This Week in Georgia Civil War History
This Week in Georgia Civil War History
Jan. 29, 1865: Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of visiting with passing soldiers - one who showed up quite unexpectedly.
"Breakfast early so as to let our general and staff proceed on their way, as they said they wanted to make an early start. Gen. Jones has recently been appointed commandant of the Department of South Georgia and Florida, with headquarters at Tallahassee. It was nearly eleven o'clock before they got off. Mr. Robert Bacon says he met them on their way, and they told him they were so pleased with their entertainment at sister's that they wished they could have staid a day or two longer. I had a good long talk with the two young captains before they left and they were just as nice as they could be. We found that we had a number of common friends, and Capt. Warwick knows quite well the Miss Lou Randolph in Richmond that Garnett writes so much about, and Rosalie Beirne, too.
Just before bedtime we were startled by heavy steps and a loud knocking at the front door. Having no white man within three miles, even an overseer, we were a little startled, but mustered courage, sister, Mett, and I, followed by two or three of the negroes, to go to the door. Instead of a stray Yankee, or a squad of deserters, we confronted a smart young Confederate officer in such a fine new uniform that the sight of it nearly took our breath away. He said he was going to the Cochran plantation, but got lost in the pond back of our house and had come in to inquire his way. Sister invited him into the sitting-room, and he sat there talking with us till one of the servants could saddle a mule and go with him to show him the road. Sister said she felt mean for not inviting him to spend the night, but she was too tired and worried to entertain another guest now, if the fate of the Confederacy depended on it. His uniform was too fresh and new anyway to look very heroic."
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 81-82.
Jan. 30, 1865: A Georgia soldier being held prisoner in New York wrote home to his wife, glad to finally hear from her, and trying to ease her worries about him.
"... I seat my self to write in answer yours of the 18 Decr which I have just received it is the first letter I have had from you since I have bin a prisoner. it found me well I have had good health all the time. I was very glad to hear you all was in good health. ... My Dear you wrote of trouble do not be troubled about me if you can help it. although we are miles apart. should life last I will return to you some time I cannot say when. it will be months an may be years although do the best you can. ... give my respects to Enquiring friends. school our children tell them Papa will be home some time. I want to see them very bad. ..."
Source: Katherine S. Holland (ed.), Keep All My Letters: The Civil War Letters of Richard Henry Brooks, 51st Georgia Infantry (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2003), p.121.
A Covington, Georgia woman wrote in her diary of soap making and planting by the moon, and of desperately wanting her captured sons home again.
The Richmond Times Dispatch printed news from Georgia on clergy insisting that marriage among slaves be accepted and recognized.
Religious duties of masters to slaves.
The Protestant and Catholic clergy of the Confederacy are calling attention to the duty of enforcing the sanctity of the marriage relation among slaves. The Baptist Convention of Georgia has adopted an emphatic resolution upon this subject. The Southern Churchman quotes various religious authorities, setting forth the sinfulness of any neglect by masters of this Christian duty; among them Bishop Verot, (Roman Catholic Bishop of Savannah,) who says: "Slavery, to become a permanent institution of the South, must be made to conform to the law of God; a Southern Confederacy will never thrive unless it rests upon morality and order; the Supreme Arbiter of Nations will not bless with stability and prosperity a state of things which would be a flagrant violation of His holy commandments."
Jan. 31, 1865: The United States House of Representatives passed the Thirteenth Amendment, which when ratified by the requisite number of states, officially abolished slavery in the United States.
A Georgia soldier in South Carolina wrote home to his wife, anticipating the arrival of the Yankees, and wanting peace.
". . . We are well-situated in our present camp . . . . But the Yanks are advancing, and it will not be long until this will all be over. And the campaign will open and then South Carolina will be overrun by the foul invader. . . . We have a great many reports through camps, and one is that there is a Union flag flying from the courthouse at Hamilton, which reports I do not believe. But one I know that there was great many secessh about there, and if they have changed as much as the secessh of this state, they are willing to do anything to save their state. They were first for war, and they think it right to be first for peace. But i tell them they know nothing about war as yet, and they must wait until the yanks get full possession of the state and then they can be to realize what war is and not 'till then. I am very anxious to have peace, if we can have it in the proper way. And if not, my voice is still for war, but it seems to me that we have had war long enough to have peace on good terms."
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), "Dear Mother: Don't grieve about me. If I get killed, I'll only be dead.": Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 341.
Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of encountering more Confederate soldiers, including one in wretched condition.
