Leaving A Track of Desolation Behing Him~ November 1864~19th and 20th

Leaving a Track of Desolation Behind Him ~ George Templeton Strong.

Northerners gloat and the people of Georgia moan as Sherman and his troops forage, burn, plunder and fight their way through the state. Sherman issues orders to control the vandalism but soldiers will continue to harass and rob civilians. Rebel prisoners write home from Federal prison camps. Northen papers comment on the Southern discussion about arming slaves for the Confederate cause. As evidence of increased Federal control President Lincoln lifts the blockade of several Southern ports.

Sherman's troops marching through Georgia

Sherman’s troops marching through Georgia

November 19– Saturday– New York City– “It has been semi-officially announced from Richmond that Jeff Davis and his Confederate rulers have determined upon the desperate expedient of arming and drilling, for the spring campaign, the formidable auxiliary force of 300,000 able-bodied slaves. They are to be bought over to this extraordinary service of fighting for slavery by the offer to each man of the boon of his personal freedom, with the promise of 50 acres of land at the close of the war. The masters concerned, for the loss of their valuable slave property, are to be indemnified in ‘Confederate Scrip.’ This is the scheme. To the dispassionate and intelligent reader, it may seem incredible and preposterous, beyond all bounds of belief; but it is seriously discussed and advocated by the Richmond journals and many of the leading Southern politicians, from Virginia to Louisiana. They contend that the thing is feasible and advisable; that Southern independence is worth even the sacrifice demanded, and that the gift of his individual freedom and 50 acres of land will secure their black soldier against all the temptations of the Yankees. Absurd, ludicrous, insane and suicidal, therefore, as this project may appear, under the lights of experience and the reasoning of common sense, we are constrained to treat it as a movement seriously contemplated by that remarkable philanthropist and champion of liberty, Jeff Davis. We are the more disposed to this treatment with his confession before us that, with Richmond invested by General Grant, and the imminent danger, and with Georgia and all the States below threatened with subjugation by General Sherman, two-thirds of the white soldiers of ‘the Confederacy’ are deserters or ‘absent without leave,’ while none of the remaining whites at home are capable of bearing arms. . . . It will fail at both ends. The slaves cannot be spared from the hoe, and cannot be trusted with the bayonet. The masters having sacrificed everything else to protect their institution of slavery, will not sacrifice their slaves to protract the vain struggle of Davis to save himself ‘in this last ditch.’ We are rather inclined to consider the agitation of this scheme at Richmond as an ingenious method of announcing to the slaveholders concerned that their cause is gone, and that Davis would like to have their influence in favor of giving up ‘the Confederacy’ in disgust.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly.

November 19– Saturday– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– Birth of George Barbier, stage and film actor who will make more than 35 films. [Dies July 19, 1945.]

George Barbier

George Barbier

November 19– Saturday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas by my proclamation of the 19th of April, 1861, it was declared that the ports of certain States, including those of Norfolk, in the State of Virginia, Fernandina and Pensacola, in the State of Florida, were, for reasons therein set forth, intended to be placed under blockade; and Whereas the said ports were subsequently blockaded accordingly, but having for some time past been in the military possession of the United States, it is deemed advisable that they should be opened to domestic and foreign commerce. Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, pursuant to the authority in me vested by the fifth section of the act of Congress approved on the 13th of July, 1861, entitled ‘An act further to provide for the collection of duties on imports, and for other purposes,’do hereby declare that the blockade of the said ports of Norfolk, Fernandina, and Pensacola shall so far cease and determine, from and after the 1st day of December next, that commercial intercourse with those ports, except as to persons, things, and information contraband of war, may from that time be carried on, subject to the laws of the United States, to the limitations and in pursuance of the regulations which may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, and to such military and naval regulations as are now in force or may hereafter be found necessary.” ~ Proclamation by President Lincoln.

November 19– Saturday– Richmond, Virginia– “Let every man fly to arms! Remove your Negroes, horses, cattle, and provisions from Sherman’s army, and burn what you cannot carry. Burn all bridges and block up the roads in his route. Assail the invader in front, flank, and rear, by night and by day. Let him have no rest.”~ Telegram from Georgia’s delegation to the Confederate Congress to the people of Georgia.

marching through Georgia

marching through Georgia

November 19– Saturday– Covington, Georgia– “I walked to the gate. There they came filing up. I hastened back to my frightened servants [slaves] and told them that they had better hide, and then went back to the gate to claim protection and a guard. But like demons they rush in! My yards are full. To my smoke-house, my dairy, pantry, kitchen, and cellar, like famished wolves they come, breaking locks and whatever is in their way. The thousand pounds of meat in my smoke-house is gone in a twinkling, my flour, my meat, my lard, butter, eggs, pickles of various kinds– both in vinegar and brine– wine, jars, and jugs are all gone. My eighteen fat turkeys, my hens, chickens, and fowls, my young pigs, are shot down in my yard and hunted as if they were rebels themselves. Utterly powerless I ran out and appealed to the guard. ‘I cannot help you, Madam; it is orders.’ As I stood there, from my lot I saw driven, first, old Dutch, my dear old buggy horse, who has carried my beloved husband so many miles, and who would so quietly wait at the block for him to mount and dismount, and who at last drew him to his grave; then came old Mary, my brood mare, who for years had been too old and stiff for work, with her three-year-old colt, my two-year-old mule, and her last little baby colt. There they go! There go my mules, my sheep, and, worse than all, my boys [slaves]! Alas! little did I think while trying to save my house from plunder and fire that they were forcing my boys from home at the point of the bayonet. . . . Thanks to my God, the cotton [bales] only burned over, and then went out. Shall I ever forget the deliverance? To-night, when the greater part of the army had passed, it came up very windy and cold. My room was full, nearly, with the Negroes and their bedding. They were afraid to go out, for my women could not step out of the door without an insult from the Yankee soldiers. They lay down on the floor; Sadai got down and under the same cover with Sally, while I sat up all night, watching every moment for the flames to burst out from some of my buildings. . . . I could not close my eyes, but kept walking to and fro, watching the fires in the distance and dreading the approaching day, which, I feared, as they had not all passed, would be but a continuation of horrors.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

