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In Their Own Words

April 21, 1865

Journal Entry on Returning Home Near End of Civil War

After visiting her sister near Albany for several months, 24-year-old Eliza Frances Andrews finally returned by train to her home in Washington, Georgia. In her journal, she recorded the final day of her trip:

“That delicious clean bed in Sparta! I never had a sweeter sleep in my life than the few hours I spent there. Fred said we must be off at daylight so as to reach Mayfield in time for the train, with our sorry team, so we bid our hosts good-by before going to bed in order not to rouse them at such a heathenish hour… . We reached Mayfield about nine and had to wait an hour for the cars to start… . Our other companions joined us at Mayfield, and the Toombses brought the general with them. I was glad to see him safe thus far, out of Yankee clutches, but I would not like to be in his shoes when the end comes. He brought confirmation of Lee’s surrender, and of the armistice between Johnston and Sherman. Alas, we all know only too well what that armistice means! It is all over with us now, and there is nothing to do but bow our heads in the dust and let the hateful conquerors trample us under their feet. There is a complete revulsion in public feeling. No more talk now about fighting to the last ditch; the last ditch has already been reached; no more talk about help from France and England, but all about emigration to Mexico and Brazil. We are irretrievably ruined, past the power of France and England to save us now. Europe has quietly folded her hands and beheld a noble nation perish. God grant she may yet have cause to repent her cowardice and folly in suffering this monstrous power that has crushed us to roll on unchecked. We fought nobly and fell bravely, overwhelmed by numbers and resources, with never a hand held out to save us. I hate all the world when I think of it. I am crushed and bowed down to the earth, in sorrow, but not in shame. No! I am more of a rebel to-day than ever I was when things looked brightest for the Confederacy. And it makes me furious to see how many Union men are cropping up everywhere, and how few there are, to hear them talk now, who really approved of secession, though four years ago, my own dear old father – I hate to say it, but he did what he thought was right - was almost the only man in Georgia who stood out openly for the Union. We found the railroad between Mayfield and Camack even more out of repair than when we passed over it last winter, and the cars traveled but little faster than our mule team. However, we reached Camack in time for the train from Augusta, and as we drew up at the platform, somebody thrust his head in at the window and shouted: “Lincoln’s been assassinated!” We had heard so many absurd rumors that at first we were all inclined to regard this as a jest… . But soon the truth of the report was confirmed. Some fools laughed and applauded, but wise people looked grave and held their peace. It is a terrible blow to the South, for it places that vulgar renegade, Andy Johnson, in power, and will give the Yankees an excuse for charging us with a crime which was in reality only the deed of an irresponsible madman. Our papers ought to reprobate it universally… . We looked out eagerly for the first glimpse of home, and when the old town clock came into view, a shout of joy went up from us returning wanderers. When we drew up at the depot, amid all the bustle and confusion of an important military post, I could hardly believe that this was the same quiet little village we had left sleeping in the winter sunshine five months ago. Long trains of government wagons were filing through the streets and we ran against squads of soldiers at every turn. Father met us at the depot, delighted to have us under his protection once more, and the rest of the family, with old Toby frisking and barking for joy, were waiting for us at the street gate… .”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 170-173.