This Day in Georgia Civil War History
November 18, 1864
Sherman Passed Through Covington; Woman Hid What She Could
Sherman was enjoying himself, as he wrote in his memoirs.
“We passed through the handsome town of Covington, the soldiers closing up their ranks, the color-bearers unfurling their flags, and the bands striking up patriotic airs. The white people came out of their houses to behold the sight, in spite of their deep hatred of the invaders, and the Negroes were simply frantic with joy. From Covington the Fourteenth Corps, with which I was traveling, turned to the right for Milledgeville, via Shady Dale. General Slocum was ahead at Madison, with the Twentieth Corps, having torn up the railroad as far as that place, and thence had sent Geary’s division on to the Oconee, to burn the bridges across that stream … .” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Marching Through Georgia: William T. Sherman’s Personal Narrative of His March Through Georgia (New York: Arno Press, 1978), p. 149-150.
A woman in Covington was not enjoying herself at all, trying to hide items for safekeeping.
“Slept very little last night. Went out doors several times and could see large fires like burning buildings. Am I not in the hands of a merciful God who has promised to take care of the widow and orphan? Sent off two of my mules in the night. Mr. Ward and Frank [a slave] took them away and hid them. In the morning took a barrel of salt, which had cost me two hundred dollars, into one of the black women’s gardens, put a paper over it, and then on the top of that leached ashes. Fixed it on a board as a leach tub, daubing it with ashes [the old-fashioned way of making lye for soap]. Had some few pieces of meat taken from my smoke-house carried to the Old Place [a distant part of the plantation] and hidden under some fodder. Bid them hide the wagon and gear and then go on plowing. Went to packing up mine and Sadai’s clothes. I fear that we shall be homeless. The boys came back and wished to hide their mules. They say that the Yankees camped at Mr. Gibson’s last night and are taking all the stock in the county. Seeing them so eager, I told them to do as they pleased. They took them off, and Elbert [the black coachman] took his forty fattening hogs to the Old Place Swamp and turned them in. We have done nothing all day - that is, my people have not. I made a pair of pants for Jack [a slave]. Sent Nute [a slave] up to Mrs. Perry’s on an errand. On his way back, he said, two Yankees met him and begged him to go with them. They asked if we had livestock, and came up the road as far as Mrs. Laura Perry’s. I sat for an hour expecting them, but they must have gone back. Oh, how I trust I am safe! Mr. Ward is very much alarmed. ” Source:A Woman’s Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over a Georgia Plantation of Sherman’s Army on the March to the Sea, as recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge)