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In Their Own Words

April 13, 1865

Sad Diary Entry on Civil War Coming to an End

With three sons having been killed the previous year in Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign, the Confederacy on the verge of collapse, and in poor health, 67-year-old John Banks of Columbus, Ga., wrote sadly in his diary:

“I have neglected my diary since December. Have been in feeble health and low spirits. Important events have happened since I made an entry. We got possession of Atlanta again after Sherman left it. Sherman passed on through the state without serious opposition to Savannah but little fighting. We evacuated the place and passed on through to South Carolina and at this time our army is at or near Raleigh, N.C. We have been compelled to evacuate Richmond and the seat of the Confederate government; not determined yet where it will be. Macon and Columbus are both spoken of.

“The Yankees have taken Selma, Alabama, and now threatening Montgomery. Much excitement and fears of their approach to Columbus. Our prospects very gloomy. Mobile is now the only seaport town from Norfolk to Texas but what the enemy has control of and skirmishing there. The enemy has a large army and navy besieging it. Some efforts have been made for a treaty of peace but nothing short of subjugation. Provisions very scarce and high. The past winter has been cold and much rain. Prospects fro the crop of ‘65 very gloomy.

“The Georgia Militia has been furloughed and been at home weeks. George, Sims and Gilmer [his sons] at present at home and none of my sons in the army but Elbert and he near Raleigh.”

Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 36.