Made A Desolation of the Country ~ November 1864 ~ 26th to 27th

Made a Desolation of the Country ~ a Confederate soldier from Georgia.

destruction in Georgia

destruction in Georgia

Georgia reels from the wide swath of desolation and destruction as Federal troops advance practically unhindered toward Savannah and the sea. Northern newspapers like Frank Leslie’s comment upon the marvel of conducting a presidential election in the midst of civil war and its significance for the course of the war. George Templeton Strong comments on one aspect of refugees in the North. Soldiers nursed by Walt Whitman continue to stay in touch with him.

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November 26– Saturday– New York City– “We have passed quietly through the most imposing, the most momentous, and in many respects, the most critical ordeal of a national election in the history of the United States. The general results are before the country, in the re-election of President Lincoln, by an overwhelming popular and electoral vote, and in the return of a two-thirds Administration majority in the popular branch of Congress. No elaborate exposition of causes and effects is here necessary to account for these results. They are simply due to the pressure of that paramount and all-absorbing issue upon the people of the loyal States, the inflexible prosecution of this war, until the rebellious States shall be brought to the point of submission to the supreme authority of the Union. This broad and comprehensive program of the Administration has carried the day against the untenable positions taken by the Democratic party at Chicago, that the war for the Union is ‘a failure,’ and that ‘immediate efforts’ should be made for ‘a cessation of hostilities,’ in order that negotiations might be tried in behalf of peace. In the face of the oft-repeated and consistent declarations of the leaders of the rebellion, that they will have no peace, nor enter into any negotiations for peace, except upon the basis of Southern independence, those Chicago propositions were largely regarded by the people concerned in this late election as equivalent to overtures for a surrender to Jeff Davis. Thus the Democratic party, in blindly casting away a golden opportunity for a great success, have been signally defeated. The people of the loyal States have given their verdict in favor of the war policy of the Administration; they have decreed that there shall be no ‘cessation of hostilities,’ short of the overthrow and dispersion of the armed forces of the rebellion. The policy of the Government, under Abraham Lincoln as its chief executive officer, is thus established for the next four years. All doubts upon the subject are at an end. The opinion is also widely entertained among the rank and file of the dominant party, that the moral influences of Mr. Lincoln’s re-election will immediately and powerfully operate to unite and consolidate the loyal States, and to distract, divide and break up the so-called ‘Confederate States.’ The implacable feelings of hostility manifested on all occasions by the rebel chiefs and rebel journals to the ‘Illinois despot,’ and their anxiety expressed through a thousand channels for ‘anything in the way of a change in the Yankee Government,’ have been advanced as fully warranting these hopeful predictions. We congratulate all parties concerned, that the fierce excitements, jealousies and party wrangling of the Presidential campaign are over, and that the National Government and the loyal States have now a fair field before them for a ‘short, sharp and decisive’ campaign against the armies of the rebellion. We bow to the will of the people.” ~ Frank Leslie’s Weekly.

Abraham_Lincoln

November 26– Saturday– New York City– “George Anthon . . . tells me that . . . the harlotry of the city is largely reinforced by Southern refugee women who were of good social standing at home but find themselves here without means of support and forced to choose between starving and whoring. Mortal man will never know the whole amount of sorrow, suffering, bereavement, devastation and crime for which the secession conspirators of 1860 are answerable. It seems a just retribution on the Southern slaveholding chivalry who have been forcing their female slaves– black, mulatto, and quadroon– to minister to their pleasures that their rebellion should drive their wives and daughters to flee northward and prostitute themselves to Northern ‘mudsills,’ plebeian ‘Yankees.’” ~ Diary of George Templeton Strong.

November 26– Saturday– Newark, New Jersey– “I write these few lines to you in order that you may know where I am and also that I am in the enjoyment of middling good health. I heard from you through my Father some time ago and I have wanted to visit you but I am sorry to say my health will not admit of my being out much this cold weather. If you remember I was wounded through my lung and the ball is now near my right kidney and I am not as healthy as I use to be before I was wounded. I feel quite well to day. I have just received a letter from my Brother in my Regiment (15th New Jersey) he spoke of you. I wrote him concerning you and he says he would like to see you. I think I owe you a thousand thanks for your kindness to me while in Hospital at Washington. I have often thought of you and wished I could hear from you. I would like to hear from that Lady who did so much for me. I think it was Miss Howard. I think I will be well enough to come and see you in a week or two and then we will talk over all the incidents of our short acquaintance in Washington. If you will answer this and set the day I will come and see you. I am a little deaf now from the earache but I hope we will get along with that. Hoping to hear from you soon.” ~ Letter from Jesse Mullery to Walt Whitman.

