylvania
Some of them broke into Col. Tom Willis
's cellar the other day, and when they had drunk as much of his peach brandy
as they could hold, they spit into the rest to keep the “d — d rebels” from having it. They strut about the streets of Washington
with negro women on their arms and sneak around into people's kitchens, tampering with the servants and setting them against the white people.
Sometimes the more respectable negroes themselves are disgusted at their conduct.
says her old cook collared one the other day and pushed him out of the kitchen.
I was greatly touched the other day by the history of a little boy, not much bigger than Marshall
, whom I found in the back yard with a party of soldiers that had come in to get their rations cooked.
Metta first noticed him and asked how such a little fellow came to be in the army.
The soldiers told us that his father
had gone to the war with the first volunteers from their county, and had never been heard of again, after one of the great battles he was in. Then the mother died, and the little boy followed a party of recruits who took him along with them for a “powder monkey,” and he had been following them around, a sort of child of the regiment, ever since.
I asked him what he was going to do now, and he answered: “I am going to Alabama
with these soldiers, to try and make a living for myself.”
Poor little fellow!
making a living for himself at an age when most children are carefully tucked in their beds at night by their mothers, and are playing with toys or sent to school in the daytime.
Metta gave him a piece of sorghum cake, and left him with his friends.
May 18, Thursday
Aunt Sallie gave a dinner to Gen.Elzey
and Mrs. Elzey
Everybody from our house was invited except Cousin Liza, Metta, and me, who were left out like children, because there wasn't room for us at table.
We were so delighted at being spared the responsibility of getting up a dinner ourselves, that we easily relieved the old lady's fear of giving offense by leaving us out, especially as she sent us a lot of good things from her feast.
We had taken advantage of the opportunity to spare our poverty-stricken larder, and were making ourselves merry over a wretched dinner of ham and cornfield peas, when Charity said: “Here comes Simon
with a waiter from Miszzz Brown
The table looked so bare and doleful that Mett made
us laugh by ordering Charity, before we sat down, to toll the dinner bell, and Cousin Liza, as she took her seat, folded her hands and droned in a camp-meeting tone:
I feel an aching void
That ham and peas can never fill.
I never laughed more in my life, and the arrival of Aunt Sallie's generous contribution did not detract from our good spirits.
We had just finished eating and got into our wrappers when two rebel horsemen came galloping up the avenue with news that a large body of Yankee cavalry was advancing down the Greensborough
road, plundering the country as they passed.
We hastily threw on our clothes and were busy concealing valuables for father, when the tramping of horses and shouting of the men reached our ears.
Then they began to pass by our street gate, with two of their detestable old flags flaunting in the breeze.
I ran for Garnett's field-glass and watched them through it. Nearly all of them had bags of plunder tied to their saddles, and many rode horses which were afterwards recognized as belonging to different planters in the county.
I saw one rascal with a ruffled pillowcase full of stolen goods, tied to his saddle, and some of them had women's drawers tied up at the bottom ends, filled with plunder and slung astride their horses.
There was a regiment of negroes with them, and they halted right in front of our gate.
Think of it!
armed negroes here to threaten and insult us!
We were so furious that we shook our fists and spit at them from behind the window where we were sitting.
It may have been childish, but it relieved our feelings.
None of them came within the enclosure, but the officers pranced about before the gate until I felt as if I would like to take a shot at them myself, if I had had a gun, and known how to use it. They are camped for the night on the outskirts of the town, and everybody expects to be robbed before morning.
Father loaded his two guns, and after the servants had been dismissed, we hid the silver in the hollow by the chimney up in the big garret, and father says it shall not be brought out again till the country becomes more settled.
A furious storm came up just at sunset, and I hope it will confine the mongrel crew to their tents.
May 19, Friday
The storm lasted nearly all night, and there were no plunderers abroad.
It is some advantage to live at a military post when the commandant is a man like Capt. Abraham
, who, from all accounts, seems to try to do the best for us that he knows how. Our men say that he not only listens, but attends to the complaints that are carried to him by white people as carefully as to those brought by negroes.
The other day a Yankee soldier fired into our back porch and came near killing one of the servants.
I saw a batch of them in the back garden, where the shot came from, and sent Henry to speak to them, but they swore they had not been shooting.
Henry knew it was a lie, so he went and complained to “Marse
lot,” who said that such molestation of private families should be stopped at once, and we have not heard a gun fired on our premises since.
It is a pretty pass, though, when a gentleman can't defend his own grounds, but has to cringe and ask protection from a Yankee master.
Somebody has been writing in the Chronicle & Sentinel accusing our armies of dissolving themselves into bands of marauders.
