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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 10, 1865

Diary: Yankee Censorship, Fury at Wanted Posters, Singing for Soldiers

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of Yankee censorship, her fury at seeing wanted posters for Confederate officials, and more soldiers passing through - she enjoyed singing for them.

“…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 despotism! 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. … 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 reenforcements. 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. Johnston’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. ” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 237-240.