Thursday, April 30, 2015

"Who will take care of them this winter?"

Widow, in her, "weeds", of a Confederate soldier. Her fatherless baby is on her lap.

Sunday, April 30, 1865, Lancaster, South Carolina

Where to begin I know not. There has been so very, very much happening that I am afraid that I will miss recording much of it and it will be lost from my memory forever. I am quite drunk but not from any alcoholic imbibing. My senses, not my body is reeling from all kinds of experiences, and I certainly must look drunk as a judge.

Two days ago, we marched into Catawba, in York County had camped for the night there. It is not a very big town but might be considered by some to be big for these parts. Just before we halted, we came across a Yankee brigade looking for our fugitive president. They saw all of our armament and could have thought that we were looking for trouble. Somehow, they recognized us for what we were and no exchange of musketry occurred. They're officers were quite kind to us and ordered their commissary officers to transfer the contents of their wagons to our haversacks. This act was very generous of them.

Brigadier General William Palmer, shown here as a junior officer. It was his brigade that supplied the Confederates while on their way to Chester.

While they were not hostile or rude to us, they spoke of the president and his party in very unfriendly terms. There was talk of executions for the last members of the Confederate government as they were thought to be responsible for the death of Lincoln. Some of the Yankees said that they hoped that their new president, Johnson, would place bounties on the heads of the fugitives. None of us believed that the hunted parties had anything to do with the death on Lincoln. These men, after all, are proper Southern gentlemen. Or so we like to believe.

The brigade broke up in Catawba. The division dissolved some time ago. We lost all the North Carolinians from the division before we crossed into South Carolina. The Georgia regiments busted off from the rest of the division to hurry on before we got here. The division, once known as the Light Division, commanded by Hill, then Pender, then Wilcox, is now gone forever. It will continue to exist in our hearts and minds but never again will it take its' rightful place on the field.

The same holds true for the brigade. Some parts of regiments departed for the eastern part of the state. Those of us remaining in Catawba have further to go, some all the way to Charleston. It may have ben a mistake not to go with the Georgians as I will end up almost in Georgia myself. But if I were to do that, I would be parting company with my own regiment and company. I am not yet ready to do that.

Like the division, the brigade of Gregg and then McGowan will pass into history books yet to be written.

Yesterday, Saturday, the brigade, or what was left of it, halted its' march in Chester, the seat of Chester County. We wanted to refresh ourselves so we would look our best when we marched into Lancaster. Not everyone wanted to halt. Many wished to push on through as they still had a ways to go. Chester is not even a days' march from Lancaster. We were close enough to make the distance in quick fashion and not look fatigued.

We spent our time cleaning our rifles and leathers, our uniforms and ourselves. The latter we accomplished as best we could given the scarcity of good soap. All of us broke out our housewives and worked needle and thread like tailors. Everyone contributed buttons and patching materials where needed.

Items of uniforms that were past resurrection were tossed aside and replaced with new or gently worn items. I saw this and, being the old man of the company, admonished everyone to save everything not thought worthy of saving. We were not familiar with the conditions at home and those unknown conditions may necessitate that every sock, every shirt and hat may someday be needed. I gave up a good shirt to Hancock and he donated a good pair of socks to Will Crenshaw.

We took care of each other during this war and we did so one last time.

We woke up this morning and bolted down our breakfast. One last time, the drummers sounded the long roll. We formed up and went off towards Lancaster. Our officers admonished us all during the line of march to maintain a full military demeanor at all times. Even when we reached Lancaster, our orders were not to break ranks should we see our wives or sweethearts. Not everyone could maintain themselves nor could anyone really expect them to.

As the war was still going on, although not for us, there were a good number of our Southern flags on display from homes and shops. The people who turned out to greet their returning veterans were not so many but they were cheering for all they were worth. Sometimes, a wife or perhaps a sweetheart would race from the crowd to embrace her loved one.

We marched in the best of formations into the town square. I can only guess that there were some four hundred of the brigade present and accounted for. Some well-intentioned lads made up a rudimentary backwater band. They played what they knew and I recognized very little of it. No one cared. Some long-winded politician spoke to us and tried our patience with his verbosity. He was sincere, though sincere.

While were were restraining the urge to bust out of the traces, Terry bumped me and motioned my attention to some in the crowd. Amidst the civilians were soldiers on crutches, missing legs. Some waved with their one and only arm. Others could hear but not see through their bandages around their eyes. It was sad to see them but we knew they performed their duty. A number of women were in their weeds with fatherless children by their side.  Who will take care of them this winter?

Just when we reached the end of our endurance, Captain Kerr spoke to us. He said that Company I and Company E, being from this area and having fulfilled our obligations to the cause, were dismissed until further notice, to the care and custody of the people. There was such a cheer. The rest of us were marched to an open field not far away.

All those in the two companies flew straight into the arms of their loved ones. I had no one. Troy Crenshaw took me under his wing and introduced me to his wife, Haseltine. She is quite a handsome woman and he is lucky to have her. It was she who made the invitation to me that I should rest and sup with them until I should decide to leave. Will Crenshaw came along, as well.

