Showing posts with label Greenbacks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greenbacks. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to Sardis Birchard, July 30, 1864

July 30, 1864. 

DEAR UNCLE: – I received your letter of the 13th last night. I hardly know what to think about your bank. It seems likely enough that greenbacks may get lower as compared with gold, and perhaps all property employed in banking may depreciate correspondingly. But I am not thinking much of these things now and have no opinions on them which I think of any value. 

As to that candidacy for Congress, I care nothing at all about it, neither for the nomination nor for the election.* It was merely easier to let the thing take its own course than to get up a letter declining to run and then to explain it to everybody who might choose to bore me about it. 

We are gathering an army here apparently to drive the Rebels out of the Valley. I hope we shall be long enough about it to give the men rest and to heal their sore feet. We have had now three months of hard campaigning - marched one thousand to one thousand two hundred miles, besides [travelling] seven hundred (miles) by railroad and steamboat. Much night marching, four or five pitched battles, and skirmishing every other day. 

My health is good — perfect; bothered with boils from constant riding in hot weather, but of no importance. 

I wish you to send my letters to Mother. It will be a comfort to her to hear oftener than I have time to write. Colonel Mulligan was shot down very near me. We were side by side conversing a few moments before. My orderly was wounded, also my horse. Lieutenant Kelly had the narrowest possible escapes — several — balls grazing his head, ear, and body – Mrs. Zimmerman's brother, you know.


* Hayes had received numerous letters from friends in Cincinnati, William Henry Smith, R. H. Stephenson, E. T. Carson, and others, urging him to be a candidate. He was too busy in the field to bother about politics. But he was nominated August 6, and elected in November, without having taken any part in the canvass. 

SOURCE: Charles Richard Williams, editor, Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Volume 2, p. 488-9

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: November 7, 1863

No news from any quarter, except the continued bombardment of the debris of Fort Sumter, and the killing and wounding of some 10 or 12 men there — but that is not news.

There is a pause, — a sort of holding of the breath of the people, as if some event of note was expected. The prices of food and fuel are far above the purses of all except speculators, and an explosion must happen soon, of some sort. People will not perish for food in the midst of plenty.

The press, a portion rather, praises the President for his carefulness in making a tour of the armies and ports south of us; but as he retained Gen. Bragg in command, how soon the tune would change if Bragg should meet with disaster!

Night before last some of the prisoners on Belle Isle (we have some 13,000 altogether in and near the city) were overheard by the guard to say they must escape immediately, or else it would be too late, as cannon were to be planted around them. Our authorities took the alarm, and increasing the guard, did plant cannon so as to rake them in every direction in the event of their breaking out of their prison bounds. It is suspected that this was a preconcerted affair, as a full division of the enemy has been sent to Newport News, probably to co-operate with the prisoners. Any attempt now must fail, unless, indeed, there should be a large number of Union sympathizers in the city to assist them.

Several weeks ago it was predicted in the Northern papers that Richmond would be taken in some mysterious manner, and that there was a plan for the prisoners of war to seize it by a coup de main, may be probable. But the scheme was impracticable. What may be the condition of the city, and the action of the people a few weeks hence, if relief be not afforded by the government, I am afraid to conjecture. The croakers say five millions of “greenbacks,” and cargoes of provisions, might be more effectual in expelling the Confederate Government and restoring that of the United States than all of Meade's army. And this, too, they allege, when there is abundance in the country. Many seem to place no value on the only money we have in circulation. The grasping farmers refuse to get out their grain, saying they have as much Confederate money as they want, and the government seems determined to permit the perishable tithes to perish rather than allow the famishing people to consume them. Surely, say the croakers, such a policy cannot achieve independence. No, it must be speedily changed, or else worse calamities await us than any we have experienced.

Old Gen. Duff Green, after making many fortunes and losing them, it seems, is to die poor at last, and he is now nearly eighty years old. Last year he made a large contract to furnish the government with iron, his works being in Tennessee, whence he has been driven by the enemy. And now he says the depreciation of the money will make the cost of producing the iron twice as much as he will get for it. And worse, he has bought a large lot of sugar which would have realized a large profit, but the commissary agent has impressed it, and will not pay him cost for it. All he can do is to get a small portion of it back for the consumption of his employees, provided he returns to Tennessee and fulfills his iron contract.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 91-2

Friday, August 25, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: January 22, 1863

Camp Reed, Jackson, Tenn.,
January 22, 1863.

