Item Description: Letter from Charles P. Mallet to his son Charles B. Mallet. Written over the course of a few weeks, he describes the Confederate retreat from Chapel Hill and the Union occupation. He describes the pillaging and foraging going on in the area and the Union Army has assigned guard to protect the personal property of civilians in Chapel Hill.
Item Citation: Folder 3, in the C. B. Mallet Papers, #3165, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill 18th April 65
My Dear Son,
My last letter to you was sent by mail via High Point, informing you that I was about sending off Dr Closs, with a load of flour for you, saving one Blb. which I had marked for W.G. Broadfoot and one Blb. contributed by a farmer for the town, but rumour after rumour came so fast upon us that Closs would not risk his team and I was obliged to give it up. And afterwards when I found that it might either be given to Johnson’s Army or taken by the Yankees, I prepared the former and gave to 18 Division eighteen Blbs. of flour and to Wheeler forty bus. of corn and about 1000. lb fodder – I will give you a brief sketch of matters as they have fallen under my observation.
Saturday 8th your Bro. Peter came over from Greensboro bringing intelligence of the cutting of the Danville road, and also of the N.C. road and further that Gen. Johnson had notified Gov. Vance that he would be compelled to uncover the Capitol on Sunday – we learned also that Gov. Swain and Gov. Graham had gone with a flag of truce to Genl. Sherman. Sunday 9th rumours of Johnson falling back was sustained by the passing of trains of artillery wagons and all other indications of retreat. Monday 10th we have the first intimation of the surrender of Gen. Lee, which altho coming very strait we could not believe – all day, troops, wagons, &c were passing. Peter went to Greensboro. I made inquiry about Hokes Division and found they were in the rear of all the infantry and that Wheelers Cavalry brought up the rear. Tuesday 11th. about 300 mules in a drove with an interminable length of Army Wagons and Artillery. Wednesday 12th. one continuous column of infantry 8 abreast all in good condition and spirits passed along. Thursday 13th Hokes Division passed through. I saw the Genl. he was staggered by the report of Lee’s disaster but unwilling to believe it, expressing at the same time much anxiety about Johnson’s; that night John and Herbert staid with us both looking wel and in good health and spirits having left their commands encamped at New Hope, five miles back, and making twenty four miles of March for Herbert. His mother provided a warm bath for him and other comforts; which enabled him to proceed to overtake his co. on Friday morning 14th after parting with John and Herbert at the corner of that my attention was called to a cavalry company- The officers at the head of the Column beckoned me, and made enquiry about all the roads I knew anything about, and halted in my turn I asked who command it was. A Capt. in front answered. Gen. Wheeler’s staff and Escort. I asked if Gen. Wheeler was along-when a small man rough and weather beaten rode up took off his hat–Gen. Wheeler at your service sir– I took off my hat and reintroduced myself. He said you speak of a military road will you point it out on the map: dismounted and in a moment had a Map spread out, was down upon his knees in the sand and with a pencil traced out the line of the old Cornwallis road, which, did not cross New Hope at all. I asked him to take supper with me and bring his friend, which he said he would be pleased to do, as he desired further information from me. He came up with a Capt. Steele from Tennessee who proved to be an old friend of Fridges. We had a very pleasant evening. He is a mild pleasant little Gentleman about 26 year of age. but is roughly clad, and with a small faded wool hat upon his head that no man at first sight would have classed him above a private.