Their abode was modest, as befits a worker of the soil. We sat at the table where thanks after thanks were offered. And then we broke bread. Not much more was offered but no one cared. The menfolk told our war stories of which we had many. Miz Hasteline offered up her stories, too. The home folk did not have it easy during this war. That holds true for the farmer, laborer and mechanic class, but not so much, if at all for the planters.

As there was no room inside the cabin, I was offered the loft in their barn which smells of something having been burnt in here recently. How much longer will I stay here?

I Send You These Few Lines

When I did the research for this particular diary entry, I went to the Library of Congress. The Library has a very good collection of old newspapers that can be read online. I wanted to read the 1865 newspapers for the area that the 12th South Carolina came from to find out what sort of receptions the returning soldiers received. It was a great disappointment to find nothing on the subject. The brigade historian stated that the regiments were all in their home districts by early May. I examined newspapers from late April through early June and found not a word. Zero.

Hence, the description of the march into the square in Lancaster and the cheering people is pure fiction. I'd like to think that they received some sort of welcome.

Troy Crenshaw and Hasteltine O. Crenshaw were married before the war, on August 6, 1859. She passed on July 3, 1870.

The war was hard on division and brigade officers. A.P. Hill was killed during the breakthrough at Petersburg in April of 1865. Dorsey Pender was killed at Gettysburg in 1863. Maxey Gregg was killed at Fredericksburg in 1862. Others, like Cadmus Wilcox and Samuel McGowan were wounded.

Dorsey Pender, Light Division commander.

Maxey Gregg, division commander.

A.P. Hill, division and later, corps commander.

Cadmus Wilcox, division commander.

Brigade commander Samuel McGowan.

The regimental and company officers were just as likely to become casualties. Regimental commanders John Miller, Edwin Bookter and Dixon Barnes were all killed. Company commander William Stover was wounded and later transferred to the South Carolina reserves. He was captured during the breakthrough at Petersburg.

The enlisted ranks suffered the most. For the 12th South Carolina Regiment, 213 were killed in combat. Another 182 died of disease. All deaths, including the officers, totaled  514, from all causes.

For the five-regiment brigade, known as Gregg's and later McGowan's, deaths totaled 2,419. Another 3,735 were wounded. The war was a bloody affair for all concerned.

Davis and his party are near the Yorkville, South Carolina area.

Tooms asks an interesting question. How much longer will he stay in Lancaster?

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Shooting Yankee cavalry has always been good sport."

An unidentified Confederate image from the Library of Congress. He wears his Union belt plate upside down as some  Southern soldiers did to thumb their nose at the Old Union.

Thursday, April 27, 1865, south of the Catawba River near Rock Hill

We are so close that we can smell it and taste it, the sweet sensations of home. The brigade is in York County. Lancaster County is but two counties away. While I am joyful for my comrades, their journey is short and mine is long. I still have to travel to nearly the Georgia border and I do not know quite how I shall make it. My comrades have no reason to leave their home county so I might have to travel alone.

The people of South Carolina have turned out for us. While some of the North Carolinians were decent, the further south in their state we marched, the more hostile the populace became. South Carolinians have bent over backwards to make us feel welcome. This comes from the state that started it all some four years ago. There has been a lot of water under the bridge as well as blood.

The Yankees have hit this area and not that long ago. We had to cross the Catawba on a pontoon at Nation's Ford because the railroad bridge had been burned by Yankee raiders. Some of the timbers were still smoldering. The river was running high due to the rains. We were all downhearted at the thought of postponing our home arrival for a few days.

The sound of approaching hoofbeats broke us out of our melancholy. Without waiting for orders, we went straight into line, our front facing towards the sound. Those who had rifles were in the front ranks, those without were in the rear and there were few of us were without rifles. We hoped they were cavalry, some of the raiders who have been terrorizing the local people. Shooting Yankee cavalry has always been good sport.

They must have heard our officers barking commands as we could hear the horsemen slow down. We could not yet see anyone but we heard two or there of them peel off from the rest and come closer rather slowly. Once they broke cover, we could see that they were Confederates. But were they regular soldiers or bandits? Should we lower our rifles?

A captain identified himself as part of he escort for President Davis and his party. The captain, "requested", that we come to assist the party across the river. Captain Bell volunteered us and off we went. Lucky for us, the party was not far away.

It was such a sight as I will never see again. On the wrong bank of the river stood our President and his cabinet. I recognized only Benjamin, the Israelite, and Breckenridge, who used to command troops in the field. The party had several wagons, a number of mules and some horses plus the escort.

We put our backs into it and got them across, piece by piece. To his credit, the President allowed his back to be worked like that of a field hand. Benjamin could not move anything except his own copious self. His sole exertion was puffing on an endless number of cigars.

Jefferson Davis.

Judah P. Benjamin.
John C Breckinridge.

After everyone and everything was finally across and encamped, numerous fires were built so that we could all dry out. The President went from fire to fire to chat with us. He did not speak of politics or higher planes. He spoke like one man commonly speaks to another. We stayed the night around our fires but the President and his party resumed their march, or rather, flight, after a few hours rest.

While we were helping the party across, I could not but help thinking that something looked familiar about the place. Only while sitting around the fire with my pards did it dawn on me.  This was the Carolina Road, the path that I had taken on my journey from Virginia to South Carolina back in '58. I had left Virginia via the Wagon Road which eventually took me here. It is certainly a small world.

