Fight Rather Than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ February 1865 ~ 16th to 17th

Fight Ever Rather than Submit to Yankee Rule ~ Maggie Cone

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

Federal troops raise the U S flag after occupying Columbia South Carolina

A young Georgia woman and her soldier husband-to-be exchange letters on the same day, wondering if the other will receive it. She, much like other Southern women, is filled with worry but wants to fight on. In the Shenandoah Valley, another young women informs a mother about the death of her son. South Carolina trembles as Columbia surrenders and much of the city is devastated by fire while Confederate troops evacuate Charleston, the city where the opening shots of the war were fired in April of 1861. Three more states ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, raising the total to 16 of the 27 necessary for ratification and the constitutional abolition of slavery.

hospital wagon

hospital wagon

February 16– Thursday– Lincolnton, North Carolina– “A change has come o’er the spirit of my dream. Dear old quire of yellow, coarse, Confederate home-made paper, here you are again. An age of anxiety and suffering has passed over my head since last I wrote and wept over your forlorn pages. My ideas of those last days are confused. The Martins left Columbia the Friday before I did, and Mammy, the Negro woman, who had nursed them, refused to go with them. That daunted me. Then Mrs. Mc Cord, who was to send her girls with me, changed her mind. She sent them up-stairs in her house and actually took away the staircase ; that was her plan. . . . We thought that if the Negroes were ever so loyal to us, they could not protect me from an army bent upon sweeping us from the face of the earth, and if they tried to do so, so much the worse would it be for the poor things with their Yankee friends. I then left them to shift for themselves, as they are accustomed to do, and I took the same liberty. My husband does not care a fig for the property question, and never did. Perhaps, if he had ever known poverty, it would be different. He talked beautifully about it, as he always does about everything. . . . I took French leave of Columbia slipped away with out a word to anybody. Isaac Hayne and Mr. Chesnut came down to the Charlotte depot with me. Ellen, my [slave] maid, left her husband and only child, but she was willing to come, and, indeed, was very cheerful in her way of looking at it. . . . A woman, fifty years old at least, and uglier than she was old, sharply rebuked my husband for standing at the [railroad] car window for a last few words with me. She said rudely: ‘Stand aside, sir ! I want air !’ With his hat off, and his grand air, my husband bowed politely, and said: ‘In one moment, madam ; I have something important to say to my wife.’ She talked aloud and introduced herself to every man, claiming his protection. She had never traveled alone before in all her life. Old age and ugliness are protective in some cases. She was ardently patriotic for a while. Then she was joined by her friend, a man as crazy as herself to get out of this. From their talk I gleaned she had been for years in the Treasury Department. They were about to cross the lines. The whole idea was to get away from the trouble to come down here. They were Yankees, but were they not spies? Here I am broken-hearted and an exile. And in such a place! We have bare floors, and for a feather-bed, pine table, and two chairs I pay $30 a day. Such sheets ! But fortunately I have some of my own. . . . The Martins had seen my, to them, well-known traveling case as the hack trotted up Main Street, and they arrived at this juncture out of breath. We embraced and wept. I kept my room. The Fants are refugees here, too; they are Virginians, and have been in exile since the second battle of Manassas. Poor things ; they seem to have been everywhere, and seen and suffered everything. They even tried to go back to their own house, but found one chimney only standing alone ; even that had been taken possession of by a Yankee, who had written his name upon it. The day I left home I had packed a box of flour, sugar, rice, and coffee, but my husband would not let me bring it. He said I was coming to a land of plenty, unexplored North Carolina, where the foot of the Yankee marauder was unknown, and in Columbia they would need food. Now I have written for that box and many other things to be sent me by Lawrence [one of her household slaves], or I shall starve.” ~ Diary of Mary Chesnut.

Mary Chesnut

Mary Chesnut

February 16– Thursday– Columbia, South Carolina– Federal troops almost completely encircle the city as Confederate soldiers under General Beauregard retreat after Beauregard notifies General Lee that his outnumbered force is unable to defend the place.