I received your four-volume letter of the 5th, 12th, 13th inst. last night, and return you my sincere thanks for the time and writing material you expended in my behalf. I suppose that you now understand why you did not receive my letters.

You ask me how I like the news from Vicksburg. All right. That was only a little reconnoisance in force, which paid its way by gobbling up Arkansas post. We want to get these seceshers all together at Vicksburg and then close the war in this country. Wait about a month, if you want to hear a call for bombazine, etc. We'll have that little town then, or a very large portion of the loyal people of Illinois will go to make that a very fertile point. By the way, aren't you afraid that Rosecrans will get his hands full if it be true that Longstreet with 13 brigades has arrived at Chattanooga? Guess those Eastern Rebels must know better how to fight than Bragg, Price, Van Dorn, etc., at any rate I'm a little suspicious of that Longstreet and wish that one or two of these divisions here could be sent to oppose. Believe I would rather we would be whipped here than see "Rosy" beaten. There will be somebody awfully hurt though, before that latter item takes place, and Rosecrans himself will never live to read an account of it.

Staff appointments are nicer than the line business, but chance for promotion is not so great nor so honorable in my opinion. Although one does get more credit in reports, and has more influence. Anyway the chances for a captain to be detached on staff duty are very limited, and nearly always matters of outside influence. A first lieutenant's chance on his merits are much better for several reasons. Officers are beginning to resign in a very lively manner in our regiment. Am satisfied that of the original captains, only Sid., Frank Post and myself will be left in two months from now, and I can see that both Sid. and Frank would not object to being let out gently and honorably, especially if they could happen on a good little fight shortly, and then leave. Poor fellows! One has a new wife and the other an old girl, each gets five letters a week and looks a little sicker after each letter than before. Guess I'll have to get me one of them girls to be in the fashion, though I haven't yet got over that one's patting me on the shoulder when I enlisted, telling me what a fine, brave fellow, etc., I was and then marrying within three weeks after I'd gone. I'm not very desperate in consequence, but can't think it was fair. Sid. got back from Cairo to-night with his men, minus 30, of whom some ten deserted and the remainder were left sick. Profitable trip. We are on half rations again for five days, but I managed to secure a 700pound beef for my company, so we'll not starve. I report more men for duty than any other company in the regiment. Call that doing pretty well when you consider that mine is a picked company. Major Phelps is here and says we will be paid off shortly. That means between now and July as I take it. Am not particular though. Uncle Sam can go to the d---1 with his greenbacks, if he'll only send us to Rosy or Vicksburg. Weather here has moderated considerably. It is 1 o'clock a. m. now and I am without coat or fire and am comfortable. I never retire before 1 or 2 o'clock any more. Am ashamed to say what time I get up. We think here that this place and Corinth will be evacuated ere long Troops are passing through here from Corinth every day, going to Vicksburg. Every sign says that we will leave here within ten days, but all signs are unsartin. The moon to-night says a dry month. Don't I hope she won't fool us. This half-ration business is only so in name, the full ration has a tremendous margin for waste and men can grow fat on half rations. I do believe that they live just as well. When the 1st of January proclamation was issued a number of our officers became very much excited. Several of them talked strongly of tendering their resignations in consequence thereof, and one of them really did. But we were too strong for the d----d compromising lickspittles, and to-day you can't hear a whimper against it. The major and adjutant were strongly opposed to it, but they dare not say so to-day. All of that excitement at home is working on the army though, and even if it requires bayonets, the good of the army demands that the agitation cease. That is the cause of all the desertions, and they are many that are occurring, and nine-tenths of the discontent and demoralization spring from the same source. A tremendous number have deserted of late and the evil is growing.. Thousands would leave if we could be stationed on the border. Well, the old soldiers are very, very tired of the war. Any number of them would recognize three or four confederacies to get home, and their influence over the new men is boundless. The Confederate rank and file feels the same way. Nineteen-twentieths would vote for the United States or any other man to secure peace, but their officers and citizens control the matter. It don't make any difference what commission you intrust your sanitary stores to for the stealings are all in the hospitals, and these sanitary commissaries all issue to any hospital that is in need.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 149-51

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 23, 1862

Provost Marshal's Office, Waterford, Miss.,
December 23, 1862.

