This Day in Georgia Civil War History
September 29, 1864
Richmond Newspaper Reprinted Several Reports from Georgia
The Richmond Times Dispatch reprinted several reports from different Georgia newspapers, including a proposal for from Union General William T. Sherman to negotiate peace with Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown.
Affairs in Georgia. The latest movements in Georgia give renewed interest to intelligence from that State. The arrival of President Davis at Mence is announced in the papers of that city, and the further that he had gone to the Army of Tennessee. An exchange of one thousand prisoners, but Gen. Hood and Sherman, took place on the 21st at Rough and Ready.–A letter from Griffin, dated the 22d, says: ‘A portion of Lewis’s Kentucky brigade walked down the track and reached here last night. In the true reporter style, I three or four intelligent fellows, and, by a system of questions, gained some interesting information from them in relation to the enemy up about Atlanta and from their These men were taken at the battle of Janesboro’, were marched to Atlanta, and then placed under guard. The railroad at that time was not in operation in consequence of the operations of General Wheeler; but as soon as commenced running they were put on board and started for Northern prisons. Seventy of them made their escape between Chattanooga and Nashville by cutting holes through the bottoms of the cars and dropping to the ground. When they got to Nashville last Thursday night, they were ordered back by General Sherman for exchange, and arrived at Atlanta on Tuesday, and immediately came down to Routh and Ready, as stated above. ‘From Nashville to Atlanta the railroad is in fine running order. General Wheeler flourished a great deal, but actually did little damage. So vast were the preparations of the enemy for rebuilding bridges and relaying track, and so great were the guards and details along the lines, that as fast as one section of the road was torn up it was immediately repaired. The enemy have new cross-ties and new bridge timbers in immense piles all along the track, and engines ad infinitum. Chattanooga and Dalton are garrisoned by three brigades of negroes. The streets of the former city, erected by Southern industry and walked by Southern chivalry and beauty, are now patroled by our former slaves, to whom all white men are forced to exhibit passed and if he fails to uch, he is marched off to the guard-house, and his case examined and his punishment adjusted by the negro! The negroes scrupulously exact the military salutation of all passing their posts. They have barracks there in which all Confederate and Federal deserters, “bounty jumpers” and military criminals are confined together and constantly watched over by negroes. The Yankees seem not to have any respect for deserters from our army. The “bounty jumper” is a man who enlists, receives his bounty money, deserts, goes to another point, repeats the operation, and so on until he is apprehended. Atlanta is described as one vast military bee-hive Sherman’s soldiers throng every street and are crowded into every house. The most active work prevails on the fortifications; and if the enemy remain there long, it will be the strongest fortified city on the continent. The streets are swept perfectly clean, and everything kept in an excellent sanitary condition. Several hundred frame houses have been torn to pieces, and their timbers constructed into barracks for troops outside of town. Prisoners report also that they saw an immense pile of railroad iron in the city–“enough,” they said, “to build a new line to Nashville.” I presume that they were deceived about its extent, and what they saw was rails taken from our own roads about the city. In relation to Sherman’s men whose time were out, going home, they say that they met a great many trains of them - many of them were without arms, and many were not. They were not able to learn whether any that they saw were going to Virginia, or to reinforce any other point. They heard nothing of the whereabouts of Forrest and Wheeler, but as they saw no Federal cavalry along the entire road, it is presumed that their force ran along the Tennessee river. The Yankees are organizing what they call the “First Georgia Regiment” at Atlanta from deserters from our army. They offer fourteen hundred dollars bounty and a new suit of the hated blue.–Emissaries commingled freely in the barracks with our men and offered the oath of allegiance. When the roll was called for them to take their departure, all who wished to take the oath were requested to pass to the left and the balance to the right. I am sorry to inform you that a good many went to the left, and among them were several subaltern officers of the line. They passed out to infamy and shame amidst the curses of their comrades, and have exchanged honor either for a life in the ranks of those they have been fighting, or a life of infamous case and shame. The result of Sherman’s proposition for a “peace conference” with Governor Brown is given in the Macon Confederate, which says: ‘He sent an invitation to Governor Brown and other prominent gentlemen to come up and talk the matter over with him, and see if some scheme could not be devised to