This Day in Georgia Civil War History
May 05, 1865
Diary Entry on Dreaded Day - Arrival of Yankees
Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of a long dreaded day - the arrival of Yankees in her hometown of Washington, Georgia.
“It has come at last - what we have been dreading and expecting so long - what has caused so many panics and false alarms - but it is no false alarm this time; the Yankees are actually in Washington. Before we were out of bed a courier came in with news that Kirke - name of ill omen - was only seven miles from town, plundering and devastating the country. Father hid the silver and what little coin he had in the house, but no other precautions were taken. They have cried “wolf” so often that we didn’t pay much attention to it, and besides, what could we do, anyway? After dinner we all went to our rooms as usual, and I sat down to write. Presently some one knocked at my door and said: “The Yankees have come, and are camped in Will Pope’s grove.” I paid no attention and went on quietly with my writing. Later, I dressed and went down to the library, where Dr. Cromwell was waiting for me, and asked me to go with him to call on Annie Pope. We found the streets deserted; not a soldier, not a straggler did we see. The silence of death reigned where a few hours ago all was stir and bustle - and it is the death of our liberty. After the excitement of the last few days, the stillness was painful, oppressive. I thought of Chateaubriand’s famous passage: “Lorsque dans le silence de l’abjection” &c. News of the odious arrival seems to have spread like a secret pestilence through the country, and travelers avoid the tainted spot. I suppose the returning soldiers flank us, for I have seen none on the streets to-day, and none have called at our house. The troops that are here came from Athens. There are about sixty-five white men, and fifteen negroes, under the command of a Major Wilcox. They say that they come for peace, to protect us from our own lawless cavalry - to protect us, indeed! with their negro troops, runaways from our own plantations! I would rather be skinned and eaten by wild beasts than beholden to them for such protection. As they were marching through town, a big buck negro leading a raw-boned jade is said to have made a conspicuous figure in the procession. Respectable people were shut up in their houses, but the little street urchins immediately began to sing, when they saw the big black Sancho and his Rosinante: “Yankee Doodle went to town and stole a little pony; He stuck a feather in his crown and called him Macaroni.” They followed the Yanks nearly to their camping ground at the Mineral Spring, singing and jeering at the negroes, and strange to say, the Yankees did not offer to molest them. I have not laid eyes on one of the creatures myself, and they say they do not intend to come into the town unless to put down disturbances - the sweet, peaceful lambs! They never sacked Columbia; they never burnt Atlanta; they never left a black trail of ruin and desolation through the whole length of our dear old Georgia! No, not they! I wonder how long this sugar and honey policy is to continue. They deceive no one with their Puritanical hypocrisy, bringing our own runaway negroes here to protect us. Next thing they will have a negro garrison in the town for our benefit. Their odious old flag has not yet been raised in the village, and I pray God they will have the grace to spare us that insult, at least until Johnston’s army has all passed through. The soldiers will soon return to their old route of travel, and there is no telling what our boys might be tempted to do at the sight of that emblem of tyranny on the old courthouse steeple, where once floated the “lone star banner” that Cora and I made with our own hands - the first rebel flag that was ever raised in Washington. Henry brought us the cloth, and we made it on the sly in Cora’s room at night, hustling it under the bed, if a footstep came near, for fear father or mother might catch us and put a stop to our work. It would break my heart to see the emblem of our slavery floating in its place. Our old liberty pole is gone. Some of the Irvin Artillery went one night before the Yankees came, and cut it down and carried it off. It was a sad night’s work, but there was no other way to save it from desecration. Gen. Elzey, Col. Weems, and several other leading citizens went to the Yankee camp soon after they arrived to see about making arrangements for feeding the paroled men who are still to pass through, and to settle other matters of public interest. It was reported that father went with them to surrender the town, but it was a slander; he has not been near them. Garnett’s galvanized Yank immediately fraternized with them, and Garnett is going to send him away to-morrow. Gen. Elzey looks wretched, and we all feel miserable enough. … ” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 212-215.