I am surprised that any Southern paper should publish such a slander.
Of course, it is not to be expected that under the circumstances, some disorders would not occur, but the wonder is there have been so few. I have witnessed the breaking up of three Confederate armies; Lee
's and Johnston
's have already passed through Washington
, and Gen. Dick Taylor
's is now in transit, but all these thousands upon thousands of disbanded, disorganized, disinherited Southerners have not committed onetwentieth part of the damage to private property that was committed by the first small squad of Yankee cavalry that passed through our county.
We are beginning to hear from all quarters of the depredations committed by the regiments, with their negro followers, that came through town yesterday.
Their conduct so exasperated the people that they were bushwhacked near Greensborough
, and several of their men wounded.
They then forced the planters to furnish horses and vehicles for their transportation.
Henry says that one of their own officers was heard to remark on the square, that after the way in which they had behaved he could not blame the people for attacking them.
When they bring negro troops among us it is enough to make every man in the Confederacy
May 20, Saturday
Harry Day took his departure this morning.
He seems to have enjoyed his visit greatly, though I am afraid any pleasure he may have got out of it was due more to the good company we have in the house than to the merits of our housekeeping; our larder is about down to a starvation basis . .
and Mrs. Alfred Cumming
called after breakfast, and while we were in the parlor with them, a servant came in bringing a present of a pet lamb for Marsh
from Mrs. Ben Jordan
Father laughed and said it was like sending a lamb among hungry wolves, to place it in this famished household, and Henry suggested that we make a general massacre of pets.
May 21, Sunday
I went to church with Mary Day. Lot Abraham and some of his men were there.
I couldn't help thinking what an accession Lot would have been if he had brought his wife and come among us in the days of the Confederacy
, when salt was at such a premium.
He is a big, tall fellow from Iowa
, not a spindling little down-Easter.
Two of the Yankees
seated themselves in the pew with Charley Irvin
who instantly rose and changed his seat.
The others had sense enough to take the hint and confine themselves to vacant pews.
preached, as usual.
He prayed for all prisoners and fugitives, and against injustice and oppression, though in guarded language.
He read the Twenty-seventh Psalm, laying marked emphasis on the words: “False witnesses have risen up against me.”
and Gen. Elzey
came over in the evening and took tea with us. We had a disgracefully poor supper, but it was impossible to do any better.
is coming to-morrow to stay at our house, and will be Garnett
's guest till he can get money to take him back to his home in Virginia
While walking in the grove after dinner, I heard a fine band playing in the street.
I turned away and tried not to listen, till little Marshall
called to me that it was a Confederate band.
In his eagerness to hear, he had climbed up on the fence and sat down in the midst of a group of Yankee soldiers that had planted themselves there, and told him it was Confederate music.
I made him get down and go back to the house with me.
May 22, Monday
No visitors all day, except two of father's country friends who came in to dinner.
In the afternoon Mary
and I took the carriage and made some calls that have been on our minds a long time.
Conversation was mostly an exchange of experiences.
We have suffered much less in town where
the soldiers are under some restraint, than the people have on the plantations.
The garrison are insolent, and annoy housekeepers by their familiarity with the servants, and at the same time they are hard on the negroes that work for them, but we can submit to these things for the sake of the protection the Iowa
hoosier tries to give us. On account of father's always having been such a strong Union man, he is supposed to have some influence with our new masters, and is frequently appealed to by the citizens to lay their grievances before the Yankee
commandant, and so he has become pretty well acquainted with him in a business way. He says he is a dreadful vulgarian, but seems to have plenty of good sense, and a good heart.
I suppose he is a Jew, but one can't always judge by names.
Two of the most infamous wretches that have made themselves conspicuous here were named “Saint
” and “Angel.”
May 23, Tuesday
In bed nearly all day. Cousin Liza read aloud to entertain me, but I slept through
most of it. I went to walk in the afternoon and met John Garnett
just from Albany
, and he says the Yankees
are behaving better in South-West Georgia
than anybody expected.
This makes us all feel very much relieved on sister's account.
, of Mobile
, spent the night at our house.
He comes direct from Richmond
and brings welcome news from our friends there.
spent the evening.
May 24, Wednesday
--the righteous Lot-and his garrison left town this morning, and no others have come as yet to take their place.
They were much disgusted at their reception here, I am told, and some of them were heard to declare that there was not a pretty woman in the place.
No wonder, when the only ones that associated with them were negroes.
They had two negro balls while they were here, the white men dancing with the negro women.
One night they held their orgy in Bolton
's Range, and kept everybody on the square awake with their disgraceful noise.
