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How they made South Carolina ‘Howl’—Letter from one of ‘Sherman's bummers.’ [from the Alderson statesman, West Va., of October 29th, 1883.]

The following letter was found in the streets of Columbia after the army of General Sherman had left. The original is still preserved and can be shown and substantiated, if anybody desires. We are indebted to a distinguished lady of this city for a copy, sent with a request for publication. We can add nothing in the way of comment on such a document. It speaks for itself:

camp near Camden, S. C., February 26, 1865.
My Dear wife: I have no time for particulars. We have had a glorious time in this State. Unrestricted license to burn and plunder was the order of the day. The chivalry have been stripped of most of their valuables. Gold watches, silver pitchers, cups, spoons, forks, etc., etc., are as common in camp as blackberries. The terms of plunder are as follows: The valuables procured are estimated by companies. Each company is required to exhibit the result of its operations at any given place—one-fifth and first choice falls to the commander-in-chief and staff, one-fifth to corps commander and staff, one-fifth to field officers, two-fifths to the company. Officers are not allowed to join in these expeditions unless disguised as privates. One of our corps commanders borrowed a suit of rough clothes from one of my men and was successful in this place. He got a large quantity of silver (among other things an old silver milk pitcher) and a very fine gold watch from a Mr. De Saussure, of this place (Columbia). De Saussure is one of the F. F. V.'s of S. C., and was made to fork out liberally. Officers over the rank of Captain are not made to put their plunder in the estimate for general distribution. This is very unfair, and for that reason, in order to protect themselves, the subordinate officers and privates keep everything back that they can carry about their persons—such as rings, ear-rings, breastpins, etc., etc., of which, if I live to get home, I have a quart. I am not joking. I have at least a quart of jewelry for you and all the girls—and some No. 1 diamond pins and rings among them. General Sherman has gold and silver enough to start a bank. His [114] share in gold watches and chains alone, at Columbia, was two hundred and seventy-five.

But I said I could not go into particulars. All the general officers and many besides have valuables of every description, down to ladies' pocket-handkerchiefs. I have my share of them, too.

We took gold and silver enough from the d——d Rebels to have redeemed their infernal currency twice over. This (the currency) whenever we came across it we burned it, as we considered it utterly worthless.

I wish all the jewelry this army has could be carried to the ‘Old Bay State.’ It would deck her out in glorious style; but, alas! it will be scattered all over the North and Middle States. The damned niggers, as a general thing, preferred to stay at home—particularly after they found out that we wanted only the able-bodied men, and, to tell the truth, the youngest and best looking women. Sometimes we took them off, by way of repaying influential secessionists. But the useless part of these we soon managed to lose—sometimes in crossing rivers—sometimes by other ways.

I shall write you again from Wilmington, Goldsboroa, or some other place in North Carolina. The order to march has arrived and I must close hurriedly. Love to grandmother and Aunt Charlotte. Take care of yourself and the children. Don't show this letter out of the family.

Your affectionate husband,

Thomas J. Myers, Lieutenant, etc.
P. S.—I will send this by the first flag of truce, to be mailed, unless I have an opportunity of sending it to Hilton Head. Tell Sallie I am saving a pearl bracelet and ear-rings for her. But Lambert got the necklace and breast-pin of the same set. I am trying to trade him out of them. These were taken from the Misses Jamison, daughters of the President of the South Carolina Secession Convention. We found those on our trip through Georgia.

T. J. M.

This letter was addressed to Mrs. Thomas J. Myers, Boston, Mass.

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