AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER

From Appomattox to Georgia.

Diary of the three weeks’ trip of a party of Confederate soldiers from the scene of surrender to their homes in the empire state of the south.

 

By Lewis H. Andrews, Eighth Georgia Regiment Longstreet’s Corps, A.U.V.  From the Atlanta Journal, May 21, 1904.  pp. 6, 15.

 

            April 13, 1856.  Brigade started from Parole camp, about two miles west of Appomattox, C. H., Va., at 11 o’clock a. m. Tagged through mud and Yanks till about 3 p.m., when a number of us found ourselves behind the command.  Stopped to rest and made up a party of six for the trip, via E.N. Price, C.R. Smith, Wm. Davis, G. L. Dobbs, Co. I., and L. H. Andrews, sergeant major, Eighth regiment, and L.D. Wright, 3rd Georgia battalion.  Marched 19 miles and camped in Mr. Martin’s kitchen, where we prepared and ate supper and breakfast—the first bread since Sunday—from meal procured from a stray Yank on the road in exchange for half a canteen of whiskey.

          14th  Moved out at 7 o’clock this morning, feeling pretty bright.  Nothing of interest occurred until noon, when the party branched off in search of rations.  Found a mill, but couldn’t buy.  Miller had some private corn, but our “Confed shins” were not desirable.  Talk enough. Into the hopper went a half bushel of corn, and in a few moments we resumed our march, rejoicing in the possession of meal in abundance.  After marching 5 miles further we went into camp on the premises of Mrs. Merritt, who kindly loaned us cooking utensils, furnished us buttermilk, etc.  Forty miles on our way home.  Prospect of rain.

           15th  Went to sleep last night under a tree, but before morning were compelled to move to the barn on account of the rain until 4 o’clock, when we obtained permission from Mr. Murphy, of Pittsylvania country, to occupy an out-house for the night, a very comfortable place, with straw in abundance.  During the day crossed the Staunton river in a “dugout.”  Called on Captain Haley, just this side of river, and discoursed with the old genius on the state of the country, winding up by soliciting (for “Confed shins”) a few beans a little bacon, which by judicious argument and persuasion we succeeded in obtaining for nothing—the “shins” being considerably below par since the surrender.  Marched about 13 miles today, which is equal to 25 on a fair day.  It is now nearly night and beans and bread are rapidly preparing.  Boys discussing the possibility of finding through transportation at Greensboro. Long way home, but as we will not probably be exchanged very soon, will have an opportunity of enjoying the comforts of home for some time—when we get there.

            16th  Beautiful morning.  Started out after an early breakfast at a brisk gait, calling at mill near Burger’s store for breadstuffs, etc.  Nothing to be had but a pound or two of bacon.  Met another delegation from the from the Eighth.  Continued march on to Wright’s mill.  Several of our party called on Mr. Hubbard about midnight and prevailed and the old coon to fill a few canteens with “apple jack;” very good.  Plenty to eat and drink, and a good night’s rest.  Feel very well.
            17th  Another fine day.  After marching eighteen miles, heard of a place near Daniel’s ferry where refreshments were being dispensed to the worn out soldiers.  Hastened forward with the expectation of getting something good-but disappointment awaited us.  Arrived at the house just in time to hear that everything was out.  Succeeded in procuring a lot of onions (about a peck), which were fries and served up for supper.  Went down to the ferry and found boat on opposite side.  Exercised our lungs in shouting for the ferryman, and finally, with the aid of a young man in the neighborhood, succeeded in attracting his attention and were soon on the other shore.  Went into camp within a few hundred yards of the “Tar Heel” line.  The last night in the “Old Dominion”.  Do not regret leaving her borders under the circumstances.  Wonder when we will again be “carried back” to the noble old commonwealth?

            18th  Made an early start for Ruttin’s station, about nine miles distant.  Made it by 9 o’clock.  Rested a while until the train from Greensboro came up.  Conductor requested to carry us back to that place, but refused.  Council of war held in reference to “pressing” the transportation.  Considerable gas expended, but no conclusion arrived at.  Before the council adjourned train moved out for Danville, so the alternative of waiting for another train was left us.  In a short while another train from Greensboro hove in sight, but judging from the speed, will not make a halt.  Cries of “throw wood on the track” but what was everybody’s business was nobody’s, so the train, being thoroughly demoralized, went through a “kiting.”  Telegraph operator informed us that two trains for the river would soon be along.  Sure enough, one made its appearance, but so literally packed, inside, outside, and on top, that it was useless to attempt passage.

            A little later, however, two more trains going south, came up, and, although crowded, we succeeded by a strategic movement in getting aboard, and were soon on our way rejoicing.  Arrived at the river about 9 p.m., and then walked two miles to the station, where we camped for the night.   

