March 4th, 1865.—We went yesterday and it was just too funny. Jordan came to the door at eight o’clock and sent Robert in, to tell us he was ready to take us to town. We were sitting at breakfast table but made haste to go and when we reached the carriage, Sister Mart declared she would not ride behind such a team. She was willing to ride behind mules, but not such mules as those which had been selected. Father said these were the only perfectly safe ones and we must use them. It was fun enough to watch those mules. One is a large yellow mule, quite the largest I have ever seen, the other is a very small one, rejoicing in the name of “Kits.” She is of a shiny black contrasting well with Robert’s dirt-colored sides. “Kits” and “Robert,” in place of the sleek, satiny steeds of two days ago. Kits has a striking peculiarity, she has unusually long ears and they always point in opposite directions. Jordan had attempted to make the harness fit but it did not speak well for his skill. At last Sister Mart was induced to get in the carriage and off we went. Our team traveled well and we were becoming somewhat reconciled, when we reached town and were opposite the postoffice. Here our new horses (?) met a wagon from Horse-shoe Plantation, drawn by some of their acquaintances. Such a greeting as they gave them, such braying, such rapid movements of Kit’s long ears and the answer from the plantation team, woke the echoes. By this time a crowd had collected and Sister Mart burst into tears. I was sorry for her but my sympathies are mostly for Mother. She, for the first time in her life has no horses. I understand that Mother’s pets are to serve in Houstoun’s Battery.
Every day brings us news of fresh atrocities in Georgia. We come next, what our fate will be none may know. Last week, near La Grange, an old gentleman, over eighty, was taken from his home and carried miles away to a swamp. Here he was found two days later, bound hand and foot to a sapling, which had been bent and allowed to spring back. The poor old man was almost dead when he was cut down and died before they reached a place where a doctor could be had. This gentleman’s only offense was, that he would not tell where his daughter’s jewels were hidden, she was not at home and when she returned she found her house in ashes and her father dead. Why cannot the Yankees act in an honorable manner as General Lee’s men do?
Five miles south of Cheraw, S. C, March 3, 1865.
General Wood says we have made 24 miles to-day. Our whole corps on one road and hardly a check all day. This is Thompson’s Creek, and the Rebels under Hardee thoroughly fortified it. Logan’s orders are to carry the works to-morrow, but as usual the Rebels have left. The 17th A. C. took Cheraw this p.m. without a fight, getting 27 pieces of field artillery, 3,000 stands of small arms, besides a great deal of forage.
There were only two or three small farms on the road today. Poorest country I have seen yet. An intelligent prisoner captured to-day says that Kilpatrick has taken Charlotte, N. C., and that Lee is evacuating Richmond. Saw the sun to-day; had almost forgotten there was such a luminary.
Chattanooga, Friday, March 3. On guard. Very wet day. Rained all day and night. Mail arrived with a letter from T. L. All very well with the exception of dear mother. She still is suffering severely. How much longer can her frail nature withstand it? It is hard to give her up here and never more to see her loving face. Must she go without welcoming her Jenk’s return? But still I feel it would be better for her to leave her troubles and sufferings, and go to the land where her treasures are, there to enjoy endless day.
St. Helena Village, S.C., March 3, 1865.
I just scribble a note to thank you all, tell you I am well, and that I am, as you suppose, busy distributing to the refugees. We clothed about one hundred almost naked and entirely filthy people, who had had no change of clothing for months, and who had generally been very ill. Then the supply stopped. There arrived just five boxes and a barrel for me, and these we gave. But no other boxes have come since, and the people come to our yard and stand mute in their misery, not annoying me with questions, but just watching me to see if I have any news of the coming clothing for them. There some of them stand nearly every morning when I go to school, and there they are when we come home. I believe there are some boxes for me and many for Mr. Tomlinson at the Head, but the storm, we suppose, has cut off the supply of coal, and the steamers cannot bring them up. For the same reason no rations could be brought up for them, and there has been something very like starvation here. I have, fortunately, had some money of Mr. Wright’s, and I have bought rice from Mr. Ruggles, and to avoid actually giving to beggars, have only supplied such as Hastings designated as starving, except in a few cases where we had personal knowledge of the people. I think the little grits and rice we have given have kept soul and body together more than once. They have found out that we will buy moss from the trees for our cow who, stupid beast, will not eat hay.
