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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 06, 1865

Bitterness at Yankees Increased, Wanted to Tear to Flag to “Flinders”

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of both Yankees and Southern troops in her hometown of Washington; her feelings towards the Yankees were becoming even more bitter now that she had actually encountered some of them. Her father even took her to task for some of her comments, but she was unapologetic.

“The mournful silence of yesterday has been succeeded by noise and confusion passing anything we have yet experienced. Reinforcements have joined Wilcox, and large numbers of Stoneman’s and Wilson’s cavalry are passing through on their way to Augusta. Confederate soldiers, too, are beginning to come by this route again, so Washington is now a thoroughfare for both armies. Our troops do not come in such numbers as formerly, still there have been a great many on the streets to-day. About noon, two brigades of our cavalry passed going west, and at the same time a body of Yankees went by going east. There were several companies of negroes among them, and their hateful old striped rag was floating in triumph over their heads. Cousin Liza turned her back on it, Cora shook her fist at it, and I was so enraged that I said I wished the wind would tear it to flinders and roll it in the dirt till it was black all over, as the colors of such a crew ought to be. Then father took me by the shoulder and said that if I didn’t change my way of talking about the flag of my country he would send me to my room and keep me there a week. We had never known anything but peace and security and protection under that flag, he said, as long as we remained true to it. I wanted to ask him what sort of peace and protection the people along Sherman’s line of march had found under it, but I didn’t dare. Father don’t often say much, but when he does flare up like that, we all know we have got to hold our tongues or get out of the way. It made me think of that night when Georgia seceded. What would father have done if he had known that that secession flag was made in his house? It pinches my conscience, sometimes, when I think about it. What a dreadful thing it is for a household to be so divided in politics as we are! Father sticks to the Union through thick and thin, and mother sticks to father, though I believe she is more than half a rebel at heart, on account of the boys. Fred and Garnett are good Confederates, but too considerate of father to say much, while all the rest of us are red-hot Rebs. Garnett is the coolest head in the family, and Henry the hottest. I used to sympathize with father myself, in the beginning, for it did seem a pity to break up a great nation about a parcel of African savages, if we had known any other way to protect our rights; but now, since the Yankees have treated us so abominably, burning and plundering our country and bringing a gang of negro soldiers here to insult us, I don’t see how anybody can tolerate the sight of their odious old flag again. To do father justice, our house is so far from the street that he couldn’t see the plunder with which the wretches, both black and white, were loaded, but Cousin Mary Cooper, who lives right on the street, opposite our gate, told us that she saw one white man with a silver cake basket tied to the pommel of his saddle, and nearly all of them had stolen articles dangling from the front of their saddles, or slung on in bags behind. And yet, they blame us for not respecting their flag, when we see it again for the first time in four years, floating over scenes like this! … I was walking on the street this afternoon with Mr. Dodd and a Lieut. Sale, from Ark., when we met three gorgeous Yankee officers, flaunting their smart new uniforms in the faces of our poor, shabby Rebs, but I would not even look their way till they had passed and couldn’t see me. Oh, how I do love the dear old Confederate gray! My heart sickens to think that soon I shall have seen the last of it. The Confederate officers who have been stationed here are leaving, as fast as they can find the means, for their homes, or for the Trans-Mississippi, where some of them still base their hopes. Of those that remain, some have already laid aside their uniforms and their military titles. They say they are not going to wait to be deprived of them at the command of a Yankee. … ” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 219-224.