Suspect this will be my last from this country. Where the army is going I know not, but the divisions which have been in front are now filing past us, faces northward. The movement commencing at the time of the raid on Holly Springs, gives it the appearance of a retrograde for that reason, but I think that has nothing to do with the matter, for though I have no idea of the future plans of the general commanding, yet have known for some time that it was not the intention to pursue further than Grenada on this line, and that point has been evacuated by the enemy for some days. The raid into Holly Springs was capitally done. The Rebels made a No. 1 haul. Immense stores of clothing, commissaries and ordnance fell into their hands, all of which, however, they were obliged to destroy, save what they could carry away on their horses. About 1,200 or 1,500 officers and soldiers were paroled by them, some 1,000 horses carried off and I think not less than $1,000,000 of greenbacks. One-half million worth of cotton was burned, etc.; loss to Government cannot be less than three or four millions of dollars. Colonel Murphy is the man who is responsible for the whole thing, and I can think of no punishment equal to his deserts. ’Twas but nine miles from us and we of course immediately prepared for a visit, but were not so honored. These successful raids of the enemy almost make me sick. If our men would only be on the alert so that they could make something of a fight, I wouldn't care a d--n. But to lose a thousand prisoners without the enemy's having one killed makes me disgusted with the army. I'm allying a little fun with business as opportunities offer. Friday last I got permission of the colonel to make a little reconnoisance of the country along Tippah river, and on the Tallahatchie between the mouth of Tippah and the railroad. I stayed six miles from camp the first night and went possum hunting. Hunted until 2 o'clock a. m. and although we treed a good many, couldn't get them. Examined the country thoroughly next day, made a map of it, found there were no guerrillas near our camp and then got a shot gun and hunted. The young fellow I was with and myself, in an hour killed seven squirrels and a coon. Got back to town at dark, Saturday night, and found everybody terribly excited about the Holly Springs affair. They had given me up for a goner. The regiment laid on their arms and I laid on my featherbed, for I knew devilish well there was no danger. We've been on the alert ever since but the enemy has gone. To-day the guerrillas have been seen on all sides of us within a few miles, but Ross' division has just arrived so there is no chance for a fight.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 137-8

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: February 27, 1864

Organizing the militia; hauling artillery past the prison Have a good view of all that is going on. Bought a compass from one of the guards for seven dollars, greenbacks; worth half a dollar at home. It is already rumored among the men that we have a compass, a map of Virginia, a preparation to put on our feet to prevent dogs from tracking us, and we are looked up to as if we were sons of Irish lords in disguise, and are quite noted personages. Cold last night, and we suffer much in not having blankets enough, to keep us warm. The walls are cold and damp, making it disagreeable, and the stench nearly makes us sick. It is impossible for a person to imagine prison life until he has seen and realized it. No news of importance. Time passes much more drearily than when on Belle Isle. Were all searched again to-day but still keep my diary, although expecting to lose it every day; would be quite a loss, as the longer I write and remain a prisoner the more attached am I to my record of passing events. A man shot for putting his head out of the window. Men all say it served him right, for he had no business to thus expose himself against strict orders to the contrary. We are nearly opposite and not more than twenty rods from Libby Prison, which is a large tobacco warehouse Can see plenty of union officers, which it is a treat to look at. Hendryx had a fight with the raiders — got licked. He ain't so pretty as he was before, but knows more. I am very wise about such matters, consequently retain my beauty.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 36

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: December 25, 1863

— and Christmas. — One year ago to-day first went into camp at Coldwater, little dreaming what changes a year would bring around, but there are exchange rumors afloat and hope to see white folks again before many months. All ordered out to be squadded over again, which was quite a disappointment to our mess as we were making preparations for a grand dinner, gotten up by outside hands, Mustard, Myers, Hendryx and myself. However, we had our good things for supper instead of dinner, and it was a big thing, consisting of corn bread and butter, oysters, coffee, beef, crackers, cheese, &c.; all we could possibly eat or do away with, and costing the snug little sum of $200 Confederate money, or $20 in greenbacks. Lay awake long before daylight listening to the bells. As they rang out Christmas good morning I imagined they were in Jackson, Michigan, my old home, and from the spires of the old Presbyterian and Episcopal churches. Little do they think as they are saying their Merry Christmases and enjoying themselves so much, of the hunger and starving here. But there are better days coming.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 21