I Send You These Few Lines

In the last Greyback Diary posting, I had mentioned that there was a reason for repeated mentions of the fleeing Davis party in the last several postings. At first, I wasn't going to include the Davis party as it was immaterial to Tooms' story. Then I read a very good book about the story of Jefferson Davis and his refugee party from the fall of Richmond to Davis' capture and imprisonment.The book is, "The Long Surrender", by Burke Davis.

In the book, it mentions the place where the Davis party crossed the Catawba River and it rang a bell. The Carolina Road, presently US 21, was a southerly extension of the Philadelphia Wagon Road, sometimes called the Great Wagon Road. The road ran from Philadelphia to the Yadkin Valley in South Carolina. The part now known as US 11 ran through Southwest Virginia where I used to live and work at a 3-century living history park, now defunct. When I read that in the book, I knew that I had to include it in the blog.

Virginia historical marker in Botetourt County.

Jefferson Davis has been sainted or condemned depending on the historian. So much of the ink spilled on Davis has been concerned with his role as President and commander-in-chief. I will not weigh in on that debate or diatribe. That's above my pay grade. That Davis had a human side is borne out in the book. Davis played marbles with children during the flight. Apparently, he was good at marbles.

One more thing about Davis. I'm not quite done with him. There are some more connections.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"The Yankees will shoot us first and ask questions later."

Lincoln, lying in state.

Tuesday, April 25, 1865, Concord, North Carolina.

It could be that the greatest calamity has befallen us. That man that during the war ewe called the, "Original Gorilla", has been murdered by an insane actor. While we disliked President Lincoln all during the war, when the surrender took place, we felt that we were being treated fairly. We are all aware that there are many in the North who wish all us Rebels shot, hung or worse. We could have been sent to a prisoner of war camp but instead, we were told to go home. Now that Lincoln is dead, the radicals in his government will come after us. I wish we had more men and some artillery.

President Abraham Lincoln.

We came to this place Sunday by foot the tracks south of Greensboro being destroyed by the Yankees. We will be here only as long as it takes to rest up for a short while, and get some supplies. Perhaps somewhere further south we will come across some tracks that have not been visited by Sherman's boys.

There are fewer sick among us these days. Surgeon Bailey has done yeoman service in attending to us. The closer we get to home, the more healthy we become. Soon, he will have nothing to do.

The further south we go, the more anxious, nay, fearful we become. There are so many of us now bearing arms that we no longer look like a paroled party returning home. We look every bit the part of a force still in the field. For all anyone knows, we are part of Joe Johnston's army. Should we run across any Yankees, they probably will not call upon us to halt and produce our paroles. The Yankees will shoot first and ask questions later.

Our decreasing numbers also give us cause for fretting. When we were the entire division, we were more secure. The Yankees would have to muster all their forces against us. Now, it is just us in the brigade that are left. I would guess, based on what I can see with my own eyes that we number less than a thousand, perhaps not even eight hundred. A small party of well-armed Yankees could do us great harm.

We who are left in the company have spent many an hour around the campfires talking about what we will do once we get back home. The farmers among us will return to that art called agriculture. They hope that their fields and animals are intact. It is a bit late to do Spring planting but for some crops, there is still time.

The farmers have gone around and around about what type of crops to plant. They are divided into two camps. One camp says that only foodstuffs should be planted lest starvation befall the families. The other side says that cash crops should be planted so as to be able to sell something to get back upon their feet as quick as possible. They will hunt deer to survive, they say. Not being a farmer, I cannot pass judgement upon the validity of either side. I can only say, having experienced great hunger during this war, that food, food, and more food should be the order of the day.

This is all fine for them but what about me? the rest of the company is from the up-country. I came from the coast to Columbia to join up. My home is several hundred miles beyond the up-country. My home has been occupied by the Yankees for almost the entire war. Once I get there, there may be absolutely nothing of mine left. I may be returning to take up the life of a beggar. I am not a young man anymore. The young bucks have years ahead to put their affairs in order. My days are numbered.

There was only one other soldier from my area who joined the company and he was given a discharge for medical reasons at Lynchburg two years ago.

Good old Hancock. He has offered me a job should I decide to stay in the up-country. I must return home to Beaufort. Once I have seen the old place, I can make up my mind as to what courts of action to take.

I think that we will reach Lancaster County in about five or six days. It will be another two weeks longer for me.

I Send You These Few Lines.

The soldier mentioned by Tooms as having come from his home area and later discharged at Lynchburg, Virginia was Josiah A. Luckey. He joined the 12th South Carolina in Beaufort County in October of 1861.

President Abraham Lincoln was shot on the 14th and passed on the 15th of April. Thanks to the collapse of Confederate communications and everything else in the doomed Confederacy, Tooms and his party are just now getting word. Tooms' statements about the death of Lincoln being very bad news for the South were not isolated. Several notable and influential Southerners felt the same way including:

Upon hearing of Lincoln's death, Jefferson Davis remarked, "I am sorry. We have lost our best friend in the court of the enemy"

The Presidential box in Ford's Theatre where Lincoln was shot.

Lincoln's chair inside the Presidential box.

Washington, D.C. actor John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Lincoln.

David Herold, co-conspirator.

George Atzerodt, co-conspirator.

