Utterly Despoiled by the Yankee Army~ November 1864~23rd to 25th

Utterly Despoiled by the Yankee Army ~ telegram from a Georgia mayor.

With a relentless forward motion Union troops keep pushing through Georgia, wreaking havoc and creating panic. President Lincoln prepares his State of the Union message and accepts the resignation of his Attorney General. Black people in Georgia celebrate Federal success and in Washington, D. C., celebrate the new constitution of the state of Maryland. In France a child is born who will become a renowned artist.

marching through Georgia

marching through Georgia

November 23– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– General Grant and his staff officers confer with President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

November 23– Wednesday– Nashville, Tennessee– “Last night Coroner Coleman was called upon to hold an inquest upon the body of John Phillips, aged 14 years, who was killed about 7 o’clock last night by Oliver Morton, aged 12 years, a son of Dr. Morton. From what we can learn on the subject, some person had stolen some cigars from the Commercial Hotel, and John Phillips accused Oliver of taking them, calling him a ‘d____d thieving son of a _____,’ at which Oliver drew his pistol, and shot John, the ball taking effect in the lower part of the breast bone, passing through the lungs, and lodging in the back, causing death in a few minutes. A verdict in accordance with the above facts was rendered.” ~ Nashville Dispatch.

November 23– Wednesday– near Macon, Georgia– “On yesterday morning we left camp and marched down the road in pursuit and come to where they [Union forces] were in the evening, a mile or two below Griswoldville, where we formed a line of battle and marched up in front of the enemy. Then a fight commenced which lasted for about three hours. It ceased about night. We then marched back near to the ditches and camped on the east side of Macon, the rest of the night about ten miles from the battlefield. . . . Several of my acquaintances in the regiment were killed and others severely wounded. I escaped without being touched though two or three were struck close by me and severely wounded. I fear the fight yesterday was a badly managed affair, as we lost a good many men and I fear did not gain much by it. The Yanks have torn up our railroad badly for some distance below this city, and it seems like we may be cut off from supplies, as we were in Atlanta. Oh, that this cruel war could stop!” ~ Letter from a Georgia militiaman to his wife.


November 23– Wednesday– Milledgeville, Georgia– The city has served as the state capital since 1804 [and will so serve until 1868]. The state government has fled. Union General Sherman and his troops occupy the town. Sherman uses the governor’s mansion as his headquarters, while a number of Union officers held a mock convention in the capitol building and “vote” the repeal of Georgia’s 1861 ordinance of secession. The railroad depot, several factories and warehouses are burned, though the capitol building is spared. Sherman issues orders for the next leg of his march to the sea. “Advanced guards should be strengthened, attended by a pioneer corps prepared to construct temporary bridges in case of their destruction by the enemy; and wherever any such obstruction occurs the commanding officer of the troops present on the spot will deal harshly with the inhabitants near by, to show them that it is to their interest not to impede our movements. Should the enemy burn forage and corn on our route houses, barns, and cotton-gins must also be burned to keep them company.”

November 23– Wednesday– Milledgeville, Georgia– “I write at the Capital of the State of Georgia, We left Atlanta a week ago yesterday . . . . The white people of Georgia are cold and for the most part intensely Secesh, and remain true to the most terrible resolutions that they will never give up, but the Negroes, black and white– for it is difficult to distinguish them from white men– are the most devoted friends of the Yankee soldiers. Their demonstrations are literally frantic. They dance and shout and clap their hands when they see our column approach. Whatever a soldier may ask for, they hasten to do for him. Whatever their masters have, he will get. It is claimed the Negroes are so well contented with their slavery; if it ever was so, that day has ceased to be. Hundreds of men go with us, and thousands would if they could take their families along. Most of them have more or less white blood in their veins, and though they are not taught even to count, they are by no means unintelligent. Up to this time I have thought the South could organize a formidable military force out of their Negroes, but I am satisfied now that they dare not attempt it. Every Negro in the land will defend a Yankee soldier to the utmost of his power; many of our prisoners have escaped by their aid, and not one I believe has ever been betrayed by them. At Madison they burned the calaboose or whipping post, and the wild transports of men, women and children, dancing about, was really a spectacle worth seeing.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

November 23– Wednesday– Henryville, Tennessee; Fouche Springs, Tennessee; Mount Pleasant, Tennessee; Ball’s Ferry, Georgia; Morganza, Louisiana– Skirmishes and firefights.

November 24– Thursday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “We believe there is a goodly number of very worthy men in your city. Men of as profound learning and moral worth as can be found anywhere. But what takes us so fearfully back, is that you are so equally divided in Wheeling! that Mr. Lincoln could only get 140 votes over General McClellan! That such a large number of citizens of that enlightened and religious city should have their heads and hearts turned the wrong way!! while several districts with less intelligence and partial information, but honest in heart and purpose, gave large majorities for the Union. But so it is.” ~ Letter from a man in Jackson County, West Virginia to the editor of the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer. [Lincoln carried the state of West Virginia by 68.2% of the popular vote.]