Monday, January 23, 2017

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: December 20, 1863

James River frozen nearly over, and rebels say it has not been so cold for years as at the present time. There are hundreds with frozen feet, ears, hands &c, and laying all over the prison; and the suffering is terrible. Hendryx and myself are intent on some plan for escape. The lieutenant has spies who are on the watch. The authorities know all about any conspiracy almost as soon as it is known among ourselves. Last night just after dark two or three Yankees agreed to give the guard $10 if he would let them set over the bank, to which he promised; and as soon as they sot nearly over fired and immediately gave the alarm. One of them received a shot in one of his legs and the others scrambled back over the bank; the three minus their $10 bill and a sound leg. They cannot be trusted at all and will promise anything for greenbacks. Sergt Bullock of our regiment is here and very sick with fever; cannot possibly live many weeks in such a place as this Col. Sanderson still issuing clothing, but very unfair, and the men who need it most get none at all. All the outsiders received a suit throughout to-day, myself among the rest. Got a letter from home, everybody is well. They say keep up good heart and we will be exchanged before many weeks.

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 19-20

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Diary of 1st Sergeant John L. Ransom: November 23, 1863

Having a few dollars of good yankee money which I have hoarded since my capture, have purchased a large blank book and intend as long as I am a prisoner of war in this confederacy, to note down from day to day as occasion may occur, events as they happen, treatment, ups and downs generally. It will serve to pass away the time and may be interesting at some future time to read over

SOURCE: John L. Ransom, Andersonville Diary, p. 12

Friday, November 11, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Monday, July 13, 1863

The luxury and comfort of New York and Philadelphia strike one as extraordinary after having lately come from Charleston and Richmond. The greenbacks seem to be nearly as good as gold. The streets are as full as possible of well-dressed people, and are crowded with able-bodied civilians capable of bearing arms, who have evidently no intention of doing so. They apparently don't feel the war at all here; and until there is a grand smash with their money, or some other catastrophe to make them feel it, I can easily imagine that they will not be anxious to make peace.

I walked the whole distance of Broadway to the Consul's house, and nothing could exceed the apparent prosperity; the street was covered with banners and placards inviting people to enlist in various high-sounding regiments. Bounties of $550 were offered, and huge pictures hung across the street, on which numbers of ragged greybacks* terror depicted on their features, were being pursued by the Federals.

On returning to the Fifth Avenue, I found all the shopkeepers beginning to close their stores, and I perceived by degrees that there was great alarm about the resistance to the draft which was going on this morning. On reaching the hotel I perceived a whole block of buildings on fire close by: engines were present, but were not allowed to play by the crowd. In the hotel itself, universal consternation prevailed, and an attack by the mob had been threatened. I walked about in the neighbourhood, and saw a company of soldiers on the march, who were being jeered at and hooted by small boys, and I saw a negro pursued by the crowd take refuge with the military; he was followed by loud cries of “Down with the b—y nigger! Kill all niggers!” &c. Never having been in New York before, and being totally ignorant of the state of feeling with regard to negroes, I inquired of a bystander what the negroes had done that they should want to kill them? He replied, civilly enough — “Oh sir, they hate them here; they are the innocent cause of all these troubles.” Shortly afterwards, I saw a troop of citizen cavalry come up; the troopers were very gorgeously attired, but evidently experienced so much difficulty in sitting their horses, that they were more likely to excite laughter than any other emotion.

* The Northerners call the Southerners “Greybacks,” just as the latter call the former “Bluebellies,” on account of the colour of their dress.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 306-8

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Sunday, June 28, 1863

No officer or soldier under the rank of a general is allowed into Chambersburg without a special order from General Lee, which he is very chary of giving; and I hear of officers of rank being refused this pass.

Moses proceeded into town at 11 A.M., with an official requisition for three days' rations for the whole army in this neighbourhood. These rations he is to seize by force, if not voluntarily supplied.

I was introduced to General Hood this morning; he is a tall, thin, wiry-looking man, with a grave face and a light-coloured beard, thirty-three years old, and is accounted one of the best and most promising officers in the army. By his Texan and Alabamian troops he is adored; he formerly commanded the Texan Brigade, but has now been promoted to the command of a division. His troops are accused of being a wild set, and difficult to manage; and it is the great object of the chiefs to check their innate plundering propensities by every means in their power.

