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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

July 20, 1864

Diary Entry on Devastation of War

William King of Cobb County wrote more in his diary about the devastation of war.

I called to see Mrs. McClatchy this morning, found her son better and all in more cheerful spirits. I heard nothing new but the rumor that some of our Cavalry in small bodies were about east and west of us, and some apprehension of their making raids upon the town, for the interruption of which trees had been cut and thrown across the Road near Col. Brumby’s House. At 11 o’clock today the whole wagon train and horses left us, leaving the desolating marks of an army encampment behind them, fences pretty generally destroyed and the improvement of the place greatly marred, what a devastator is war. Not a chicken nor a pig left on the place; and when about leaving Sharpe informed me they were about taking off our lame mule which by the by I thought had been taken long before. The mule was too lame for much service, still they found she might be made of some service to them, and they needed her, as she would probably be soon stolen from me when well. I agreed with the Capt. (Rankin) if she proved fit for service, he would give me a voucher of value for payment–after all had left I found some one had taken off Old Gentleman’s fishing buggy; we have however fared much better than we expected & much better than many others. Among the officers and men encamped about me, who have afforded me much agreeable society, are Maj. Flagg of Rogersville, Tenn.–Capt. Wm. A. Rankin of Lawrence, Kansas, Kansas, A Q M 1 Cav. Div.–Capt. C. S. Garfield of Newburgh, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, W.H. Daniell, Pottsville and Mahoney City, Schuylkill Co. Penn. and W. L. G. Soule, Lawrence, Kansas. I separated with them all with much regret. Maj. Flagg being in ill health and sympathizing with me in my lonely condition, has consented to remain with me a few days longer, greatly relieving me from my anticipated loneliness. Capt. Rankin advises me to bring the Ladies up, and the servants wish me also to do so, but all things look so dreary and lonely and we having neither poultry nor garden and none to be had in the neighborhood, they had better remain where they are now for a while longer, here for a while they would almost feel like prisoners, for almost such do I feel myself to be, so much so in addition to the danger of being innocently implicated in depredations which may be committed by Bushwhackers and Raiders, that I think I had better go to the North for 1 or 2 months, hoping that a more settled state of things may pass over our afflicted country within that time, than now exists. Capt. Rankin (who seems to be a rough, and quiet but good officer) before leaving today, informed me, that at his home in Lawrence, Kansas my People had turned his wife and family out of doors and destroyed his House and all its contents, and that he had sworn, that the first good Library and Piano he found among the Rebels he meant to take them to replace his which had been burnt, and that ours seemed exactly to meet the case, but that he could not think of disturbing anything I had, and we cordially bade each other goodbye. Capt. Garfield the Commissary, informs me that he has been often robbed by their own men, and that they 2 nights ago had robbed him largely of Hams and other provisions, 1 of the wagoners was suspected and arrested; the Robbers steal from the Rebels, negroes and their own people alike; stealing and not patriotism moves them, the thieves infest both armies, but the Federal Army is more largely attended. I discover they have either destroyed or stolen the Ploughs and most of the Spades and Hoes, but few things with us seem to have been wantonly destroyed, at other places I notice much has been destroyed from mischief and badness, such as the breaking of windows, glasses, and defacing walls, etc.–general lawlessness pervades the whole country. Source: Diary of William King; Cobb County, Georgia, 1864