Citizens Are In Great Confusion~November 1864~the 17th & 18th

Citizens Are in Great Confusion ~ a Confederate soldier.

Military activity continues in Tennessee as well as in the Shenandoah Valley and around Petersburg, Virginia, but the heaviest action is in Georgia as Federal troops burn buildings, destroy railroads and, despite General Sherman’s orders, raid private dwellings and scare civilians.

marching through Georgia

marching through Georgia

November 17– Thursday– Chattanooga, Tennessee– “I have been a prisoner of war since October 28th. I was captured at Morristown, Tennessee. I am in very good health and expect to be sent North in a very short time– would like very much to receive a letter from you but do not expect to be so heavenly favored soon. When I am permanently located in a Northern Federal Prison, I will let you know where I am and you must write me there. I saw your father at Knoxville, he was looking well. I have written a note to Lizzie. I hope you succeed in sending it through.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his sweetheart.

November 17– Thursday– south of Atlanta, Georgia– “Second day out– we did not start until 7 A.M. Marched three miles to town of Lithonia, on the railroad, halted say an hour: troops busy destroying track. Captain Poe’s hooks enable a few men to do pretty much upsetting. Poe reports railroad depot was burned at Lithonia and sparks set fire to and destroyed some two or three dwellings. Merely bending rails in ordinary way, by piling ties, laying rails across, and allowing their own weight at ends to bend them, thus, is not effectual. If thus merely bent, they can be restored by reverse process. But if twisted, even a little, they are ruined and must be rerolled. Poe has provided wrenches with which his pioneers very quickly and effectually do this– one man at each end of a rail pulling in opposite directions, and thus twisting the heated middle.” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

Sherman's troops destroying railroad tracks

Sherman’s troops destroying railroad tracks

November 17– Thursday– General Sherman’s field headquarters, south of Atlanta, Georgia– “In order to secure to the soldier an equal share of stores gathered from the country, each brigade commander will send out daily, until further orders, foraging parties composed of fifty privates and an adequate number of commissioned and non-commissioned officers, whose duty it will be to gather forage and meat rations. These parties will in no case go beyond supporting distance from the main column. The supplies collected must be brought to the roadside and there loaded in their respective brigade wagons and turned over to the brigade quartermasters. Cattle and sheep are to be driven on the hoof whenever practicable. The officers in charge of these parties should enforce the strictest discipline and order. Foraging parties will on no pretense be permitted to enter houses except by written authority from the division commander. The assistant provost-marshal will see this last clause strictly enforced, and will arrest all soldiers found in houses without competent authority.” ~ Order by General Sherman

November 17– Thursday– near Millen, Georgia– Anticipating the arrival of Sherman’s Federal forces, Confederate authorities abandon the large stockade for Union prisoners known as Camp Lawton just north of town. The stockade had been built to relieve overcrowding at Andersonville. Encompassing 42 acres, it was considered the largest prison stockade in the world at the time. Camp Lawton operated only briefly, from opening in early October until its abandonment today.

November 17– Thursday– Macon, Georgia– “Things are very bad here. Sherman in person is leading, say, 30,000 men against us. We are retreating as rapidly as possible, consistent with good order and efficiency. The militia are retreating in admirable order and good discipline, as General Cobb reports. I will meet them between this and Forsyth this evening. I believe the legislature will grant you large and liberal powers. Tell them the country is in danger. Let all of her sons come to her rescue. We have called for the troops in Wilmington, Charleston, and Savannah. If we do defend here they will be on us by Monday. Cavalry force said to be below 6,000. Send all the troops you can. If we do not get help we must abandon this place.” ~ Letter from Robert Toombs to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown.

Governor Joseph E Brown

Governor Joseph E Brown

November 17– Thursday– Clay County, Mississippi– “My 24th birth day – I wonder if any one thought of me at home” ~ Diary of Belle Edmondson.

November 18– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The Ladies’ Sanitary Commission for Colored Soldiers report that they have cleared nearly $3000 by the late fair for the aid of colored soldiers, and that they have yet to be raffled for one of Chickering’s fine pianos, a Hamlin cabinet organ, and a lace cape valued at $60.The Charlestown table returned $865, the Chelsea table$268.18, the Worcester table $105.59, and the West Newbury table $79.” ~ The Liberator. [The $3000 raised would equal $45,900 today, using the Consumer Price Index.]

November 18– Friday– near Kernstown, Virginia– “Received a new Division flag, a present from the ladies of Providence [Rhode Island]. The flag is a fine one . . . . It is raining, but I am quite comfortable.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 18–Friday– Richmond, Virginia– “In addition to the troops of all kinds you should endeavor to get out every man who can render any service, even for a short period, and employ Negroes in obstructing roads by every practicable means. Colonel Rains, at Augusta, can furnish you with shells prepared to explode by pressure, and these will be effective to check an advance. General Hardee has, I hope, brought some reenforcements, and General Taylor will probably join you with some further aid. You have a difficult task, but will realize the necessity for the greatest exertion.” ~ Telegram from President Jeff Davis to Confederate General Howell Cobb.

Howell Cobb

Howell Cobb

November 18– Friday– past Covington, Georgia– “We passed through the handsome town of Covington, the soldiers closing up their ranks, the color-bearers unfurling their flags, and the bands striking up patriotic airs. The white people came out of their houses to behold the sight, in spite of their deep hatred of the invaders, and the Negroes were simply frantic with joy. From Covington the Fourteenth Corps, with which I was traveling, turned to the right for Milledgeville, via Shady Dale. General Slocum was ahead at Madison, with the Twentieth Corps, having torn up the railroad as far as that place, and thence had sent Geary’s division on to the Oconee, to burn the bridges across that stream.” ~ Memoirs of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

November 18– Friday– Covington, Georgia– “Slept very little last night. Went out doors several times and could see large fires like burning buildings. Am I not in the hands of a merciful God who has promised to take care of the widow and orphan? Sent off two of my mules in the night. Mr. Ward and Frank [a slave] took them away and hid them. In the morning took a barrel of salt, which had cost me two hundred dollars, into one of the black women’s gardens, put a paper over it, and then on the top of that leached ashes. Fixed it on a board as a leach tub, daubing it with ashes [the old-fashioned way of making lye for soap]. Had some few pieces of meat taken from my smoke-house carried to the Old Place [a distant part of her plantation] and hidden under some fodder. Bid them hide the wagon and gear and then go on plowing. Went to packing up mine and Sadai’s clothes. I fear that we shall be homeless. The boys came back and wished to hide their mules. They say that the Yankees camped at Mr. Gibson’s last night and are taking all the stock in the county. Seeing them so eager, I told them to do as they pleased. They took them off, and Elbert [a slave] took his forty fattening hogs to the Old Place Swamp and turned them in. We have done nothing all day – that is, my people have not. I made a pair of pants for Jack [a slave]. Sent Nute [a slave] up to Mrs. Perry’s on an errand. On his way back, he said, two Yankees met him and begged him to go with them. They asked if we had livestock, and came up the road as far as Mrs. Laura Perry’s. I sat for an hour expecting them, but they must have gone back. Oh, how I trust I am safe! Mr. Ward is very much alarmed.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

marching through Georgia

marching through Georgia

November 18– Friday– Macon, Georgia– “We marched all night until about one hour today we stopped. After day we started again and marched all day until 10 o’clock last night, when we were halted and to camp. We were used completely up and thought we would rest all night. We ate what little we had and could get, not having any rations given us since the day before, and then did not get it in time to cook it and had to throw it away. From Griffin [to] Forsyth [is] about 40 miles, which we made [in] one day and night. The times look gloomy about here now, I assure you. The citizens of Macon are in great confusion and are moving out pretty fast. It is not worthwhile for me to write you anything about the Yankees, as you will know as much as I can tell you and sooner than I can tell you. Suffice it to say they are making demonstrations this way. The hopes that we had of being let loose soon has faded from our minds at this time. I can’t say what will be the next move on foot or whether we will stay here long or not. I will not be surprised at any move now.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife. [About 10,000 Confederate soldiers, including some cavalry, are gathered in the city to defend it but Federal troops just made a feint in this direction and have now turned away.]

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