I went into Chambersburg at noon, and found Lawley ensconced in the Franklin Hotel. Both he and I had much difficulty in getting into that establishment — the doors being locked, and only opened with the greatest caution. Lawley had had a most painful journey in the ambulance yesterday, and was much exhausted. No one in the hotel would take the slightest notice of him, and all scowled at me in a most disagreeable manner. Half-a-dozen Pennsylvanian viragos surrounded and assailed me with their united tongues to a deafening degree. Nor would they believe me when I told them I was an English spectator and a noncombatant: they said I must be either a Rebel or a Yankee — by which expression I learned for the first time that the term Yankee is as much used as a reproach in Pennsylvania as in the South. The sight of gold, which I exchanged for their greenbacks, brought about a change, and by degrees they became quite affable. They seemed very ignorant, and confused Texans with Mexicans.

After leaving Lawley pretty comfortable, I walked about the town and witnessed the pressing operations of Moses and his myrmidons. Neither the Mayor nor the corporation were to be found anywhere, nor were the keys of the principal stores forthcoming until Moses began to apply the axe. The citizens were lolling about the streets in a listless manner, and showing no great signs of discontent. They had left to their women the task of resisting the commissaries — a duty which they were fully competent to perform. No soldiers but those on duty were visible in the streets.

In the evening I called again to see Lawley, and found in his room an Austrian officer, in the full uniform of the Hungarian hussars. He had got a year's leave of absence, and has just succeeded in crossing the Potomac, though not without much trouble and difficulty. When he stated his intention of wearing his uniform, I explained to him the invariable custom of the Confederate soldiers, of never allowing the smallest peculiarity of dress or appearance to pass without a torrent of jokes, which, however good-humoured, ended in becoming rather monotonous.

I returned to camp at 6 P.M. Major Moses did not get back till very late, much depressed at the illsuccess of his mission. He had searched all day most indefatigably, and had endured much contumely from the Union ladies, who called him “a thievish little rebel scoundrel,” and other opprobrious epithets. But this did not annoy him so much as the manner in which everything he wanted had been sent away or hidden in private houses, which he was not allowed by General Lee's order to search. He had only managed to secure a quantity of molasses, sugar, and whisky. Poor Moses was thoroughly exhausted; but he endured the chaff of his brother officers with much good-humour, and they made him continually repeat the different names he had been called. He said that at first the women refused his Confederate “trash” with great scorn, but they ended in being very particular about the odd cents.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 247-50

Friday, September 30, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Friday, June 26, 1863

I got up a little before daylight, and, notwithstanding the drenching rain, I secured our horses, which, to my intense relief, were present. But my horse showed a back rapidly getting worse, and both looked “mean” to a degree. Lawley being ill, he declined starting in the rain, and our host became more and more surly when we stated our intention of remaining with him. However, the sight of real gold instead of Confederate paper, or even greenbacks, soothed him wonderfully, and he furnished us with some breakfast. All this time M'Laws's division was passing the door; but so strict was the discipline, that the only man who loafed in was immediately pounced upon and carried away captive. At 2 P.M., the weather having become a little clearer, we made a start, but under very unpromising circumstances. Lawley was so ill that he could hardly ride; his horse was most unsafe, and had cast a shoe; — my animal was in such a miserable state that I had not the inhumanity to ride him; — but, by the assistance of his tail, I managed to struggle through the deep mud and wet. We soon became entangled with M'Laws's division, and reached the Potomac, a distance of nine miles and a half, at 5 P.M.; the river is both wide and deep, and in fording it (for which purpose I was obliged to mount) we couldn't keep our legs out of the water. The little town of Williamsport is on the opposite bank of the river, and we were now in Maryland. We had the mortification to learn that Generals Lee and Longstreet had quitted Williamsport this morning at 11 o'clock, and were therefore obliged to toil on to Hagerstown, six miles farther. This latter place is evidently by no means Rebel in its sentiments, for all the houses were shut up, and many apparently abandoned. The few natives that were about stared at the troops with sulky indifference.