Lewis Payne, co-conspirator.

Mary Surratt, co-conspirator?

Their fate.

Richard Mitchell Smoot, of Port Tobacco, Maryland. Un-indited co-conspirator?

Richard Mitchell Smoot is a distant relative of mine. At the beginning of the 20th Century, he wrote this book as a tell-all about his role in the assassination of President Lincoln. In his book, Smoot states that he sold a boat to John Surratt, son of Mary Surratt for $250 to be paid in full at some future time.The boat was to be used for a mysterious, unspecified purpose. Smoot turned over the boat to George Atzerodt, mistakenly called Armold in the book.

Surratt did not pay Smoot in what the latter thought was a timely manner, so he made several visits to the home of Mary Surratt in the hopes of getting what was due him. The book suggests but does not definitively claim that Mary had advance knowledge of the assassination. The book also suggests that there was a lot more to the conspiracy than what was publicly revealed and that he was one of only two people alive who knew the full truth.

I have read the book. It is available to read online if anyone has insomnia.

Jefferson Davis and his refugee party are in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The observant reader will have noticed that for the past several diary entries, I've been keeping tabs on where Jefferson Davis and his party are. Is there a reason for this?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Greensboro is full of mean people."

This image is of Private James W. McCulloch, Company E, (nicknamed DeKalb Light Infantry), 7th Georgia Infantry. He enlisted on May 12, 1862 in Decatur, Georgia. His military service was short. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas in August of 1862. He passed in November. This lock of hair could be his or a loved ones'.

Sunday, April 23 1865, Greensboro, North Carolina.

We arrived at this place on Friday last by rail. We could have marched the distance from Danville to here much quicker. We are very anxious to leave this place and that is not just because we desire to go home. We also desire to leave so that we may experience the pure joy of leaving.

Danville treated us poor, paroled veterans of Lee's army rather well. The towns folk did not have much but what they had they shared with us. The government warehouses were thrown open to us. We have not looked this good or have been this well-fed since we entered the Petersburg trenches last summer.

Greensboro has treated us very badly. The towns folk are hostile, rude and mean, downright mean. They want nothing to do with us. They are afraid to show us any mindless lest Sherman discover this and burn their town around their heads. Some of us would like to save Sherman the trouble. There have been some few people who do not treat us like curs but the majority wishes we were gone as soon as possible. Greensboro is full of mean people.

Many of the North Carolinians in the brigade have already parted company for home. We will be here only as long as it takes to rest up and get re-provisioned. Our wagons need some repairs and some of our animals could use being replaced by fresh ones. As far as our rations were concerned, we almost had to fight the local folks for them. There are also parties of soldiers, more outlaws than soldiers who have intimated that they would seize rations from the government warehouses. We have been called upon to provide guards for the warehouses. Many of us Lancaster Hornets, were caught up in the details. I was given a rifle from an ordnance officer in order to perform the guard duty. I do not intend to give it back.

I Send You These Few Lines

The bad treatment received in Greensboro is not made up. It has been documented in such works as, "The Long Surrender," by Burke Davis.

That the mob did not take control over the entire city is thanks to two Confederate officers, Major James R. Cole and Major S.R. Chisman. They stood up to the mob and saved most of the government stores. Chisman broke up a mob by threatening to apply a flaming torch to a barrel of gunpowder and killing everyone.

Chisman was a Virginian who served in the Quartermaster Corps in Greensboro for much of the war. A list bearing his name, dated February, 1865, showed 44 horses and 60 mules, all government property, and a wagon repair shop under his control at Greensboro. He surrendered with Joe Johnston on April 26, 1865, just a few days after this diary entry.

Cole's service record, on file at the National Archives, acknowledges his existence but offers no details.

The going-home Confederates are still following, knowingly or not, the Jefferson Davis party on their flight from Richmond. It was in Greensboro that the party was joined by John Breckenridge, former U.S. Vice-President, later Confederate general and now Secretary of War.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Confederate Secretary of War John Cabell Breckinridge, shown here as a Major General.

Also joining the party at Greensboro was Joseph Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. It was here that the party learned of Lee's surrender. While in Greensboro, this expanded party discussed the future of the Confederacy. Some few, including Davis, proposed to raise new armies and carry on the fight. The majority, including Johnston and Beauregard, advocated seeking terms. Davis, quite reluctantly, gave Johnston permission to talk to Sherman about surrender terms for Johnston's command.

Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard in a post-war view.

Confederate general J.E. Johnston, in a post-war image.

These are dangerous times. Deserters, Yankee cavalry, brigands, mobsters and others, operating outside the law, are everywhere. It is only a matter of time before some of them run into each other.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"My hand would not wobble."

This is one of the most commonly seen photographs of the Civil War. I have tried to avoid the more popular ones in favor of those which most people will never see but I'm running out of such photos. This is Andrew Martin Chandler and his slave, Silas Chandler. Silas does not belong to Andrew but, rather, to Andrew's mother who owned Silas and 35 other slaves. The mother sent Silas along to take care of Andrew and his brothers. Andrew was mustered into the army in July, 1861, as a private in Company F (Palo Alto Confederates), 44th Mississippi Infantry.  Andrew was captured at Shiloh, Tennessee in April of 1862. After a spell as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, Ohio, he was exchanged. At the battle of Chickamauga, Tennessee, in 1864, he was wounded in the right leg. According to the story, Andrew's leg was saved from amputation by the intervention of Silas who nursed him at home. Andrew was found by a medical examining board to be unfit for field service and was put on light duty. Silas was sent back to the field to take care of Andrew's brother Benjamin, in the 9th Mississippi Cavalry. Andrew was paroled at Columbus, Mississippi on May 23, 1865 as a sergeant.

