30 December 1864: “Our expedition so far has been attended with the most complete success. The Rebels having lost Savannah…”

Item Description: Letter dated 30 December 1864 from Jonathan L. Whitaker to his wife Julia A. Wells Whitaker. Jonathan L. Whitaker was a physician from Orange County, N.Y. He served as a United States Army surgeon at a hospital at Chester, Pa., and with the 26th United States Colored Troops near Beaufort, S.C. He writes about increasing Confederate losses and African American men and women coming into the Union camps as contraband.

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Item Citation: Folder 2, Jonathan Lewis Whitaker Papers, #03674-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

The U.S. Christian Commission,

Sends this sheet as the Soldier’s Messenger to his home.

Let it haste to those who wait for tidings.

General Sherman’s Army

26th U.S.C. Regt. Coast Division Army Corps.

December 30, 1864

My dear wife,

I was much disappointed yesterday when after waiting 13 days for our mail I found that even then there was no tidings for me from the loved ones at home. I try to reconcile myself to the disappointment by thinking that owing to our isolated position our mail may have miscarried and gone in some other direction. I know that if you are able you have not neglected to write, for not once before I believe since I have been in this department have I missed receiving a welcome weekly letter from you. I sincerely hope you are well and happy as the circumstances in which you are placed will admit. I am enjoying myself here as well or better perhaps than you could expect living so strongly different from any thing that I have before experienced, in the midst of fears and alarms within sound of the cannon and musketry now, not knowing what a day or an hour may bring forth, how long we may occupy our present abode, or how soon we may be called upon to pack up our few traps and pass on to new scenes and new experiences. One of the greatest blessings of our Heavenly Father I enjoy to a large extent, good health. I have seldom felt better for the same length of time than I have for the past month and I think I will weigh more today than I ever did before. We still remain in our house, on Grahams neck, near Pocotaligo and the Railroad, within sight of the Rebels. Our expedition so far has been attended with the most complete success. The Rebels having lost Savannah, the Railroad is of no more account to them and they are beginning to fall back into the country, tearing up the road as they go and taking their property with them. Every day almost some of their soldiers desert and come into our lines, and the most cheering intelligence comes to us from every quarter, making me declare my belief with more assurance than ever that the war will virtually cease by the 4th July next. Yesterday morning ten contrabands came through the lines into our camp. Five were men, the rest were women with children. Three of them were the slaves of the man who owned this plantation. When the war first broke out here, most of his negroes ran away and he left here and moved back into the country, now it is becoming too hot for him there, and so he is about to move back further still. His remaining negroes did not like the idea of moving back, + so they moved the other way and now instead of being slaves bound by the despotic will of their master, they are forever free, to go where and do as they please, “Massa Jenkin” say they “had 120 good niggers when when do Lincoln folks fast cum close but now he hab but 7 big and little.” So slavery passes away. Gen Sherman brought with him 18000 picked up on his passage through Georgia. It is now just one month since we came out. It is the prevailing opinion that we return to Beaufort in a few days how true it is I can not say, all I hope or wish is that the winter campaign be prosecuted with the utmost vigor, to which end I am willing to do or suffer whatever may be my part of the toil and hardship incident thereto, for if there is one wish in my heart next to Heaven, it is that this terrible war may speedily close. It has been a little cooler since I last wrote, + last night we had frost and ice again. We expect another mail in a day or two and then I hope to hear from you. I try to keep up a sense of my dependence upon an all wise God for every blessing I enjoy, and to feel to return Him thanksgiving and praise for his never ceasing mercies. But it is a cross for a man to keep up even the appearances of religion in the army, + yet I get an occasional glimmer at the real hidden thoughts of men, which lead me to think that although they may shun you as a companion for being religious and even make fun of you behind your back when with their gay companions, yet in their heart of hearts, they inwardly respect you and think more of you for your steadfast and consistent profession. God grant to give us grace ever to be able to “stand up for Jesus” and always be able to confess him before men I recommend him to their consideration.

I will send to you in this a Confederate $5 bill, genuine which I obtained here. Show it to your friends if it be a curiosity, but keep it. It is worth nothing to us of course. I send also a couple of books one for Frank + one for May. Kiss them both for their dear Papa, and help them to keep up a lively remembrance of him so that if he live to see them again they may not receive him as a stranger. And you my own dear wife in my imagination I can fold you to my arms in a warm + loving embrace but then comes the stern reality- Oh how different- Yet through the mercy and goodness of our Heavenly Father I hope yet we may spend many happy days together, and may our temporary separation prove of great benefit to each of us, teaching us to value each other more highly, and to more careful and circumspect in our relation to each other. I feel sometimes as though another harsh or angry word could never pass my lips, + yet I know that I am too much of the Earth, Earthy- to expect this, but let us ever aim my darling to come as near to this standard as our worldly natures may admit, + whenever we come short may we freely forgive + be forgiven. Trusting this may find you well, as it leaves me, + hoping the time is not far distant when we shall be united again I bid you farewell. Lewis

[On side of first page]

Did you receive my letter containing photographs of Peter and Margaret? Always acknowledge the receipt of every thing I send to you!