I urged upon him to remain all night, which he declined like a Gentleman and soldier – saying he always preferred to be in the midst of his men and to fare as they fared and this causes the enthusiastic love of the men towards him when we parted he offered me a hand, such as I had never shaken as being that of a man it was ever more delicate to the touch than that of a boy-he went out to his encampment and that night we had a most prodigious fall of rain. Saturday 15 met Genl Wheeler by appointment at his office, found him in the wet clothes of the previous night, and whilst there learned that Gov. Swain had reached home. Gen. Wheeler expressed a desire to see him, and I walked over with him, and found several gentlemen with him but in compliment to Gen. Wheeler, he began the story of his Experience in the Yankee camp he and Gov. Graham– and after talking full hour and a half the Gen. withdrew seemingly disappointed he asked me what sort of man the ex Gov. could be; for that he had not yet learned what business he had and how he succeeded, certainly said I have learned nothing of the least importance to me. 16th Easter Major McNiell of 46th a friend of Dear Richies passed through: leaving Durhams that morning and also Dr. John DeRossett who confirmed the reported capture of Gen. Lee, brought a passport from Gen. Kilpatrick to Gen. Atkins at this place; Gen. Wheeler told me early that his scouts had all come in reporting that the Yankees had disappeared from every position they held the day before. He ordered the Piney Prospect Hill barracaded and sent two Regiments down there for a parting fight. He promised to dine with me at half past 12 o’clock: was evidently uneasy: punctual to the minute he and Capt. Steel made their appearance and to the credit of my wife we had a very excellent dinner-(he neither drinks, smokes, or chews)- Whilst at dinner and before and after I urged upon not to make a resistance it would do the cause no good, and our village much harm- and without saying a word wrote a brief order and dispatched a courrier after a very few minutes he and the captain went off at half speed and by 3 o’clock there was not one of his men in or about the village, I was at Church in the afternoon. Mr. Mickle called out, and when I met him in the street, found that another paroled prisoner from Lees Army had come in, and reported the Yankees approaching in force on the town road, which of course produced great excitement. The citizens met and appointed a committee to meet them and ask a safeguard; between sun down and dark some forty or fifty under a Lieut —came dashing into the village and inquired for Wheelers men—some few separated from the others and behaved badly, took away some watches &c; but when the Lt was informed he called them off, and returned to the Head Quarters, appointing 8 oclock the next morning to meet the Army, and make our terms. I was on the committee, and if Gov Swain did nothing more on his mission, he procured favorable terms for Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Monday 17. the committee met the column on the Hill were very courteously received by Genl. Atkins who upon being assured that all of Wheelers men had gone, and that no resistance would be made, called a halt, and informed us, that his orders were positive to respect all private property; (provisions and forage excepted)—Seeing many of the men break the lines, I remarked to Genl that those men would rush in and pillage before the regular guard could be arranged; he then gave orders to a Michigan Col. to take his Regt with speed into the village and protect every house that desired it; and by the time we came back through the efforts of your Brother and some others guards were soon established and besides the watches and some bacon hams I have heard of nothing to complain of up to the present writing, and whilst I write, my safeguard is indulging in a sound snoring sleep in my large easy chair now
Tuesday 18th has dawned upon us after as quiet a night as I have ever known at Chapel Hill–I learn from the Captain in charge of the guards that dispatches have come in this morning announcing the death of Lincoln–having been shot in the theatre– and that Jonson has certainly capitulated. I am disposed to believe the later, as he is certainly cut off from his supplies and surrounded on all sides, and the Yankees are now sending trains without let or hindrance through from Wilmington to Hillsboro over. Wednesday morning 19th last night there was more moving in the village- our dogs kept up a continued barking, and I learn this morning, that a general stampede of negroes took place many families left without a servant. All of Mr. Water’s except her maid. All of Wm A. Wrights – The Doctors two girls, Elsey and Betty– Fridges Fred and very many others, mine are all here yet. Altho the guard I have spends his whole time in the kitchen, and I am looking for their move- they went off to Durhams there to take the train to Wilmington. W. A. Wright left here Sunday morning with a New two horse wagon with all his own and his wifes and daughters clothes, and valuables- and about $10,000, in coin. The horses and wagon had been brought into camp and the presumption is the whole has fallen into the enemies hands. Judge Person left. here on Capt. Ashe’s poney- which is now in the camp, and the Judge not heard from- Additional and confirmatory reports of Johnson’s capitulation- And Lincoln’s Assassinations at a Theatre in Washington. And just while I write an officer states. That Peace has been declared. Articles begin by Gen. Breckenridge, and Johnson and Sherman have proceeded to Washington so that I fear the Yankees will remain here until they are heard from. 19th Afternoon I have been W.A. Wright, he is much depressed says that he is ruined loosing not only his own effects, but that of others intrusted to him; Thus far the Yankees have confined themselves to foraging on Town and County for provisions have molested no house where a guard has been staitioned, have not even looked into our smoke house or store room; they billet upon me a man and two horses, which may consume all I leave at command, on the lot– and thus far have not discovered what I have in another place– atltho they have found a very large amt of bacon; and silver, clothing and blankets could I have foreseen I would not have taken any thing off my lot. for they have passed over and around my home deposits without seeming to be on the search. I learn from the officers that quite a storm was raised by Hampton and Wheeler. who opposed the surrender or capitulation or reconstruction. I have felt thankful that the Holden party of N.C. have lost the opportunity of disgracing the State by a separate state action, I feel conquered but not subdued. Might has overcome right- my opinions and feelings are the same, and will go down with me to the grave.