"Sister and I spent the morning making calls. At the tithing agent's office, where she stopped to see about her taxes, we saw a battalion of Wheeler's cavalry, which is to be encamped in our neighborhood for several weeks. Their business is to gather up and take care of broken-down horses, so as to fit them for use again in baggage trains and the like. At the postoffice a letter was given me, which I opened and read, thinking it was for me. It began "Dear Ideal" and was signed "Yours forever." I thought at first that Capt. Hobbs or Albert Bacon was playing a joke on me, but on making inquiry at the office, I learned that there is a cracker girl named Fanny Andrews living down somewhere near Gum Pond, for whom, no doubt, the letter was intended; so I remailed it to her.
As we were sitting in the parlor after supper, there was another lumbering noise of heavy feet on the front steps, but it was caused by a very different sort of visitor from the one we had Sunday night. A poor, cadaverous fellow came limping into the room, and said he was a wounded soldier, looking for work as an overseer. He gave his name as Etheridge, and I suspect, from his manner, that he is some poor fellow who has seen better days. Sister engaged him on the spot, for one month, as an experiment, though she is afraid he will not be equal to the work."
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 82-83.
The Southern Recorder of Milledgeville printed a letter from a Confederate Congressional representative to the people of his district, trying to offer them hope and encouragement.
The Confederate Union of Milledgeville printed an editorial questioning the Confederate administration, while praising the Confederate people, and wondering why the former seemed to fear the latter.
The Richmond Times Dispatch printed an editorial on in Union General William T. Sherman in Savannah, and his statements about not being able to control his men in South Carolina; the editors concluded that if he could not do so, he was not fit to command.
General Sherman and Savannah.
Accounts of refugees from Savannah, heretofore published in this paper, concur in stating that General Sherman has publicly declared that he may not be able to restrain his troops when he invades South Carolina, and he does not know that he shall attempt to.
Every-one knows what the rank and file of invading armies are most composed of. They are, in general, the refuse of society, the scum of the nations, outcasts, outlaws and Pariahs of the earth. Even the few of them who before were respectable citizens, become demoralized by their removal from the social and moral influences of home and the evil associations and temptations of their new mode of life. That the Yankee armies are no exception to this rule, is manifest from the hideous crimes and hard track of desolation which, even when professedly restrained by their commanders, have signalized their march through the South. What human imagination can compass the horrors which the removal of all restraint from such armies means?
It means the burning of every house, the dishonor of every woman, the indiscriminate murder of old and young from one end of South Carolina to the other. That is what it means; nothing more, nothing less. General Sherman need not say that he cannot restrain his troops.--If he cannot, he is unfit for his position. Any general, who chooses, has at his disposal ample means of enforcing discipline and good behavior. When Sherman intimates his doubts whether he shall attempt to restrain his soldiers, he gives us the only reason why he cannot.
It remains to be seen whether our own military authorities will be able, or be inclined, to restrain the vengeance with which such dispositions should be resisted and punished.
Feb. 1, 1865: A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, giving her a detailed account of his return trip from a furlough.
"...I am again at 'home.' a home I would give anything on earth reasonable to exchange for your home. I arrived yesterday morning, much jaded and half sick. Didn't leave my room 'till this morning, having much company and being indisposed to do so. Went to be early last night and slept tolerably under the circumstances, arose early this morning, had breakfast....and am now started to give you a history of my trip, feeling much improved and invigorated by rest...
Monday, January 23rd. Left home [Americus], heart sad and heavy. Above [Anderson?], discovered that my gold and silver was gone. Was a shock, of course, and did not lessen the sadness of my heart. Arrived at Macon at 4 P. M....
Tuesday, 24th. Left on the train at 8 for Milledgeville and arrived at Midway at 12... Got a wagon and had my remaining trunk, box and basket [carted] to the river, which was so swollen as to be nearly impassable...
Wednesday, 25th. Sun rose bright and clear but wind blew cold and whistling, biting ears, nose, &c. and ice being thick. Started at 8 and after a rather uneventful march of 20 miles over a miserable road and walking most of the way we arrived...just east of Sparta. ...
Thursday, 26th. Left at daybreak. Weather 11 degrees colder and a heavy northwester whizzing past us. ... Made good headway and reached Mayfield to take the 10:40 train. ... At Camak stuck in the road at 12... Train from Augusta passed up 1 1/2 hours behind time, and the train to Augusta came not 'till 9 at night, owing to having exploded her boiler...
Friday 27th. ...Reached Branchville at noon. Wheeled an angle on to another road and that night at 9 reached Columbia. ...
Saturday, 28th. ...made a rush for the train, which left in a few minutes for Charlotte. ...Arrived at Charlotte at sundown...
Sunday 29th. Light comes. Here for the first time tried to wash my face but the towel used by another froze so quick I couldn't dry it and my hair was ice. ...
