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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

April 19, 1865

Diary Entry on Fall of Columbus

A Columbus, Georgia man recorded his city’s fall to Union forces in his diary.

“Since I made my last entries on the 13th inst., we have passed days of trial and tribulation. On Sunday, the 16th, the Yankee Army reached Columbus. We made fight with them on the east side of the river, where we had made some breastworks. They came in overwhelming force so that they soon overpowered us. We had burnt the lower bridge. They soon got possession of the upper bridge and crossed over into town, so cut off the main body of our troops and captured them. They then had control of the city, destroyed the government stores, workshops, and exploded the magazine. Burnt the factories and public buildings. They came out to the Academy lot adjoining my home and camped. “The soldiers had great privilege, roamed about as they pleased, pillaging where they chose. They annoyed me much, came into my house, searched every room. Went to my meat house, corn crib, negro houses and robbed me of about five thousand dollars worth of plunder and my negro boy (my body servant, Tunx). None of my sons were with me fortunately, or they would have been captured. My age and infirmity protected me from capture. They took off many of our citizens, stayed two days and moved off, to our great satisfaction. My loss must have been five or six thousand dollars, besides the negro boy.” Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 36.