In Their Own Words
December 24, 1864
Andrews Recorded Sherman’s Destructive Path
Fearing that General William T. Sherman was going to change the path of his march to Augusta instead of Savannah, Judge Garnett Andrews in Washington, Georgia sent his 25-year-old daughter Eliza to live with her oldest sister near Albany. Her journey took her through the area Sherman’s forces had marched through earlier. Writing in her journal, Eliza Frances Andrews described the destruction she saw:
“About three miles from Sparta we struck the ‘Burnt Country,’ as it is well named by the natives, and then I could better understand the wrath and desperation of these poor people. I almost felt as if I should like to hang a Yankee myself. There was hardly a fence left standing all the way from Sparta to Gordon. The fields were trampled down and the road was lined with carcasses of horses, hogs, and cattle that the invaders, unable either to consume or to carry away with them, had wantonly shot down to starve out the people and prevent them from making their crops. The stench in some places was unbearable; every few hundred yards we had to hold our noses or stop them with the cologne Mrs. Elzey had given us, and it proved a great boon. The dwellings that were standing all showed signs of pillage, and on every plantation we saw the charred remains of the gin-house and packing-screw, while here and there, lone chimney-stacks, ‘Sherman’s Sentinels,’ told of homes laid in ashes. The infamous wretches! I couldn’t wonder now that these poor people should want to put a rope round the neck of every red-handed “devil of them” they could lay their hands on. Hay ricks and fodder stacks were demolished, corn cribs were empty, and every bale of cotton that could be found was burnt by the savages. I saw no grain of any sort, except little patches they had spilled when feeding their horses and which there was not even a chicken left in the country to eat. A bag of oats might have lain anywhere along the road without danger from the beasts of the field, though I cannot say it would have been safe from the assaults of hungry man. Crowds of soldiers were tramping over the road in both directions; it was like traveling through the streets of a populous town all day. They were mostly on foot, and I saw numbers seated on the roadside greedily eating raw turnips, meat skins, parched corn - anything they could find, even picking up the loose grains that Sherman’s horses had left. I felt tempted to stop and empty the contents of our provision baskets into their laps, but the dreadful accounts that were given of the state of the country before us, made prudence get the better of our generosity.”
Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 32-33.