Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Union Men of Virginia on the Peninsula

How They are Treated by the Rebels – How the Rebels Should be treated in Order to Raise the Union Sentiment.

There are very few Union men here; that there are some, is evident from the bitter and unrelenting persecutions some here received and the manner others have been used in comparison.  Many would willing see a peace on any terms, because of the sacrifices they have been forced to make, and the privations they endure; the most, however are sullen, and obstinately boast of their hatred of the ------ Yankees.  So far as we can see, until their army is whipped, and they subjugated, it is idle to talk of peace.  There is much complaint by the Union people of the leniency we treat the rebels with, when they have done all that could be done except taking the life of those who stood by the old flag.

We were conversing, to-day, with a lady in front of a fine new mansion.  She told how her husband had been beggared, his property confiscated, and the provisions taken from their cellar.  “I have not food for two weeks, no money; my husband’s place is stripped of fences, houses, barns and cattle – all is gone.  How are we to live?  There goes,” – as a lady, with a basket and a bunch of flowers, passed along, she continued – “a lady to feed the wounded rebels and comfort them; I do not speak to her any more.  Her husband is rich yet, because he is in the rebel army; his property is safe, your soldiers are guarding it for her to feed the rebels while we live on corn meal!”  We told her it did not seem fair, and we hoped it would be remedied yet.  How we wished some of our dough-faced Congressmen, who prate of conciliating the rebel hordes, could have heard her express her contempt for them.  “What would you have us do?” we asked.  “Hang the leaders whenever you catch them.  Whenever a Union man is put in jail, confine two Secessionists! – If hung and murdered, strike back, show them you are in earnest; it is a wonder there is a single Union man in the whole South; to be one noisily and openly costs all we have, property, friends and all.  I have not been from my residence for four months; I cannot go to church.  Now your army is here, there are those who would not insult me with their actions or looks; but I will not notice them now.  Those ladies across the street waved their handkerchiefs to the rebel army as they marched through here on Monday to join the attack, now they hang them out as flags of truce, while they enjoy themselves quietly in the parlor looking out at the army.  My parlor is filled with their wounded soldiers, as a punishment for my not urging them to butcher you.”

Some steps should be taken at once to ensure protection to the Union men, learn the rebels that we can give and will strike two blows for every one they give to Union men, and if they rob, plunder, devastate Union farms, a rebel one shall make it good.  We should take care the Union people did not have to beg for bread and let the South know we will revenge the wrongs done them, and they will cease their persecutions; then we may expect to find a Union sentiment, now it is idle to expect it. – {Williamsburg Va., Cor. Phil. Inquirer.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 24, 1862, p. 2

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