Lincoln 1864 campaign literature

November 24– Thursday– Washington, D.C.– “For some months past, you have been aware of my desire to withdraw from the active labors & constant cares of the office which I hold by your favor. Heretofore, it has not been compatible with my ideas of duty to the public & fidelity to you, to leave my post of service for any private consideration, however urgent. Then, the fate of the nation hung, in doubt & gloom. Even your own fate, as identified with the nation, was a source of much anxiety. Now, on the contrary, the affairs of the Government display a brighter aspect; and to you, as head & leader of the Government, all the honor & good fortune that we hoped for, has come. And it seems to me, under these altered circumstances, that the time has come, when I may, without dereliction of duty, ask leave to retire to private life. In tendering the resignation of my office of Attorney General of the United States (which I now do) I gladly seize the occasion to repeat the expression of my gratitude, not only for your good opinion which led to my appointment, but also for your uniform & unvarying courtesy & kindness during the whole time in which we have been associated in the public service. The memory of that kindness & personal favor, I shall bear with me into private life, and hope to retain it in my heart, as long as I live. Pray let my resignation take effect on the last day of November.” ~ Letter from Attorney General Edward Bates to President Lincoln.

Edward Bates

Edward Bates

November 24– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “Clear and frosty. Ice half an inch thick this morning. All quiet below. . . . Colonel Northrop, Commissary-General, reports only 15 days’ bread rations in Richmond for 100,000 men, and that we must rely upon supplies hereafter from the Carolinas and Virginia alone. The difficulty is want of adequate transportation, of course. The speculators and railroad companies being in partnership, very naturally exclude the government from the track. The only remedy, the only salvation, in my opinion, is for the government to take exclusive control of the railroads, abate speculation, and change most of the quartermasters and commissaries. . . . General Cooper, the Adjutant-General, . . . turned out twenty of his eighty clerks yesterday, to replace them with ladies. It is said and believed that Sherman’s cavalry has reached Milledgeville [Georgia], and destroyed the public buildings, etc. We have nothing from Wheeler since the 18th instant.” ~ Diary of John Jones.

November 24– Thursday– Richmond, Virginia– “The loud report heard in the city, this afternoon, was caused by the accidental explosion of a number of shells in field above the Tredegar works. One white man and three Negroes were killed by the explosion.” ~ Richmond Whig.

November 24– Thursday– Milledgeville, Georgia– “Our citizens have been utterly despoiled by the Yankee army. Send us bread and meat, or there will be great suffering among us. We have no mules or horses. What you send must be brought by wagon trains. The railroad bridge and the bridge across the Oconee have been burned. The State House and Executive Mansion and Factory are sill left to us. Send us relief at once.” ~ Telegram from the city’s mayor to the mayor of Macon, Georgia.

November 24– Thursday– Columbia, Tennessee; Lynnville, Tennessee; Campbellsville, Tennessee; St Charles, Arkansas; Prince George Court House, Virginia– Encounters and showdowns.

November 24– Thursday– Victoria County, Ontario, Canada– Birth of John Wesley Brien, physician and politician. [Dies January 11, 1949.]

November 24–Thursday– Albi, Tarn, France– Birth of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, painter. [Dies September 9, 1901.]



November 25– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “Last week the colored people of Washington assembled at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church for the purpose of celebrating the adoption of the new constitution of Maryland. The church was densely crowded, and several hundred were unable to gain admission. . . . they celebrated the occasion by a fine display of fireworks. The outside of the church was finely illuminated by a large number of torches fastened to the iron railing surrounding the building, while the inside of the edifice was tastefully decorated with a number of large American flags. The choir . . . sang several appropriate pieces during the evening. There was quite a sprinkling of whites in the assemblage. . . . A collection was taken up for the sick and wounded soldiers, during which the choir sang ‘Rally Round the Flag, Boys,’ which was received with great applause, and when concluded cries of ‘Sing it again’ were heard from all parts of the house. The song was repeated, nearly all present taking part in it.” ~ The Liberator.

November 25–Friday– New York City– Southern sympathizers attempt to set a dozen arson fires but all are quickly discovered and extinguished.

November 25–Friday– New York City– “[Eliakim] Littell, the Boston publisher . . . . wants to be enabled to send a copy [of his pamphlet on Confederate treatment of Union prisoners] to every clergyman and every newspaper editor in the Northern States. He thinks it will influence the coming campaign on the anti-slavery constitutional amendment question, as displaying most clearly the barbarizing and maligning effect of slavery on slave-holding communities; and he knows Eastern Copperheads who . . . confess the rebel treatment of our prisoners inexcusable and criminal beyond precedent.” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

Boston office of Eliakim Littel

Boston office of Eliakim Littel

November 25– Friday– Shinnston, West Virginia– Confederate guerillas rob a local store of about $500 worth of supplies.

November 25– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “He [President Lincoln] read to us what he had prepared [for the upcoming state of the union message to Congress]. There was nothing very striking, and he evidently labors in getting it up. The subject of Reconstruction and how it should be effected is the most important theme. He says he cannot treat with Jeff Davis and the Jeff Davis government, which is all very well, but whom will he treat with, or how commence the work? All expressed themselves very much gratified with the document and his views. I suggested whether it would not be well to invite back not only the people but the States to their obligations and duties. We are one country. I would not recognize what is called the Confederate government, for that is a usurpation, but the States are entities and may be recognized and treated with. Stanton, who was present for the first time for six weeks, after each had expressed his views, and, indeed, after some other topic had been taken up and disposed of, made some very pertinent and in the main proper and well-timed remarks, advising the President to make no new demonstration or offer, to bring forward his former policy and maintain it, to hold open the doors of conciliation and invite the people to return to their duty. He would appeal to them to do so, and ask them whether it would not have been better for them and for all, had they a year since accepted his offer. Each of the members of the Cabinet were requested to prepare a brief statement of the affairs of their respective Departments. Seward had already handed in much of his. I told the President I would hand him my brief the next day.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.


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