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In Their Own Words

October 15, 1864

Civil War Soldier Wrote of Destruction of Land in Virginia

A Georgia soldier serving with the Confederate cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia wrote home to his wife, telling her of the destruction being wrought on the land there - not knowing that a similar fate awaited a significant part of Georgia over the next couple of months.

“…The whole valley is one barren waste, all the barns, mill and public houses have been burned up by Yankees, crops destroyed, dwellings sacked and plundered. The people are generally loyal to the Confederates. The other day after the battle, I seen and talked with two ladies while walking about the garden when the Yankee dead was lying all around them. Think of ladies walking over dead men, laughing as though nothing had happened. They stayed at home all the time of the battle and we fought all around the house. Could you do it, Molly? If you could have seen your own dear Billie as his horse went flying over the field carrying orders while the shells and shot was bursting and flying all around him I know you would admire him, if possible, more than ever. You must not scold me Molly for I had rather see Yankees run and fall than any thing else on earth, except you and the children. Of course, I don’t want to hurt them if they will let us alone, but if not, I love to see them scatter and skedaddle. …”

Source: Ronald H. Moseley (ed.), The Stilwell Letters: A Georgian in Longstreet’s Corps. Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002), pp. 285-286.