Wednesday, April 19, 1865, Reidsville, North Carolina.

Just when all of us were ready to abandon all hope of ever seeing a train, we heard a distant whistle. There was a train coming for us. It was finally our turn to leave Danville and go home.

We had to load the wagons of which there were only two and their six mules, plus all the regimental baggage which was not a great amount, and the officer's horses. A last issue of rations was made from government stores and then, after wooding and watering up, we slowly left the station. Some of the town folks were there to wave us off as were some of the militia.

We could not help but feel helpless as we contemplated their fate. We could not help them. Our honor demanded that we observe the terms of our parole even if it means abandoning these good folks to the mercies of the Yankees. It would do no good to stay. The Yankees would snatch us up again and then we would go to prison. The best thing would be for the militia to disband and the folks to get their white sheets ready.

Our train consists of one house car mostly for the baggage, all of which belongs to the officers, a second one for the horses, one poor passenger car for the officers and regimental staff and six platform cars. Two have one wagon each lashed to the floor. All six are full with we enlisted rank and file. I am lucky to have a spot under neath one of the wagons.

The locomotive, Roanoke by name, should be called Elephant for the speed at which it operates. It acts as if the boiler would burst at anytime. We are here at a wood and water stop. I am using the stationary situation of the train to make this entry. It has taken us some eight hours to come this twenty-two miles from Danville. We would do better by marching. I should not worry about the sloth-like pace of the locomotive. I believe that we could be under way and my hand on this pencil would work just fine. My hand would not wobble.

A typical Civil War locomotive.

I Send You These Few Lines

Reidsville is a very small stop on the Piedmont Railroad between Danville, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina. The scourges of war has ruined the Southern railway system. Lack of industrial capacity in the south meant that repairs could not keep pace with wear and tear. The Piedmont RR was worse than most Southern railroads. The entire construction occurred during the war and all of it was built on the cheap. The ballast was bad, the roadbed was bad, bridges and trestles were bad, all when new. Tooms is lucky that there's a single locomotive still running even if it is only at a top speed of 3-5 miles per hour not counting wood and water stops.

The name of the locomotive, Roanoke, was an actual locomotive on the line. A house car was what we modern folks would call a box car. A platform car is the old name for a flat car.

Tooms and his pards are making progress even if it is incredibly slow. Quite soon, the division will break up into its' component parts, each going their own separate way. That's too bad as there is strength in numbers and the war is not over yet.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Danville was blown to H--l."

This is Philip A. Nail, of Company F, 13th North Carolina Infantry. This regiment is mentioned below. Nail was enrolled into the service of the Confederate States at Mocksville, North Carolina on August 6, 1861. His occupation was that of farmer. He was unmarried. Nail was not one of the soldiers waiting rail transport with Tooms at Danville. The 13th was there but Nail was not. He had passed three years earlier of Typhus at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond on June 29, 1862. His father, Jesse, filed a claim with the Confederate Comptroller's office in May of the next year.Owed to Jesse was $140.26 in back pay for his son. Jesse signed the paperwork with his mark. The nickname of the company was the Davis Grays

Sunday, April 16, 1865, Danville, Virginia.

We had the scare of our life today. We thought that the war was back on and we were in the thick of it. In the entire regiment, there are not more than twenty armed men and I doubt that the division has two hundred. We certainly had no artillery. Our cavalry, being mounted, left this place already.

When the shells exploded, there was nearly a rout. Civilians were running for their lives away from the shells. Our officers formed us up into line, those with arms in the front rank. I was in the rear rank. We heard the artillery but no musketry. Some shells landed near us but no damage was done. We responded to the commands, "Load!", and, Fix bayonets!", as if it were still the old times.

Lieutenant Williamson called for four volunteers to go with him to find where the Yankee shelling was coming from. He got his men and they went off in search of trouble. Shortly, they returned with the news that one of the government warehouses had caught fire and the artillery ammunition within had ignited, giving the impression of a barrage. Gingerly, the men were ordered to disperse from the battle line out of range of the shells. It was some fright.

We are still waiting for a train to take us to South Carolina. Some of the North Carolinians from Scales' and Lanes' brigades whose homes are just beyond the state line or cannot be reached by rail have already left Danville. Thomas' Georgians are still here. They have the furthest to travel of all of us.

A postwar photo of Brigadier general Alfred Scales. His brigade consisted of the 13th, 16th, 22nd, 34th and 38th North Carolina regiments.

Brigadier General James Lane. His brigade consisted of the 7th, 18th, 28th, 33rd and 37th North Carolina regiments. The 7th had been detached from the brigade much earlier in the year and had been sent to North Carolina where they were serving with the Army of Tennessee.
Brigadier General Edward Thomas. His brigade consisted of the 14th, 35th, 45th, and 49th Georgia regiments.

