Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: July 11, 1864

Left on two small transports for Donaldsonville. Arrived next day and camped on old drill ground. Meanwhile the vegation had grown up tall and thick among the ruins so that sharp shooters could creep in and pick off the soldiers across the bayou at the Fort. So Colonel Fiske asked me if I would take the job of collecting tools and cut the weeds down. I told him I would. So I took an army wagon and enough soldiers so that my words would mean something. Most all the planters were hoeing their cotton and did not want to let their hoes go, but I told them they owed their protection to us. If the rebels got in they would strip them of everything of value. At all events I must have so many hoes. The general rule was to take one-half and leave half. So I would give him a receipt for so many scythes ,etc. I breakfasted with a planter with quite a number of negroes. He was a violent Secesh as we called them. He did not want to let me have any. We argued at the breakfast table on politics. He was sure we would never conquer the South. I was sure we should. I got half his hoes and all his scythes. I expect the bayonets were more eloquent than my words. I got in all thirty-seven hoes and scythes. I had a new detail every day. It took about three days to clear the grounds within rifle range of the fort.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 126-7

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