            19th  A ride to Greensboro in a passenger coach, ten miles.  Putting on “style” immediately on our arrival, put out for commissary department.  Sent to parole camp, where we remained over night, and then proceeded to depot to seek further transportation.  Dame rumor busy.  Reports of every description rife-“Lincoln killed,” “Seward wounded,” “Jeff Davis captured,” “armistice ten days,” “armistice unlimited,” anything else desired.
              20th-Arrival of Dobbs with two sides of bacon-very opportune.  Bully breakfast.  Waited in vain for some time for a train, and finally concluded to foot it to the Atkins river, ten miles.  Moved out and arrived about sundown.  Addition of Dr. Willis and Ab King to our party.  After supper and a little war experience, turned in for the night.
            21st  Another futile wait for transportation.  Resolved to try the “old reliable” line again, so footed it five miles to High Point.  A train soon arrived from Salisbury.  Locomotive detached and proceeded on towards the river, leaving train behind.  Took possession of the establishment and remained till morning.  Rumors of engine breaking down and no more transportation.  General Beauregard’s speech-Peace and the old constitution-Lincoln’s death confirmed.  Also, rumors of war with England and France-boy’s swear they won’t fight for “Uncle Sam.”

            22nd  Engine returned at 6 o’clock and we made an early start for Salisbury, where we arrived about 11 o’clock.  Rations and further transportation promised, but after waiting patiently for some time for the eatables, were informed, through the duck-legged lieutenant, that we could get none, and must also walk to China Grove station, nine miles, there to await a train.  Left the place in disgust, and poled out for the station mentioned.  Went to roost in a pile of straw.

            23rd   About sun-up train for Charlotte hove in sight, and our party prepared to take passage, but on finding that it was literally packed-on top and everywhere else-we were compelled to lay-over for another opportunity.  Foragers start out, but only succeeded in getting two canteens of milk.  Plans for capturing a chicken roost.  Rumors of raid through Macon, Ga., which caused considerable anxiety.  A dull day-nothing of interest occurring.  No train at bed time.  We resolve to move out in the morning, by rail of the “old reliable” line, and again take lodgings in the straw pile.

            24th  We marched out before sunrise, moving briskly.  Stopped at several places for breakfast, but without success, and reached Concord station, after a tramp of thirteen miles, by 11 o’clock, when some of the party cook breakfast and others proceeded half a mile to a commissary and drew one day’s rations of bacon and syrup.  After breakfast is over we rested a while and considered the advisability of going forward on foot, but finally concluded to delay such a move in the hope that another train would come down.  After waiting some time one made it s appearance, but so jammed that it seemed useless to attempt to board it, so as the day was rapidly passing, it was deemed advisable to remain there till morning.  Borrowed utensils and went to work cooking to kill time-and for other purposes.  Another good bed of straw.
            25th  Arose early, and after a fine breakfast of spare ribs and bread, we poled out for Charlotte (twenty-one miles), which place we reached at 8 o’clock.  When about half way a train passed us on which there was spare room, but its speed was too great for us to attempt a passage, and so we trudged along.  We were partially repaid for our disappointment by securing a nice lunch of light bread, butter, pie, milk etc.  A charge on the naval stores at Charlotte was in progress when we arrived.  Too late to draw rations.  Went to depot and found train that would leave in the morning, so took lodging in pile of cotton near by, to be convenient.  Rumor of armistice out tomorrow at 12 o’clock.
            26th  Up by daylight; a ride to the Catawba river, 21 miles, arriving at 11 o’clock.  Crossed the river on a flat, and proceeded to cook.  Managed to get our bread “done enough to eat raw,” when the train backed in and we mounted for a ride to Blackstock, or as far as possible.  Arrived at the station about 3 o’clock and immediately sought the quarters of an old negro woman whose services were secured in preparing a pot of rice, which with the sorghum furnished by the old man, made a very good supper.  The old woman baked us some rice bread for breakfast.  Two of the boys, being minus blankets, slept in the house, while the balance of the party took lodging under a neighboring pine.

           27th  After a good night’s rest, started at sunrise and marched rapidly until 9 o’clock, when we halted for breakfast.  Took a short cut, stepping at a negro house, and exchanging rice for a meal.  Also procured a few peas.  Moved on a few miles and took dinner at Widow (Roberts), a very hospitable lady, in Fairfield district, after which our march was continued to Monticello, where the boys have taken quarters in an empty house, and are preparing a supper of peas and bread as of write.  Marched 19 miles today.  Price dressed and cooked a young crow, which be and Dr. Willis ate and pronounced fine.  The balance of us are willing to take their word for it.

