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In Their Own Words

May 14, 1865

Diary: Differences of Southern Men and Yankees, Former Slaves

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of the different ways Southern men and Yankees acted towards her as she went to church. She also began to touch on the issue of former slaves.

“…On my way to church I had a striking illustration of the difference between our old friends and our new masters. The streets were thronged with rebel soldiers, and in one part of my walk, I had to pass where a large number of them were gathered on the pavement, some sitting, some standing, some lying down, but as soon as I appeared, the way was instantly cleared for me, the men standing like a wall, on either side, with hats off, until I had passed. A little farther on I came to a group of Yankees and negroes that filled up the sidewalk, but not one of them budged, and I had to flank them by going out into the dusty road. It is the first time in my life that I have ever had to give up the sidewalk to a man, much less to negroes! I was so indignant that I did not carry a devotional spirit to church. The Yankees have pressed five of father’s negro men to work for them. They even took old Uncle Watson, whom father himself never calls on to do anything except the lightest work about the place, and that only when he feels like it. They are very capricious in their treatment of negroes, as is usually the case with upstarts who are not used to heaving servants of their own. Sometimes they whip them and send them back to their masters, and last week, Lot Abraham sent three of his white men to jail for tampering with “slaves,” as they call them. This morning, however, they sent off several wagon-loads of runaways, and it is reported that Harrison and Alfred, two of father’s men, have gone with them. People are making no effort to detain their negroes now, for they have found out that they are free, and our power over them is gone. Our own servants have behaved very well thus far. The house servants have every one remained with us, and three out of five plantation hands whom the Yankees captured in Alabama, ran away from them and came back home. Caesar Ann, Cora’s nurse, went off to Augusta this morning, professedly to see her husband, who she says is sick, but we all think, in reality, to try the sweets of freedom. Cora and Henry made no effort to keep her, but merely warned her that if she once went over to the Yankees, she could never come back to them any more. Mother will have to give up one of her maids to nurse Maud, but I suppose it is a mere question of time when we shall have to give them all up anyway, so it doesn’t matter. … “

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 251-253.