Monday, 30th. Arrived at Burkeville JUnction at 8 o'clock A.M. No train for Petersburg and no betting when there would be one. ... At 4 o'clock P.M. train arrived and...reached headquarters at 8 A.M., which brings me to the starting point of this letter. ...
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), "Dear Mother: Don't grieve about me. If I get killed, I'll only be dead.": Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 342-344.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reprinted a letter from a soldier in Augusta, Georgia, telling of how the recent rains had affected military operations on both sides.
Augusta, Georgia, January 24, 1865.
The late freshet has not only seriously interfered with military movements, but, for a time, it put a complete stop to all travel by railway. Nearly every part of this town was under water, while the whole of Hamburg, on the opposite side of the river, was submerged to the depth of six or ten feet. The people in both places are still engaged in pumping out the water from the cellars and repairing the damages done by the flood. Now that the railways have been put in running order again, the rush of travelers and mail matter is overwhelming. The trains, station-houses, hotels and wayside homes are overflowed by the mighty multitude, crowding and jostling each other; and he is considered a happy mortal who secures standing-room in a box-car, or a chair at a hotel on which to snatch a little sleep. So much for the freshet.
The injury done by Sherman to the railway lines in Georgia has not yet been repaired. The railways from Macon and Montgomery to Atlanta will soon be in running order again; but it will require several months to restore the upper end of the line between this city and Atlanta. No effort has been made thus far to relay the track of the Georgia Central railroad between Gordon, a station twenty miles below Macon, and Millen. Until these gaps can be closed up, the Government is forced to rely upon wagon trains, which are doing all that could be expected at this rainy period of the year.
But the heavy rains have embarrassed the operations-of the enemy as well as of ourselves. The freshet which did so much damage to bridges and railways in the hill country, where the water was confined to narrow channels, upon approaching the coast, spread out over wide tracts of level country, and rendered all movements across the direction of the water-course wholly impossible for sometime. For this reason there need be no apprehensions of an immediate raid from Savannah into Southwestern Georgia, the teeming granary of the Confederate States. This enforced delay on the part of the enemy will give our authorities time to prepare for a movement into that part of the State, which there is every reason to believe will be undertaken as soon as the waters subside.
It were folly to attempt to disguise the fact that there is very great discontent in this State and in South Carolina and North Carolina. With trifling exceptions, there is no desire on the part of the people for a reconstruction of the Union; but candor compels me to say there is wide and deep-seated dissatisfaction at the management of public affairs, which, if not timely checked, threatens to produce the gravest disasters. I shall not under take to say whether this discontent is the result of unavoidable military reverses, or of mismanagement by our civil and military authorities, or of the teachings of a factious press, which thinks it a light affair to destroy the confidence of the people in their leaders, or of the sordid spirit of gain which has taken such a hold upon the country. It may be that all of these causes have combined to produce the deplorable state of dissatisfaction, despondency and faction in which I have found the people all along my circuitous route from Richmond to Augusta. But that great discontent does prevail, and that it threatens, like a cloud overcharged with electricity, to vent itself upon the nearest object - possibly upon the cause itself, which now engages every patriot's heart - there is not the shadow of a doubt.
The opinion here expressed has not been hastily formed. It has been more than a month since the writer left Richmond; he has mingled freely with people of all shades of opinion; with the friends as well as with the opponents of the Administration; and he is painfully convinced that he does not exaggerate when he says that the authorities at Richmond must concede something to popular sentiment - that the press must be more reticent and forbearing, remembering that it is one-thing to criticise the conduct of public men and point out their errors as we would those of a friend, and quite another thing to denounce them and destroy their power for future good - and that the standard of private virtue and public morals must be elevated, and the people called away from the groves and high places where Mammon is worshipped, and where patriotism is bartered away for gold. If something like this be not done; if, in other words, a remedy for existing disorders be not found and speedily applied, those in authority, as well as the press and the people, may live to see the day when they will call upon the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the consequences of their own infatuation.
People in Richmond, at the time I left the capital, had but a faint idea of the real condition of affairs. The Administration itself did not begin to realize the estimation in which it is held by the country - whether rightfully or wrongfully, I need not now stop to consider. --The fact is what I am after, and the fact is as I have stated it to be.
Such is the malady. What is the remedy? Patience and firmness on the part of the people; reticence, forbearance and judicious criticism on the part of the press; and conciliation and a generous confidence on the part of the Government, and an energetic administration of military affairs, so that all the resources of the country, whether of men or material,--and of men, whether black or white,--shall be made available in the struggle for our liberties. A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, would secure our independence as surely as to-morrow's sun will rise and set.