—– just now two very good looking fellows came to the door- I called my guard- they sat down in the porch and after a while said they were informed that a young lady here played on the piano- they were fond of music and asked if she would play for them. I told them I thought the request unreasonable and could not consent, they did not behave amiss and went off I have not heard of a fowl hog- sheep or cow being taken, horses and mules they search for; since the forgoing, I have been down to Judge Battles to make inquiry about Miss Mary Smith, her place was stripped of evry thing, she and her brother had and some of their negroes have gone off after betraying them and aiding Yankees to find what had been secreted. A guard was at last sent out but too late, I will afford Miss Mary an opportunity of sending a letter to Miss Maria by the bearer of this my negroes are still on the lot but I have no idea they will remain after so many have gone, it is my intention to send a special message and only want to see what will be the course of my man Moses; Thursday 20th April This is the fourth day of Yankee occupation- evrything as quiet and ordely as could be expected. We had taken all possible care that no whiskey should be found, and I am satisfied that things would have been wose had Wheeler given them battle- a squad rode up and insisted that Wheeler was secreted in my house, which was the last place he was at in the village. My guard would not allow them to enter for search- he said they would make it a pretext for plunder- he is taking his usual mornings knap in my large chair, his rifle and revolver on the marble stand in the corner. My only mode of getting information is by sending my guard (who is a very clean youth from Michigan and says that he has not particle of plunder of any hince) into the different camps and this afternoon he brings in a report contradicting the rumour of Lincoln’s death.
Friday morning 21st—fifth day of occupation—I feel provoked to hear the college bell sounding on as though the college was in full blast—a miserable set— not one true man among them and they desire to hand it down in History that the dear Yankees, did not interfere with the regular exercise of the college—when in truth there were not five students here when Wheeler left us. Gov. Swain has over five hundred bus of corn, and I learn that he has lost nothing. Mr Wright is the greatest sufferer I have heard of Mr Mickles deposites have been rifled loosing his coin—silver—watches &c; of his own, and some entrusted to him by others. up to a late hour yesterday no tidings had been received from or of Judge Person. Genl. Atkins who is in command is a Gentleman and a Lawyer, and he told Judge Battle yesterday—that he should return home without the slightest evidence of his ever having been south, but his commission that he had not the value of one cent of spoil, and certainly he has used great effort to suppress pillage and wrong, by allowing a guard to the most humble applicant and even to the Doctors woman Judy. I am now feeling anxious about our bacon which has been under ground ten days, could I have foreseen it—I would have left it in the smoke house—where no one has offered to look: Just now a report is in that Prest Davis is at Durham. Gov Atkins went down there yesterday: I saw Mr Wright on the street, his top in coin was by no means so made as reported, and Mr Michke says they gave to an old negro all of his silver crockery &c: reserving to them silver, only the coin and watches- he has recovered evry thing else.
Saturday 22d April- Sixth day of occupation a quiet night nothing of moment has occurred, the Yankees are putting up tents and shantees as tho they intend to spend the summer with us- I took my usual walk to visit Anna and Mary; Anna says that her bacon was secreted underground and a Yankee tent is now over it. Mary fears that her man Sitter has betrayed her and gone off. I saw a man just from Durhams he says there are thousands of negroes there waiting transportation and I have no doubt but there are as many at other points. Mine are all here for the present and going on with their work better than they have ever done. I called in at Dr Jones: a Col has taken up his quarters there, has allocated one half the house to his own care, has erected tents and shantees all over the yard and ordered the house and were raising a flag staff in the front yard while I was there. The news my guard brings me this morning is that they are to remain here until they hear from Washington which they expect on 25th- I must say that so far as I can learn they have behaved very well. They are from New York, Michigan and Illinois, very few foreigners- they have plundered no homes in the village but look upon evrything outside as spoils whether in a house or concealed- and very many hidden deposits have been found and plundered by them- I have seen none drunk. The Doctor and myself went to a position this morning a spy-glass and we could not perceive any thing amiss about our deposits though I now being to fear we may lose our bacon. Moses knows I have buried it but has no idea where, but speaks experimentally that there is no danger but it will keep. Whilst we were making our observations more a doz rode over the ground. I have not be able to hear further of Miss Marry- but feel easy as I know that Judge Battle is in communication with her.