February 16– Thursday– Albany, Georgia– “We started for . . . Mrs. Welsh’s party, soon after breakfast, but were a good deal delayed on the way by having to wait for a train of forty government wagons to pass. We found Mrs. Julia Butler at Mrs. Sims’s, straight from Washington [Georgia], with letters for us, and plenty of news. I feel anxious to get back now, since Washington is going to be such a center of interest. If the Yanks take Augusta, it will become the headquarters of the department. Mrs. Butler says a train of 300 wagons runs between there and Abbeville, and they are surveying a railroad route. Several regiments are stationed there and the town is alive with army officers and government officials. How strange all this seems for dear, quiet little Washington! It must be delightful there, with all those nice army officers. I am going back home as soon as I can decently change my mind. I have been at the rear all during the war, and now that I have a chance, I want to go to the front. I wish I could be here and there, too, at the same time.” ~ Journal of Eliza Frances Andrews.

Eliza Frances Andrews

Eliza Frances Andrews

February 16– Thursday– Indianapolis, Indiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday–Baton Rouge, Louisiana– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

February 16– Thursday– Carson City, Nevada– The legislature ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment.

13th_Amendment_Pg1of1_AC

February 17– Friday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “Yesterday a man . . . having had some difficulty with the wife of his bosom, (who appears to have gently protested against his making a whisky keg of himself,) determined in an act of desperation, to go for a soldier, and started in the direction of the Provost Marshal’s office. The wife, suspecting his design, started in pursuit, accompanied by young persuaders in the shape of as many flaxen haired little pledges of affection. The husband was overtaken on Fourth street. At first he declined to listen to the appeals of his wife, but at last the little ones climbed up his legs and tugged at his coat tails, when he melted and was led off captive as meek as was ever Captain Cuttle, mariner, in the custody of Mrs. Mc Stinger. A committeeman from one of the sub districts of the county said the woman ought to be arrested for discouraging enlistments.” ~ Wheeling Daily Intelligencer.

February 17– Friday– near Winchester, Virginia– “Yours of October 18th and December 10th only a few days ago were received – how they were smuggled through the lines I am not aware, but sincerely hope I may be able to get this through to you – yours were truly, truly welcome. . . . think not I should not have been so negligent as not to send you some message had I had but one moment of freedom that I could have written & sent the letter through, but you know we are in the thumb of tyrants that the penalty for receiving or sending letter through the lines if known to them is so severe, that no one is willing to risk carrying a letter & I have never had one safe opportunity that I could send you a long letter. . . . as soon as in my power I shall send you full particulars as far as I can of your dear son’s death. In this I will only answer your inquiries. Our Angel – our beloved dead – he died, I am told, in sight of my home, alone in an ambulance, insensible – he must have spoken after wounded, as the driver said he requested to be brought here. Oh! What comfort what consolation to us all had we only heard him speak, seen him breathe. He was I know prepared for the change, four nights before he fell, he was here, left the next day . . . right back into this battle. . . . he seemed in good spirits, cheerful, warning me to trust in God, to be cheerful & happy . . . . I received a few articles, taken from your son’s body, his own testament . . . also have some of his hair, his tobacco bags, pipe, a handkerchief , his money . . . . our great regret is that we were unable to purchase him a good coffin but it was impossible, hundreds of our dear soldiers – Colonels, Captains, officers of all rank – were wrapped in their blankets & placed low. Ma begged our undertaker to make as nice a one as possible, he says . . . were you able to pay me one thousand dollars, I could not make you one I have no material. Ma offered boards he made him a plain pine coffin not such as he deserved, but that was better than none at all, and many others had to sleep calmly in our private lot in the once beautiful home of our dead but oh it pains me so deeply to tell you, even it has been desecrated, almost ruined by our merciless foes that sacred spot was so beautiful. Perhaps someday we can again replace it & it rest undisturbed. . . . God may heal, but memory lives, the grave only can bury this my first deepest the one great sorrow of my life. I never can be perfectly happy again. I may smile, be seemingly happy, as far as the happiness of this world is concerned, for all is dark to be now there is no happiness here . . . . On the 19th I received a letter from Mac, written two hours before he fell, telling me he was near & hoped soon to be with me, at one o’clock his dead body was brought to my home . Had an only brother, an only son been brought in a corpse, the screams, the sorrow of my mother, sisters & all could not have been more terrible that day & night can never be forgotten. . . . your son . . . was buried as decently as was in our power to have him, you cannot regret more than me, that it could not have been otherwise . . . . May God bless, protect, heal your sorrows. Guide you all safely through Life.” ~ Letter from Maggie Heist to Martha Roadcap.

