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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

April 20, 1865

Diary Entry Showed Travel Difficulties

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of traveling from Milledgeville to Sparta, but not very comfortably.

“I went to bed about eleven last night, but never slept a wink for bedbugs and cockroaches, to say nothing of the diabolical noises in the streets. All night long, as I lay awake, I was disturbed by the sound of men cursing and swearing and singing rowdy songs in and around the hotel. About two o’clock, in the midst of this pandemonium, a string band began to play under our window, and it seemed to me I had never heard such heavenly music in my life as this was, in contrast with the vile noises I had been listening to. About eight o’clock in the morning our wagon was at the door and we bade a joyous farewell to Milledgeville. It was only a shabby little covered cart, with the bows so short that if we attempted to sit upright the cover rested on our heads and the sun baked our brains through it. Fred and Arch had to walk, the wretched team being hardly able to carry Mett and me and the trunks. We traveled at the rate of about two miles an hour and a cost of one hundred dollars a mile. The day was intensely hot, and the dust stifling. I tried to relieve the poor mules by walking up some of the worst hills, but the blazing sun got the better of my humanity and I crawled into the wagon again. We crossed the Oconee on a pontoon bridge, where the fat old ferryman now acts as toll-collector. About a mile beyond the river we turned off and traveled to Sparta by a different road from the one we had followed last winter. It was longer, but better than the other, not being so much traveled, and we hoped to get rid of some of the dust; but in this we were disappointed, for we were mixed up all day in an endless succession of wagon trains, soldiers, and refugees, that made us wonder who there was to go by the other road. After the first few miles we were so tired that we took off our hats and lay down in the wagon to take a nap. When we waked we found that both hats and a basket containing all our toilet articles, had jolted out and been lost. So many people had passed us that Fred said it was no use to try to get them back, but I made Arch take one of the mules out of the wagon and go back to look for them, and, as much to my surprise as delight, he recovered the basket. I was so glad to see it that I forgot to grieve over the hats. Besides my brush and comb and tooth-brush, it contained all the leaves of my journal that I have written since leaving home last winter, which I had torn out of the book on the stampede from Macon, fearing my trunk might be lost. What a mess there would be if it had been found by some of the people I have been writing about! When I once got it back I hardly took my hands off it again all day. At noon we dined on a dirty biscuit apiece that we had brought from Milledgeville, for we could buy nothing to eat along the road. The country seems to have pretty well recovered from the effects of Sherman’s march, so far as appearances go; the fields are tilled and crops growing, but people are still short of provisions, and nobody wants to take Confederate money. The rumors about Lee’s surrender, together with the panicky state of affairs at home, have sent our depreciated currency rolling down hill with accelerated velocity. Between six and seven in the evening we reached Sparta, and found one hotel closed and the other full of smallpox. We didn’t like to impose on the hospitality of the Simpsons again, and Col. Lockett, who had secured lodging for Mrs. Walthall at a private house, advised us to go on to Culver’s, where we had stopped to change horses last winter, but our sorry little team was too broken down to carry us any farther. While we were standing in the street discussing what had best be done, a nice-looking old gentleman called Fred aside, and insisted that we should go to his house. He had heard Col. Lockett call us by name, he said, and being a great friend and admirer of father’s, declared that Judge Andrews’s children should never want for a lodging as long as he had a roof over his head. He gave his name as Harris, and said there was not a family in Sparta but would be proud to entertain us if they knew who we were, so great was their love and respect for our father. It made me feel good to hear that, for his being such a strong Union man has made father unpopular in some parts of the State. I hate the old Union myself, but I love father, and it makes me furious for anybody to say anything against him. It would seem as if a good many people about here quietly shared his opinions, or at any rate, respected them, for Mr. Soularde and several others came up as soon as they learned our name, and invited us to their houses, and said it would always be a pleasure to them to entertain any of Judge Andrews’s family. We were so tired of being pounded and jolted in our dusty little cart that we preferred walking to Mr. Harris’s, in spite of the disreputable appearance we made, hatless and gloveless and dirty as we were. We met the Simpson girls on the way, with Jenny and Jule, and they invited us to go home with them, but Mr. Harris had the first claim, and to tell the truth, I had taken a liking to him before I had known him ten minutes, and would not, on any account, have missed the pleasure of a nearer acquaintance. When we reached his home my anticipations were more than realized. It was a large white house in the midst of a beautiful garden, where roses of all sorts were running riot, filling the air with fragrance and the earth with beauty. On the colonnade were a number of guests whom the hospitality of our host had brought together, and among them we were delighted to meet again our fellow travelers, Mrs. Young and Dr. Morrow. Mrs. Harris met us with such a warm, motherly welcome that I felt like throwing myself on her breast, but remembering how dirty and draggled out I was, I practiced the Golden Rule, and did as I would be done by. We were shown at once to a beautiful, clean room, with plenty of water and towels, and oh! the luxury of a good bath! But when I went to get out some clean clothes, I found that among other things, I had lost my keys and could not get into my trunk. I borrowed what I could from Metta, but her things don’t fit me, and I made a comical appearance. I was too hungry to care, however, after starving since Monday, and such a supper as we had was enough to make one forget all the ills of life. Delicious fresh milk and crabber, sweet yellow butter, with crisp beaten biscuits to go with it, smoking hot waffles, and corn batter cakes brown as a nut and crisped round the edges till they looked as if bordered with lace. It was a feast for hungry souls to remember. After supper we went into the parlor and had music. We tried to sing some of our old rebel songs, but the words stuck in our throats. Nobody could sing, and then Clara Harris played “Dixie,” but it sounded like a dirge. The house was so full that Mrs. Harris was obliged to crowd us a little, and Mrs. Morrow shared our room with Mett and me. We had a funny time talking over our experiences. She says that the charming captain fell dead in love with me at Milledgeville, was so struck with my appearance that he couldn’t rest till he found out my name. He asked her all sorts of questions about me, and I almost laughed myself hoarse at the extravagant things she told him. And she didn’t know me, either, any better than he did, but that only made it the more amusing. ” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 165-170.