Sunday, 23d—Seventh day of occupation The College Bell rang for prayers as usual. I know there is but one in the Senior andone in the junior classes, and I am credibly informed there is but one other student in college. We will see, (maybe) what the Faculty will publish on the subject. every thing quiet and I hear of nothing wrong in the village. Young Ladies are getting over their fright—and becoming quite sociable—I learn that Misses Fetters are walking the streets with them, and Miss Ella Swain sent to Carrie to borrow her side saddle to write ride out with some officer—Several other Ladies—or I would rather call them women—have been riding out with them. A rumour was current yesterday, that articles had been signed—restoring the Union &c; &c.; of course we cannot know yet— Lincoln’s death is not believed— Mary’s man Sitter has been seen at Durhams.
Monday. 24th eighth day of occupation
The College bell ringing up three students to prayer yesterday a Yankee Chaplain of Presbyterian order rode around the town giving notice that Prof. Chas Philips would preach before the —– Regt— at 3 oclock PM. I have not heard how it went off. I have spent some hours in private with Gov. Swain who has read over to me his correspondence with Gov. Graham– once their doings, and upon the whole – I been there out in their efforts to stop the War after Genl Lee’s surrender. It would have been madness to strive longer- and Genl Lee Judge Campell Hon. R.J. Hunter- and other men of high standing thought so too– Genl Atkins informed Gov. Swain last night that peace was declared and as soon as he could be officially informed he would remove from this place- altho we have been spared having a safe guard in the house. I hear very deplorable accounts from the country. Altho we will not believe and Genl Wheeler did not believe in the surrender of Genl. yet Govr. Swain saw a telegram from Prest Davis to Gov. Vance- in which he said these words, “I have had no communication from Genl Lee since the 6th but am informed by reliable scouts that his disaster is extreme” Afraid “I no longer look upon Gen. Lee’s Army as an organized body” — so soon as I could believe this I considered that we were conquered and now wait for the yoke. Ding dong the college bell for three boys to come in for morning prayer, Chas. Phillips distinguished himself yesterday and to day– he was heard today to exclaim hurrah for Gov. Holden. Lincoln’s death is announced again to day. haveing been killed on the night of the 14th (the man not taken) once that the authorities at Washington refuse all terms. nothing but an unconditional surrender. I hear today of a great quantity of secreted articles being discovered. A Yankee rode over my Bbl of flour; all safe thus far.
Tuesday morning, 25th April, 9th day of occupation What can be more ridiculous than the continued ding dong of the College bell for prayers and all the usual recitation hours, when there are now but one Senior and one junior in College—and besides in my usual walks to visit Anna and Mary I pass through the campus and between the college buildings, and I can always hear the Yankees at nine pins or some other such game on the several floors and passages—and stories, as well of the College buildings as of the Chapel itself. I asked Joe Mickle yesterday to go out and see Miss Mary Smith, which he did and reports things in a better condition, although she has been pillaged of of every thing, all her bed and table linen and to wells not one left. having a guard she is in better spirits and more composed and has had supplies sent to her. Frank staid at home but Sidney took the woods; and with a long beard and mean apparel. passed himself off as the Uncle of some poor family in the neighborhood and Joe says that the more effectually to carry out the deception that he made a rent in his garments about six inches below the small of his back out which protruded the insignia of “Dicky Dout” My guard has just come in—says the camp rumours confirm the death of Lincoln on 14th and that the man escaped, that Andy Johnson refused to accept the terms of capitulation &c; &c;—says that Kilpatrick is to be here to day, for review—and they hope to leave tomorrow. I would much prefer they were here, than 10 miles off, when we should be subject to continued raids. My guard also informs me, (and he believes it) that his captain is to be married before they leave to Miss Fetter —certainly those girls with Beck Ryan and Ella Swain have lain themselves open to much scandel—I have just seen John Patterson, who is immediately from Durhams, where he saw the Philadelphia enquirer of the 17, in which is a full account of the killing of Lincoln which was done by a son of Booth, the Tragedian—the same paper also announces the death of Sewards son, and that Seward is not expected to recover from his wounds. Johnsons terms of capitulation were not accepted, and a flag of truce went up the road yesterday to meet him—I have seen a young man, who went off with the Doctors wagon; he says they were safe yesterday morning about twenty five miles from here—and that Wheeler and Johnson are disbanding their men—that the whole country is covered with parties returning home the best way they can—are selling good mules and horses at $15. to $20. each.