We are still being fed from government stores and that is good. We are not starving. While we wait here, our wagons are being repaired and made ready for the trip. While we might think that once we board the train we will no longer be called upon to march a single step until we reach home, we cannot trust in that kind of good luck.

There are a number of prisons here full of Yankees. We need to be on those trains and removed from the area before the Yankees get here. They will be likely to be quite upset. There is still a war on.

I Send You These Few Lines.

The explosion of the artillery ammunition is thought to be accidental. The warehouse was not far to the east of the railway station where Tooms and the rest of them are awaiting transport. The hospital sat just across the tracks to the west of the station.

Tooms is right, there is a war on. As far as anyone knows, only Lee has surrendered. Every other Confederate army is still in the field.  The Confederate President is, in Federal eyes, Public Enemy No.1. Since the assassination of President Lincoln, Federal authorities are very, very anxious to capture Davis and his party since it is possible, they think, that Davis might have had something to do with it.

Davis had been in Danville and was now in Charlotte. Federal forces are all over the countryside looking for Davis. Tooms has no clue that the route home that he will be taking is the same route that Davis is taking to avoid capture. If all these parties are not careful, they will run right into one another and then there will be trouble.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"This is still Confederate territory."

Petersen House, Washington.

Saturday, April 15, 1865, Danville

Here we are at the station house and freight shed of the Piedmont Railroad. We have marched a long ways and the hope that we may spend some time riding is sweet to us. This railroad, like most in the Confederacy, I will wager, is in bad straits. The locomotives and cars all have the look that mechanical things get when they have been used well past their useful life.

There are too many of us to be taken right away. We all have to wait our turn. I do not know who is ahead of us or who is waiting behind us and I do not care. I only care that some hour or day it will me my turn to ride.

Tomorrow will be one week since we were surrendered. Our march away from Appomattox, at first, was quite martial. As long as we were within sight of the Yankees, we acted and looked our best. We were not about to let them think us any less than an army of soldiers.

It did not last. Indeed, it could not last. After four or five miles, our column expanded and contracted like an accordion. The officers have tried to instill some discipline in us. That worked with some but not with others. In our company, it was the same.

As we approached a town and for as long as it took to go through it, we became more martial. It was not just for show. We may be surrendered and everything north and west of Appomattox may be under Yankee occupation.  This is still Confederate territory.

The towns folk have said that the President and his cabinet had been here. They have left for parts unknown. It is good that they left. Some of us would have some very unkind words for them otherwise.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

As we passed through these little towns, the populace greeted us with cheers. Though they cheered, I think they knew that the game was up. By the terms of our parole, we were forbidden from taking up arms ever again. We could offer townspeople no protection or support should it be needed. Some militia we observed here and there. They were almost all old men and boys. They tried to look the part but all of them together could not hold off a single Yankee brigade.

Surgeon Bailey has taken our sick to the Danville hospital. I hope that they will be well enough to be moved by the time the trains come. They may get captured again. Steward Entzminger has stayed with us at the freight shed to tend to the minor cases. As there is so very little freight here, we soldiers have a good deal of room.

Confederate hospitals, Danville.

As we passed through each town, I saw that some of the townsfolk and militia bore looks of gloom on their faces. They know that the Yankees are coming and there is nothing that they can do about it.

Too young.
Too old.

The commissary officer for this area allowed our commissaries to take rations from his warehouse to issue to us soldiers. The fare was typical army issue but we did not care. Our haversacks are full. We do not know where the next such warehouse will be.

The townsfolk have been generous to us as far as supplementing our army fare is concerned. Hancock received a rhubarb pie from a nice lady. Half of it disappeared in the time it took to walk the few dozen feet from her to us. Corporal Flynn has a new pair of socks thanks to someone's loving hands. Broom has a new pair of shoes.

They, the town folk, ask us questions. How was Lee defeated? Where are we going? Why do we not stay and defend them from the Yankees? What will happen to them? We could not give them any satisfaction. It was quite sad. I saw several people holding back tears.

From ordnance stores here, some of us now have cartridge boxes and bayonets. Some without rifles were able to arm themselves. We are looking more like soldiers.

When we left Appomattox, all of us, save the officers, were unarmed by the terms of the parole. Now, six or eight of us in the company have rifles. We have found them tossed by the road and took them as our own. We all surrendered our cartridge boxes but several of us, myself included, emptied our cartridges into our pockets. There is no telling what we may run into on our way home. We need to be able to defend ourselves. Let us hope we shall not have to.

I Send You These Few Lines.

I must confess that I have no idea when or how any of the Confederate troops that surrendered at Appomattox made it home. The sources I've been using all state something like, and then they went home. The lack of detail about something so important is abhorrent to me. I'll have to rely on what would be the easiest and most logical way the returning soldiers would make their journey. They have two choices, walk or ride the rails.

I'll have to research what roads were in existence at the time that would offer the most direct route home. What bridges over deep water are still functional at this time. Where are there fords? For the railroads, the documentation is a bit better. A bit. What Confederate railroads still work? Do they run close to the soldier's home? I'm not complaining. Research is fun. It often leads to some amazing revelations. I've found several while doing research for this blog.

