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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

November 20, 1864

Attempts Made to Control Union Troops’ Behavior

Some of the wanton behavior of Union soldiers on the March to the Sea was being noted - and attempts were being made to control it.

“I. The discharge of fire-arms by foragers and others has become an evil which must be stopped. Many men have already been wounded and a waste of ammunition incurred which we cannot afford. However no firing will be permitted under any circumstances. Animals and fowls must be caught, not shot. “II. Useless negroes are being accumulated to an extent which be suicide to a column which must be constantly stripped for battle and prepared for the utmost celerity of movement. We cannot expect that the present unobstructed march will continue much longer. Our wagons are too much overladen to allow of their being filled with negro women and children or their baggage, and every additional mouth consumes food, which it requires risk to obtain. No negroes, therefore, or their baggage will be allowed in wagons and none but the servants of mounted officers on horses or mules. “III. One pack-animal may be allowed to each company and so many to brigade and division headquarters as division commanders may think proper. All animals taken from the country are the property of the Government, and must be turned over to the quartermasters. All surplus draft animals must be used to strengthen the wagon trains. Indiscriminate mounting of unauthorized men cannot be allowed. Every commanding officer is responsible that no unauthorized man under him is mounted… .” Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1893, reprinted by The National Historical Society, 1971), Series I, Vol. XLIV, p.502.