Anna Moffett's Civil War - 6
I had a letter from James updating us of his endeavours. At the beginning of this month,
his unit went to Camp Blair with 650 men.
Although our fire was before Christmas, Harper's Weekly has featured it in the
latest edition. Somewhat fuller particulars of the great fire in Charleston have reached us by way of
Fortress Monroe. The Courier, published on the 14th, gives a list of between two & three hundred sufferers (property owners) by the fire & estimates the loss at seven millions of dollars; &
the Mercury of the same date gives a list of five hundred & seventy-six buildings, which were totally destroyed on Wednesday alone. Five churches were burned & various prominent public
buildings used for secular purposes. The Richmond papers state that a Message was sent to the Confederate Congress, on Friday, by Jeff Davis, in which he recommended relief for the sufferers & two hundred & fifty thousand dollars were accordingly voted the next day.
I had another letter from James. His unit is now between Togodo & Willston, opposite
Jehossee Island, & they are down to 482 men.
George has been in the service for some time, but working as a sort of undercover agent, but he has now officially joined the Confederate army on February 24th, as a private, in Company B, 25th Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers, but as that is Charles' company, the Washington Light
Brigade, I am sure he will quickly progress up the ranks.
George & Charles who is now Colonel of the battalion, also called the Eutaw Battalion of the 25th Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers saw action at Secession, James Island, Battery Wagner & Fort Sumter.
On February 22 – Jefferson Davis, from Kentucky, was formally inaugurated as President
of the Confederate States of America, having served as provisional President.
Now that I have no menfolk at home to defend me, I have decided that it is time for us to move upcountry to be safer. My daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, George's wife & her children will go with me & we shall attempt to find a large enough house to deal with all of us, including my slaves.
We discussed the various options. We considered Columbia, but have decided on Spartanburg, as my daughter Mary's brother-in-law John Adger & his family are there & have promised to look out a suitable home for us to rent.
We have discussed whether we should take all our furnishings with us, but as there is no guarantee that our house would be safe in our absence, have decided to do so. That of course is an enormous task, as our property is extensive, but we have managed to find a business concern who will
undertake the move for us, once our new house is available.
It was on March 9th that we finally made our move, our household goods already having gone by wagon & with Samuel driving the buggy, the rest of us went by train. That also was an experience.
In order to avoid the problems of delays due to supplies & soldiers being the main concern of the railway, we decided to go on the night train. We left at the usual hour, but when we got to the first
wood station, about ten miles from town, there was not a stick of wood. We had to stop for at least an hour for the hands to go into the woods & collect what they could. We then proceeded for some
distance & stopped for water, but there was none in the tank. So, after another hour's delay we managed to get enough to proceed with. We then progressed as far as Branchville & there heard the
intelligence that there was neither water or wood between there & Columbia. Our engineer had to detach his engine & run to the Edisto River for water. This detained us about two hours & we
left Branchville after daylight & arrived in Columbia about eleven o’clock. We were there all that time penned up in a crowded car, with no water to drink except in a barrel at the extreme end of the Conductor’s car where there was a barrel with a tin cup, but you had to stumble over a dozen sleeping Negros to get water. You have to walk through six or seven cars & among them the
hospital, with sick soldiers, who, poor fellows, could get no rest from constant passing through the cars. Luckily I had provided adequate amounts for our needs, but not enough to share with others.
Who knows when we would have run out ourselves.
At Branchville we waited an hour for the train from Kingville. The train came at last, with its load of human misery. Crowds of mutilated men landed, a rush was made for the seats – the well men of course getting the best. We were very lucky to get seats at all. The whistle blew & the cars moved off while three or four lame soldiers, on crutches, were still trying to get on, some friends pulled them on; while the cars were in motion!! Well, all got in, I believe & not a glass of water or fruit did I see offered to one of the poor fellows in that train! Luckily we had provided our own needs in this regard & had a basket with adequate food & drink for our party.
The next place was Midway, a wounded man begged some men standing by to get him a glass
of water. A negro ran to a store for it, but returned without. There was not a drop of water in Midway for the wounded soldier!! At Lowry’s a crowd of thirsty soldiers made a rush to the well to drink or fill canteens. A man, young & strong enough to be himself a soldier, was close by with a jug, filled with a muddy stuff he honored with by the name of cider, which he sold at five cents per glass. A crowd gathered around him, but the money must be paid before the glass is filled. Many handed him bills, more than he filled glasses; the whistle blew, the disappointed soldiers ran to the cars, & the man pocketed all the bills. That man had no feeling of humanity or sympathy about him. I wonder if he is not a Yankee in disguise.