Tuesday 25th April- 9th day of occupation, the streets are filled with rumours today. It is said that Prest Davis has setout with a picked escort of 1000 men and a large amount of gold to get cross the Miss- Neither Hampton or Wheeler will surrender: Johnson Infantry I learned have stacked their army, and are being disband I hear nothing of John or Herbert there are strong indications today of the Yankees leaving- and we have some manifestations of a disposition on the part of our servants to go with them- I am not surprised at it, they have no ties up here and their only difficulty has been in the condition of Elvia and her children, they can get not transportation. I shall not be surprised indeed I expect them to go by afternoon. Afternoon 5 oclock- Yankees still here: our meat having lain so long underground that we began to fear it would be spoiled, and we applied to the Capt of our guard for protection until we could remove it, he smiled and said it was discovered- and unless you take it up at once you will lose it- I could not bileve it- but as soon as we got to my look out, we saw three men hard at work by the time and by the time we came to them they had exhumed a box of bacon, my silver and gold; gold watches bonds and other papers they all not found; our guards soon took possession and we lost nothing- but sad to relate the boxes were all wet, having had tremendous rains, and evrything being fifteen days underground. I fear the watches are ruined everyone being wet- and in fact if the boxes had been immersed in the Mill pond, they could not have been more perfectly saturated. We look the precaution to use melted wax about them; then put them into my black bag- and buried them in as dry a place as could be found; and the ground was ploughed over and laid our for corn- I am satisfied four the Capts remarks that they would come clue to it- altho no negros were with us yet two negroes helped to load the wagon after 12 oclock at night, one or both may have followed at a distance and made the communication our several guards all said that no man would have found them without some clue. I think we shall save the meat, it does not appear to be injured.
Wednesday Morning 26 April, 10th day- I have been all morning endeavoring to put the watches in such condition that they will not receive further injury by rust. Have opened each one and packed them in a jar and then filled jar with pea nut oil- All the other trinkets have had attention and are in order. We do not consider the mean spoiled- Thursday, 27th, 11th day. I have just returned from my usual walk to Mary and Annas- all well- official information to day of the surrender of Johnson’s Army, the fall of Mobile, capture of Forrest, of Salisbury- with all the stores and munitions- so that the death of the Confederacy is inevitable and we are now a subjected people. Better far better so than to have been Legislated back by the Holden clique- Yes, I acknowledge myself conquered- but my opinions, my heart and soul are unchanged and will always be. There country for ten miles around is stripped of evrything, and I cannot see how the corn crop can be made or the wheat harvested- They have abstained I learn from killing any stock- and my hogs as well as others are gitting fat in their camps, one of which 92d Illinois- is in the grove around me, where is exhibited the greatest waste immaginable. No news to day from John and Herbert or from any one in whom we feel deep interest.
Friday 28th April- 12th day
We have had a quiet day and no official news from any quarter. A rumour prevails that Holden will be appointed Military Gov. of N.C. and a part of S.C. and that the state lines of S.C. are to be obliterated, the whole Confederacy under Martial Law. Gen. Atkins told Mrs Ashe that no Secessionist, or any one who had given voluntary aid to the rebellion could have any redress of grievences- and that he had seen Ladies who carried their heads as hers, who had to walk forty miles to draw rations from the Commissary.
Saturday 29th April, 13th Day
There has been a grand review to day, evry thing quiet- no official news of any kid. I had a message sent me last night, that the Yankees had commenced pillaging our goods at old Atwaters, 8 up miles from town- I took a wagon and a guard and rode myself on horse back, but was too late. They had carried away every piece we had at that point- but that was one out of five and the rest is all safe yet, altho some of it- in very much more exposed situations. On my return I was amused with my guard- when finding a fellow dead drunk and asleep by the road side he calmly took his horse- viz one he had stolen- and rode him off with acknowledged intention of keeping him as he was by odds a better horse than the one he rode. I have not heard recently from Miss Mary Smith. She has a guard and is in communication with Judge Battle. I hear nothing of John and Herbert, altho I am told there are soldiers returned from Johnsons Army- Rumour says that Hampton and Wheeler would not surrender. I have seen Mary and Anna to day; doing full as well as could be expected. Nothing further from Peter. My love to all.
C. P. Mallet