          28th  Arose early and marched to the river (five miles) by half-past 7.  Passed the ruins of the splendid mansion of William Aliston, destroyed by the Yankees.  Shrubbery still in good order; flowers in bloom.  Crossed the river in a bateau-$1 a head.  Two of the boys moved on ahead in search in search of eatables.  Party proceeded about four miles from ferry, and stopped at a farm house to have bread baked.  Old Andy pretty “near” and it required no little diplomacy to induce her to undertake the job, but after we had gotten her started she opened her heart and her pantry, and after setting a table for us, supplied us with milk and syrup to go with our bread.  Took a short cut and reached the station in about a mile, where we found a crowd of “rebs” in waiting.  Train came up in due season, and all hands succeeded in finding room.  Road in good order, and we had quite a pleasant ride to Newberry Courthouse, reaching there at 3 o’clock.  Put out immediately to discourse the commissary, and secured “seconds” and meat.  Grand charge on the quartermaster’s stores.  Jeans and Lomesoun in abundance, to which we helped ourselves, for we thought that the men who bore the brunt of war at the front were more entitled to those things than the bomb-proof chaps who didn’t know how gun powder smelt.  Provost guard made search for the goods, but succeeded in recovering only a small portion.  Lodge in a cabinet workshop.

          29th  Up early and had breakfast of biscuit and ham.  Train backed in and we secured seats on a crowded flat car.  At 8:30 the iron horse sounded his trumpet and away we went for the junction of the Abbeville railroad.  A delightful ride through a beautiful section of country.  Preparations for an out-door party-pound cake and pretty girls-very tempting to an old war-worn “reb.”  Engineer didn’t give us a chance for an invitation.  Of course we wouldn’t have accepted (?)  Remained at the junction a while and enjoyed a seat up to Abbeville in a passenger coach.  Have just arrived and some of the boys are off to draw rations.  Our commissary department must be attended to.  Quite a number of paroled soldiers in town.  Some have already started on their march to Washington, Ga.  Our party decided to go out a few miles before camping for the night.  Rain overtook us when a mile from town.  Stopped at a house for shelter, but as the hospitality was so threadbare we left immediately, continuing our march a mile further, when we asked permission of Mrs. Norwood to occur an out-house for the night:  in answer to which she cordially invited us in and placed a comfortable room at our disposal.  She also sent us at supper time some nice things from her table, with “crockery store” plates to eat from.  Mrs. N. is a noble specimen of the South Carolina matron, and her residence and surroundings are as handsome and tasteful as heart could wish.  Last, but not least, Mrs. N has a beautiful and accomplished daughter-Miss Willie, who passed us near town on horseback and alone, but doubtless feeling pretty secure while the country was filled with the veterans of Lee.  How I wish for some “good harness,” that I might endeavor to do justice to the occasion.  These are God’s people and will ever have a warm place in our memory.

          30th  A clear morning.  Up and off before sunrise.  Marched 5 miles and stopped for breakfast.  Shortly afterwards as unloaded wagon train for Washington, Ga., came in sight and we succeeded in having our baggage hauled to the Savannah river.  Feeling very light, we easily marched 19 miles by 3 o’clock, at which time the train stopped for camp.  It is a little early for us to stop, but the prospect is good for further transportation tomorrow, and we have done enough for one day.  On Georgia soil once more.  It seems like home.  With good luck we will all be at home in a few days.

          May 1st  Made an early start and the road being fine we traveled rapidly.  A great change in hospitality.  Called at three different houses for breakfast, but without avail.  The rich young widow C. was kind enough to let the soldiers have buttermilk at one dollar per pint!  A well-to-do farmer charged five dollars for cooking a dozen biscuit, the flour furnished by the soldier.  We got disgusted and made no further effort to get dinner.  Reached Washington about 2 o’clock and went to “Wayside,” where a good meal was being prepared.  Colonel Dunwoody is in charge, and that is sufficient guarantee that a Confederate soldiers will always find a hearty welcome there.  Drew rations of “hard tack” and bacon, and, after dinner, went to depot and took train for Barnett station, 20 miles distant, arriving about sundown.  Learned that the Augusta train would pass down about 11 and the Atlanta train at 1 o’clock at night.  Were also informed that pay and clothing could be drawn in Augusta.  Our wardrobes being in bad condition, Dr. Willis and the writer concluded to go down.

          May 2nd  Arrived at Augusta about daylight and found the prospect poor for getting a new outfit, as the quartermaster’s stores had been raided the day before.  Stored our baggage and walked around.  Ran across some friends who had been in the charge just mentioned and were supplied with a complete outfit, including shoes, which latter I was especially in need of as I had completely worn out a pair of English make, which were new when we started from Appomattox.  Look and felt better.  Left Augusta at half past six in the afternoon.  Bid the doctor good-bye at Greensboro, and continued my trip toward home the last one of our party.

          May 3rd  Arrived at Atlanta without incident and proceeded to draw rations and have them cooked.  My first view of the devastation wrought by Sherman.  Considerable excitement after night.  Plotting against the quartermaster and commissary departments.  Remarks by General Humphrey Marshall.  Went to bed on a flat car.

         May 4th  Left Atlanta this morning at six o'clock, and had an unpleasant ride in the dust.  Were delayed on the way for an hour or so, and finally reached Macon at 3 o'clock.  Found a squad of Yanks at depot to examine papers, but by a "sleight" I managed to evade them and walked off home without further delay.  Found family looking for me.  An affect ional greeting--home again.

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Note.  We had not then realized that the war was really over.