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29 December 1864

Item Description: Letter dated 29 December 1864 from Jack Hall to H. Reynolds, Esq. Hall seems to have been a slaveholder in Salisbury, N.C., at the time of the Civil War. He writes to request flour and asks that Reynolds do all he could to catch Hall’s runaway slave Henry. Hall offered a $1,000 reward for Henry’s return.

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Item Citation: Jack Hall Letter, #05397-zSouthern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription: 

Salisbury Dec 29th 1864

H. Reynolds, Esq.

Dear Sir,

You will please send my flour to me the earliest day you can as I am in great need of it. You will please send two barrels at a time by the conductor. Please do all you can to catch my boy Henry, as I am offering $1000, reward for him. Let me hear from you by return of mail.

Yours respectfully

Jack Hall

 

 

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28 December 1864: “our only pleasure now is in seeing our friends”

Item Description: Entry dated 28 December 1864 from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Wednesday Dec 28th—- Today nothing has occurred worthy of mention. Fanny Levy dined with us and went home early in the afternoon much to our regret for our only pleasure now is in seeing our friends. Dr Ballinger spent the evening with us and we played cards until 10 o’clock– quite the dissipation for the times. 

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27 December 1864: “Discipline, order, energy, and enthusiasm were their leading characteristics”

Item Description: Report by Colonel Jourdan, 158th New York Regiment, to Commander Dove, United States Navy, concerning the expedition to destroy the salt-works near Bear Inlet, North Carolina.

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Item Citation: Expedition to Bear Inlet, N.C. [New York : G. P. Putnam, 1864?]. Cp970.75 D47d. Detached from: Rebellion record, 1864. [Vol. 8 (1864); p. 463-464.] North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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26 December 1864: “If we are Conquered I see no reason why we should receive our enemies as friends”

Item Description: Entry dated 26 December 1864 from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Monday Dec 26th— This is the commencement of another week of unhappiness. I went today to see my grandparents the first time I had left the house and found them very much dispirited, Grandfather being unwell. The weather is warm and damp which always affects old persons  I therefore hope he will be better in a few days. Dr Ballinger spent this evening with us. In the course of the evening Mr Low our neighbor brought a Yankee over to see Father on business and I am sorry to say he was ushered into our family circle and although I did nothing more than bow when he entered he had impertinence enough to ask me to play the piano for him. I, of course, declined the honor and then the evening’s conversation. If we are Conquered I see no reason why we should receive our enemies as friends and I never shall do it so long as I live. Father is very much afraid that I will compromise him by my too open avowal of hatred, but I pray daily that he may be mistaken in his fears. 

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25 December 1864: “This is the saddest Christmas that I have ever spent”

Item Description: Entry dated 25 December 1864, Christmas Day, from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription: 

Dec 25th Sunday- This is the saddest Christmas that I have ever spent and my only pleasure during the day has been in looking forward to spending my next Christmas in the Confederacy. This morning my Uncle Mr. Myers and his daughter Mrs. Yates Levy came to see us and told us of a party given the evening before by the negroes at Genl Geary’s Hd Qrts where the Gen went into the kitchen and desired an introduction to the ladies and gentlemen there assembled. After the introduction he asked who were slaves and who were free. There was but one slave present a servant girl of my Aunt’s who acknowledged the fact. This elegant gentleman enquired into her private history and finding out that she was a married woman begged an introduction to her husband Mr Valentine  He then presented Mr Valentine, as a Christmas gift, with a free wife. The girl was so much amused having always been a favorite servant and treated like one of the family that she told it to her mistress as a good joke. In the afternoon we had a real rebel meeting. Dr R, Fanny Levy, Dr B and our own family forming the party. We abused the Yankees to our hearts content and congratulated ourselves upon being once more together. Dr R– told me of a news paper that had been issued, called “The loyal Georgian” with this Motto “Redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled”– “the Union must and shall be preserved.” This of course created great merriment, the first time I had a hearty laugh since the Goths had been among us. Dr B– spent the evening with us. We are beginning to improve in spirits we did not retire until 10 o’clock. 

