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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 16, 1864

Letter to Governor on Lawlessness and Plea to End War

A man in Forsyth County, north of Atlanta, wrote to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown, complaining of lawless bands of renegades roaming the countryside stealing and “committing other depredations.” He also asked the governor to find a way to end the war.

“… There are bands of armed men calling themselves ‘scouts’ who are constantly ranging through this county foraging on the citizens, stealing horses and mules and committing other depredations, causing great distress and fearful apprehensions and tending to alienate the feelings of many from the Southern cause. This is a dreadful state of things, and if these evils are not suppressed, the whole country will be desolated and the people utterly ruined. Some driven to desperation by these outrages mutter threats of vengeance, others in a state of almost hopeless despair contemplate with trembling and dismay the dreadful alternative of ‘bushwhacking.’ Fearful thought! What is to become of us? The darkest gloom hangs over the future. What can be done? surely something should be done looking to the suppression of at least the checking of these great evils and something promising protection and security for the future. “Can nothing be done to bring about cessation of hostilities? Stop the effusion of innocent blood, stay the hand of the destroying angel, open the way to negotiation and expedite peace. Shall men continue to be blinded by passion and urged on by unholy, towering ambition to prosecute this unnatural war until the last flickering spark of freedom is extinguished in the blood of our sons and brothers and the heaven-given boon of self-government, with all the inestimable blessings of liberty, shall be buried forever in the vortex of revolution? Will ambitious aspirants continue to grovel in human blood for place, power and wealth until all that is desirable to free men is lost and lost forever? Forbid it, mercy, forbid it! Heavens, if the American people do not end – and that speedily – this fraticidal conflict, ruin, fearful ruin, to our whole people will be the inevitable result. “Sir, cannot something be done to avert [this] direst of all human calamities? Cannot something be accomplished by conventions? Cannot the states in their sovereign capacity do something in this way? Suppose you take the initiative. Many of your friends who regard you as the greatest champion of state rights think that you should move in this matter, by calling a convention of this state or in some other way.” Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 178-179.