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In Their Own Words

November 26, 1864

Civil War Soldier Desperately Worried about Family in Georgia

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife in Americus, Georgia, desperately worried about her and the rest of his family as they could get little news of what was happening in Georgia.

“…Our news from Georgia is meagre and entirely unsatisfactory. The newspapers publish nothing at all scarcely, as the government keeps them cowered down, and, as the government keeps its own council, we get no news at all. We don’t know today whether the Yankees have taken Macon or Augusta or what they have done. Don’t know whether Sherman is marching on Savannah or Columbus and then to Mobile. It was published in the Richmond papers that they had taken Milledgeville and burned the place, including the capitol and penitentiary. Of course, the ‘assembled wisdom’ [the state legislature] was scattered, and Joseph I [Governor Joseph E. Brown] took walking papers! Indeed, I reckon he did some tall walking! We learn by the Northern papers that they have made a desolation of the country as far as they have gone, by burning town, village and hamlet and leaving, as Sherman’s motto is, ‘no resting place for an enemy in our rear.’ I have been very uneasy about you and have hoped and still hope that if Sherman has determined to cut his way to the coast he has taken the nearest rout[e] to Savannah, as that would take him away from our part of the state. That looks selfish I know, but then we are necessarily selfish here below, and it is right and proper to be so to a certain extent. … They burn and destroy everything as they go and should their cavalry ever get to Americus, we should perhaps be left homeless and destitute, as our house stands so near the square and would scarcely escape. And what you and our little ones would do in case we were burned out, I shudder to contemplate. Still, we must make up our minds to bear, and as easily as possible, all the horrors and hardships of this cruel war. Even now you may be a refugee with our houses and furniture in ashes. What a thought - my Wife and children wanderers and homeless! We know nothing of the course Sherman has taken or the progress he has made, but I pray and trust you are yet safe and that you may never be visited by the[se] fiends or devils in human form. …”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), p. 336-337.