period graveyard

period graveyard

February 17– Friday– Washington, D.C.– “Whereas objects of interest to the United States require that the Senate should be convened at twelve o’clock on the Fourth of March next, to receive and act upon such communications as may be made to it on the part of the Executive: Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, have considered it to be my duty to issue this my Proclamation, declaring that an extraordinary occasion requires the Senate of the United States to convene for the transaction of business at the Capitol, in the city of Washington, on the Fourth day of March next, at twelve o’clock at noon on that day, of which all who shall at that time be entitled to act as members of that body, are hereby required to take notice.” ~ Proclamation issued by President Lincoln.

February 17– Friday– Petersburg, Virginia–”The sadness I feel now is inexpressible, and can be equaled only by the heart-rending pangs I suffered when I so recently parted with you in person. Never, except for a very short time, since the commencement of our correspondence, have we been deprived the inestimable privilege of regularly hearing from each other. Others have been debarred this priceless boon, almost during the whole of the present struggle. Now tis probable that we, too, are to be subject to a like fate, it does indeed render me sad and gloomy. Not that I think the separation will be for a great while or that absence and silence will conquer the love of either for the other; but because twill be so painful to be separated for however short a time. I have no hope whatever of receiving letters by soldiers at home on furlough. To surmount this difficulty, will you write me one more long, long letter, and enclose it in a letter to Sister Fannie, requesting her to forward it by some one coming on to the Army of Virginia? I will surely get it. This may be the last opportunity and you know not how anxious I am to hear from you once more. Sherman, contrary to my expectation, seems to be marching to Columbia [South Carolina]. If he is successful, all communication, by any means, will be effectively destroyed, for awhile at least. That he will be successful, I haven’t the least idea.” ~ Letter from Confederate soldier Alva Benjamin Spencer to his fiancee Maggie Cone.

February 17– Friday– outside Petersburg, Virginia– “Today I have been at work in charge of a detail of six hundred men at work on a fort called Fort Fisher which is built across the Weldon Rail Road. It rained all day and we worked in the mud water. This fort will be a strong one and, as it is in sight of the Rebels, we shall have music before it is finished.” ~ Diary of Elisha Hunt Rhodes.

February 17– Friday– Charleston, South Carolina– Anticipating the arrival of the large Federal force, Confederate troops evacuate the city.

February 17– Friday– Columbia, South Carolina– The city surrenders to Federal troops. In the night much of the city burns, whether deliberately set by Yankees or retreating rebels or freed slaves and prisoners or accidentally set on fire remains unclear. Two-thirds of the city is heavily damaged.

fire damage in Columbia

fire damage in Columbia

February 17– Friday– Dooly County, Georgia– “As I anticipated the detestable Yankees have cut the road at or near Branchville, but however slight may be the probability of your receiving a letter, I will write you. One week has elapsed since the road was interrupted, but I don’t know whether they still hold possession or not, as I haven’t seen a paper in several days, neither have I heard any late news from that point; though I hope the road has been repaired and communication is again open to Virginia. Since our Commissioners have returned and informed the people of the result of their interview with the Federal Commissioners, I hope now the urgent request ‘Send Commissioners to negotiate with the Federal Government’ will cease, and that such a dishonorable proposition for peace, will not have a discouraging effect upon our soldiers and the people at home, but to the contrary, will unite and inspire them with redoubled energy to fight on, fight ever, rather than submit to Yankee rule and oppression. I confess, I did hope some honorable proposition would be made that we could accept of though I didn’t hardly think there would be consequently I was not much disappointed.” ~ Letter from Maggie Cone to her fiancé Alva Benjamin Spencer.

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