withdraw Georgia from the war and save her people from further suffering. He would like, if Governor Brown desired it, that the latter should ride over the State road to Chattanooga, “see the condition of his people in the rear, and realize the strong claims upon his sympathy it presented.” The reply of Governor Brown, we understand, was very much to this effect; “Tell General Sherman that I understand him to be only a general of one of the Federal armies, while I am merely a governor of one of the Confederate States. I don’t see how we can negotiate; or, if we should under take it, how our negotiations can lead to any practical results.” ‘President Davis made a speech at Augusta, Georgia on the 22d in passing through that place. He said that. ‘The enemy must be driven from the soil of Georgia, and that the men of Georgia, and that the men of Georgia must aid in the great work. They must leave, for a while, their wives and children, and cast their gold to the winds, and help to drive back the insolent foe from their borders. We are struggling, said the President, to preserve the heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers - the right to govern ourselves - the right to be freemen; if we succeed, we shall be happy and prosperous; but if our Confederacy should fall, constitutional government, political freedom, will fall with it, and we shall be subject to such outrages as that lately enacted at Atlanta in the banishment of women and children from their homes - an outrage which would surely bring down upon the perpetrators the vengeance of a great God. He exhorted the people, therefore, to be firm and faithful, and all would yet be well. ‘In another address at Macon to the people, made by President Davis, among other things, he said: ‘I know the deep disgrace felt by Georgia at our army falling back from Dalton to the interior of the State; but I was not of those who considered Atlanta lost when our army crossed the Chattahoochee. I resolved that it should not, and I then put a man in command who I knew would strike an honest and manly blow for the city, and many a Yankee’s blood was made to nourish the soil before the prize was won. ‘It does not become us to revert to disaster. “Let the dead bury the dead.” Let us, with one arm and one effort, endeavor to crush Sherman. I am going to the army to confer with our generals. The end must be the defeat of our enemy. It has been said that I had abandoned Georgia to her fate. Shame upon such a falsehood. Where could the author have been when Walker, when Polk, and when General Stephen D. Lee were sent to her assistance? –Miserable man. The man who uttered this was a scoundrel. He was not a man to save our country. If I knew that a general did not possess the right qualities to command, would I not be wrong if he was not removed? Why, when our army was falling back from Northern Georgia, I even heard that I had sent Bragg with pontoons to cross into Cuba. But we must be charitable. Your prisoners are kept as a sort of Yankee capital. I have heard that one of their generals said that their exchange would defeat Sherman. I have tried every means, conceded everything to effect an exchange, to no purpose. Butler, the Beast, with whom no commissioner of exchange would hold intercourse, had published in the newspapers that, if we would consent to the exchange of negroes, all difficulties might be removed. This is reported as an effort of his to get himself whitewashed by holding intercourse with gentlemen. If an exchange could be effected, I don’t know but that I might be induced to recognize Butler. But in the future every effort will be given as far as possible to effect the end. We want our soldiers in the field, and we want the sick and wounded to return home. It is not proper for me to speak of the number of men in the field. But this I will says: that two-thirds of our men are absent - some sick, some wounded, but most of them absent without leave.–The man who repents and goes back to his commander, voluntarily, at once, appeals strongly to executive clemency. But suppose he stays away until the war is over and his comrades return home, when every man’s history will be told, where will he shield himself It is upon these reflections that I rely to make men return to their duty; but after conferring with our generals at headquarters, if there be any other remedy it shall be applied. I love my friends and I forgive my enemies. I have been asked to send reinforcements from Virginia to Georgia. In Virginia the disparity in numbers is just as great as it is in Georgia. Then I have been asked why the army sent to the Shenandoah Valley was not sent here? It was because an army of the enemy had penetrated the Valley to the very gates of Lynchburg, and General Early was sent to drive them back. This he not only successfully did, but, crossing the Potomac, came well nigh capturing Washington itself, and forced Grant to send two corps of his army to protect it. This the enemy denominated a raid. If so, Sherman’s march into Georgia is a raid. What would prevent them now, if Early was withdrawn, penetrating down the Valley and putting a complete cordon of men around Richmond? I counselled with that great and grave soldier, General Lee, upon all these points.