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24 December 1864: “he walked out like a well bred dog and I rather think he will not make his appearance again”

Item Description: Entry dated 24 December 1864 from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Saturday Dec 24th_______ Nothing happened this morning worthy of note except the intrusion of a Capt Dunbar on Kiltpatrick Staff who again came for Quarters and as Father was out I was obliged to receive him but did so standing up so that he could have no excuse for remaining longer than his business required him to do. I told him he could probably have our front parlor but as my father was out could not give him a positive answer; in a couple of hours he returned and asked to see me again. I went down to him and he told me the order had been counter manded and he should not require the room. I told him I was glad that we were relieved, when he remarked that he should call again as he wished to become personally acquainted with my Father  I gave him no answer but opened the front door for him and he walked out like a well bred dog and I rather think he will not make his appearance again and I certainly hope from the bottom of my heart- that he has paid his last visit. At two o’clock General Hazen came for Quarters and we have been forced to give him two rooms– our front parlor and a bed room the one we always kept for our friends- it is a hard trial but I suppose we must submit. I used to know this man before the war and I trust for that reason he will treat us with more consideration than some of our friends have received who have been obliged to receive Yankees in their houses. Well! that question is now settled and I hope our annoyance for the present are over, the anticipation however of having them among us is enough to make us prematurely old. 

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23 December 1864: “went to bed early as usual only dreading the disclosures of the morrow.”

Item Description: Entry dated 23 December 1864 from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Dec 23rd____ Mother is quite sick today suffering with one of her attacks of neurelgia brought on I suppose by worry and excitement. It is Sister’s birthday and the saddest I hope of her life for we are all dreadfully depressed not knowing what will happen from day to day  Capt Poe called this morning and I was obliged to receive him and never was so embarrassed in my life. My hatred for the Army in which he was an officer and my desire to be polite made me almost speechless- the contending feelings were more than I could control. He however, conducted himself like a gentleman and offered us all the assistance in his power, but evidently could do nothing for us he had Quarters at Mrs Cheves’ and we knew that our time must soon come and probably we should be compelled to have some brute in our house who would make our life more miserable than it already was. We spent this evening in Mother’s room and went to bed early as usual only dreading the disclosures of the morrow. 

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22 December 1864: “Father had been dreadfully harassed during the morning for his house”

Item Description: Entry dated 22 December 1864 from the journal of Fanny Cohen Taylor, describing Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. 

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

December 22nd 1864

I had gone to bed sick last evening and this morning felt too badly to rise in time for breakfast but feeling better as the day advanced made my appearance at dinner. Father had been dreadfully harassed during the morning for his house and as a friend of ours Col Waddy had told us to apply to Capt Poe, Chief Engineer on Sherman’s Staff, if we required assistance knowing that he would aid us if in his power, he wrote a note to him asking him to come and see him- he not having yet come to town did not reply to it. I have never seen a man so annoyed and unnerved as Father is. At about four o’clock this afternoon Dr Ballinger one of our Confederate Surgeons who had been left in Charge of Hospital No 2 came to see us and that was the first pleasureable moment I had had since these Vandals entered our City. I had been so surrounded by blue Coats that the sight of our grey uniform made me happy for I felt that I had a friend near me, he however, only remained a short time and we then relapse into our usual state of mind, bordering on melancholy. Again we retired at eight o’clock actuated by several motives one of which was to save wood as the weather was unusually cold and the little that we had in the house was being constantly stolen by the Yankees At two o’clock today one of our house servants Henry left us being anxious to enlist in the Federal service. 

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21 December 1864: “the Yankees entered our peaceful little city in a much more orderly way than I anticipated”

Item Description: For the next several days, we will be posting diary entries from Fanny Cohen Taylor as she chronicles the Northern occupation of Savannah, Georgia. Here is her first entry from 21 December 1864.

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Item Citation: Folder 46, Volume 7, Phillips and Myers Family Papers, #00596Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Journal 

Of what occurred during my stay in Savannah while the Yankees had possession of it. 

On Wednesday morning December the 21st the Yankees entered our peaceful little city in a much more orderly way than I anticipated, although of course there were many robberies Committed, the lower classes and the negroes, whom they came to befriend, being the greatest sufferers. They gave three very orderly and unimpulsive cheers when they raised the Flag on the flag staff in the Barracks’ yard and after that military move every thing was comparatively quiet for us until one o’clock when General Howard and his Staff Came in Search of Quarters and liking the appearance of our house gave us until five in the afternoon to vacate it. When Father remonstrated with them and told them there were ladies in the house and it would be exceedingly inconvenient for them to move one of them politely answered “Well! I suppose it will inconvenience you but you know you Rebs will fight and when you are Conquered you must submit to what ever will contribute to our Comfort.” Father, however, by dint of great persuasion enduced them to take an empty house opposite to ours with the promise of allowing them to keep their horses in our stable. That day we were applied to from every source but Father’s management we kept them out of our house; in the evening we went to bed at eight o’clock thoroughly exhausted from the day’s excitement. 

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