Friday, October 7, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Monday, June 29, 1863

We are still at Chambersburg. Lee has issued a remarkably good order on non-retaliation, which is generally well received; but I have heard of complaints from fire-eaters, who want vengeance for their wrongs; and when one considers the numbers of officers and soldiers with this army who have been totally ruined by the devastations of Northern troops, one cannot be much surprised at this feeling.

I went into Chambersburg again, and witnessed the singularly good behaviour of the troops towards the citizens. I heard soldiers saying to one another, that they did not like being in a town in which they were very naturally detested. To any one who has seen as I have the ravages of the Northern troops in Southern towns, this forbearance seems most commendable and surprising. Yet these Pennsylvanian Dutch1 don't seem the least thankful, and really appear to be unaware that their own troops have been for two years treating Southern towns with ten times more harshness. They are the most unpatriotic people I ever saw, and openly state that they don't care which side wins provided they are left alone. They abuse Lincoln tremendously.

Of course, in such a large army as this there must be many instances of bad characters, who are always ready to plunder and pillage whenever they can do so without being caught: the stragglers, also, who remain behind when the army has left, will doubtless do much harm. It is impossible to prevent this; but everything that can be done is done to protect private property and non-combatants, and I can say, from my own observation, with wonderful success. I hear instances, however, in which soldiers meeting well-dressed citizens have made a “long arm” and changed hats, much to the disgust of the latter, who are still more annoyed when an exchange of boots is also proposed: their superfine broadcloth is never in any danger.

General Longstreet is generally a particularly taciturn man; but this evening he and I had a long talk about Texas, where he had been quartered a long time. He remembered many people whom I had met quite well, and was much amused by the description of my travels through that country. I complimented him upon the manner in which the Confederate sentries do their duty, and said they were quite as strict as, and ten times more polite than, regular soldiers. He replied, laughing, that a sentry, after refusing you leave to enter a camp, might very likely, if properly asked, show you another way in, by which you might avoid meeting a sentry at all.

I saw General Pendleton and General Pickett today. Pendleton is Chief of Artillery to the army, and was a West Pointer; but in more peaceable times he fills the post of Episcopal clergyman in Lexington, Virginia. Unlike General Polk, he unites the military and clerical professions together, and continues to preach whenever he gets a chance. On these occasions he wears a surplice over his uniform.

General Pickett commands one of the divisions in Longstreet's corps.2 He wears his hair in long ringlets, and is altogether rather a desperate-looking character. He is the officer who, as Captain Pickett of the U.S. army, figured in the difficulty between the British and United States in the San Juan Island affair, under General Harney, four or five years ago.

1 This part of Pennsylvania is much peopled with the descend ants of Germans, who speak an unintelligible language.

2 M'Laws, Hood, and Pickett are the three divisional commanders or major-generals in Longstreet's corps d’armée.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 250-3

No comments: