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In Their Own Words

May 19, 1865

Diary: One Decent Yankee, Defending Southern Men

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary the the Captain in charge of the Union troops in her hometown of Washington, Georgia was a decent man (for a Yankee); she also defended Southern soldiers against charges of marauding - as opposed to what Yankee soldiers had done.

“The storm lasted nearly all night, and there were no plunderers abroad. It is some advantage to live at a military post when the commandant is a man like Capt. Abraham, who, from all accounts, seems to try to do the best for us that he knows how. Our men say that he not only listens, but attends to the complaints that are carried to him by white people as carefully as to those brought by negroes. The other day a Yankee soldier fired into our back porch and came near killing one of the servants. I saw a batch of them in the back garden, where the shot came from, and sent Henry to speak to them, but they swore they had not been shooting. Henry knew it was a lie, so he went and complained to “Marse Lots” who said that such molestation of private families should be stopped at once, and we have not heard a gun fired on our premises since. It is a pretty pass, though, when a gentleman can’t defend his own grounds, but has to cringe and ask protection from a Yankee master. Somebody has been writing in the “Chronicle & Sentinel” accusing our armies of dissolving themselves into bands of marauders. I am surprised that any Southern paper should publish such a slander. Of course, it is not to be expected that under the circumstances, some disorders would not occur, but the wonder is there have been so few. I have witnessed the breaking up of three Confederate armies; Lee’s and Johnston’s have already passed through Washington, and Gen. Dick Taylor’s is now in transit, but all these thousands upon thousands of disbanded, disorganized, disinherited Southerners have not committed one-twentieth part of the damage to private property that was committed by the first small squad of Yankee cavalry that passed through our county. We are beginning to hear from all quarters of the depredations committed by the regiments, with their negro followers, that came through town yesterday. Their conduct so exasperated the people that they were bushwhacked near Greensborough, and several of their men wounded. They then forced the planters to furnish horses and vehicles for their transportation. Henry says that one of their own officers was heard to remark on the square, that after the way in which they had behaved he could not blame the people for attacking them. When they bring negro troops among us it is enough to make every man in the Confederacy turn bushwhacker.”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 262-264.