After passing through Hagerstown, we could obtain no certain information of the whereabouts of the two generals, nor could we get any willing hospitality from any one; but at 9 P.M., our horses being quite exhausted, we forced ourselves into the house of a Dutchman, who became a little more civil at the sight of gold, although the assurance that we were English travellers, and not Rebels, had produced no effect. I had walked to-day, in mud and rain, seventeen miles, and I dared not take off my solitary pair of boots, because I knew I should never get them on again.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 239-41

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Diary of Corporal Charles H. Lynch: September 2, 1864

A very pleasant morning. Now wondering why we still remain in the woods. Believe the enemy must be in this vicinity in a strong force. Wrote several letters to friends at home. Later a surprise came when orders came to fall in for pay, the Paymaster having shown up in our camp. Too much money for a fellow to carry while in front of the enemy. The Confeds liked to get hold of greenbacks. We usually sent money home by the Adams Express Company. The men with families were very anxious to send money home. All I send home is banked for me. Men of families often worry and wonder how they are getting along at home, as they must wait for the money, which comes very slow and not very much of it for men with families.

SOURCE: Charles H. Lynch, The Civil War Diary, 1862-1865, of Charles H. Lynch 18th Conn. Vol's, p. 119

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Woman's Diary Of The Siege Of Vicksburg: July 4, 1863

It is evening. All is still. Silence and night are once more united. I can sit at the table in the parlor and write. Two candles are lighted. I would like a dozen. We have had wheat supper and wheat bread once more. H––– is leaning back in the rocking-chair; he says:

"G–––, it seems to me I can hear the silence, and feel it, too. It wraps me like a soft garment; how else can I express this peace?" But I must write the history of the last twenty-four hours. About five yesterday afternoon, Mr. J–––, H–––'s assistant, who, having no wife to keep him in, dodges about at every change and brings us the news, came to H––– and said:

“Mr. L–––, you must both come to our cave to-night. I hear that to-night the shelling is to surpass everything yet. An assault will be made in front and rear. You know we have a double cave; there is room for you in mine, and mother and sister will make a place for Mrs. L–––. Come right up; the ball will open about seven."

We got ready, shut up the house, told Martha to go to the church again if she preferred it to the cellar, and walked up to Mr. J–––'s. When supper was eaten, all secure, and ladies in their cave night toilet, it was just six, and we crossed the street to the cave opposite. As I crossed a mighty shell flew screaming right over my head. It was the last thrown into Vicksburg. We lay on our pallets waiting for the expected roar, but no sound came except the chatter from neighboring caves, and at last we dropped asleep. I woke at dawn stiff. A draught from the funnel-shaped opening had been blowing on me all night. Every one was expressing surprise at the quiet. We started for home and met the editor of the “Daily Citizen.” H––– said:

“This is strangely quiet, Mr. L–––.”

“Ah, sir,” shaking his head gloomily, “I'm afraid (?) the last shell has been thrown into Vicksburg.”

“Why do you fear so?”

“It is surrender. At six last evening a man went down to the river and blew a truce signal; the shelling stopped at once.”

When I entered the kitchen a soldier was there waiting for the bowl of scrapings (they took turns for it).

“Good-morning, madam,” he said; “we won't bother you much longer. We can’t thank you enough for letting us come, for getting this soup boiled has helped some of us to keep alive, but now all this is over.”

“Is it true about the surrender?”

“Yes; we have had no official notice, but they are paroling out at the lines now, and the men in Vicksburg will never forgive Pemberton. An old granny! A child would have known better than to shut men up in this cursed trap to starve to death like uselessvermin.” His eyes flashed with an insane fire as he spoke. “Haven't I seen my friends carted out three or four in a box, that had died of starvation ! Nothing else, madam! Starved, to death because we had a fool for a general”

“Don't you think you're rather hard on Pemberton? He thought it his duty to wait for Johnston.”

“Some people may excuse him, ma'am. Bit we'll curse him to our dying day. Anyhow, you'll see the blue-coats directly.”

Breakfast dispatched, we went on the upper gallery. What I expected to see was files of soldiers marching in, but it was very different. The street was deserted, save by a few people coming home bedding from their caves. Among these was a group taking home a little creature, born in a cave a few days previous, and its wan-looking mother. About eleven o'clock a man in blue came sauntering along, looking about curiously. Then two followed him, then another.

“H–––, do you think these can be the Federal soldiers?”

“Why, yes; here come more up the street.” Soon a group appeared on the court-house hill, and the flag began slowly to rise to the top of the staff. As the breeze caught it, and it sprang out like a live thing exultant, H––– drew a long breath of contentment.