They strutted about the streets on Sundays with negro wenches on their arms, and yet their officers complain because they are not invited to sit at the tables of Southern gentlemen!
We took tea at the bank with the Elzeys.
is well enough to be out, and is a pleasant addition to our circle of friends.
May 25, Thursday
But few callers during the day. Our gentlemen dined out. Gen. Elzey
has been led
to change his plan of going to Charlotte
in a wagon, by news of the robbery of the Richmond
Five hundred thousand dollars in specie had been secretly packed and shipped from this place back to Richmond
, in wagons, but the train was waylaid by robbers and plundered between here and Abbeville
, somewhere near the Savannah River
It is thought they mistook it for the remains of the Confederate
A man came to see father this afternoon, in great haste about it, but there is small hope of recovering anything.
The whole country is in disorder and filled with lawless bands that call themselves rebels or Yankees, as happens to suit their convenience.
They say it is not safe for a person to go six miles from town except in company and fully armed, and I am not sure that we shall be safe in the village, the negroes are crowding in so. “Marse
” Abraham did protect us against them, in a way, and if his men hadn't tampered with them so, I shouldn't be sorry to see him back till things settle down a little.
At present nobody dares to make any plans for the future.
We can only wait each day for what the morrow may bring forth.
Oh, we are utterly and thoroughly wretched!
One of the latest proposals of the conquerors is to make our Confederate uniform the dress of convicts.
As if it was in the power of man to disgrace the uniform worn by Robert E. Lee
and Stonewall Jackson
They couldn't disgrace it, even if they were to put their own army into it.
May 26, Friday
Our gentlemen dined out again.
I took a ride in the afternoon with Capt. Hudson
He rode father's horse, “Mr. Ben
,” and I took his pony, “Brickbat.”
We played whist after supper, but I don't like cards, and it was stupid.
Some of the bank robbers have been caught, and $60,000 in money recovered, but the prisoners were rescued by people living in that part of the county.
Gen. Porter Alexander
took some of the old Irvin Artillery and went out to arrest such of the guilty ones as could be found.
They caught several who were suspected, but while the soldiers were scattered around looking for others, the Danburg people armed themselves and made a rescue.
All the money and plate that lives through these troublous times will have strange histories attached to it. One man had $1,000 in specie which he went out to conceal as soon as he heard that the Yankees
were in his neighborhood.
Before he could get it buried, he heard a squad of horsemen coming down the road, so he threw his bag of money over a hedge to get it out of sight, and lo!
there it struck a skulking Yankee pat on the head!
This is the tale the country people tell, but so many wild reports are flying from mouth to mouth that one never knows what to believe.
Where so many strange things are happening every day, nothing seems incredible.
May 27, Saturday
and Paces are here on their way home from Virginia
Nora was in Richmond
when it was evacuated, her nurse deserted
and went off to the Yankees
, and she had an awful time coming out. The general [John B. Gordon
] dropped in to see us; he is almost heartbroken over the fall of the Confederacy
His career in the army was so brilliant, no wonder he feels the bitter change for himself as well as for his country.
After sitting awhile with Nora I went to see Mrs. Elzey
and found her cutting off the buttons from the general's coat.
The tyrants have prohibited the wearing of Confederate uniforms.
Those who have no other clothes can still wear the gray, but must rip off the buttons and decorations.
The beautiful Hungarian knot, the stars, and bars, the cords, the sashes, and gold lace, are all disappearing.
People everywhere are ransacking old chests, and the men are hauling out the old clothes they used to wear before the war, and they do look so funny and old-fashioned, after the beautiful uniforms we had all gotten used to!
But the raggedest soldier of the Confederacy
in his shabby old clothes is a more heroic figure in my eyes than any upstart Yankee officer in the finest uniform he can get into.
Yet, it is pitiful, as well as comical, to see the poor fellows looking so dowdy.
I feel like crying whenever I think of the change and all that it means.
We are a poverty-stricken nation, and most of them are too poor to buy new clothes.
I suppose we are just now at the very worst stage of our financial embarrassments, and if we can manage to struggle through the next five or six months, some sort of currency
will begin to circulate again.
I have clothes enough to bridge over the crisis, I think, but mother's house linen is hopelessly short, and our family larder brought down to the last gasp.
Father has a little specie, saved from the sale of the cotton he shipped to Liverpool
before the war, but the country has been so drained of provisions that even gold cannot buy them.
We have so much company that it is necessary to keep up appearances and set a respectable table, which Mett and I do, after a fashion, by hard struggling behind the scenes.