Some historians say that Danville, Virginia was the last capitol of the Confederacy. Charlotte, North Carolina makes the same claim. And so does Union, South Carolina. I'm not going to take sides.

Tooms and his pards are unaware of news beyond Danville. They know nothing of what has happened at home of William and Anna Petersen in Washington, D.C.

Today, Jefferson Davis and his party are in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"On 3,2,1, OK, you're live."

Civil War diary of Christian Fleetwood.

Monday, April 13, 2015, in studio.

On 3, 2, 1, OK, you're live.

Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to Bill Arp's History Book. I'm your host, Bill Arp. Today, we have with us as our guest, Dave Smoot, the originator, owner and operator of a blog entitled, "Greyback Diary." Welcome to the program, Dave.

Dave: Thank you. Glad to be here, Sir.

Bill: Dave, tell us about your blog. What's it about?

Dave: Greyback Diary is the collection of diary entries of David Tooms of Beaufort, South Carolina. The entries chronicle what happened to him and his friends during the Late Unpleasantness.

Bill: You mean the American Civil War?

Dave: This is South Carolina, Bill. Here, and in much of the gentile South, it''s the Late    Unpleasantness.When we're not feeling too polite, we call it the War of Northern Aggression.

Bill: May we compromise on the War Between the States?

Dave: Fine by me.

Bill: What gave you the idea to create a blog the subject matter of which is a wartime diary?

Dave: I wish I could say, Bill. That was four years ago. I just do not remember why or how I got it into my head to do this. I suppose that it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Bill: Is this your first blog?

Dave: Yes. This was all new turf for me.

Bill: As a blogger...

Dave: Sorry to interrupt, Bill, but I do not call myself a blogger. I don't know enough about the artform to feel confortable about calling myself a blogger. There are so many people who do a much better job at this than I do, Kimberly Burnette-Dean being one of them. You can call it a blog if you want to, but I'm no blogger.

Bill: I see. What should we call you, then?

Dave: Dave.

Bill: OK, Dave. When did this all begin?

Dave: In 1861, sorry, 2011. That was the first year of the 150th anniversary of the war.

Bill: That would be the so-called Sesquicentennial?

Dave: That's right. Actually, the Sesquicentennial truly begins in December of 1860/2010 with the secession of South Carolina from the Union.

Institute Hall, where the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession was signed on December 20, 1861.
What the delegates signed.

A few days after the Ordnance of Secession was passed, a great fire swept through Charleston. Institute Hall, where the Ordnance was signed, was destroyed by the fire. The ruins are in the right foreground.

Bill: So the blog began then?

Dave: No, it didn't. The idea to start a blog was months later and it took some months later to work up the nerve to publish the first entry which was August 17, 1861/2011.

Bill: Work up the nerve? Was this a scary proposition?

Dave: It was. I am a product of the last century. My computer skills are far below par for my generation. The first diary entry to be published committed me to see the thing through to the end. Once I started, I could not stop. That was un-nerving.

Bill: You started the blog in Beaufort, South Carolina? Why that place and not some place with more name recognition like New Orleans or Atlanta or Richmond. Why Beaufort?

Dave: I wanted to start from a zone of comfort. I wanted to have a degree of familiarity with my starting point so I'd have some credibility to begin with.

Bill: So Beaufort it was. Your diarist is David Tooms. Why did you make him the way you did?

Dave: Again, Bill, it was a case of familiarity. Tooms is not a young buck. He was in his late 50's when the diary entries started. Tooms is a geezer. This is certainly not the typical war soldier. They were quite young. I haven't been young since before the turn of the century. I don't know what that's like anymore.

Bill: Did Tooms being an older soldier influence the way your blog was written?

Dave: Indeed it did. Being older meant that I could write from the perspective of one who had been around for awhile. Tooms has life experiences that the young bucks do not have.

Bill: Such as?

Dave: For instance, this is not Tooms' first war. He is old enough that he saw service in the Mexican War in a Virginia regiment.

Colonel John Hamtramck, Tooms' regimental commander during the Mexican War.

Bill: A Virginia regiment? How does that happen? Tooms is from South Carolina.

Dave: He lives in South Carolina but he moved there from Virginia.

Bill: I have read several references to the Mexican War in Tooms' diary and Virginia figures markedly in the entries.

Dave: Tooms' body is in South Carolina but his heart is in Virginia. Tooms being in the Mexican War gives him some experience as a soldier and some stories that transend into the next war.

Major General Zachary Taylor, commander of an army during the Mexican War in which served the Virginia Regiment.

Bill: The young bucks as you call them, look up to Tooms as an elder adviser in all things military?

Dave: They do.

Bill: Now, once you chose your diarist and gave him some particulars, you had to find a unit, a regiment to put him in for the sake of the story. You chose the 12th South Carolina Infantry. Why was that?

Dave: I had thought about settling upon a western theatre regiment at first. The story of those who fought there does not get the recognition that the eastern units receive. There are many more books on the Army of Northern Virginia than are on the Army of Tennessee or the Army of Central Kentucky.

Bill: I'm sorry. What was that last one? I've never heard of it.

Dave: My point exactly. I thought for awhile about putting Tooms in a Trans-Mississippi regiment for the same reason, that there's comparitively so little information about that theatre.

Bill: But in the end, you settled on an eastern theatre regiment.