At Graham’s, two Negros had buckets of water which they gave to the men – here was charity in embryo. Peaches were there but the cry was money! money! At Blackville nothing was brought out. At Williston fine peaches were offered at twenty-five cents per dozen & two watermelons at forty cents & the cars moved off before the white seller could make change, he was therefore compelled to pocket fifty cents a melon instead of forty. What mattered it; it was only from a soldier, &
soldiers are made to be gouged! At White Pond nothing was offered. At Johnson’s to the honor of the place, be it said baskets of peaches, apples & nectarines were freely handed round to poorer soldiers, while several beautiful ladies, beautiful in the eyes of God & man, were busy with pitchers & buckets of cool water, distributing to the grateful soldiers, who no doubt heaped blessings upon their heads. I am told the same was done at Orangeburg. Now, why could not this be done at every station? We are everywhere blessed with fine fruit & cool water & any one along the road could spare a few minutes to distribute them. A watermelon, a fine ripe peach or apple, or luscious bunch of grapes are very grateful to the dusty weary traveler, wounded or maimed for life in defending us from the cruel invader. Even a glass of water is acceptable to them, for that on the cars is not sufficient & is seldom cool – Why could not also, a few biscuits be baked by those who can afford it, or a few chickens fried, eggs boiled or milk or buttermilk offered to them; often some would be thus nourished, who perhaps have not a cent to purchase a meal.
Eventually we got to Spartanburg & found our way to our new residence, which will do us nicely.
We had a delay in getting letters, with our change of address, but I finally have heard again from James. On May 29th, they participated in battle at Edisto Island. Apparently they are now no longer considered home guard, but are an official part of Confederate service.
George & Charles with the Eutaw Ballation are now on Cole's Island, & have been
joined by the Edisto Rifles.
We do keep in touch with friends & family in Charleston, now we are settled in Spartanburg. We heard that by May nearly all the people of Charleston, like us, were refugees. All the north towns are now overcrowded & food is scarce & in many instances, our money is refused at any price, as it is deemed by some farmers as worthless.
It is no wonder that there are food shortages. The men all away at the war, only those over or under age are left to plant the crops. The struggle for food is terrible. Among the ignorant farmers are many who refuse to sell us provisions, except in the way of barter & in that light, almost everything, particularly clothing, has a market, but with no means of replenishing, it was not often we could spare our clothing.
Going out into the country on one occasion to see what we could get to eat, we had stopped at a farmhouse where the woman refused all overtures we made her. On this day I wore a very smart jacket considered most stylish. The woman suddenly turned to me & said: "I will give you a turkey for your jacket." I replied: "It is not for sale." She kept on urging the exchange; at last she said: "I will give you two turkeys." After hesitating some time, as to whether my wardrobe would allow of the exchange, I consented. Our household consists of thirteen women & children & turkeys are a rarity with us!
Perhaps it would be useful if I told the reader something about this new city that we are living in for who knows how long. In 1860 the town had 10,000 people, which is now nearly doubled with refugees, despite them having sent off 3000 soldiers to the war effort.
Spartanburg is located in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains, on the North Carolina border & about 150 miles from Charleston. Morgan Square is the primary downtown area, which has a most magnificent courthouse. The train depot is on Magnolia Street & Hampton Heights is the older & more wealthy section of town. This is where we have managed to rent our house.
The economy of the area depends on cotton - with many mills in the area, most now abandoned. The main one still working is Glendale Mill in the southeast of the city, a very picturesque area with Lawson's Fork Creek. It produces cloth for the Confederacy.
The climate is temperate & salubrious & the landscape agreeably diversified by hill & dale, mount & plain. It has mineral springs to bring relief from rheumatisms, agues & fevers ulcers, etc.
The town itself has 13 dry goods, two saddler & harness shops, two confectioners & druggists, one furniture room, three carriage manufactories, five blacksmith shops, two shoes shops & two bookshops. It also has three tailoring establishments, three excellent hotels, three commodious churches, two academies, male & female, two days schools for smaller pupils, & lawyers & doctors a plenty.
We joined the Soldier's Aid & Relief Association which was started about a year ago & meets at the Methodist Church. The Sisters of the Confederacy, provide garments, hospital supplies & other comforts for the sick & wounded soldiers & furnish underclothing & other articles needed by the soldiers in the field & all the work is carried out by voluntary contributions. Amateur concerts are
held frequently to raise funds for the war effort. It was through these that we have made friends with several well considered families including the daughters of Joseph Foster, Alfred Tolleson, William
Choice, GWH Legg & Simpson Bobo.
Mr Bobo has one of the oldest & most prosperous law practises, along with Oliver E
George was promoted to 1st Lt & Adjutant on 30 April for bravery on the battlefield. I am so proud of him.
I am ashamed to say that one of the slaves from Charleston, Robert Smalls, escaped aboard
a Confederate steamer, the Planter with his friends & family. The boat was turned over to the Union Blockage & Smalls became a hero. Does he not realize that he would not be where he is now without his kind owners in Charleston who provided him with food & clothing all his life? This is how he responds. At least my slaves have all been faithful.