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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

May 11, 1865

Diary: Brother Returned Home, Yankees Searched for Confederate Officials

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of her brother returning from the war, and of Yankees searching for noted Confederate officials.

“Henry reached home late in the afternoon, so ragged and dirty that none of us knew him till he spoke. He had not had a change of clothes for three weeks, and his face was so dirty that he had to wash it before we could kiss him. He came all the way from Greensborough, N. C., on horseback, and when we asked him where he got his horse, he laughed and said that he bought a saddle for fifty cents in silver - his pay for three years’ service - and kept on swapping till he found himself provided with a horse and full outfit. Garnett said he had better quit medicine and go to horse trading. … The Yankees began favoring Gen. Toombs with their attentions to-day. He and Gov. Brown and Mr.Stephens have been permitted to remain so long unmolested that people were beginning to wonder what it could mean. To-day, however, news came of the arrest of Brown and Stephens, and an attempt was made to take Mr. Toombs. An extra train came in about noon, bringing a company of bluecoats under the command of a Capt. Saint - and a precious saint he proved to be. Everybody thought they had merely come to reinforce Capt. Abraham’s garrison, but their purpose was soon made apparent when they marched up to Gen. Toombs’s house. Cora was up there spending the day, and saw it all. The general was in his sitting-room when the Yankees were seen entering his front gate. He divined their purpose and made his escape through the back door as they were entering the front, and I suppose he is safely concealed now in some country house. The intruders proceeded to search the dwelling, looking between mattresses and under bureaus, as if a man of Gen. Toombs’s size could be hid like a paper doll! They then questioned the servants, but none of them would give the least information, though the Yankees arrested all the negro men and threatened to put them in jail. They asked old Aunt Betty where her master was, and she answered bluntly: “Ef I knowed, I wouldn’t tell you.” They then ordered her to cook dinner for them, but she turned her broad back on them, saying: “I won’t do no sech a thing; I’se a gwineter hep my missis pack up her clo’es.” The servants were all very indignant at the manner in which they were ordered about, and declared that their own white folks had never spoken to them in “any sech a way.” Mrs. Toombs’s dinner was on the table and the family about to go into the dining-room when the intruders arrived, and they ate it all up besides ordering more to be cooked for them. They threatened to burn the house down if the general was not given up, and gave the family just two hours to move out. Gen. Gilmer, who was in the old army before the war, remonstrated with them, and they extended the time till ten o’clock at night, and kindly delivered up to them in the meantime. Mrs. Toombs straightened herself up and said: “Burn it then,” and the family immediately began to move out. Neither Mrs. Toombs nor Mrs. DuBose suffered the Yankees to see them shed a tear, though both are ready to die of grief, and Mrs. DuBose on the verge of her confinement, too. Everything is moved out of the house now, and Mrs. Toombs says she hopes it will be burned rather than used by the miserable plunderers and their negro companions. The family have found shelter with their relatives and distributed their valuables among their friends. The family pictures and some of the plate are stored in our house, and mother invited Mrs. Walthall here, but she went to the Anthonys’, knowing how crowded we are. Cora staid with them till late in the afternoon, when the news of Henry’s arrival brought her home. I hope the general will get off safe, and Gov. Brown too, though I never admired him. But when people are in misfortune is no time to be bringing up their faults against them. … ” Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 240-244.