Dave: That's right, I did. I had to consider the potential readership. If Tooms was in the Trans-Mississippi, for instance, he would be making diary entries about Sabine Crossroads, Palmetto Ranch, Shrevesport, Mansfield and Prairie Grove. Readers would go, "Never heard of them", and would stop reading. In the end, I caved in to the eastern theatre bias.

Bill: Fair enough. Why the 12th South Carolina? Why that one in particular?

Dave: I wanted a regiment that served some time in the Carolina lowcountry but later would be transferred to more familiar haunts. Had I picked a unit that did its' entire war service in the area, the diary entries would be more about fighting mosquitoes and no-see-ums than Yankees.

Bill: All right. Why Company I of the 12th? Do you have any connections to that company or the 12th for that matter?

Dave:  I have no connections whatsoever to the 12th or Company I or to the area from which they were recruited. I've never visited the area and I know I should. I chose Company I purely for their nickname, the, "Lancaster Hornets". I found an online roster of the company and picked the major players for the blog.

Bill: The major players as you call them, how did you decide which ones to pick? What did you know about them?

Dave: The picks were at random. At the time, I had no personal or biographical information about any of them. It was only afterwards that I gained access to their service records at the National Archives and could personalize them.

Bill: Reading through your blog, for being random picks, they are very interesting.

Dave: To mention a few, Dennis Castles, Burrell Hancock, William Barton, Jr., and Jefferson Mathis. When I picked those out as major participants, I had no idea that Castles would desert, Barton would be killed in action or that Mathis would die in prison. Only Hancock...never mind.

Bill: No, go on. What about Burrell Hancock? What happens to him?

Dave: Readers will just have to keep reading. We have not yet reached the last diary entry.

Bill: And what happens to Tooms?

Dave: Keep reading, Bill.

Bill: Fair enough. You obviously have placed great stock in authenticity and sources. Had you been more creative, you might have been able to make some money. It would have been more exciting and more people would have read it. Some newspaper or magazine or cable channel might have picked the story up.

Dave: I deliberately stayed away from that. Had I gone that route, all credibility would have vanished. I could imagine a phone call, "Dave Baby this is your editor at Greatbighugemonolith, Inc. Listen, Baby, we need some punch. Have Tooms in a romance with Varina Davis. Your love child by her has to be smuggled into Canada by Beauregard and that Bragg guy, who are secret gay lovers. Throw in a killing of a jealous lover by a one-armed man who's really an extra-terrestrial. It's beautiful, Baby. Ciao." Not on my watch. That's intensely disrespectful to the people who were there-our ancestors. They deserve better. Both sides.

Varina Davis, First Lady of the Confederacy.

Bill: And what are your sources?

Dave: Almost all the photographs come from the Library of Congress. They are more than books. The service records and medical records come from the National Archives. Official reports come from the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, commonly called the OR's. There are many more sources.

Bill: Yes, there are. Let me quote just a few. "Brigades of Gettysburg", by Bradley Gottfried, "The Last Citadel", by Noah Trudeau, "Witness to Appomattox", by Richard Wheeler, "The Petersburg Campaign", by Ed Bearss, "Chancellorsville", by Stephen Sears, and one that you have depended on quite heavily, "The History of a brigade of South Carolinians", by J.F.J. Caldwell. Impressive.

Dave: Those are all good. There are many more.

Bill: There's one here, "Sacramento Remembers the Civil War", by Robert Bundy, Charles Davis and David Smoot. Is that you? You're an author?

Dave: Just a contributor.

Bill: Sacramento and the Civil War?

Dave: No battles were fought there unless you count street brawls between pro and anti-union factions. Still, there were connections. For instance, future General William T. Sherman surveyed the city during the Gold Rush along with another future general, E.C. Ord. Both of them worked for John Sutter. It was on Sutter's property that gold was discovered in January of 1848, starting the Gold Rush.

William T. Sherman

Edward C. Ord, commander of the Army of the James

John Augustus Sutter.

There was a fugitive slave case tried there in 1858. Not as famous as the Dred Scott case though. There were slave auctions in Sacramento just the same as there were in Richmond or Atlanta, the only difference being one of scale.

Slave auction house, Richmond.

Atlanta slave auction house.

Bill: Let's get back to Beaufort for a moment. Beaufort is not as well known as Gettysburg or Antietam but...

Dave: Sharpsburg, Bill. Gettysburg and Sharpsburg.

Bill: Sorry. Sharpsburg. What can you tell us about Beaufort?

Dave: Beaufort and Hilton Head Island were captured early in the war, November of 1861. Those places and the surrounding areas remained occupied for the duration of the war. Some of the most famous photographs of the war were taken there.

Bill: But there were no battles there.

Dave: The biggest battle was between slavery and freedom. Freedom won.

Bill: We have a photograph that I think many Americans will instantly recognize. George?

Dave: This photo was taken in Beaufort, South Carolina. It shows five generations of slaves born on the same plantation.

Bill: Every documentary that has been seen on the war or slavery shows this photograph. Dave, we are just about of time. Once your blog, Greyback Diary, is concluded, will there be another blog about some historical event?

Dave: Not if I can help it.

Bill: On that note, thank you, Dave for being with us today.

Dave: You're welcome, Sir.