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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

January 04, 1865

Diary Entry on Measles, Fear of Raiders, Andersonville

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary from her sister’s home in southwest Georgia near Albany. She had been sick with the measles, but was even more concerned about the thought of encountering Yankee raiders. She also knew about the situation at Andersonville, but held the Yankees responsible for it, although admitting it was a blot on the Confederacy.

“…I am just getting well of measles, and a rough time I had of it. Measles is no such small affair after all, especially when aggravated by perpetual alarms of Yankee raiders. For the last week we have lived in a state of incessant fear. All sorts of rumors come up the road and down it, and we never know what to believe. Mett and I have received repeated letters from home urging our immediate return, but of course it was impossible to travel while I was sick in bed, and even now I am not strong enough to undertake that terrible journey across the burnt country again. While I was ill, home was the one thought that haunted my brain, and if I ever do get back, I hope I will have sense enough to stay there. I don’t think I ever suffered so much before in all my life, and dread of the Yankees raised my fever to such a pitch that I got no rest by night or day. I used to feel very brave about Yankees, but since I have passed over Sherman’s track and seen what devastation they make, I am so afraid of them that I believe I should drop down dead if one of the wretches should come into my presence. I would rather face them anywhere than here in South-West Georgia, for the horrors of the stockade have so enraged them that they will have no mercy on this country, though they have brought it all on themselves, the cruel monsters, by refusing to exchange prisoners. But it is horrible, and a blot on the fair name of our Confederacy. Mr. Robert Bacon says he has accurate information that on the first of December, 1864, there were 13,010 graves at Anderson. It is a dreadful record. I shuddered as I passed the place on the cars, with its tall gibbet full of horrible suggestiveness before the gate, and its seething mass of humanity inside, like a swarm of blue flies crawling over a grave. It is said that the prisoners have organized their own code of laws among themselves, and have established courts of justice before which they try offenders, and that they sometimes condemn one of their number to death. It is horrible to think of, but what can we poor Confederates do? The Yankees won’t exchange prisoners, and our own soldiers in the field don’t fare much better than these poor creatures. Everybody is sorry for them, and wouldn’t keep them here a day if the government at Washington didn’t force them on us. And yet they lay all the blame on us. Gen. Sherman told Mr. Cuyler that he did not intend to leave so much as a blade of grass in South-West Georgia, and Dr. Janes told sister that he (Sherman) said he would be obliged to send a formidable raid here in order to satisfy the clamors of his army, though he himself, the fiend Sherman, dreaded it on account of the horrors that would be committed. What Sherman dreads must indeed be fearful. They say his soldiers have sworn that they will spare neither man, woman nor child in all South-West Georgia. It is only a question of time, I suppose, when all this will be done. It begins to look as if the Yankees can do whatever they please and go wherever they wish - except to heaven; I do fervently pray the good Lord will give us rest from them there. While I was at my worst, Mrs. Lawton came out with her brother-in-law, Mr. George Lawton, and Dr. Richardson, Medical Director of Bragg’s army, to make sister a visit. The doctor came into my room and prescribed for me and did me more good by his cheerful talk than by his prescription. He told me not to think about the Yankees, and said that he would come and carry me away himself before I should fall into their hands. His medicine nearly killed me. It was a big dose of opium and whisky, that drove me stark crazy, but when I came to myself I felt much better. Dr. Janes was my regular physician and had the merit of not giving much medicine, but he frightened me horribly with his rumors about Yankee raiders. We are safe from them for the present, at any rate, I hope; the swamps of the Altamaha are so flooded that it would take an army of Tritons to get over them now. Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 63-66.