In Their Own Words
March 22, 1865
Diary Entry Mentioned Slave Help, Exchanged Prisoners, Confederate Generals
Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of a slave again helping her get through some high water, and of meeting some exchanged Confederate prisoners. She also mentioned two Confederate generals who had tried to defend Georgia.
“Up very early and drove to the depot with Mecca. Mr. Godfrey was there and proposed that we should go as far as Smithville with her, and let him drive me out home in the afternoon, but the roads are so bad and the weather so uncertain that I thought I had better go back with sister. The journey was the worst we have made yet. We bogged at one place and had to wade through the mud while Aby helped the mules to pull the carriage over. At Wright’s Creek we found a crowd of soldiers and countrymen on the bank, and they told us the creek was too high to cross. Some of them were exchanged prisoners impatient to get home, and they had determined to swim over. They stood on the bank with bare legs, ready to strip off and plunge in the moment our backs were turned. I couldn’t help being amused at the nonchalance with which one burly fellow pulled off his stockings and commenced playing with his toes while talking to us. Another, wishing to call sister’s attention to the water-mark, grabbed her by the arm and led her down the bank, saying: “See this here stick here, where the water has already begun to fall, an’ hit’ll fall a heap rapider the next hour or two.” They meant no harm. These are unceremonious times, when social distinctions are forgotten and the raggedest rebel that tramps the road in his country’s service is entitled to more honor than a king. We stood on the bank a long time, talking with the poor fellows and listening to their adventures. There was one old man standing on the shore, gazing across as wistfully as Moses might have looked towards the promised land. He could not swim, but his home was over there, and he had made up his mind to plunge in and try to cross at any risk. The soldiers saluted him with a few rough jokes, and then showed their real metal by mounting him on the back of the strongest of them, who waded in with his burden, while two others swam along on each side to give help in case of accident. Sister and I thought at first of getting Gen. Dahlgren to send us across in his pleasure boat, but soon gave up the idea and concluded to stay at the Mallarys’ till the creek became fordable, for we knew it would fall as rapidly as it had risen. We bid our soldier friends good-by, and drove away to the Mallarys’, where we spent a pleasant day and night. Gen. and Mrs. Dahlgren called after dinner and said that we ought to have stopped with them. Mrs. Dahlgren is a beautiful woman, and only twenty-two years old, while her husband is over sixty. He is a pompous old fellow and entertained us by telling how his influence made Gen. Joseph E. Johnston commander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee; how Hood lost Atlanta by not following his (Dahlgren’s) advice; how he was the real inventor of the Dahlgren gun, which is generally attributed to his brother, the Yankee admiral - and so on.”
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 119-121.