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In Their Own Words

February 22, 1864

Letter on Lack of Loyalty to Confederacy

From Pine Mount, Ga., Samuel D. Knight wrote Gov. Joseph E. Brown about a growing lack of loyalty to the Confederate cause:

“Permit the liberty of writing you these few lines in regard to the state of our country at this time through the Second Congressional District and no doubt but many other portions of the state. I have been travelling through this district for the last three months and mingling freely with the common people and have found with much regret that among that class generally there is a strong Union feeling existing … . I also learn from good authority that the same feeling exists among the soldiers in the field to an alarming extent.

“It is now manifest that the late military bill is not approved by the people, neither citizen nor soldier, and especially in regard to the militia officers so far as killing their commissions and making them liable to conscription is concerned, has caused much confusion among the soldiers as well as the people… .

“There is also a loud cry raised against so many enrolling officers in the county, and the general talk is that, if they need men in the army, why don’t they take these loafering enrolling officers who is doing the country more harm than that many Yankees could do, for there [are] more than twice as many enrolling officers as conscripts and so on also that poor people has to pay all the tax and do all the fighting, while the gentlemen and their sons are loafing over the country, pretending to hunt conscripts… . I regret to say that there is many deserters now in Georgia that say they will die before they will go back to the service under present circumstances.

“…Many of the soldiers are complaining about their treatment in regard to furloughs. It is true that many of them has never had a furlough, while others have been at home on furlough almost half of their time. I am sorry to say that I know of my own knowledge that many of the soldiers’ families in this district are almost upon a starvation at this time. Many of them are living entirely without meat and not half enough bread … . And there is a great many of [the people] that cannot make any farm at all for the want of implements to farm with. The people is generally without iron to make plows with and without food for horses to plow. And, kind sir, I do hope you will give this thing your most candid attention and endeavor to fall upon some plan that will be more harmonious than those which are now being pursued and, if possible, bring the two classes to a more harmonious point than that what they are at now. For it is a certain fact that the Southern people are fast becoming as bitterly divided against each other as the Southern and Northern people ever has been. I have not written this letter to exaggerate these things. I only write such as I know to be true.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 174-175.