The table generally looks well enough when we first sit down, but when we get up it is as bare as Jack Sprat
's. We have some good laughs at the makeshifts we resort to for making things hold out. We eat as little as we can do with ourselves, but we don't want father's guests to suspect that we are stinted, so Metta pretends to a loss of appetite, while I profess a great fondness for whatever happens to be most abundant, which is always sure to be cornfield peas, or some other coarse, rank thing that I detest.
It would all be very funny, if it were not so mortifying, with all these charming people in the house that deserve to be entertained like princes, and are used to having everything nice.
Metta's delicate appetite and my affection for cornfield peas are a standing joke between us. She has the best of it, though, for she simply starves, while I “nawsierate,” as Charity says.
I make a face at the bag of peas whenever I go near it in the pantry.
I don't know what we should do if
it was not for Emily and Charity.
They join in our consultations, moan over our difficulties, and carry out our plans with as much eagerness as old Caleb Balderstone
, in keeping up the credit of the family.
Who would ever have believed that we could come to this?
I can hardly believe it is I, plotting with the servants in the pantry to get up a dinner out of nothing, like the poor people I read about in books.
It requires a great deal of management to find time for both parlor and kitchen, and to keep my manners and my dress unruffled.
However, Mett and I find so much to laugh at in the comedies mixed up with our country's tragedy that it keeps us in a good humor.
Mother don't help us much.
She always did hate the worry of housekeeping, and she never was used to such as this .. The servants, however, are treasures.
With the exception of those who went to the Yankees
, they all behave better and work harder than they did before.
I really love them for the way they have stood by us.
May 28, Sunday
Nora and Mr. Pace
spent the evening with us, and Cousin Bolling and the Elzeys dropped in, making quite a full table.
Cousin Bolling came up from Cuthbert
to visit his father's family before going to join Cousin Bessie in Memphis
, and will be obliged to stay indefinitely because he can't get money to pay his way. After everybody else had gone, he and Capt. Hudson
staid and chatted with us a long time.
They taught us some thunderous German words to say when we feel like swearing at the
Yankees, because Cora said she felt like doing it a dozen times a day, but couldn't because she was a woman.
I remember this much: “Potts-tousandschock-schwer an oat--” and my brain could carry no more.
I don't know how my spelling would look in German
; I would prefer a good, round, English
” anyway, if I dared use it. A fresh batch of Yankees have come to town under the command of a Capt. Schaeffer
I have not seen any of them, but I know they are frights in their horrid cavalry uniform of blue and yellow.
It is the ugliest thing I ever saw; looks like the back of a snake.
The business of these newcomers, it is said, is to cram their nauseous oath of allegiance down our throats.
May 29, Monday
I went to the depot to see Nora and the Gordons off. The general sent me his love and good-by yesterday, but that did not suffice.
I wanted to touch again the brave hand that has struck so many blows for Southern liberty.
He is a splendidlooking man, and the very pattern of chivalry.
was not thought to have done much of a business when she married the poor young lawyer from the mountains, but now she is the envy of womankind.
I wish old Mrs. Haralson
could have lived to see her son-in-law a lieutenant-general in the bravest army the world ever saw; it would have brought joy unspeakable to her proud heart — as who would not be proud of such a son-in-law?
From the depot I was going out to return calls with
Mary Day, but Garnett
told me he had invited the Elzeys to dinner, so I came home to receive them.
brought Cousin Bolling, and we had a pleasant little party.
I have not seen people enjoy themselves so much since our country fell under the tyrant's heel.
was really merry, and I was delighted to see him recovering his spirits, for he has been the picture of desolation ever since the crash came.
I love him and Mrs. Elzey
better than almost anybody else outside my own family.
Father, too, is so fond of Mrs. Elzey
that he laughs at her fiery rebel talk, no matter how hot she grows, and lets her say what he wouldn't tolerate in the rest of us. Our household is divided into factions-we out-and-out rebels being most numerous, but the Unionists (father and mother) most powerful; the “Trimmers” neither numerous nor powerful, but best adapted to scud between opposing elements and escape unhurt by either.
I think mother is inclined to waver sometimes and join the rebels through sympathy with the boys, but she always sticks to father in the long run. However, we did not quarrel at all to-day; we Rebs had such strong reenforcements that the others had no showing at all.
We had a good dinner, too-mock turtle soup, barbecued lamb, and for dessert, sponge pudding with cream sauce, and boiled custard sweetened with sugar — no sorghum in anything.
I have not seen such a feast on our table for a long time, and we all ate like ogres.
The lamb, alas!
was the pet Mrs. Jordan
had sent Marsh
It was mischievous, eating things in the garden, and we too near starvation to let go any good pretext for making way with it, so Marsh
was persuaded to consent to the slaughter and Garnett
took advantage of the occasion to feast his friends, and the wolf in the fable never fell upon his victim more ravenously than we upon poor little Mary Lizzie
, as Mrs. Jordan
had christened her pet. The pudding and boiled custard were due to an order father has sent to Augusta
for groceries, and mother felt so triumphant over the prospect of having something in the pantry again, that she grew reckless and celebrated the event by using up all the sugar she had in the house.
There was plenty of everything, so Mett recovered her appetite and I suddenly lost my fondness for cornfield peas.
May 30, Tuesday
Rain all day, but we had a jolly time, nevertheless.
After dinner we played euchre, with gingercakes for stakes, and when the bank broke on them, descended to a game of “Muggins.”
The captain gave us all mustaches, and we put on hats and coats and went to visit Aunt Sallie.
Mett and Henry fought a duel with popguns, and when we saw Gen. Elzey
coming up the avenue, we turned our popguns on him, till at last father said we were getting so boisterous he had to call us to order.
stayed to tea, and Gardiner Foster
dropped in. The general wore a gray coat from which all the decorations had been ripped off and the buttons covered with plain
gray cloth, but he would look like a soldier.
and a gentleman even in a Boston stove-pipe hat, or a suit of Yankee blue.
Some of our boys put their discarded buttons in tobacco bags and jingle them whenever a Yank comes within earshot.
Some will not replace them at all, but leave their coats flying open to tell the tale of spoliation.
Others put ridiculous tin and horn buttons on their military coats.
The majority, however, especially the older ones, submit in dignified silence to the humiliating decree.
Old-fashioned citizen's suits that were thrown aside four years ago are now brought out of their hiding-places, and the dear old gray is rapidly disappearing from the streets.
Men look upon our cause as hopelessly lost, and all talk of the Trans-Mississippi
and another revolution has ceased.
Within the last three weeks the aspect of affairs has changed more than three years in ordinary times could have changed it. It is impossible to write intelligibly even about what is passing under one's eyes, for what is true to-day may be false to-morrow.
The mails are broken up so that we can send letters only as chance offers, by private hand, and the few papers we get are published under Yankee censorship, and reveal only what the tyrants choose that we shall know.
May 31, Wednesday
Out nearly all day, returning calls with Mary Day. She is very delicate, and does not care much for general society
, but we have so many pleasant people in the house that it is never dull here.
She plays divinely on the piano, and her music adds a great deal to the pleasure of the household.
The newcomers under Capt. Schaeffer
seem to be as fond of our grove as were Capt. Abraham
's men. Some of them are always strolling about there, and this morning two of them came to the house and asked to borrow ‘Ginny Dick
I suppose they are going to imitate their predecessors in giving negro balls.
Abraham's men danced all night with the odorous belles, and it is said the “righteous Lot” himself was not above bestowing his attentions on them.
I hope Dick
will have more self-respect than to play for any such rabble.
He always was a good negro, except that he can't let whisky alone whenever there is a chance to get it. Poor darkeys, they are the real victims of the war, after all. The Yankees
have turned their poor ignorant heads and driven them wild with false notions of freedom.
I have heard several wellauthenticated instances of women throwing away their babies in their mad haste to run away from their homes and follow the Northern
One such case, Capt. Abraham
himself told father he saw in Mississippi
Another occurred not a mile from this town, where a runaway, hotly pursued by her master, threw an infant down in the road and sped on to join the “saviors of her race,” with a bundle of finery clasped tightly in her arms.
Our new ruler is as little disposed to encourage them in running away as was “Marse
lot,” but their heads have been so turned by
the idea of living without work that their owners are sometimes obliged to turn them off, and when they run away of their own accord, they are not permitted to come back and corrupt the rest.
In this way they are thrown upon the Yankees
in such numbers that they don't know what to do with them, and turn the helpless ones loose to shift for themselves.
They are so bothered with them, that they will do almost anything to get rid of them.
In South-West Georgia
, where there are so many, they keep great straps to beat them with.
need not come South for the Legree of her next novel.
Yankees always did make notoriously hard masters; I remember how negroes used to dread being hired to them, before the war, because they worked them so hard.
The great armies have about all passed through, and now are coming the sick from the hospitals and prisons, poor fellows, straggling towards their homes.
They often stop to rest in the cool shade of our grove, and the sight of their gray coats, no matter how ragged and dirty, is refreshing to my eyes.
Two Missourians came to the house yesterday morning for breakfast, and mother filled them up with everything good she could find, and packed them up a generous lunch besides.
She is a better rebel than she thinks herself, after all. If anybody in the world does merit good usage from all Southerners, it is these brave Missourians, who sacrificed so much for our cause, in which they had so little at stake for themselves.