P. W. A.
Feb. 2, 1865: A Georgia soldier in Virginia, in a letter to his wife, mentioned the passing of some important people through their lines, headed for a conference the following day.
"...I find everything here very quiet indeed, with flags of truce nearly daily. The three self-constituted [peace] commissioners, Stephens, Hunter and Campbell, actually passed through the lines on day before yesterday evening at sundown on their way to the city of all villainies and corruption to have a talk with King Abraham. Whether it will result in good is yet to occur. I trust God may move it so. We shall know in a few days. These men were accompanied to our lines by General Lee, in full uniform...
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), "Dear Mother: Don't grieve about me. If I get killed, I'll only be dead.": Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 344.
Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of spending an enjoyable evening, but also noted the "hard times."
"We spent the evening at Maj. Edwin Bacon's, rehearsing for tableaux and theatricals, and I never enjoyed an evening more. We had no end of fun, and a splendid supper, with ice cream and sherbet and cake made of real white sugar. I like the programme, too, and my part in it, though I made some of the others mad by my flat refusal to make myself ridiculous by taking the part of the peri in a scene from Lalla Rookh. Imagine poor little ugly me setting up for a pert! Wouldn't people laugh! I must have parts with some acting; I can't run on my looks. The entertainment is to take place at sister's, and all the neighborhood and a number of people from Albany will be invited. The stage will be erected in the wide back entry, between sister's room and the dining-room, which will serve for dressing-rooms. After the rehearsal came a display of costumes and a busy devising of dresses, which interested me very much. I do love pretty clothes, and it has been my fate to live in these hard war times, when one can have so little."
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 83-84.
Feb. 3, 1865: The Hampton Roads Peace Conference took place, with President Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Secretary of State William Seward meeting with Confederate Vice-President and native Georgian Alexander Stephens, former Supreme Court Justice John Archibald Campbell (also a native Georgian), and Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia to discuss ending the Civil War. The meeting took place on a ship at Hampton Roads, in Virginia; it had been arranged through private messages, carried by an intermediary, between Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, although the two men did not refer to each other directly - as Lincoln did not recognize Davis as a legitimate president. The South hoped to obtain a cease-fire, to allow time to try and negotiate for Southern independence. But Lincoln insisted on three things: 1) "the restoration of the national authority throughout
all the States," 2) "no receding, by the Executive of the United States on the Slavery question," and 3) "no cessation of hostilities short of an end of the war, and the disbanding of all forces hostile to the government."
Lincoln and Stephens had been friends before the war, and discussed old times and acquaintances for a few minutes before the conference began. It lasted four hours, but neither side would give on any crucial point. Lincoln - who desperately wanted to stop the bloodshed - insisted that if the South would lay down its arms and return to the Union, the fighting would stop - and he would do his best to see that Southern planters were recompensed for the loss of their slave property. But the Southern representatives saw this as submitting to the demands of the North, and insisted that a peace be negotiated between the two countries, while Lincoln would not acknowledge the South as a separate country. So while both parties negotiated in good faith, neither could compromise on essential points separating them. Thus, the conference produced no agreements.
Alexander Stephens |
John Archibald Campbell
See the following links for more information:
Hampton Roads Peace Conference
Hampton Roads Peace Conference
Hampton Roads Peace Conference
Confederate soldiers under the command of native Georgian General Lafayette McLaws were able to delay the Union army advancing into South Carolina for one day at River's Bridge, over the Salkehatchie River. As they had so often in Georgia, Union forces outflanked the outnumbered Confederates, forcing them to retreat.
General Lafayette McLaws
Feb. 4, 1865: A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his fiance after just returning from a furlough.
"...I am once more safely in camp, after having undergone the most disagreeable hardship I ever experienced. Just think of my being on the road since the morning of the 26th. I missed connection at the first depot, and at every other junction between Georgia and Virginia. ... I found my brigade just returned from another raid in the direction of Weldon. They were very much fatigued, and represented the trip as having been much more severe than the former. I was fortunate in missing it, don't you think so?...above all they are not whipped. While the people (a part of them) are ready for reconstruction. The soldiers are very much displeased with the 'situation' of affairs in Georgia, and I expect some of them, will receive some 'raking' documents. ...
Source: Clyde G. Wiggins III (ed.), My Dear Friend: The Civil War Letters of Alva Benjamin Spencer, 3rd Georgia Regiment, Company C (Macon, Mercer University Press, 2007), p. 180.
This week's edition of Harper's Weekly printed an editorial on Union General William T. Sherman and his war tactics, calling him a "blessing in disguise." Doubtless many Georgians disagreed with this assessment.
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
Harper's Weekly also printed more images from Savannah.
Images Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
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