“Now I feel once more at home in mine own country.”

In an hour more a grand rush of people setting toward the river began, —foremost among them the gentleman who took our cave; all were flying as if for life.

“What can this mean, H–––?Are the populace turning out to greet the despised conquerors?"

"Oh," said H–––, springing up. “look. It is the boats coming around the bend.”

Truly, it was a fine spectacle to see that fleet of transports sweep around the curve and anchor in the teeth of the batteries so lately vomiting fire. Presently Mr. J––– passed and called:

“Aren't you coming, Mr. L–––? There's provisions on those boats: coffee and flour. ‘First come, first served,’ you know.”

“Yes, I'll be there pretty soon,” replied H–––.

But now the new-comers began to swarm into our yard, asking H––– if he had coin to sell for greenbacks. He had some, and a little bartering went on with the new greenbacks. H––– went out to get provisions. When he returned a Confederate officer came with him. H went to the box of Confederate money and took out four hundred dollars, and the officer took off his watch, a plain gold one, and laid it on the table, saying, “We have not been paid, and I must get home to my family.” H––– added a five-dollar greenback to the pile, and wished him a happy meeting. The townsfolk continued to dash through the streets with their arms full, canned goods predominating. Towards five Mr. J––– passed again. “Keep on the lookout,” he said; “the army of occupation is coming along,” and in a few minutes the head of the column appeared. What a contrast to the suffering creatures we had seen so long were these stalwart, well-fed men, so splendidly set up and accoutered. Sleek horses, polished arms, bright plumes, — this was the pride and panoply of war. Civilization, discipline, and order seemed to enter with the measured tramp of those marching columns; and the heart turned with throbs of added pity to the worn men in gray, who were being blindly dashed against this embodiment of modern power. And now this “silence that is golden” indeed is over all, and my limbs are unhurt, and I suppose if I were Catholic, in my fervent gratitude, I would hie me with a rich offering to the shrine of “our Lady of Mercy.”

SOURCE: George W. Cable, “A Woman's Diary Of The Siege Of Vicksburg”, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, Vol. XXX, No. 5, September 1885, p. 774-5

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Lyman to Elizabeth Russell Lyman, December 3, 1864

December 3, 1864

At the end of each month, General Meade sends up his pay-rolls, that is, a large printed sheet which each officer fills up, stating what the Government owes him, and saying that he hasn't cheated Uncle Sam, and don't owe him anything and is all right generally. The pay department keeps this as a receipt and returns your money for the past month. Lieutenant-Colonel Woodruff gets the General's pay. One part he sends to Mrs. Meade and the rest he sends to the General, who, the moment that he gets it, sends violently for Mercier and John and everyone else to whom he is indebted, and pays them all, in hot haste, as if his last day were come. He is a thorough old soldier about money and regards greenbacks in a weak and helpless sort of way. “Once,” said he, “Mrs. Meade said it was my plain duty to go to market, as other gentlemen did: it would be so satisfactory and saving. I went the next morning. We had a famous dinner — oysters, terrapin, and lots of good things — the children were delighted; but, when I came to look, I found I had spent the week's allowance in one day! I wasn't allowed to go any more to market.” You would have laughed to see yesterday the crowd of contrabands that came in with Gregg. Usually, wherever they can, they cut and run, not showing that devotion to their masters described by the Southrons. It is sometimes rather remarkable the way they run off. Now in this lot (mostly women) there was all the way from a newly born baby to an old woman who, they told me, was over ninety, and who, from her looks, might very likely have been a hundred and fifty. The young women had their mistresses' things on, if I know myself. There was one Christian Commission kuss who went whining about and saying: “Oh! you are free, free! Oh! thank God for it!” “Look here, my friend,” said I, “if you want to show your Christian feeling, go and tell your commission to get these people something to eat; they have had nothing since yesterday.” The pious party took this with an ill grace, but was fain to walk off “to see our agent,” who, I hope, made some good soup for them.

SOURCE: George R. Agassiz, Editor, Meade’s Headquarters, 1863-1865: Letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox, p. 287-8

Friday, September 19, 2014

Diary of Private Alexander G. Downing: Friday, November 20, 1863

It is rainy and blustery today, but otherwise all is quiet. We received two months' pay, being paid in crisp new greenbacks. The paymaster always has a guard with him to guard the strong iron box containing the bills.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 153