Union troops destroying a stretch of railroad track

Union troops destroying a stretch of railroad track

November 19– Saturday– past Covington, Georgia– “Last night I read to him [General Sherman] Alexander H. Stephen’s [native Georgian and vice-president of the Confederacy] most remarkable letter to Senator Sumner of Louisiana sent by A. H.S. to the Augusta Constitutionalist, in which wereceived it. The General was greatly interested, but made few or no comments. I remarked on A. H.S.’s idea that separation would secure permanent peace, and his talk about the ultimate, absolute sovereignty of the States. Said the General, ‘Stephens is crazy on the States Rights question. This war is on our part a war against anarchy. I wish they were separated from us and a foreign Government would whale on ‘em all the time.’ By 11 or 12 o’clock we reached Newborn. The men are foraging and straggling, I an sorry to say, a good deal. At and near every farmhouse we hear constant shooting of pigs and chickens. I remarked to the General something about the straggling. He answered, ‘I have been three years fighting stragglers, and they are harder to conquer than the enemy.’” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

November 20– Sunday– New York City– “Reports from Sherman, more or less authentic (probably less), place him seventy miles south of Atlanta on the 14th, and ‘advancing toward the Savannah River,’ eating his way, living on the country, and leaving a track of desolation behind him. May God prosper his march and help and comfort the homes which right and justice, whose minister he is, oblige him to lay waste! It is sad to think of the misery rebellion has brought upon Rebeldom . . . . But the nation should execute justice on the guilty all the more sternly because their crime has inflicted so much suffering on the innocent.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 20– Sunday– Point Lookout, Maryland– “I take my pen this Sabbath morning to drop a few lines to inform you that I am in good health and Praying that this may find you and all the family enjoying the same blessing. My health has been good since [becoming] a prisoner but am deprived of many comforts that we once enjoyed but I trust this cruel war will soon come to a close so we could enjoy our selves as the past. The health of the camp is good at present. The Officers in charge here spare no pains in promoting the health and comfort of the prisoners. Our rations are of a good quality. Some complain that they don’t get enough but I think it is a enough. . . . As we are limited to a half sheet [of] note paper I must close.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Jesse Rolston to his wife Mary.

November 20– Sunday– Johnson Island, Ohio– “I hope the agreement between the two governments in reference to supplies of clothing, food, etc., may be put into successful operation. As it may not reach us soon, I wish my friends in Georgia to take advantage of any opportunity to send me per flag of truce from Savannah or Charleston some flour, bacon, dried fruit, peas, or any other staple food that can be conveniently shipped. I leave the details of quantity, quality, and shipment to you. Dennis S. has written to his mother to the same effect. We are permitted to receive express packages containing provisions from the South.” ~ Letter from Confederate officer Henry Mc Daniel to his father.

prison camp at Johnson Island

prison camp at Johnson Island

November 20– Sunday– near Kernstown, Virginia– “Still raining and I fear the grand review by General Sheridan which is down for tomorrow will have to be postponed. I have an invitation to dine at at Brigade Headquarters on Thanksgiving Day.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 20– Sunday– near New Market, Virginia– “It is with pleasure that I take this opportunity to drop you a few lines to let you now how I am at this time– thank the Lord I enjoy good health have been well ever since left home except a cold– I have had right bad cold for some time other ways I have been hearty– hoping this may find you all well. I hoped to have gotten a letter from you before now but have not I wrote you the ninth of this month. Suppose you did not get it. Since that time we have had a hard march down the valley– we were near Winchester– expected to have a fight but it turned out other wise – we are now in Camp where we was when I last wrote – my feet became very sore on the march but are now well again, this is rainy wet weather here this is the Sabbath day – things are quite still here today. . . . I invited Several of my Company to eat with me they said that the woman that made that Butter and Bread knowed how to do it. You have no idea how such things are appreciated in camp – the men found that I had butter they would have take all I had in a short time if I would have let them. You sent more butter than I thought I could use so I Spared one of the roll. Sold two pound of it and loaned the rest out – thought it would come good some time. I let the men have it at 7 Dollars per pound – it was selling at ten Dollars in camp but I thought it was to much for Soldiers to pay . . . . hoping to hear from you soon – I will close – my Prayer is that the Lord will bless you and take care of you all and save us all in heaven at last.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier John P. Dull to his wife Ginny.

November 20– Sunday– in the field, General Sherman’s Headquarters, Georgia– “1). The discharge of fire-arms by foragers and others has become an evil which must be stopped. Many men have already been wounded and a waste of ammunition incurred which we cannot afford. However no firing will be permitted under any circumstances. Animals and fowls must be caught, not shot. . . . 3). One pack-animal may be allowed to each company and so many to brigade and division headquarters as division commanders may think proper. All animals taken from the country are the property of the Government, and must be turned over to the quartermasters. All surplus draft animals must be used to strengthen the wagon trains. Indiscriminate mounting of unauthorized men cannot be allowed. Every commanding officer is responsible that no unauthorized man under him is mounted.” ~ Orders from General William Tecumseh Sherman.

Sherman's field headquarters

Sherman’s field headquarters

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