I am elected superintendent of the Philadelphia schools and agent for the Pennsylvania Freedmen’s Relief Association down here.
My box has not come, nor the schooner been heard of. This stormy weather has kept it out, I suspect. Thank H. for both drafts.
What a pleasure my life is!
Friday, 3rd—It is still raining. We left our dismal camp at 7 a. m. and marched eleven miles, going into bivouac near Cheraw. The First Division of the Seventeenth Corps drove the rebels out of their works on Thompson creek and on through Cheraw and across the Great Pedee river. They captured seventeen cannon, three thousand stand of small arms and a number of prisoners. Cheraw is quite a business town and had been a manufacturing center for the rebel army. It is at the head of navigation on the Great Pedee river and has a railroad running to Charleston, South Carolina.
March 3d.—Raining and cold. This morning there was another arrival of our prisoners on parol, and not yet exchanged. Many thousands have arrived this week, and many more are on the way. How shall we feed them? Will they compel the evacuation of the city? I hope not. Capt. Warner, Commissary-General, is here again; and if assigned to duty, has sufficient business qualifications to collect supplies.
Thank God, I have some 300 pounds of flour and half that amount of meal—bread rations for my family, seven in number, for more than two months! I have but 7½ pounds of meat; but we can live without it, as we have often done. I have a bushel of peas also, and coal and wood for a month. This is a guarantee against immediate starvation, should the famine become more rigorous, upon which we may felicitate ourselves.
Our nominal income has been increased; amounting now to some $16,000 in paper—less than $300 in specie. But, for the next six months (if we can stay here), our rent will be only $75 per month—a little over one dollar; and servant hire, $40—less than eighty cents.
It is rumored that Gen. Early has been beaten again at Waynesborough, and that the enemy have reached Charlottesville for the first time. Thus it seems our downward career continues. We must have a victory soon, else Virginia is irretrievably lost.
Two P.M. The wind has shifted to the south; warm showers.
Three P.M. It is said they are fighting at Gordonsville; whether or not the enemy have Charlottesville is therefore uncertain. I presume it is an advance of Sheridan’s cavalry whom our troops have engaged at Gordonsville.
New Market, S. C., March 2, 1865.
A disagreeable, half drizzle, half sprinkle, all last night and to-day. Our brigade in advance and made 10 miles. Poor country, but pretty well settled. Many of the men have had no breadstuffs for three days. They drew two days of hardbread February 18th, and have foraged everything else we have had since. Don’t know when we draw again. Still have our 8 days of “tack” in the wagons. We will get plenty of forage again to-morrow. Can hear nothing of the enemy. We left Darlington 20 miles on our right to-day and will probably strike the Peedee near Society Hill.
Colonel Lyon’s Letters.
Huntsville, Ala., March 2, 1865.—I write this morning in the office, surrounded by a crowd of officers, therefore can write but little. I do not hear a word from my application for leave for you to visit me. The failure to answer is equivalent to a refusal, and I fear that we must give it up. There may be a good reason, but I do not believe it, yet we are compelled in this service to endure a good many annoying and humiliating things.
I see the people North are in high spirits over the evacuation of Charleston and Wilmington, etc. I am entirely unable to see the importance of these evacuations to us. I can not see that these movements will have much influence in closing the war. We must crush and destroy their armies before the war will end, and we are making but little headway in that direction in the East. But we must be patient, and if there is another year of heavy fighting we must not be surprised or disheartened. We are bound to conquer in the end.
Chattanooga, Thursday, March 2. Rained fine and constant all night and all day, but we are dry and comfortable in our bed of sawdust. Read Tennyson’s new poem Enoch Arden this forenoon, and think it one of the finest poems I have ever read in English. Wrote to T. L. and read an old Atlantic Monthly in the afternoon. No mail for me.
Thursday, 2d—Still in camp. It was misty all day. One of our rebel prisoners was shot today at corps headquarters. He had to pay the penalty for the rebels’ treatment of one of our men, from Company H, Thirty-fourth Illinois, whom they held as a prisoner and shot without provocation. When the prisoners at our headquarters were told that one of them had to pay the penalty, they drew lots, and it fell to a middle-aged man to die. The man was given time to write a letter to his family and then after bidding his comrades farewell, he was led out and shot.