November 26– Saturday– Petersburg, Virginia– “Our news from Georgia is meager and entirely unsatisfactory. The newspapers publish nothing at all scarcely, as the government keeps them cowered down, and, as the government keeps its own council, we get no news at all. We don’t know today whether the Yankees have taken Macon or Augusta or what they have done. Don’t know whether Sherman is marching on Savannah or Columbus and then to Mobile. It was published in the Richmond papers that they had taken Milledgeville and burned the place, including the capitol and penitentiary. Of course, the ‘assembled wisdom’ [the state legislature] was scattered, and Joseph I [Governor Joseph E. Brown] took walking papers! Indeed, I reckon he did some tall walking! We learn by the Northern papers that they have made a desolation of the country as far as they have gone, by burning town, village and hamlet and leaving, as Sherman’s motto is, ‘no resting place for an enemy in our rear.’ I have been very uneasy about you and have hoped and still hope that if Sherman has determined to cut his way to the coast he has taken the nearest route to Savannah, as that would take him away from our part of the state. That looks selfish I know, but then we are necessarily selfish here below, and it is right and proper to be so to a certain extent. They burn and destroy everything as they go and should their cavalry ever get to Americus, we should perhaps be left homeless and destitute, as our house stands so near the square and would scarcely escape. And what you and our little ones would do in case we were burned out, I shudder to contemplate. Still, we must make up our minds to bear, and as easily as possible, all the horrors and hardships of this cruel war. Even now you may be a refugee with our houses and furniture in ashes. What a thought– my Wife and children wanderers and homeless! We know nothing of the course Sherman has taken or the progress he has made, but I pray and trust you are yet safe and that you may never be visited by the fiends or devils in human form.” ~ Letter from a Confederate soldier to his wife in Georgia.

marching through Georgia

marching through Georgia

November 26– Saturday– Covington, Georgia– “A very cold morning. Elbert [her slave coachman] has to go to mill this morning, and I shall go with him, fearing that, if he is alone, my mule may be taken from him, for there are still many straggling soldiers about. Mounted in the little wagon, I went, carrying wheat not only for myself, but for my neighbors. Never did I think I would have to go to mill! Such are the changes that come to us! History tells us of some illustrious examples of this kind. Got home just at night. Mr. Kennedy stopped all night with us. He has been refugeeing on his way home. Every one we meet gives us painful accounts of the desolation caused by the enemy. Each one has to tell his or her own experience, and fellow-suffering makes us all equal and makes us all feel interested in one another.” ~ Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt Burge.

burning & pillaging in Georgia

burning & pillaging in Georgia

November 26– Saturday– Sandersville, Georgia– “We have just arrived at Sandersville and gone into camp. Our advance had a slight skirmish with rebel cavalry today, but drove them back easily. We left Milledgeville day before yesterday and traveled all through a very cold night, yet we are all in very good condition. We have employed two mulatto brothers, Hillard and Bill Ford. One is assistant cook, the other is hostler. I suppose Savannah to be our objective point; we are about half way now. I hope the remainder of our journey will be as successful and pleasant.” ~ Letter from Union officer Fredrick C. Winkler to his wife Frances.

November 26– Saturday– Sandersville, Georgia; near Plum Creek Station, Nebraska Territory; Osage, Missouri; Fairfax Station, Virginia– Skirmishes and firefights.

November 26– Saturday– Highbridge, Somerset, England– Birth of Edward Higgins who will serve as Chief of Staff of the Salvation Army from 1919 to 1929. [Dies December 14, 1947.]

Edward Higgins

Edward Higgins

November 27– Sunday– Martinsburg, West Virginia– “I attended the Methodist Church today and I enjoyed the service and felt that we were worshiping our Master. The pastor announced that ‘This is a loyal church’ and invited all Christians to remain for the communion service. We remained and partook with the others, both citizens and soldiers. The pastor prayed for the President of the United States and for the success of the Union Armies.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

November 27– Sunday– Lawrenceburg, Tennessee; Columbia, Tennessee; Centreville, Tennessee; Shelbyville, Tennessee– Heavy skirmishing as Confederate troops under General John Bell Hood and Federal troops under General John Schofield probe each other’s positions in preparation for a major engagement.

turning railroad ties into Sherman's neckties

turning railroad ties into Sherman’s neckties

November 27– Sunday– Tennille Station, Georgia– “Twelfth day, Headquarters in a field . . . . Ride from Sandersville here through pine forests over sandy road. At this place found Rail Road depot, store-houses, etc., in smoking ruins– this is the land for sweet potatoes– from Covington to Milledgeville. Good story of soldier who ‘don’t touch any but red ones now,’ and scornfully rejects white ones. Accidentally got to talking with brunette lady of the house today about the war, etc. I pity these women sincerely, but curse the miserable ‘State pride’ which blinds them. I believe there is no such contemptible provincialism in this world as these people have. It does me good to quote A.H. Stephens’ Union speeches to them – and it hits hard– the harder because most politely done, with surprise and regret at his abandonment of principles so admirably and truthfully declared. General [Sherman] in fine spirits, and well he may be. He desires nothing better than for Longstreet [Confederate General James Longstreet, inaccurately rumored to be at Augusta, Georgia but in fact with General Lee in Virginia] to come and fight him. All our commanders constantly report our troops in the very best of spirits and condition, ‘spoiling for a fight.’ Our little skirmish yesterday at Sandersville showed it. Meanwhile we are all the time destroying the Georgia Central Railroad – tearing up and burning the ties and sleepers and bending and twisting the rails. At Oconee Bridge, twelve miles from here, over two miles of trestle work through swamps on both sides of the river have been burned, as well as the bridge, a long and important one.” ~ Diary of Henry Hitchcock.

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